Ten@10: Major recruiting scandals threaten college football

THE TEN AT 10:

1. Put the words “major” and “recruiting” and “violations” together in any sentence and it can send chills down the spines of athletic directors and fans everywhere. Throw them out in the context sports radio personality Colin Cowherd did this week and you could produce full-blown panic.

Cowherd, on his nationally-syndicated ESPN radio program, cryptically revealed on Tuesday that he has information that a “top 10-12″ college football program is about to be “outed” by “major publication” for a “major recruiting violations.” He would not identify the program, said the information was revealed to him in a text message from an apparently credible source and said the staff at ESPN and ESPN.com is attempting to verify the infomation. Before you jump to any conclusions, Cowherd said that it was NOT Auburn.

In case you missed it, here’s what Cowherd said on his program, according to a transcript provided by NBC Sports’ collegefootball.com:

“I received an interesting text about 10 days ago, and this should be very frightening if you’re a fan of college football, that a major program in this country is going to be outed very soon for major recruiting violations.  It is a top 10-12 program. I know what I think it is according to both my sources; I received another tip last night.  I went to Vince Doria, who is sort of the journalistic editor at this company.  He had heard the exact same thing.  We are pursuing this story with vigor.  A major publication is about to unseat a major college football power on recruiting violations.  I will tell you from my source, it is not — it is not — Auburn.  I will leave it at that.  It is a major program and a major publication.  When we can validate more… I have not been able to validate it nor has this company.  We’re both pursuing it.”

Subsequent to that, rampant speculation led many to conclude that the program to which Cowherd was referring is Oregon. John Canzano of The Oregonian reported that if Oregon is indeed the focus of the report, the Ducks haven’t been made aware of it by the NCAA or the Pac-12, which usually would be the procedure.

Another speculated target would be Tennessee, which presently finds itself neck deep in NCAA investigations. But the recently released “notice of allegations” the school received from the NCAA indicates that the basketball program is going to bear the brunt of that inquiry. The indiscretions revealed therein about resident NCAA rogue and former football coach Lane Kiffin don’t indicate any violations of the major variety.

So what program is the focus of the NCAA’s alleged ire? I guess we’ll find out eventually. Your guess might depend on which you to believe to be the top 10-12 programs. That’s a debate that could rage on into the ages.

2. Closer to home, Auburn’s relationship with Atlanta’s Newtons, Cameron and Cecil, just won’t go away. For one, Scott Moore won’t let it. Moore is a Huntsville, Ala., sports radio host has been making the rounds with media this week telling anybody who listen that he has audio tapes that Cam Newton knew his father Cecil Newton was shopping him around to Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and other football programs for money.

AJC columnist Mark Bradley weighed in on this in blogs on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Understandably, Bradley remains skeptical about Moore, who has declined to release the tapes until he plays them on his radio show in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Moore went on the “Chuck and Chernoff Show” on Tuesday to talk about these tapes. Co-hosts Matt Chernoff and Chuck Oliver also came away from the interview feeling more than a little leery. You can CLICK ON THIS LINK and listen to that interview yourself.

3. But it gets better. Today, an apparent snippet from those alleged tapes has been leaked to YouTube.com. Check it out yourself below:

Personally, I’m tired of all the speculation. I think there’s enough chatter going on that the SEC and NCAA are going to diligently investigate and we’ll probably get some kind of ruling on it in, oh, the next year or so.

4. n the meantime, CBSSports.com senior writer Pete Prisco believes the issue is enough to impact Newton’s NFL draft status. And former AJC colleague Len Pasquerelli, one of the most respeocted NFL writers in the business, wrote that Newton came off “insincere” during his news conference with reporters at the NFL combine.

5. I’ve written a lot about Lorenzo Mauldin, the defensive end from Maynard Jackson High who said he felt “shoved away” when South Carolina would not allow him to sign on national signing day despite being committed since last summer. But he was one of two players who was left at the altar by the Gamecocks on national signing day. The other one was Jordan Montgomery, a linebacker/defensive back from Groveland, Fla.

Josh Kendall, who covers South Carolina football for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported in a story that was published on Wednesday that Montgomery’s coach at South Lake High, has declared that the Gamecocks’ coaches are “no longer welcome” at the school.

“I cannot look a kid and their parent in the face and say you can trust what a University of South Carolina coach says,” South Lake coach Walter Banks told Kendall.

