October 13, 2011
Making the morning rounds.
• Does the probation prohibit setting opposing defenses on fire? Tulsa senior Damaris Johnson, the NCAA's career leader in all-purpose yards as a rusher, receiver and return man, pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement along with his girlfriend, both of whom received a one-year deferred sentence. Johnson and his girlfriend, Chamon Jones, were charged days before the start of the season for allegedly using Jones' debit card on two different occasions to ring up more than $2,600 worth of merchandise at a Macy's department store where she worked for a little over $13.
Johnson and Jones must each complete 80 hours of community service, pay $500 to the court fund and $250 to the victims compensation fund, but will not serve jail time and will have charges dropped after completing a one-year probation. Johnson remains indefinitely suspended from the team, but the apparent settlement of his legal ordeal "might open the door for him next year," according to coach Bill Blankenship. "Honestly, it's the first I've heard about it," Blankenship told the Tulsa World. "I can't foresee anything changing this season." [Tulsa World]
• LaMichael in limbo. Oregon has remained conspicuously mum on the status of star tailback LaMichael James, and James himself told reporters Tuesday — even while wearing a sling containing the arm he injured in gruesome fashion during last Thursday's win over Cal — that he's still hoping to play Saturday against Arizona State. Quarterback Darron Thomas, however, didn't sound so optimistic: "[We're] practicing, getting ready, trying to push a little harder, knowing we're going to be without LaMichael," Thomas said after Wednesday's practice. "We've got Kenjon [Barner] in the backfield with me. He is a step behind LaMike, doing the same things. We've got Tra Carson doing well for us. I can't wait to see him play. And De'Anthony [Thomas], everybody knows about De'Anthony. The running backs just have to hold their own and do it for LaMichael." [The Oregonian]
• Stairway to "day to day." Penn State receiver Derek Moye, easily the Nittany Lions' most potent weapon with 485 yards and three touchdowns on 28 receptions, showed up to Wednesday's practice wearing a protective boot after reportedly falling down some steps on Tuesday night. His status for Saturday's homecoming date against Purdue — or for the rest of the season — is in the air. [Daily Collegian, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
• Let the games begin. The annual round of musical chairs in college coaching is already underway at Florida Atlantic, where athletic director Craig Angelos personally named Mike Leach, Randy Shannon and Jim Leavitt as likely targets to replace retiring FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger after the season. "A lot of times when you give people a second chance they are better than the first time," Angelos said. "They've learned from mistakes. They're hungrier. That was the case with our basketball coach Mike Jarvis, and he won the conference here after three years."
The sentiment is not necessarily reciprocated. "A close associate" told the Herald Shannon "prefers a higher-profile job," specifically the newly vacant head-coaching gig at Arizona, though Leach — a local resident in Key West since being fired at Texas Tech — might be more receptive. "I do plan to coach," Leach said. "Craig [Angelos] is a great man and FAU is a great program. Anything negative that happens to Miami [as a result of an ongoing NCAA investigation] can only help FAU and FIU." [Miami Herald]
Quickly… Big East presidents vote against raising exit fees. (I can't imagine why.) ... Linebacker Dee Finley is transferring from Florida. … Ohio State is keeping its backup quarterback situation close to the vest. … Maryland suspends a backup fullback for (altogether now) undisclosed violations of team rules. … Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy on managing a blowout. … The ACC chastises an official for moving the ball during a measurement in Wake Forest's win over Florida State. … Inside a halftime at Alabama. … Steve Spurrier actually prefers his quarterback in gloves. … Wisconsin's fourht-string quarterback on the reaction to his garbage time touchdown in last year's blowout over Indiana. … And finally, someone talked Denard Robinson into staying healthy.