February 07, 2011
Making the morning rounds.
• Da Coach O in da hot water? In the same week he was lauded as one of the nation's best pied pipers of teenage talent, USC defensive line coach/recruiting bear Ed Orgeron was also named by ESPN's Joe Schad as one of the subjects of a wide-ranging probe into the Lane Kiffin era at Tennessee, a 14-month span that remains firmly on the NCAA's radar on multiple fronts more than a year after Kiffin and Co.'s exit for the West Coast. Specifically, Orgeron is reportedly being investigated for conducting an improper workout of defensive line prospect Brandon Willis in May 2009, in violation of at least two rules governing contact with recruits. (Willis later committed to Tennessee but defected to North Carolina with Kiffin and Orgeron's departure; he transferred to UCLA last September.)
Usually, that sort of violation would be considered a secondary, slap-on-the-wrist offense. In this case, though, it could be just one more brick in a case that already includes several confirmed secondary violations and unresolved allegations – all related to recruiting – that could add up to a more severe hit against Kiffin for a failure to monitor or control the program. "When we went through some stuff about Tennessee, I've been told that I'm not allowed to comment," Orgeron told ESPN's Joe Schad on Friday. "That's what I've been instructed to do. That's what I'm doing." [ESPN]
• Ah, the honeymoon period. As usual in fresh regime changes, Miami players say they're "fired up" about their new coach, Al Golden, hailing the across-the-board improvements in "discipline and organization" and "accountability" under the new administration. Part of the reform movement: A "handbook" that requires players to sit in the front row of classes, remove hats and earrings indoors and "hold back on cursing." (No word on the acceptability of Oakland Raider-themed overalls.) Linebacker Sean Spence said players were "shocked" to see assistant coaches check up on them in class, because they never saw former coach Randy Shannon's staff outside of the football complexes.
There are also the tougher workouts under new strength coach Andreu Swasey, who was on the staff of the dominant Hurricane teams that won 24 straight games in 2001-02. "You can feel the difference," offensive lineman Brandon Washington told the Miami Herald. "This is a wake-up call for the team. Coach Golden said he's here for us – will love you, respect you and get you better. … I have a great feeling about this. I didn’t see guys working as hard last year." [Miami Herald]
• Low Art. Former Ohio State star Art Schlichter, All-American quarterback turned serial offender, is reportedly being investigated (again) by local and federal officials for a fraudulent ticket scheme that swindled millions of dollars from dozens of investors. Schlichter (right, with coach Earle Bruce in 1980) allegedly gambled away the money he was able to wrangle from a 68-year-old widow, Anita Barney (whose husband, Wendy's CEO Robert Barney, died in 2007), who believed she was investing in a legitimate business to sell Super Bowl tickets. Schlichter has served time in 44 prisons or jails since 1994, mainly for fraud and forgery in the service of his infamous gambling addiction. [Columbus Dispatch]
• Irish ends are smiling. Rivals calls Notre Dame's collection of seven incoming defensive ends "one of the most dominant jobs a team has ever done recruiting one position," and arguably the best defensive end haul ever assembled in a single class. The crop includes five-star headliners Stephon Truitt and Ishaq Williams and a pair of four-stars, Aaron Lynch and Ben Councell, who ranked among Rivals' top 100 overall players. Their ranks will also supply "hybrid" outside linebackers in the Irish's 3-4 scheme. [Rivals]
Quickly… The NCAA Rules Committee vows to make fans even angrier with a continued emphasis on player safety and sportsmanship. … Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown is leaving for UConn. … Florida signees are cool with the cold of the Big Ten. … Urban Meyer returns to Notre Dame. … Rocky Long isn't a fan of BYU, or the way the Cougars left the Mountain West. … The first leg of the Tate Forcier World Tour kicks off today. … Auburn fans do a little landscaping in Tuscaloosa. … And Nebraska may finally be getting the offensive makeover fans have been waiting for, whether or not it includes - - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.