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Tag:LSU
Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 2:05 pm
 

Sympathy for good guy Steve Kragthorpe

Steve Kragthorpe was plowing ahead. It was the first week of April and LSU's new offensive coordinator was jacked over what he had inherited.

 Athletes, talent, speed.

 "I can't wait," he said.

 Kragthorpe had motioned me into his office while he was working on the 2011 playbook. He was energized. He was back in the game after resigning in 2010 at Texas A&M due to complications regarding his wife Cynthia's multiple sclerosis.

 The MS was being treated, he explained, but Cynthia also needed heart surgery. In essence, they couldn't go on treating the MS with the proper medicine until the heart condition was rectified. I inquired about doing a more in-depth story on his year out of the game, his family and Cynthia but the coach politely declined.

 I understood. Some things are too private. Krags was looking ahead. This was by far the best offensive present he had ever opened. The former Tulsa and Louisville coach had his ups and down but the man could always call plays.

 His job was to fix Jordan Jefferson, LSU's quarterback who had become a lightning rod figure in the program. Krags was confident he could do it. That confidence is a big reason why the Tigers debuted at No. 4 in the preseason coach's poll.

 It was devastating, then, that about an hour after that poll was released Thursday it was announced that Kragthorpe would relinquish those OC duties because he had developed Parkinson's disease. He will stay as quarterbacks coach but assistant Greg Studrawa will take over as coordinator.

 I hope would that most folks first thoughts are about Kragthorpe, Cynthia and their children. They have been dealt the rawest of deals. Life isn't fair especially when it always seems that bad things happen to good people.

 Kragthorpe had seemingly gotten through to Jefferson. The quarterback had begun to speak up, become a leader. He was taking instruction and, judging from his spring play, getting better.

 "He's almost a little bit shy," Kragthorpe told me in April. "When you first meet him, you're wondering, 'Does this guy have his paws up, kind of feeling you back? He's just shy. He's not that way around his teammates. I think he's got a chance to be a good player."

 The best tribute to Kragthorpe's abilities would be for Jefferson to have a monster year. The move means that the coach will be having even more one-on-one time with the quarterback.

 The best thing we can do for Kragthorpe and his family is pray. They deserve our sympathies and our love. No one deserves their current situation.

Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 9:59 am
 

Breaking down the coaches' top 25

A drive-by reaction to the preseason coaches poll released Thursday. If nothing else, it is another sign that we are closer to actual football.

 Oklahoma is No. 1 in a preseason poll for only the second time in the BCS era (2003 was the other). The Sooners got 42 first-place votes. Alabama is a distant second with 13 first-place votes but is only 40 points away from No. 1 (1,454-1,414). That 1-2 slotting probably will last at least to Game 2. In Week 1, Alabama hosts Kent State. Tulsa goes to Oklahoma.

That also means the winner of No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU in the Jerry Dome isn't likely to jump into the top two.

 Speaking of which, still researching the last time two top five teams met on a neutral field in a season opener. Your input is welcome.

 At least seven of the 25 teams are on probation or are being investigated by the NCAA for major violations: Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Boise State, Auburn.

 Of the 11 teams to win championships in the BCS era, eight are in the preseason poll: Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State. Missing: Tennessee, Miami, USC (not eligible).

 You want an early opinion on the season? Ask Tulsa's rookie head coach. Bill Blankenship. His Hurricane play three teams in the top eight in the first month -- No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Oklahoma State.

 Four of the top five teams play each other in the first three weeks. (LSU-Oregon, FSU-Oklahoma).

 Boise State is the only school in the top eight not playing another school in that group. If the Broncos get into championship contention again, you can already hear the haters.

 The SEC has eight teams in the top 25. That's up from six to end last season. What are the odds that the Strength Everywhere Conference will claim a sixth consecutive national championship? Answer: Good. Very good.

 The SEC (eight), Big 12 and Big Ten (five each) account for 18 of the 25 teams.

 To the surprise of no one, 20 of the 25 teams who ended ranked in 2010 are ranked to begin 2011. Missing: Maryland, Utah, North Carolina State, Central Florida, Nevada.

 The dividing line comes at Arizona State. Penn State is No. 25, three points ahead of the Sun Devils, the first of "others receiving votes."

