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24 posts from October 2013

October 22, 2013

Regrets from Shapiro family; Pundits, UM, others react to UM news; NCAA/UM tidbits

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

(We're all UM/NCAA today because of the end of the investigation, but we'll have lots of Dolphins and Heat over the coming days.)

As reaction to the NCAA’s ruling on UM poured in Tuesday, Nevin Shapiro’s father said his son --– serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a Ponzi scheme -- never should have opened his mouth publicly about the UM case.

“If it could have benefited him, then fine,” Larry Shapiro said by phone, sadness evident in his voice. “But it didn’t have any benefit. It hurt him. I said to him three years ago: ‘Was it worth it?’ And he got pissed off at me.’

“It wasn’t worth it! For what? What’s it led to? He stepped on a lot of toes for what? For [bleeping] nothing! What the [bleep] did it have to do with his criminal case?”

If he hadn’t spoken out about UM, “he would have been here in Miami and here with his attorney every weekend,” instead of Oakdale, La., and now Butner, N.C., Shapiro said.

“But he would have gotten killed” if he had been imprisoned “in Miami,” the father added, knowing UM fans were angry with him snitching. 

Larry Shapiro, who said he believes all of his son’s allegations were true, said Shapiro was placed in solitary confinement two years ago in Tallahassee after the NCAA story broke because “they think he’s a squealer and a rat. They put food in a slot like they do with death row inmates.”

His said Shapiro speaking to Sports Illustrated this year about his gambling on UM games “was very detrimental.”

He said prison officials and other inmates “frown on it” and that some think he’s “infamous and a rat. What they do is they goad you to try to get you to do something. If he breathes, they monitor it. Guards say, ‘Where’s Nevin?’ They have him under a microscope. They monitor everything because of the [expletive] of the UM [story]. If you respond, they put you in a room with no windows, a 4 by 6 cell.”

Shapiro, who lives in South Florida, said his son’s e-mail privileges at Butner (where the king of Ponzi schemers, Bernie Madoff, also resides) have been rescinded for 90 days because prison officials thought he was trying to circumvent the prison mailing system, which Shapiro said his son did not do.

He said he suspects his son –- who called for UM to get the death penalty -– was unhappy UM’s punishment wasn’t more severe.

UM/NCAA CHATTER

### Shapiro had accused 114 players of accepting illegal benefits. But the infractions committee concluded that 30 players and eight coaches committed major violations and said it used “photographs and statements of others” to confirm those charges. And the NCAA bemoaned that none of those 38 people “involved in the numerous major violations took any meaningful steps to report” them.

### The NCAA interviewed Shapiro 22 times – 22! – including 18 in person before it even informed UM that it was being investigated. The NCAA ended up conducting 118 interviews in all, with 81 different people.

### The NCAA concluded that “by granting [Shapiro] special access and celebrating him with the naming of a student lounge, it is clear the institution embraced him. He certainly did not ‘fly under the radar’ as the institution asserts.”

### Former UM A.D. Sam Jankovich told us: “I thought Miami might get fined. I didn’t think they would get scholarship cuts. But those committees have an ax to grind... The scholarships could hurt a little bit.”

### ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit: “If you’re a USC or Penn State fan, you could say, ‘Why in the world did [UM] lose only nine [football] scholarships?’ If you’re a Miami fan, this is a great day.”

### ESPN’s Dick Vitale told us: “The unfair part is how long it took for a decision. I don’t think [the penalties] were that bad. I don’t see it as something that will hurt them.”

### Green Bay Packers executive and former UM star Alonzo Highsmith, whose son plays for UM, said by phone: “I’m ecstatic. I’m glad it’s over. Let’s move on. Al Golden withstood the storm. Now we can put this behind us and take our program to great heights. Tell Nevin and his fraud attorney and Randy Phillips and Tyrone Moss: ‘Nice try. Now go crawl back under a rock and lead your life as former Hurricanes who everyone hates.’” (Phillips told The Sun Sentinel that Shapiro told the truth when he accused UM of violations, and Moss reportedly corroborated Shapiro's claims to Yahoo!)

### Leonard Abess, chairman of UM’s Board of Trustees, told us: “It’s a fair result. I’m not angry with the NCAA. They have done the best job they can.”

But considering Donna Shalala said earlier this year that UM deserved no further sanctions, why not appeal? “Because it’s over. It’s time to be done with it. It would serve no purpose for anyone to appeal this.”

### Former UM basketball coach Jake Morton, the only former UM coach who received a notice of allegations but no penalty, told us: “It has been a very trying 26 months. It’s been difficult in a lot of levels: personally, professionally. I’m glad it’s over. I’m not angry. I was angry through the process, but I’m ready to move on. I don’t understand why Nevin did it. I don’t understand what his motive was. It never made any sense to me.”

Morton, who has coached previously at St. Francis, James Madison, UM (2007-11) and Western Kentucky, said he’s hopeful of returning to coaching.

### Attorney Jim Zeszutek, who represents Hill, Aubrey Hill and Jorge Fernandez, was upset about Hill and Fernandez getting two-year show/cause penalties, which will make it very difficult for either to land college coaching jobs. Fernandez is out of coaching; Hill coaches Carol City High in Miami.

