Nick Saban Accused of Lying by Former Alabama Players

Roster maneuvering is one of the difficult tasks a college football coach has to manage. Because of injuries, attrition, or a lack of development by a player, coaches began employing the practice of oversigning — signing more players than are allowed to be on scholarship, accounting for the aforementioned factors. Alabama coach Nick Saban has already been accused of overusing medical hardships as a way to create more roster space while allowing players to keep on scholarship. Now The Wall Street Journal, which seems to be all over Saban’s case, has comments from three players who say Saban lied about why they were let go from the program.

In August last year, Saban said four players were not being invited back to the program for violating some type of team rule. He said “These guys all did something. It doesn’t make them bad people.…These guys didn’t do what they were supposed to do here, whether it was for academic reasons or whatever. They’re not going to be part of the program.”

The Journal caught up with three of the four players involved — Alonzo Lawrence, Jermaine Preyear and Prince Hall — two of whom said they transferred because of playing time concerns, not because they violated team rules. They believe Saban made the comments to protect the program so future recruits wouldn’t be scared away from signing with the school.

In Saban’s defense, two of the players (Hall and Brandon Fanney) had faced disciplinary actions within the program, but Hall says Saban tried to talk him out of transferring. This definitely seems like Saban is trying to spin things in the best interest of the program and making the students look bad which is unacceptable. There is an easy fix to this situation: a crackdown on oversigning.

Veteran Oddsmaker: Boise State Is Best Team in College Football

The big school/little school rivalry between BCS automatic qualifiers and BCS outsiders took a turn for the interesting Wednesday when Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said Boise State and TCU do not deserve to play in the National Championship Game because of their weak schedule. It’s a point I’ve argued before, but Ohio State’s non-conference schedule was underwhelming, and they also missed playing Michigan State in conference. Hence, their school president is not the person to make such an argument, though the point has some validity.

Here’s the rub: what if Boise State or TCU is the best team in the country despite not playing a difficult schedule? Wouldn’t that mean they should have a chance at the National Championship Game? Sure does in my book. And guess what, there’s some serious support for Boise State in this regard.

Last week we spoke with Mike Seba, a senior oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants which provides sports betting lines for several Las Vegas sports books. He said he had Boise State ranked at the same level as Oregon and Auburn, two of the other unbeaten teams in college football. Want some more? Jay Kornegay, the director of the Las Vegas Hilton race and sports book, told LBS he thinks “Boise State is the best team in the college football.”

Though I said before the year began that Boise State did not belong in the National Championship Game because of their poor schedule, I have changed my mind. Should Auburn or Oregon lose, they do belong in the game. Although I still believe they would lose a game playing in a tougher conference, they would be at the top of every conference in college football. Furthermore, if they were playing Ohio State, I’d pick the Broncos every time.

Photo Credit: Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

LaMichael James Was Investigated for His Range Rover, Reportedly Cleared

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a Heisman Trophy candidate has been investigated by the NCAA. This time around instead of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, it was Oregon running back LaMichael James. The Williamette Week, via CBS Sports, says James was investigated by the NCAA this month for driving a new car.

James had been seen tooling around in a white 2003 Range Rover recently. He apparently acquired the car in a swap with Pernell Brown, who described himself as James’ uncle. Brown is a local gang-outreach worker who is a friend of the family.

According to Brown, “James told him someone was stalking him and leaving notes on his car—a red 2000 Ford Mustang with James’ initials and his jersey number, 21, affixed to the side window.” Naturally, Brown offered to switch cars with him. Makes plenty of sense, right?

Apparently the NCAA bought the story. Oregon media relations man Dave Williford told the Williamette Week that “To my understanding, they think everything is fine.” Right, because that story doesn’t sound at all strange. All I want to know is why UCLA didn’t come up with that story when DeShaun Foster was busted in 2001 for his Expedition.

Big Ten Clinching Scenarios for Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State

The top of the Big Ten Conference involves one of the best races in college football. Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State are all tied for first at 6-1 in conference play and they’re all 10-1 overall. Wisconsin beat Ohio State but lost at Michigan State, while the Spartans got crushed by Iowa. So with only one regular season game left for each team, who will win the Big Ten? Let’s explore the clinching scenarios:

> Wisconsin (7th in BCS, 5th in AP) – Needs to beat Northwestern and have Michigan State lose. They hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Ohio State, so if both they and the Buckeyes win, Wisconsin will be in first.

> Michigan State (10th in BCS, 11th in AP) – Needs to win at Penn State and have Ohio State lose. They hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wisconsin, so a Badgers win doesn’t bother them.