I’d provide a link to the story but all of The State’s online content is behind a pay wall. But if you’d like to read more about it I certainly think it’s worth it. Just go to GoGamecocks.com.

In the meantime, I’ll summarize some of the high points:

  • Coach Steve Spurrier makes his most direct statements to date on these two players specifically and admits that he and his staff probably didn’t handle the situation as well as they should have. “Walter had a tough time of it and, maybe if I was a high school coach, I would have a tough time with it, too,” he said of the South Lake coach.
  • Kendall’s story corroborates my reports that the players were not informed they would not be allowed to sign with the Gamecocks until Feb. 1, the day before national signing day. That’s what I was told by Mauldin and Maynard Jackson coach Eric Williams. “Our mistake was maybe not alerting these two young men,” Spurrier told The State. “I think on [Feb. 1] we alerted both of them, talked to them and said ‘Hey, I’m sorry. This is where we are. We got all these other commitments.’ We didn’t like doing this.”
  • Spurrier also reveals that he sent both players a letter of apology and that “we are still looking at them as if they had signed.” In fact, he said the Gamecocks still intend to bring them in. He says that if four of South Carolina’s current signees fail to qualify, Montgomery will be allowed to enroll. Mauldin, the story indicates, would be next in line.

6. Stephenson’s Carlos Hood made it clear that he loved everything about Auburn but he wanted to wait to see who the Tigers hired as his position coach before making a final decision. Well, head coach Gene Chizik hired Chris Pelton on Wednesday replace Tracy Rocker as defensive line coach. Hood, a 6-4, 275-pound defensive lineman, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But a recent interview I had with him reveals that Auburn has a sizeable lead to obtain his services.

“I really like it,” Hood said after a visit to The Plains last weekend. “That’s where I might go to. I’ve been thinking about Auburn for a long time and then they offered me [last week]. I’ve already been over there a couple of time and I was just there last weekend and now they want me to come back with my mom. I may just go ahead and commit to them. I just want to see who the defensive line coach is going to be first.”

Hood, who also has offers from Memphis, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and South Florida, is supposed to go back to Auburn this weekend. At that time he’s expected to meet Pelton. Don’t be surprised if he comes back a Tigers’ commitment.

7. Patrick DeStefano, an offensive lineman from Spartanburg, S.C., picked up an offer from Georgia on Tuesday, according to Scout.com’s Chad Simmons. It was the first of five offers for DeStefano (6-5, 270) that day and gives him 19 overall, Simmons reports.

Based on Scout.com’s prospect database, that gives the Bulldogs more than 50 offers extended so far for their Class of 2012. They’ve also offered at least three more Atlanta prospects this week: Banneker DB Chaz Elder, Banneker DE/TE Larry Jefferson and Columbia DE Jhaustin Thomas.

8. I was surprised at some of the reactions to Rusty Mansell’s comments about Brice Ramsey earlier this week. Mansell, a recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com, was telling me how impressed he was with the Camden County quarterback’s throwing exhibition at the Orlando MVP Camp last weekend and he joked that coach Jeff Herron may have to tweak his Wing-T offense to take advantage of Ramsey’s skills.

That brought some criticism to Mansell from some people saying how dare he question the strategies of an ultra successful coach such as Herron. That, of course, was not what Mansell meant.

“By no means am I saying that Camden County and Jeff Herron needs to change what they’ve done and been so successful at,” Mansell, who has since spoke to Herron, told me. “I’m just saying I could see them tweaking their offense a bit for a quarterback like Brice Ramsey, who can throw the ball he does. But Jeff Herron is one of the most successful coaches in the country and I stand by that. Nobody has the right to question his record or what he does and I wasn’t doing that.”

The truth is, there are lots of ways to throw the ball effectively out of the Wing-T.

9. There was an interesting headline from MaxPreps.com that came into my email via Google alert on Thursday. It read: “Marshall Morgan makes commitment to Florida State football.” Morgan, of course, is a highly-rated place-kicker from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., who committed to Georgia on Jan. 31. Turns out he’s still committed to the Bulldogs and the story was simply about him having done so. Apparently a headline writer was just having a very bad day. . . .

