It looked like it was going to be an uneventful day and then 23,000 people decided to sign a digital petition to support Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. The organizer, Jeff Framm, is planning a rally tonight on campus to support their coach in turmoil. You all know by now Meyer lied about having no knowledge of his now ex-assistant coach Zach Smith being investigated for domestic violence as far back as 2015 and has now been placed on administrative leave with pay by the University. For the record, everybody should get a second chance depending on how egregious the behavior, how culpable the individual was and most importantly, how much authority and responsibility one has. For example, a player on the Ohio State football team learning of this allegation certainly would not have the same ethical obligation to come forward as that of a coach or administrator. Meyer has admitted he “failed” in his handling of questions at media day but to any reasonable person, he outright lied. Is he remorseful? Of course. Does his explanation make sense? Of course not. So, can he survive in this day in age where turning a deaf ear to domestic violence will get you fired?
Apparently, at least in Columbus, Ohio, there’s a chance. Why? Because the wheels are already in motion. We reported the University has appointed six people, three of which are on the Ohio State Board of Trustees, to investigate the matter. We already told you that was an inherent conflict of interest. But here’s where it gets interesting. Information has come out that the entire investigation will take just two weeks. What? An investigation of this magnitude should take months, not weeks. Just to interview all the witnesses is an extensive undertaking. Reports of every incident involving Smith need to be reviewed and investigated one at a time. How about phone records, texting, emails? How does this “team” of investigators obtain any of this. They have no power to investigate like a true prosecutor. Just ask Special Counsel Robert Mueller who continues to obtain a mountain full of possible evidence which leads to further investigation. Oh, and there is the other matter that Smith has an outstanding criminal charge against him for trespass and he has been served with a restraining order by his ex-wife Courtney, both of which have future court dates. How does this get finished in two weeks? Because that is what Ohio State’s administrators precondition timeline required and it coincides with the start of the season. No investigation of this magnitude should have a time limit and if appearance is anything at this juncture, the lack of transparency from OSU is overwhelming. They too, are in hiding. So, what’s this all about? It’s about winning on the football field, something Meyer does very well. If you win on the football field, you win at the bank. We shall see.
I see where freshman quarterbacks are getting opportunities to compete and win the starting job immediately. Many of them graduate high school early which allows them to enroll in the winter semester and participate in a team’s spring practices. They include JT Daniels at USC, Adrian Martinez at Nebraska, Justin Rogers at TCU, and Dorian Thompson- Robinson of UCLA. There are others like Georgia’s Justin Fields, who was the number recruit in the country. For now, he probably will play behind the incumbent, Jake Fromm, who led the Bulldogs to the national championship game. But anything can happen. Just ask Fromm, who was destined to back up Jacob Eason, the returning starter and predicted to be a possible Heisman Trophy candidate. Instead, he had an injury which forced him out for a few games early in the season and here comes Fromm to the rescue. Georgia wins them all and Eason never got another opportunity to compete or play significantly again before transferring to Washington this year. So, the question at Georgia is, ‘what have you done for me lately’. It can happen that quick.
Contrast that with Jamar King of Alabama who graduated last year and was the youthful age of 28 on the Tide’s national championship team. He did it the hard way, working six years after high school to help his family, then going to junior college and finally, on to Bama. Congratulations to him on all counts, a man with an inspiring story who followed his dream.
Last year was the year of the quarterback in college football with five selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Kyler Murray is supposed to be the new starting quarterback at Oklahoma after All-American Baker Mayfield graduated. Just to remind you, we told you all year Mayfield was the best quarterback in college football. All the experts early on had Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen way ahead of him. Most were telling you he was a third rounder in September, but we plugged him all year and, in the end, we were vindicated as he was the number one overall pick. Here comes Murray, who waited his turn after transferring from Texas A & M where he was a five-star recruit, to take the reigns over. He is a different kind of quarterback than Mayfield—tremendous athletic ability, a strong and accurate arm with world class speed. It was thought to be his job to lose. He’s also a talented baseball player and this year was picked 9th by the Oakland A’s, they gave him a 4.66 million dollar signing bonus. His agent, the infamous Scott Boras, has already told the Sooners his contractual obligation to play baseball will mean this is his only year in Norman. Murray did not expect to be drafted anywhere near 9th after the 2017 football season ended but he had a breakout baseball year at Oklahoma. After signing for the big bucks, we’ll only see him in Sooner crimson and cream this year. That leaves redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall, a highly recruited passer, to compete against Murray. With Murray now with only one year of eligibility, it says here that coach Lincoln Riley will give Kendall an opportunity to develop and maybe win the job. In fact, Riley raised a few eyebrows at media day by saying, “Kyler’s not the quarterback yet…(he) is ‘going to have to fight like crazy’ to win the starting quarterback job. Obviously, his baseball commitment has complicated things, but the message is clear. Competition is good, and nothing is certain. Just ask Wally PIP. We shall see.
Every football team wants to get an edge in recruiting. Sometimes it’s the old-fashioned way and it’s about developing a relationship with the high school player. Sometimes it’s a different kind of old fashioned way and offering perks and incentives in violations of NCAA rules and criminal conduct as well. See SMU scandal. Then there are innovative ways like Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who created satellite camps in other states thousands of miles away to have highly touted recruits be seen and participate. Michigan was recruiting everywhere with 38 camps in 30 days in 2016 all over the country. Other schools particularly in the SEC, were caught by surprise and eventually got the NCAA to temporarily ban the camps and ultimately regulate how they can be offered. The SEC doesn’t want some school from the north coming down to their fertile recruiting ground and grabbing their best players. So, while it is allowed, it has been significantly curtailed. This year it’s Florida State’s turn to come up with something new. Coach Willie Taggert announced the Seminoles plan to practice from August 12-16 off campus. It will be closed to the public and the media. Where are they going you ask? To the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, a real life “high school” designed to promote and develop professional talent in all competitive and especially remunerative sports. That includes football. Their football team is routinely ranked nationally as their players come from all over the country and they play a schedule filled with plane rides and televised games. Most are not there for the experience, they are there to develop their skills to play at the next level. FSU, by practicing in front of those players, will get an opportunity to expose their program to the entire team, including eleven players who are ranked in the Top 200 nationally. The proof is in the pudding.
Today, the passing of Braeden Bradforth was announced at the University of Kansas. He was a New Jersey native and an incoming freshman defensive tackle. Bradforth was listed at 6-foot 3-inches and three hundred pounds. It was the Jayhawks first practice and the temperature reached 87 degrees, but he became distressed around 9:30 pm last night after a team meeting and after being rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead at 11:30 pm. The actual cause of death is not yet known but our hearts and prayers go out to his family. Bradforth was just 19.