Dr. Saturday

Headlinin’: Chizik memoir stands by his embattled quarterback

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

Making the morning rounds.

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Nothing to see here. A forthcoming memoir by Auburn coach Gene Chizik is set to shock the publishing world by claiming that Auburn never had any doubts about the eligibility of star quarterback Cam Newton during last year's run to the BCS championship, despite a months-long avalanche of incriminating reports and speculation that the übermensch QB or his family was bought and paid for. "We knew we had done nothing wrong during the recruiting process," Chizik writes on one of the two pages in the 282-page book dedicated to the scandal that defined the season. "If we'd had any level of concern regarding Cameron's eligibility, we would not have put him on the field and risked forfeiting games for playing an ineligible player." In an equally shocking turn, Chizik also blames "some individuals in the media" for blowing the story out of proportion. [Associated Press]

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This could get ugly. The indefinite suspension levied Wednesday against Oregon cornerback/return man Cliff Harris may extend beyond the season opener against LSU, according to sports information director Dave Williford, who emphasized that "indefinite" really means "indefinite": "[The suspension] could be the LSU game only," Williford said. "It could be longer, it could be much longer."

Coach Chip Kelly said in a release announcing Harris' suspension that "Cliff's future is clearly in Cliff's hands," and he won't rejoin the team until he's "able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with." Specifically, that means being cleared of NCAA violations for driving a car rented by a university employee and of legal obligations that come with thousands of dollars in unpaid fines. [The Oregonian]

That thing they said: Us too. Unwilling to be left behind by his counterparts in the Big Ten and SEC, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott became the latest power broker to hop aboard the "cost of attendance" bandwagon Wednesday by pledging to advocate for an increase in scholarship money available to student-athletes. "Our concern is kids from underprivileged backgrounds who literally have trouble covering costs, have a meal, have a little spending money," said Scott, who broached the topic with Pac-12 athletic directors at their recent conference meetings. "That's a concern."

One athletic director who's open to the idea: Arizona State's Lisa Love, who called Scott's initiative "a healthy conversation." One athletic director who's not: Arizona's Greg Byrne, who notes in the same article that, considering likely Title IX concerns, funneling more money to players could be crippling in an environment where almost no one is breaking even as it is. [Denver Post, Phoenix Business Journal, Associated Press] {YSP:MORE}

Mack-ximum exposure. Most coaches hate doing one weekly television show during the season, but Mack Brown is on board for two weekly shows this fall —and will be featured prominently in a third. The initial slate of offering for the forthcoming Longhorn Network, released Wednesday by corporate partner/megolith ESPN, includes Mack in a regular recap show ("Rewind with Mack Brown") on Monday nights and a regular preview show ("Game Plan with Mack Brown") on Thursdays, as well as a Wednesday night "documentary" series ("Texas All Access") that will focus exclusively on football during the season. The network will also crib directly from ESPN's playbook with Texas-only versions of "SportsCenter" ("Longhorn Extra") and "College GameDay" ("Texas GameDay"). [ESPN Media Zone, Longhorn Network]

Opening arguments. Orlando jurors heard opening arguments Wednesday at a civil trial for a wrongful death suit brought against Central Florida by the family of former UCF running back Ereck Plancher, who collapsed and died during a workout in March 2008. The family claims that a) The university never informed Plancher that he had tested positive for sickle cell trait, a genetic condition that's resulted in the death of multiple college football players in the last decade, b) Coaches pushed him too hard despite their knowledge of his condition, and c) Coaches and trainers didn't follow proper emergency procedures when Plancher began showing signs of distress. The university contends Plancher died during a moderate workout of a congenital heart defect it couldn't have known about. [Associated Press]

Just leave the statue at the door. Continuing to tap the apparently endless supply of raw acting talent it has on hand in Heritage Hall, USC launched the latest entry in its series of in-house ticket spots this week with the greatest pitchman of them all:

Between da Coach O and Lane Kiffin, Trojan recruits will be hearing their names shouted from the podium of the Oscars in no time. [USCTrojans.com]

Quickly… A judge orders North Carolina to publicly release phone records and parking tickets related to the ongoing investigation into UNC football. … Auburn lands its second commitment from a top 100 recruit in as many days in Tyrone, Ga., receiver Jaquay Williams. … Florida continues its recruiting roll with a solid four-star linebacker from Louisiana, Lorenzo Phillips. … LSU is exploring the idea of possibly considering an expansion of Tiger Stadium. … Contrary to some reports, Tate Forcier says he hasn't had any contact with Hawaii. … Former Colorado tight end Patrick Devenny may or may not have a shot with Hayden Panettiere. … And here's a groundbreaking piece of commerce as Colorado State-themed art. Andy Warhol would be proud.

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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