 The Big East was shut out of the top 25. The highest-ranked BE school is West Virginia at No. 27.

 Defending champion Auburn (No. 19) is by far the lowest-ranked defending champion in the preseason coaches poll in at least nine years. LSU was previously the lowest at No. 6 in 2008 during that period. Others: Alabama, 2010 (No. 1), Florida, 2009 (1), Florida, 2007 (3), Texas, 2006 (2), USC, 2004-2005 (1), Ohio State, 2003 (2), Miami, 2002 (1).

 Fifty teams, 42 percent of FBS, received votes.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 7:23 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 8:15 pm
 

LSU now on NCAA clock

There's no arguing about the timing of LSU's first major violation in football in 25 years. It's fantastic. Coming a day before the start of the SEC media days, the gossip is sure to be flying in the halls of the Wynfrey Hotel when the interviews kick off on Wednesday. Flying like the anticipated quips from South Carolina's Steve Spurrier.

But let's focus. For now this is about LSU. The present is somewhat uplifting. The NCAA threw roses at the school's proactive approach during the investigation. The future, NCAA-wise, looks murky.

Certainly Tuesday's penalties are nothing more than embarrassing: probation, a couple of scholarships. Nothing really damaging -- for the moment. It's the way LSU got there. A former assistant coach was charged with unethical conduct in the recruitment of a juco receiver who never saw the field.

That adds up to a major violation which opens up a whole new world to NCAA wrongdoers. If you're counting, that's two former SEC coaches charged with the most serious of NCAA crimes -- unethical conduct. Tennessee's Bruce Pearl is the other. SEC commissioner Mike Slive cannot be amused. Neither can the NCAA. Suddenly, the clock is ticking on LSU. 

If you're not familiar with the term, "repeat violator" it was installed by the NCAA in the 1980s. It was meant to be a deterrent to habitual cheaters like SMU. Two major violations within a five-year period and you're eligible for the death penalty. Since 1987, though, no other school has been hit that hard in football. So much for being a deterrent.

LSU is in a unique position. For years it took pride in being one of only two SEC schools not to have a major football violation in the last quarter century. The other was Vanderbilt, which has never had a major violation. LSU's last big screw up was in 1986.

But these are different and possibly treacherous times for the Tigers. They are perceived to be SEC and national title contenders. But at the same time the penalties were announced on Tuesday, the football program was simultaneously under investigation because of Will Lyles. The infamous mentor/talent scout has reportedly been paid a combined $26,000 since 2008 by the school for recruiting information.

Nothing wrong with that if, in fact, Lyles provided recruiting info on the up and up and didn't guide players to Baton Rouge. Les Miles told me in April that he didn't know who Lyles was until December. That's plausible but strange considering Lyles reportedly had a long-term relationship with the program and had been paid five figures in the last three years.

That's fishy enough. Let's not forget Lyles is at the center of the Oregon investigation as well. Cal has been linked to him too. That possibly makes Lyles the Hart Lee Dykes of his generation. The former Oklahoma State receiver put four schools on probation after his recruitment. There is still the possibility that Lyles damns three BCS programs to the fiery hell of NCAA probation.

Those two particular violations (Tuesday and Lyles) wouldn't qualify LSU as a repeat violator because the Lyles case started before Tuesday's was completed. But two major violations so close together -- if indeed it comes to that -- aren't going to be looked favorably upon by the NCAA. 

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Vanderbilt is now the only SEC school without a major violation in its history . Maybe that's life in the SEC. Maybe its winning percentage reflects that fact.

So let the gossip begin in the halls of the Wynfrey. Sure, it looks like business as usual in the SEC. Alabama is on probation. Defending champion Auburn is being investigated on two fronts. Slive won't be happy having to deal with more transgressions.

How bad is it? Since we started our series on college football wrongdoing on July 6, LSU is the third school (from three different conferences) to be hit with a major football violation. That's three in 13 days. Three is the average number of such violations nationally PER YEAR since 1987.