10. THIS & THAT: Josh Manley, a defensive lineman from Alpharetta’s Milton High School, has added offers from Georgia Tech and N.C. State, according to JacketsOnline.com. Manley told the website he’d be visiting Tech soon. . . . Columbia’s Jhaustin Thomas added an offer from Oklahoma State on Thursday. . . .

I was surprised to learn this week that there is still a major college football prospect for the Class of 2011 that remains unsigned. Michael Thomas, a four-star wide receiver from Woodland Hills, Calif., postponed his national signing day ceremony last month after his grandmother died. But he still hasn’t signed anywhere and apparently is still being recruited. He has an official visit planned to Colorado this weekend, according to BuffStampede.com. By all accounts, he would appear to be a good catch for any team. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound athlete had 1,756 yards and 22 touchdowns on 86 catches at Taft High as a senior last season.

284 comments Add your comment

Saint Simons

March 3rd, 2011
10:39 am

(((((42-34))))) hahahahahahaha

BigTimeTECHFan

March 3rd, 2011
10:40 am

Not Tennessee – They are not top 10 program
My 1st guess was USC, but I bet it is Oregon.

Georgia Tech rebuttal

March 3rd, 2011
10:40 am

but we rushed for so many yards!!!!!!!!

Martin the Calvinist

March 3rd, 2011
10:42 am

Whatever top ten program it is, if it’s true, I think the NCAA hammers them.

Beast from the East

March 3rd, 2011
10:42 am

Could be any of the top 25 programs in the country. It depends upon your view of “top 10-12″ programs. One thing is for sure……it can’t be anyone from the ACC. LOL!

True DAWG fan

March 3rd, 2011
10:44 am

First!!!!!!!!!!!!

True DAWG fan

March 3rd, 2011
10:44 am

Crap never mind…lol

PTC DAWG

March 3rd, 2011
10:45 am

Good article as usual. Comments stupid as usual.

Typical DAWG fan

March 3rd, 2011
10:47 am

“First!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“Crap never mind…lol”

It’s ok. Don’t you know that the Dawgs are always first in the offseason? LOL!

The rest of us

March 3rd, 2011
10:48 am

Maybe the brain of the guy posting as Saint Simons was part of the property damaged back in the 80s.

NoFan

March 3rd, 2011
10:54 am

If I were to guess then I would take a flyer on Ohio State.

BigTimeTECHFan

March 3rd, 2011
10:59 am

Cowherd, on his nationally-syndicated ESPN radio program, cryptically revealed on Tuesday that he has information that a “top 10-12″ college football program:

I thought maybe UNC but they are not a top ten “Program”

Texas
Ohio State
Alabama
LSU
USC
Florida
Oklahoma
Nebraska
FSU
Penn St
Notre Dame – This may be who it is?????

Then:
UGA
USCe
Clemson
Va Tech
Michigan
Wisconson
Oregon
Ok St
Iowa
Miami
Sure I forgot a few

dap01

March 3rd, 2011
11:00 am

Cam ooozes slim.

npgator

March 3rd, 2011
11:03 am

The last time Cowherd left a cryptic message it was as to whom would be the next Gator coach after Meyer resigned. To say it never panned out is an understatement. In fact he whiffed so bad on that one I don’t think he even ever mentioned it again.

1eyedJack

March 3rd, 2011
11:06 am

Well we know it’s not Tech. If they had made major recruiting violations then they really suck at it.

And according to Techies it couldn’t be UGA since it’s a top 10-12 program.

Alabama anyone?

One thing for sure

March 3rd, 2011
11:11 am

It’s not UGA since they are not relevant in football anyway.

D A DoubleU G

March 3rd, 2011
11:13 am

I think it reeks of Alabama.

Just my opinion.

Saban is as slimy as Scam Newton.

Just guessing

March 3rd, 2011
11:14 am

You would have to think Tennessee since they are already being investigated. Cowherd is a westcoast guy, so it might be a PAC 12 team. Maybe LSU?

Spokesman for the SEC East

March 3rd, 2011
11:16 am

Either So Cal or the So Cal of the Southeast, FSU. Jumbo Fisher started what Bobby quit doing after Dion Gate; cheating.

Georgia Tech rebuttal

March 3rd, 2011
11:16 am

it COULD be Georgia Tech…… since we rush for so many yards!!!!!

1eyedJack

March 3rd, 2011
11:22 am

FSU? Hmmmmmm.

