Our top news story in this week’s Pipeline comes from the University of Illinois. (Never thought you’d read that, did you?) Yes, the Illini have attracted national attention, at least for a couple days.
Head coach Tim Beckman was fired Friday afternoon just seven days before Illinois opens its season against Kent State. Director of Athletics Mike Thomas dismissed Beckman due to the findings of an external investigation into the mistreatment of players.
Beckman is alleged to have deterred the reporting of player injuries, and pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and play through injuries. There are also some questions as to whether or not seniors were treated fairly with respect to their scholarship status during the spring semester once they were done playing. He has, of course, denied that the allegations are accurate, setting the stage for a future lawsuit.
These are very serious accusations. And there must have been quite a lot of damning evidence to substantiate these claims for Thomas to can Beckman so close to the season opener.
Bill Cubit will take over for the 2015 as interim head coach. He joined the Illini coaching staff in 2013 as offensive coordinator.
The issue of player safety became real for us last fall when Brady Hoke and the Michigan training staff failed miserably in protecting quarterback Shane Morris. Excuse the video quality, but you should hear how Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham brought this to a live audience. Now that a coach has been fired for mismanaging his players, it’s officially a hot button issue.
2. Fining College Football Players?
On Wednesday, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said some things he shouldn’t have about the possibility of fining players. Athletic director Whit Babcock was quick to shut the idea down, saying Tech would be doing no such thing.
On Thursday a list of all finable offenses is spotted outside the Tech locker room. A picture is taken. The picture makes its way around the internet. And Foster’s words are legitimized, proving that there was a plan in place to fine Hokie players for misbehavior.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 28, 2015
Then, Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville seconds Foster’s motion. The AD in this case, UC’s Mike Bohn does not squash his coach’s idea, but instead agrees with him.
There’s some confusion about whether this is legal. NCAA rules state that taking money from a student’s scholarship is impermissible. However, there is supposedly some language in these financial aid contracts which states the school may subtract aid if the violations go against department policy or the student code of conduct.
I’m no legal eagle. I’ll let the lawyers decide what exactly the contracts allow schools to do with players’ financial aid. I can say that this will undoubtedly add another convoluted layer to the already complicated cake that is the controversy over compensating college athletes.
3. Pac-12 Network on DirecTV
As our own Mike Wilson wrote last week, west coast football fans might be able to relax soon. After years of not carrying the Pac-12 Network on their cable package, DirecTV will finally give fans out west what they want.
DirecTV, which was recently bought by AT&T, began testing on Friday that appears to be the first step towards bringing the Pac-12 Network to their customers’ television sets.
Imagine the frustration of paying for sports packages you’re not interested in while your favorite conference’s network is unavailable to you. This is what some fans have been dealing with since the Pac-12 Network’s inception in 2012.
Luckily for them it seems to be coming to an end just in time for the 2015 season.
Steve Sarkisian addressed the media on Tuesday concerning his “inappropriate” behavior at a USC donor event last Saturday. Apparently, he had too much to drink and had taken some pills he was prescribed.
The press conference was short, but notably odd.
There were unnecessarily personal questions about specifically what medication Sarkisian was referring to in his statement. Rightfully, he declined to disclose that information.
When asked if he had a drinking problem, Sarkisian said, “No, I don’t believe so, but through Pat [Haden] and the University, I’m going to find that out.”
“I don’t know if I even need rehab,” Sarkisian said. “That’s part of the process, and I credit Pat Haden for this, that he has put things in place for me to have meetings to figure that out.”
He was quick to ‘swear off’ drinking for the rest of the season, and clarified that while there was never any alcohol in the players’ locker room, it will now be completely banned from all USC football facilities.
The USC players had their coach do a set of down-ups, just as they would have had to do for breaking team rules.
The team has moved on and so should the media. This was a big mistake, but it was not an accurate reflection of Sarkisian’s character.
5. Vernon Adams Wins Oregon’s Starting QB Job
Anyone who was following the quarterback battle at Oregon knew there was a good chance Vernon Adams would end up winning the job. The Ducks’ week one depth chart was released on Friday, and sure enough Adams was at the top.
This is news mostly because it wasn’t news to those of us who were paying attention.
Adams is a graduate transfer student who played three seasons at Eastern Washington. He put up the type of numbers you see from Oregon quarterbacks, throwing for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns while with the Eagles. With Marcus Mariota gone to the NFL and the rest of the team in place, the Ducks needed a new quarterback who could step in and preform immediately. In Adams, they’ve got just that.
Interestingly, Adams will make his first start against his alma mater next weekend when the Ducks host the Eagles. That’s right, just three weeks after graduating from Eastern Washington he will take the field against his former team.
Ahh, what a glorious loophole in the NCAA’s transfer rules.