There's still five months left in the year to make those numbers even more alarming. Meanwhile, the NCAA has all the time in the world. Maybe it's not an SEC thing, it's just a college football thing.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU, NCAA, SEC
 
Posted on: July 19, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 11:46 am
 

LSU presser re: infractions

The NCAA has announced a 3 p.m. ET teleconference Tuesday to discuss a "decision regarding Louisiana State University."

The call is expected to deal with the findings in the D.J. McCarthy-Akiem Hicks case from 2009. LSU self-reported violations regarding McCarthy, a former receivers coach, in the recruitment of Hicks. Hicks never played at LSU. McCarthy has left the program.

The announcement is not expected to deal with the Will Lyles, the mentor/talent scout who reportedly has been paid $26,000 by the school for his recruiting services.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU, NCAA
 
Posted on: April 9, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Miles on Willie Lyles, state of college football

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Les Miles told CBSSports.com Friday he didn't know who Willie Lyles was until he saw him in December at the college football awards show in Orlando, Fla.

Lyles is a Houston-based trainer currently under investigation by the NCAA. His name first became known nationally when a Yahoo! Sports report stated last month that Lyles was paid $25,000 for his high school recruiting service by Oregon. The school eventually signed standout tailback Lache Seastrunk who Yahoo! Sports said was mentored by Lyles. In subsequent reports it became known that Lyles provides a high-school recruiting service to several programs. 

If it is determined Lyles is a booster, Oregon could have committed an NCAA violation.

Lyles' name came up most recently in an ESPN.com report  alleging that he had asked Texas A&M for $80,000 to sign star cornerback prospect Patrick Peterson. Peterson, who denied any relationship with Lyles, eventually signed with LSU which is why Miles spoke out Friday during a wide-ranging nearly 1 1/2-hour conversation. 

"In every recruiting scenario, sometimes it's a street agent, sometimes it's the guy's lifelong mentor," Miles said. "Sometimes it's the [high-school] assistant coach who really has [a recruit's] best interests at heart. Some people's interests are more self-serving."

Miles was particularly disturbed, like a lot of coaches, at the so-called third-party influence on recruiting. Coaches used to dealing with parents and high school coaches in the process now feel frustration at having to deal with a "handler" who may be marketing the recruit. While that has been common practice in college basketball for some time, it has just recently become an issue in college football. The NCAA is determining whether to form a focus group to concentrate on such issues

During the conversation, Miles stressed the cleanliness of his program in terms of NCAA compliance. His reference to Lyles emerged from the nationally televised college football awards show at Disney World. Coaches typically accompany their players to the show.

Following LSU's spring game on Saturday, Miles was asked about the rash of scandals in college football lately.

“I still am very much an advocate of college football. I realize what it does for a great majority of the youth of our country. It is still a place where you reward hard work ... The reality of it is, there’s a difficult issue in perception because it’s not uniform ...  [There] needs to be a common sense approach to this. College football is wonderful. It’s not something that should be viewed in a light, in any way, that’s anything but productive. The change that needs to take place is evident. And I think, honestly, there’s a want and desire to make those changes ... Don’t change the game so much that you don’t recognize it because, frankly, it’s magnificent."
Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU, NCAA, Oregon
 
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:56 am
 

HBO fouls it off; college athletics just foul

There hasn't been much good news at all for Auburn since Wes Byrum hit that field goal at the gun to beat Oregon.

That was 80 days ago. Makes sense that it seems like the football program has been around the world.

If it wasn't someone poisoning their oak trees, it was their former Heisman winning quarterback under investigation by the NCAA. And now this: Failing to get any more dirt on Cam Newton, HBO settled for four former mostly-disgruntled Auburn players who said they received extra benefits at the school. I received an advance copy of the "Real Sports" Tuesday. Maybe it's the age we live in, but when Stanley McClover started talking about hundred-dollar handshakes, it hardly registered.

Isn't that what the SEC calls "game week"?

Now it's a national story, I guess, but until we have a) a paper trail and b) names, this is an athletic version of "Entertainment Tonight." SEC-schools-paying-players is the equivalent of Lindsay Lohan entering a courtroom. Sooner or later you get numb to it all. (Although Lindsay does dress better.)