"I expected Coach Hill's to drop to a secondary violation, but the NCAA seems to have ignored all the sworn affidavits we provided showing athletes were encouraged to make statements against him," Zeszutek told my colleague Michelle Kaufman.

"As for coach Fernandez, he has already been out of coaching for two years and if you add another two years to that, you are punishing him for four years. It is putting him behind the eight ball and makes it very difficult for him to get back in. I spoke to Coach Hill, and he is so frustrated, displeased and unhappy with the ruling. I will spend the next few days digesting this report, but it's very disappointing in the cases of Coach Hill and Fernandez.''

### Check out @MannyNavarro's story on the sports home page for more reaction, including prominent NCAA blogger John Infante saying UM got off lightly; USC athletic director Pat Haden complaining about his school's penalties compared with UM's; and Jay Bilas blasting the NCAA as usual.

### Missouri and former UM coach Frank Haith, who said he won’t appeal his five-game suspension, was skewered in the NCAA’s 102-page report. On more than one occasion, the NCAA said it “does not find his version of events to be credible…. The only reason [Haith] requested a third interview was he realized earlier that by telling the truth during [an earlier] interview, he had implicated not only himself, but also [a former assistant coach] in a scheme to cover up NCAA violations.”

### When Shapiro needed money, he asked Haith for a personal loan or to return his $50,000 donation. The NCAA said when Haith wouldn’t return Shapiro’s calls, Shapiro “began leaving threatening messages” and threatened to tell Miami’s athletic director that Shapiro “entertained coaches at a strip club and that he once provided coaches with $10,000 to facilitate recruitment of prospects.”

The NCAA said that Haith helped three assistants pay $10,000 to Shapiro's mother and "attempted to cover up the booster's threats to disclose incriminating information."

And there's this: The NCAA said Haith “described being embarrassed by his night at the strip club because he was married and in Miami that would have been a ‘bad deal.’”

### In a sense, Haith summed up the state of college sports with this statement to the NCAA: "Did we win enough games for the Miami supporters? I don't think they felt great about what we did there. I didn't recruit, I didn't get the five-star guys ... Let's don't be naive.... Our business is corrupt."

After we spoke, Vitale tweeted that Haith's "image has taken a major hit." Missouri is standing behind Haith, with A.D. Mike Alden saying Tuesday: "I'm proud to have Frank Haith as our men's basketball coach."

### The NCAA said after my column appeared on Aug. 29, 2010, in which Shapiro threatened to write a tell-all book about UM, the Hurricanes asked Shapiro and his attorney for information. They did not respond.

### Al Golden isn't mentioned in the NCAA's 102-page summary. Randy Shannon is referenced, but not by name; he received a letter of reprimand because multiple UM football coaches (and 32 UM coaches in all, covering 10 sports) sent impermissible text messages or made impermissible calls. UM's new policy, in effect a few years, fines coaches a minimum of $100 for each impermissible text message, and also results in a seven-day suspension. 

### An unnamed prospect that was recruited by UM told the NCAA that former coach Clint Hurtt had a “bat phone” as a second unregistered device to use when calls to recruits weren’t permitted.

Hurtt's violations are exposed in the NCAA report. Tom Jurich, Louisville's athletic director, said Tuesday that Hurtt would have been fired if he had committed these violations  as a member of the Cardinals' staff. But Jurich said Louisville will retain him because he committed the violations while working for UM. But he won't be permitted to recruit through next spring, will have his pay frozen and also received a two-year show-cause penalty.

"I apologize to the University of Miami," Hurtt said Tuesday. "It's my alma mater.... I admit the mistakes I made and will take accountability for my actions."

Please see the last two posts for a lot more UM/NCAA fallout. Now, thankfully, we can all move on: We'll have a lot of other non-NCAA stuff in the days ahead. Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

NCAA Blog Part 2: Shalala, Blake James, Committee of Infractions chair react on UM case

Updated at 12:30 p.m.: Here's what UM president Donna Shalala told our Michelle Kaufman by phone:

"Obviously, we’re happy that we finally heard from the infractions committee. We believe we had a very fair hearing with them. And while we would have preferred just to get the sanctions we already imposed, having read the report and gone through the hearing, I think what they gave us was fair.’’

“Certainly the athletic department suffered. The recruiting was directly affected by both the infractions and failure to obey the rules by our own coaches and student-athletes and our admission of those failures.

"As both Jim Larranaga and Al Golden have reported, recruiting was directly affected. Since I’m involved in the recruiting process for all the student-athletes, I can tell you the parents asked about it. So, I think, more than anything else, the athletic program suffered greatly as much by the timeline as anything else. But we were responsible, and it was very clear we broke NCAA rules and we admitted that and were penalized appropriately for it. “I haven’t felt any particular stress. I’ve been through much worse than this. But I have felt badly for our community and I think for many people in the athletic department and supporters very difficult. I have a bigger job. We just have to get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and not obsess about when the NCAA was going to report. I am very happy for our entire community that this is done.’’

