Making the morning rounds.
• A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… This may not come as a surprise to the obsessives who scrutinized every minor turn in Terrelle Pryor's recruitment back in 2008, but documents released late last week confirmed that the NCAA took serious interest at the time in Ohio State's relationship with Pryor's hometown "mentor," businessman Ted Sarniak, after Pryor signed with the Buckeyes that spring. Specifically, the Association was interested in whether Ohio State had "converted" Sarniak into a booster who represented Ohio State's interests rather than Pryor's, because he frequently acted as a middle man between Pryor and the OSU coaching staff despite being neither a coach nor family member.
The Buckeyes were officially cleared of the charge on Sept. 17, 2008 — nearly three weeks after Pryor appeared for the first time in a season-opening blowout over Youngstown State, and just three days before Pryor made the first start of his career against Troy. "Had we lost this case," wrote athletic director Gene Smith in a congratulatory e-mail to OSU staff, "the definition of a booster would have been the lowest possible standard."
Three years later, coach Jim Tressel was found to have exchanged 77 phone calls and text messages with Sarniak between April 2010, when he first learned of the NCAA violations that would eventually lead to both Tressel and Pryor's departures from Ohio State a year later, and Dec. 21, one day before news of possible violations first hit the media. [Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press]
• The Rap Sheet, Part One. Syracuse wide receiver Marcus Sales, expected to start this fall for the third consecutive season, is facing felony drug charges after being pulled over by Syracuse police Friday night with his brother. Sales was stopped after reportedly driving through a red light, according to officers, who subsequently found marijuana, 180 Lortab tablets, three digital scales, baggies with various insignias printed on them and a plastic cup containing gin, which Sales admitted to drinking; between them, Sales and his brother were also carrying nearly $1,000 in cash.
Both were charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance — including intent to distribute, based on the number of pills and the baggies — as well as criminally using drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana. Sales was also charged with passing a red light, consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle and violating the city's open container law. [Syracuse Post-Standard]
• The Rap Sheet, Part Two. Elsewhere, Illinois linebacker Ashante Williams, a likely starter this fall, has been suspended indefinitely after an early morning arrest for drunk driving. According to an Urbana police report, Williams was stopped for a traffic violation at 1:37 a.m. on Saturday, showed signs of impairment during field sobriety tests and admitted he had been drinking alcohol. He was released from Champaign County jail a few hours later, after posting a $100 bond for the traffic offense. [Champaign News-Gazette]
• Going like hot cakes with Jim Delany's face printed on them. General admission tickets to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 3 sold out in less than two hours after going on sale Saturday morning. That was probably your best chance to snap up one of the 63,000 seats at Lucas Oil Stadium, but it won't be your last: An additional 15,000 tickets will be made available to each participating school when the matchup is determined by the conference standings. [Lincoln Journal Star]
• Dinged Duck. Former Oregon star/NFL journeyman Joey Harrington was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries Sunday night after the rear wheel of his bicycle was struck by an SUV in Southeast Portland. Police declined to reveal any specific of Harrington's injury, but cited the 26-year-old driver of the SUV for following too close. [The Oregonian]
• Happy trails. Alabama wide receiver Keiwone Malone, a former four-star recruit in 2010, is reportedly transferring home to Memphis, where he may appeal to play immediately this fall. At Alabama, Malone had been suspended earlier this summer for an undisclosed violation of team rules. [Memphis Commercial Appeal]
Ex-Crimson Tide safety Robby Green is also leaving Tuscaloosa, in his case for Division II California University of Pennsylvania, but told TideSports.com he plans to return to Alabama next spring to finish his degree. "I needed a fresh start in a new place. I needed to get out of one element and into another one," said Green, who sat out all of 2010 on an NCAA suspension before being booted from 'Bama earlier this year. "I'll get to go up North, meet some new people and try to make my dream of playing at the next level happen." [TideSports.com]
• We paint. See? We paint! Arkansas has applied for and received a trademark for the phrase "We didn't come to paint," coach Bobby Petrino's response when asked about a gutsy fourth-and-short pass from Ryan Mallett to Joe Adams that helped seal a victory over LSU and Arkansas' first ever BCS bid last November:
"It has the potential to be a popular expression that we could use in different mediums," associate athletic director Brian Pracht told ArkansasNews.com. "You saw it in the media guide already. I think it has the ability to appear on some merchandise in the future here this season." [ArkansasNews.com]
Quickly… Academics will sack Penn State quarterback Paul Jones for the entire 2011 season. … Michigan picks up yet another commitment from Ohio. … Northwestern is doing the billboard thing for quarterback Dan Persa. … Mark Richt's clumsy text-messaging costs Georgia another secondary violation. … Tulsa's coach says his quarterback is the best quarterback in the state of Oklahoma. … A former Arkansas receiver lands at Kansas. … Bubba Starling is holding out for the big bucks from the Kansas City Royals. … A pair of enlisted men take the Iron Bowl to Afghanistan. … And Kirk Ferentz survives possibly the creepiest autograph request in Big Ten history.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.