There's also the issue of the NCAA's statute of limitations. The association sets a prosecution limit of four years from the time of the wrongdoing. Most of the payments mentioned came between 2001-07. An NCAA official told me Tuesday that the association is interested if the players want to talk, but the trail is so cold will there be any footprints leading investigators to the offending sugar daddies/coaches? 

The NCAA can re-open cases beyond the statute of limitations -- this one seems juicy enough -- but where does it find the time? Also Wednesday, ESPN reported that infamous seven-on-seven entrepreneur Will Lyles solicited upwards of $80,000 from Texas A&M to land cornerback Patrick Peterson


Let's not forget that Bruce Pearl is waiting to see if he can ever work again at a major college. USC is awaiting its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. Remember those carefree days of last June? I guess what I'm saying is, don't get antsy. The USC case took four years and is still going on, with at least one lawsuit sure to follow if an appeal isn't won. These Auburn players could have their own web-based cyber-shows by the time the NCAA gets to them -- "Who Wants to Be A Deadbeat?" 

OK, so the fact that these guys might not have been upstanding citizens shouldn't matter. Wrong is wrong. And we shouldn't diminish HBO's reporting. I didn't get those guys to talk. Neither did anyone else. When you hear $7,000 for a car, that's starting to get into some serious Maurice Clarett-type money. But admit it, we've got bigger, more tangible scandals to concentrate on. Jim Tressel tried to upstage the cable network Wednesday by "apologizing". Well, apologizing for things he can't discuss. I'll translate: Tressel is so sorry that he allowed five of his players to compete while ineligible than he's genuinely worried about his job. That kind of sorry. 

Oh, and pay attention to the man behind the curtain. That's Luke Fickell who was introduced as interim coach when Tressel starts working only six out of every seven days a week. The five-game suspension is so serious that Tressel will, get this, actually miss game day.

Anyway, back to Auburn. The players' allegations don't involve just the Tigers. McClover said he had sex while on a visit to Ohio State. LSU and Michigan State are mentioned too in the cavalcade of hundies. It's been a dreary offseason for the Tigers, one big hot mess. If it wasn't already, confidence in the system is eroding. But until the NCAA sends out that message, a corrupt system is going to keep operating. Alabama had four major violations in 14 years. It won the national championship (2009) in the same year as its last one. Newton's daddy solicited money at Mississippi State. The kid skated, remained eligible, because of a loophole in the NCAA rules.

Some obscure six-year-old language allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl. Talk about a competitive advantage. Disgusted? Yeah, well, at least we have the annual refreshing bowl experience to cheer us up. Oh wait...
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:55 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 8:55 am
 

HBO fouls it off; college athletics just foul

There hasn't been much good news, at all, for Auburn since Wes Byrum hit that field goal at the gun to beat Oregon.

That was 80 days ago. Makes sense that it seems like the football program has been around the world.

If it wasn't someone poisoning their oak trees, it was their former Heisman winning quarterback under investigation by the NCAA. And now this: Failing to get any more dirt on Cam Newton, HBO settled for four former mostly-disgruntled Auburn players who said they received extra benefits at the school. I received an advance copy of the "Real Sports" Tuesday. Maybe it's the age we live in, but when Stanley McClover started talking about hundred-dollar handshakes, it hardly registered.

Isn't that what the SEC calls "game week"?

Now it's a national story, I guess, but until we have a) a paper trail and b) names, this is an athletic version of "Entertainment Tonight." SEC-schools-paying-players is the equivalent of Lindsay Lohan entering a courtroom. Sooner or later you get numb to it all. (Although Lindsay does dress better.)

There's also the issue of the NCAA's statute of limitations. The association sets a prosecution limit of four years from the time of the wrongdoing. Most of the payments mentioned came between 2001-07. An NCAA official told me Tuesday that the association is interested if the players want to talk, but the trail is so cold will there be any footprints leading investigators to the offending sugar daddies/coaches? 

The NCAA can re-open cases beyond the statute of limitations -- this one seems juicy enough -- but where does it find the time? Also Wednesday, ESPN reported that infamous seven-on-seven entrepreneur Will Lyles solicited upwards of $80,000 from Texas A&M to land cornerback Patrick Peterson


Let's not forget that Bruce Pearl is waiting to see if he can ever work again at a major college. USC is awaiting its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. Remember those carefree days of last June? I guess what I'm saying is, don't get antsy. The USC case took four years and is still going on, with at least one lawsuit sure to follow if an appeal isn't won. These Auburn players could have their own web-based cyber-shows by the time the NCAA gets to them -- "Who Wants to Be A Deadbeat?" 