> Ohio State (8th in BCS, 8th in AP) – Needs to beat Michigan and have both Wisconsin and Michigan State lose. They lost to Wisconsin and did not face Michigan State, so they need the most help.

*If Wisconsin and Michigan State win but Ohio State loses, the BCS standings will determine the conference winner (likely to be Wisconsin).
*If Ohio State and Michigan State win but Wisconsin loses, the BCS standings will determine the conference winner (likely to be Ohio State).
*If all three teams win, the BCS standings will determine the winner, and that is likely to be Wisconsin.

In the end, Wisconsin has the best path to winning the conference while Michigan State has the most difficult. The Spartans can thank the Big Ten for only having teams play eight conference games per season, missing two opponents each year. They never got a shot at Ohio State to prove what they could do head-to-head and are hurt as a result.

Taylor Martinez Has Not Left Nebraska, Is ‘On Same Page’ as Bo Pelini

It was a bad weekend for Nebraska coach Bo Pelini who wound up apologizing for his sideline behavior Saturday at Texas A&M. Pelini was seen berating officials after the team was penalized 16 times in a loss, and he was captured on video chewing out quarterback Taylor Martinez.

Martinez missed a team meeting on Sunday sparking widespread rumors that he had left the program (after seeing that video can you blame him?). Bo Pelini said that Martinez is still on the team and that everything has been worked out. When reached by phone on Sunday night, Martinez’s father issued a “no comment,” which doesn’t exactly bode well for Taylor’s status with the program.

What brings Martinez’s father into the conversation (aside from the likelihood that he knows of his son’s status with the program)? Some lip reading suggests Pelini was cussing at Taylor on the sidelines for supposedly calling his father during the game. Pelini said those rumors were “completely off base” when asked to comment on Monday. Bo refused to elaborate on the situation, only saying he and his quarterback are “on the same page” and that they’ve put things behind them.

Martinez may not play on Friday against Colorado because of an ankle injury, and he can’t feel too comfortable in the program. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that players get yelled at by their coaches all the time. The only question is whether or not T-Magic can (and is willing to) take it.

Ben Cotton Grabbed in Nuts by Tony Jerod-Eddie (Video)

While a healthy discussion has broken out over Nebraska coach Bo Pelini’s treatment of the refs and quarterback Taylor Martinez Saturday, a few Huskers fans took the liberty of pointing out that A&M wasn’t acting like a bunch of honor students either. At the bottom of a pile in the first quarter Saturday night, Texas A&M junior defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie can be seen pinching sophomore tight end Ben Cotton in the thigh and gasp! — balls! Check out the video:

That sort of stuff goes on at the bottom of the pile all the time, but it’s usually not in plain view like it was on TV. Maybe getting publicly ridiculed for being dirty will help curtail this sort of behavior in the future. There’s certainly no place for nut grabbing another man. Ever.

USC Players Pictured at a Teague Egan 1st Round Entertainment Group Party

Highly-touted freshman running back Dillon Baxter found himself in trouble with USC once again last week. Baxter did not travel with the team to Oregon State after it was discovered he accepted a golf cart ride across campus from Teague Egan, a certified agent. Egan also happens to be a USC student, so the image of Van Wilder tooling around in his sled must be percolating through your mind.

Ordinarily we wouldn’t give a second thought to this non-incident, but the mini-violation brought Egan’s 1st Round Entertainment group to prominence. USC site Conquest Chronicles did some digging and found pictures of a 1st Round party where several current and former Trojans football players were in attendance, as site contributor Black Jack shared with us.

(from L-R) Chris Galippo, Everson Griffen, Jordan Campbell

In pictures from the group’s facebook page, you can see the likes of current players Chris Galippo, C.J. Gable, Daniel Harper, Jordan Campbell, Ryan McMahon, Malcolm Smith, and Shareece Wright, and former players Taylor Mays and Everson Griffen partying it up. Just being at a party isn’t an NCAA violation, but the mere association of the several players with a known NFL agent could be a problem.

There’s no doubt Lane Kiffin and the Trojans have warned the players about associating with Egan after what happened with Baxter. Now if you’re wondering about 1st Round Entertainment, think of them as the Seinfeld of promoters; they’re a group about nothing. The “company’s” vision as described on its Web site is nothing but a bunch of sentence fragments, with sayings borrowed from Talladega Nights. Teague Egan is nothing more than a Josh Luchs wanna-be who should be avoided by all college players, and despised by USC fans for getting the players into trouble.

More USC Players and 1st Round Entertainment