Jimbo just signed an outstanding class and is off to a great start for 2012. Where was that recruiting prowess the year before?

memphisdawg

March 3rd, 2011
11:25 am

Oregon is the school being referenced according to multiple sources

Spokesman for the SEC East

March 3rd, 2011
11:25 am

1eye, Bowden was warned by the NCAA after his whole debacle with Dion Sanders for not attending a single class his senior year at FSU and quit his cheating chenanigans. Jumbo is one shady character.

RawDawg

March 3rd, 2011
11:28 am

So when is this scandal news coming out?

dawgster

March 3rd, 2011
11:30 am

You guys are all way off base…Its our middle school team up here in North Georgia…two successful seasons in a row…something just doesn’t add up….where are these players coming from and what are they being told….Theres no doubt, its our school….what will this do to recruiting….go dawgs

Big Albany Dawg

March 3rd, 2011
11:40 am

Of course it’s not AUBURN. They are NOT a “top 10-12 program”. This year was a fluke, that’s all tiger fans.

JDO

March 3rd, 2011
11:40 am

Well we know it aint UGA in the top 10-12… Bwahahaha!

Delbert D.

March 3rd, 2011
11:42 am

Must be Stephenson or Lowndes County. They are “college football programs.”

7576DAWG

March 3rd, 2011
11:43 am

With all the recruiting violations in the past year from so many different schools the NCAA is on the verge of losing control of their purpose for existing in the first place. They need to start enforcing the rules and close the Gray area’s .
I never watch a professional football game because it is no longer a sport when spoiled athletes start getting paid and their ego’s are fed to the point that individuality is more important than the TEAM. It is a business and I will not support it. But college football is different because it is still a sport to the athletes and their love of it is reflected by them not getting paid . Integrity, ethic and hard work for the love of the game still matters. The only benefit they are getting is controlled by the details of their scholarship.
Colleges treat football like a business because they have to pay for the scholarship’s somehow , especially for the sport’s that have no way to generate money. But by keeping any benefits , to the football player, to just the scholarship keep’s the Agents and the dirty , cut throat , dog eat dog practices out. A since of purity remain’s.
If the NCAA want’s to keep it that way they need to come down real hard on the violator’s , close the Gray area’s and loopholes and reestablish that they are back in charge.

GTSteve

March 3rd, 2011
11:44 am

I dont care who it is, but I hope the NCAA comes down hard…I like to see the big boys fall

joe

March 3rd, 2011
11:45 am

I’d put my dollar on it being Alabama…Saban has always skirted the rules wherever he’s been…even Miami. kidding on that last one.

bigtime

March 3rd, 2011
11:51 am

Nice job slingin’ some mud at the barn Chip.

Cowherd said a top 10 program originally and then came back later to add the 10-12. Also he said PROGRAM, not RANKED so that leads me to believe it’s a well named program. I’m going to throw mud and say FSU since nobody else will say them. Anybody with “Fast Eddie” Gran coaching on the team has to be a suspect. His previous 2 jobs before FSU; Awbarn and 10-RC.

Dean

March 3rd, 2011
11:51 am

I would think Bama at this point in time would be a top 5 football school. So somebody farther down the rung. Maybe FSU, Oregon, Clemson, Michigan etc…

GTJason

March 3rd, 2011
11:51 am

Maybe something in the wording of top 10-12 team (which is weird, no one refers to themselves as a top 12 team) could be referring to the PAC 10 no PAC 12… my money is on USC. Lane Kiffin is scum and it’s really surprising they still get good recruits with 10 less scholarships every year and no bowl game to go to. Who would play in a program like that?

UGA Insider

March 3rd, 2011
11:53 am

Foks, put the pieces together……… It’s the University of Florida. The SEC and Mike Slive are about to have a nightmare of a summer. Major investigations will be ongoing soon at UF, Auburn and they are already set to put UT on probation anyday now. By the way… how in the world has UT not fired Bruce Pearl???

heartofdarkness

March 3rd, 2011
11:55 am

Did they find the program’s “off the books” revenue, that should have been included in net before calculating the player’s payfoll?

joe

March 3rd, 2011
11:56 am

UT hasn’t fired Pearl because those violations were over a BBQ, not paying players or signing with NBA agents, etc. Had he not lied about it, they’d be secondary…but since he lied, he may get hammered by the NCAA anyway…and once UT knows what that entails, he may yet get the axe.

dawgster

March 3rd, 2011
12:00 pm

@UGA Insider….not sure about your info, maybe just having some fun, but i agree with you that i am shocked that Tenn has not fired Bruce Pearl…The AD hires Kiffin and then these issues with Pearl…If i were a Tenn Fan, i would be asking some hare questions to Hamilton, but he did well with the Dooley hire…but i just don’t see how they let Pearl continue to run their BB program at this point, but I’m not a Tenn fan, so maybe i’m way off base with this….