OK, so the fact that these guys might not have been upstanding citizens shouldn't matter. Wrong is wrong. And we shouldn't diminish HBO's reporting. I didn't get those guys to talk. Neither did anyone else. When you hear $7,000 for a car, that's starting to get into some serious Maurice Clarett-type money. But admit it, we've got bigger, more tangible scandals to concentrate on. Jim Tressel tried to upstage the cable network Wednesday by "apologizing". Well, apologizing for things he can't discuss. I'll translate: Tressel is so sorry that he allowed five of his players to compete while ineligible than he's genuinely worried about his job. That kind of sorry. 

Oh, and pay attention to the man behind the curtain. That's Luke Fickell who was introduced as interim coach when Tressel starts working only six out of every seven days a week. The five-game suspension is so serious that Tressel will, get this, actually miss game day.

Anyway, back to Auburn. The players' allegations don't involve just the Tigers. McClover said he had sex while on a visit to Ohio State. LSU and Michigan State are mentioned too in the cavalcade of hundies. It's been a dreary offseason for the Tigers, one big hot mess. If it wasn't already, confidence in the system is eroding. But until the NCAA sends out that message, a corrupt system is going to keep operating. Alabama had four major violations in 14 years. It won the national championship (2009) in the same year as its last one. Newton's daddy solicited money at Mississippi State. The kid skated, remained eligible, because of a loophole in the NCAA rules.

Some obscure six-year-old language allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl. Talk about a competitive advantage. Disgusted? Yeah, well, at least we have the annual refreshing bowl experience to cheer us up. Oh wait...
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 16, 2011 5:46 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 11:13 pm
 

Michigan reportedly made two offers to Miles

Congratulations Brady Hoke. Good hire Dave Brandon. But, please, don't try to sell us on this seamless Michigan coaching search. Hoke was not Plan A all along.

We now know that Hoke, Michigan's new coach, was the fourth -- maybe fifth -- choice to replace Rich Rodriguez. Just like Rich Rod himself was about the third choice to replace Lloyd Carr. (Wow, I'm beginning to think Michigan isn't that good a job. That's another argument for another time.)

The truth is that Hoke -- hired last week -- wasn't anywhere near the first choice. You probably know that but now there is tangible proof. Hoke was the Back-Up Plan -- Plan C, D or E. You know how I know? I know who was contacted. You know some of them -- Jim Harbaugh etc. I know who didn't show interest. I know who said no. I know that I'm calling B.S. on Brandon after reading this story.

According to it, Michigan offered $4.25 million per year to Les Miles, more than his LSU salary. Miles reportedly said no. Then, Michigan came back and offered more. Miles said no again. Meanwhile, Brandon, the Michigan AD, still won't admit an offer was made. Who is he trying to kid? Was that meeting with Miles an exchange of phone numbers?

Brandon: "Nice Tiger, Les. Listen, don't want to bother you, Les, but let's keep in touch. Here's my business card"

Les: "His name is Mike and, yes, let's keep in touch."

Brandon shot for the moon and ended up with an Aztec. That's OK. If Hoke was the first choice, Brandon would have announced him the day after Rich Rod was fired. That's what you do with the Plan A guy who said he would crawl to Michigan. In reality, Hoke was the girl with braces in Chem 1 who says yes to the prom after the head cheerleader says no. Not a knockout but at least a date.

There was no embarrassment factor in admitting a big offer to Miles. Brandon lost Harbaugh and Miles for legitimate reasons. There was no disgrace. In fact, it almost sounds better if Miles got two big offers. At least Wolverines everywhere know that their AD gave it the good old college try.

I know that, in the end, it was simply a bad time to hire at coach at Michigan. Hoke may win multiple national championships at Michigan. I hope he does. He's a good guy. But he wasn't Michigan's first choice. Not by a long shot.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU, Michigan
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com