WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Faced with arm-twisting, at least three former Hurricanes football players recently spoke to the NCAA, which has been threatening ex-UM players in an attempt to pursuade them to be interviewed.
So what was that experience like?
For at least one of them, irritating and tiresome.
An attorney who was on the conference call when his client was interviewed by the NCAA gave us a detailed account of the 20-minute conversation. The former NFL player played at UM several years ago.
“The interview was a joke, basically a fishing expedition,” said the attorney, who asked that his name and client not be identified. “They kept asking the same questions over and over. Did you know Nevin Shapiro or [his former agent partner] Michael Huyghue? He said no.
“Then they asked, ‘Did you go to any clubs with Nevin? Did you see Nevin on the sideline during games? Who was he with? Did you receive benefits from agents?’ They couldn’t cite any specific incident, so they asked very general questions.
“After 20 minutes, [the former player] said, ‘Bro, you keep asking the same questions over and over. I don’t know anything.’ He talked to the NCAA only because he was adamant about clearing his name.”
On that call were UM outside council Mike Glazier and three NCAA officials, including assistant director of enforcement Molly Richman, who threatened numerous Hurricanes players in a November letter that stated the NCAA would believe Shapiro’s allegations against them if they did not agree to be interviewed. That letter, which I obtained, was printed on this blog last month.
Another former UM player admitted to the NCAA that he was on Shapiro’s boat but nothing else. Several players told the NCAA, through attorneys, that they will not speak.
Meanwhile, two attorneys said UM has warned players, by telephone, that they are at risk of being "disassociated" from UM if they do not cooperate with the investigation.
All UM would say to The Herald about the matter is that (unlike the NCAA), UM has not mailed letters to players. In other words, any disassociation comments made by UM have been made in phone calls to former players.
The NCAA's 2010 sanctions against USC required the Trojans to disassociate themselves from Reggie Bush. Last year, Ohio State disassociated Terrelle Pryor from the university for five years after he refused to cooperate with the NCAA investigation.
Disassociation means cutting off all ties with a player. The player would no longer be allowed on campus, couldn't receive complementary tickets to games or be on the sidelines, and couldn't receive recognition or acknowledgement of any kind from the school.
An attorney representing former UM players said one former Cane, trying to get back to the NFL, spoke to the NCAA because he wants to continue using UM’s training facilities and feared being disassociated if he didn't.
### Several ’72 Dolphins in town for the reunion this past weekend - including Paul Warfield – said they simply cannot say with certainty that Miami is headed in the right direction. Regarding Jeff Ireland, Manny Fernandez said: “Even a blind hawk finds an acorn once in a while.”
### The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported over the weekend that the Packers, this offseason, either will trade or release stretch-the-field tight end Jermichael Finley, who obviously would be an upgrade for the Dolphins. Finley, 25, thrived in Mike McCarthy's and Joe Philbin's offense last season, with 767 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
But despite the Philbin/Finley connection, keep this in mind: Neither the Dolphins nor any team likely will trade for Finley and pay him the $7 million he's due in 2013 if they know he's going to be released. And considering Philbin likes conformists, he assuredly is aware of the fact that Finley has had a habit of saying things he shouldn't, as the Journal-Sentinel noted in the piece.
The newspaper also cited his penchant for drops (most among tight ends over the past year-and-a-half), erratic blocking ("embarrassing" at times, one scout said) and his diminished production (48 catches, 525 yards this season).
### Heat guard Mario Chalmers admitted before Tuesday’s game that it has been “tough” sitting behind Norris Cole during numerous fourth quarters recently, but he hasn’t complained. “As long as we’re winning,…” he said.
Chalmers has a better shooting percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio than Cole. But “Norris is a bit quicker than Rio,” Chris Bosh said. And “Norris is our best on-the-ball defender,” Shane Battier said.
Chalmers acknowledged he must “play better defense on the ball” and watch more tape to learn players' tendencies. Still, this is notable: With Chalmers playing with the Big Three and Ray Allen (those four typically finish close games), Miami entered Tuesday plus-20 in 31 minutes. But with Cole playing with the Big Three and Allen, Miami has been outscored by 17 in 25 minutes.
### Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday that Miami’s seldom-used players justifiably “could all have their agent call me and say, ‘What the heck is going on? How come our guy isn’t having an opportunity?' I would simply list the credentials of the players playing in front of them.’”
Spoelstra made a point to praise center Josh Harrellson’s play in practice and his improved conditioning, but it likely will take an injury for him, Dexter Pittman or James Jones to get any meaningful playing time.
I'm curious to see Harrellson because of his ability to stretch the defense, because his offensive skills fit well with Miami's spread-the-floor approach and because he put up good numbers on the several occasions the Knicks played him 30-plus minutes last season. But Joel Anthony's defense has been an invaluable asset on the second unit.
### LeBron James (13 for 25) and Dwyane Wade (9 for 15) have shot well in the last five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer, but nobody has been better in those clutch situations than Bosh: 7 for 8 from the field (his only miss on a three-pointer) and 10 for 10 from the line.
### The Heat on Tuesday became the first team to be outrebounded by at least 28 boards IN A WIN since 1994.
### CBS' Bruce Feldman reported Tuesday night that Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz -- son of the former Miami mayor -- removed himself from consideration for the FIU head coaching job after reportedly interviewing Monday.
### The Marlins have spoken to the Angels about cheap outfielders Mark Trumbo (.268, 32, 95) and Peter Bourjos (.220, 3, 19), though they prefer a better hitter than Bourjos, who did hit .271 with 12 homers and 43 RBI in 2011. The Angels would want a lot in return to consider trading Trumbo.