78 DAWG

March 3rd, 2011
12:02 pm

Whew, I’m glad it’s a top 10 to 12 team, I was afraid it was us for a minute.

RRTDawgs

March 3rd, 2011
12:07 pm

It sounds like something big fixing to pop Auburn has been the main focus it looks like several other schools are deep trouble i am glad its not UGA .

GTBob

March 3rd, 2011
12:09 pm

What a mess college football is these days. So many big teams that are on the brink of being in serious trouble or already are (USC). Then you have other teams that are signing 30+ kids a year and then revoking the offers to the ones they don’t want. We are getting closer and closer to college football being nothing more then a minor league to the NFL.

Johnny Too Good

March 3rd, 2011
12:12 pm

5. I agree with the decision as a coach, players and parents trust you, when we send em off to school they’re trusting us. As and educator and coach, i feel somewhat responsible for these kids’ futures

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

Outside Observer

March 3rd, 2011
12:15 pm

I don’t believe it will be Oregon. Chip Kelly seems to run a solid program. Suspending a guy like LaGarrette Blount for his senior season, kicking Jeremiah Masoli off the team, and even reimbursing a dissatisfied fan after the loss to Boise last year (interesting story, I recommend you look it up if you don’t know about it). My vote is for one of the SEC schools like LSU or Bama. Maybe Notre Dame as well, though I wouldn’t consider them a top 10-12 program.

Axlrodes

March 3rd, 2011
12:28 pm

I think we have our favorites. Here are the Vegas odds

Southern Cal 2/1
Alabama 3/1
Florida 4/1

Auburn 8/1
Florida State 10/1
Tennessee 10/1
Oregon 12/1
Ohio State 15/1
Texas 15/1
Oklahoma 17/1

Western Kentucky 145/1
New Mexico State 147/1
Georgia Tech 150/1 *since you typically don’t have scandals involving 2-star athletes

Columbus Dawg

March 3rd, 2011
12:30 pm

Notre Dame could go winless for three years and would still be considered top ten by the ESPN folks.

DawginLex

March 3rd, 2011
12:31 pm

Insider,

I’m not buying that it is Florida. Foley runs too good of a program to allow that to happen.

I hate them but I don’t see them cheating. Us either.

My guess is Tennessee

1eyedJack

March 3rd, 2011
12:35 pm

USC is put on probation and loses multiple scholarships yet Kiffin still signs 30+. Whose d*@& is he s*%#ing?

VolsRule

March 3rd, 2011
12:37 pm

I guess we will have to wait!

Would not consider Tennessee or Georgia as Top 10-12 programs – we both are digging out our issues:
Tennessee’s issues – a program gone Stale from Fulmer – and jackAss coach hire named Kiffin – at least Dooley seems honorable.

Georgia’s issue – a program gone stale under Richt.

Hope Richt turns it around for you guys at UGA – but not a Tennessee’s expense. I just really like this guy – think he a very good person and is what is right about college football.

As for Tennessee – I agree with above statements – How in the world do we still have Pearl and Hamilton on our payroll? I guess the President is waiting until either Basketball season is over – or the after the NCAA tournament to Fire these two.

Regarding the specualtion of “who dun it” – if really hope it is NOT an SEC team. I would hope it is either Notre Dame, or the Pac10’s USC, or B12 Texas.

Go Vols!!!

PT

March 3rd, 2011
12:39 pm

I know Rusty Mansell, he’s alright. Too bad the people in Camden County are so ignorant they do not realize when someone is actually giving them a compliment on their QB’s ability, idiots.

Typical DAWG fan

March 3rd, 2011
12:40 pm

UGA Insider = f$#&%$ liar.
I think that pretty much sums it up.

DawginLex,
Thanks, and I agree. We’ve been down that road in the 80’s with Pell and I think we’ve learned our lesson.