“No one likes to be criticized, but I’m sort of used to being criticized. I’ve been in public life for a very long period of time. I don’t take it personally. I know people have our best interest at heart and people were disgusted and upset. It’s part of the responsibility of a leader to take both the praise and the criticism. I don’t criticize  our fans. I understand their passion for the game, our program and the university and I want them to continue to have that passion, even when they’re mad at us.’’
“We’ve learned the best compliance system in the world can’t substitute for the good judgment of the personnel that you hire. People need to follow through on their instincts. We thought we had a very good compliance system in place.After all, we had the chairman of the NCAA Infractions Committee (Paul Dee) as our athletic director. And we had a very tough football coach and a good strong basketball coach with a good reputation, and a president who watches out for these things, and it still slipped through.  We will all go back and think about what we missed and when we missed it. More than anything else, I think we’ve learned a lot about things we needed to add, but changing the culture where people are comfortable calling us to turn things in. If you read the report, there are some very important lessons there. It’s not just having the system in place, but having the right people in place and never letting your guard down.

“I apologize to our fans, our community that this happened in the first place and we’re just got to be on a path to continuous improvement. Already doing that, but the culture has to be one in which anyone – always the cover up gets you in trouble – who commits and infraction calls us and checking and taking appropriate punishment. What we can’t do is delay and be afraid we’re going to fired if we turn ourselves in.’’

UM A.D. Blake James said UM has self-imposed scholarships -- he declined to say how many -- but hasn't told the NCAA yet. He said he will tell NCAA now and see if any will count toward the 9 UM was docked. But UM won't appeal regardless. He said the 9 can be allocated any way over the next three years. Al Golden will decide the mechanics of that.

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Highlights from the UM/NCAA conference call with Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, the chairman of the committee on infractions:

 

### He said the case did not include information improperly gathered by the NCAA, but that the NCAA’s misconduct wasn’t taken into account in deciding penalties. 

 

### Banowsky reeled off a long list of UM violations at the start of the call, noting Nevin Shapiro “entertained [players] on his yacht, at nightclubs. He provided a significant amount of cash [to Vince Wilfork, among others] to sign with a sports agency of which he was a part owner.”

 

### Banowsky criticized former UM coach Frank Haith, without using his name: “He had a repsonsibility to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program, which includes [expectation] to monitor. He failed in this responsibility.”

 

### He emphasized that “the committee did not rely solely on the statements of the booster. The vast majority of the statements made by the booster were corroborated. Morever, the institution and the counsel were in agreement most of violations occurred.”

 

### He said the “committee appreciates [UM’s] patience and cooperation.”

 

### But he blamed UM for not having a effective system in place to detect Shapiro’s behavior. That system wasn’t “effectively conveyed or monitored, which contributed to them going undetected.”

 

### He said UM’s previous self-imposed penalties helped a LOT. “The committee accepted the significance of the penalties the institution imposed on its football program. These penalties were severe and the unprecedented access [provided by] the university were taken into account. The self imposed penalties represented an indication by the university that they were taking the case very seriously. It understood it needed to respond internally. For the university to step up to impose these bowl bans is a big deal – very big deal. The fact it also prevented an ACC championship game which potentially could have led to a BCS bowl game were very big decisions – the committee appreciated those decisions.”

 

### He called this case “among the most extraordinary in the history of the NCAA.”

 

### He said “the penalties were severe for former coaches. We did lay a lot of responsibility onto the individuals in the case. It’s going to be a subject of ongoing discussion among Division 1 membership how to allocate responsibility” to coaches compared to institutions.

 

### On the NCAA’s misconduct: “I know the COI was disappointed to learn of the use of bankruptcy proceedings to learn information. It didn’t factor into the penalties.”

 

### In docking UM nine scholarships, why is the NCAA essentially taking away $700,000 in free education for students (factoring in UM’s high tuition, etc.)? “It’s in the legislation," Banowsky responded. "The membership passes the legislations and what are appropriate penalties and are not. Our responsibilities are to the Division 1 membership.”

 

### Why did it take 19 weeks since UM’s hearing for a ruling? “Typically we’re able to turn around reports in a 6 to 8 week period. Unfortunately, the case not only lasted 3 plus years but also had a lot of complexities that were extraordinary. The sheer volume of the case was enormous. Our first responsibility is do the best we can to understand the case record and get it right. We had to come up with a process to make sure information gathered [improperly] wasn’t included in the case record. Once we did our work understanding, and the basis for those findings, we didn’t consider the staff’s misconduct."

 

### On USC being docked 30 scholarships, compared to Miami’s 12 (nine football, three basketball): “Each case is unique. Folks with have a difference of opinion depending on your perspective. We don’t put cases against each other because of the unique nature of each case. We felt institutional self imposed penalties were absolultely significant, unprecedented, and the level of cooperation was commendable. That weighed into the committee’s thinking. We don’t do a great deal of comparative analysis.”

 

### On Haith and others offering conflicting testimony: “It was difficult for the committee and the enforcement staff to know what was really going on given all the conflicting information. We felt we had a responsiblity to review that and to publish that because it was information that ultimately required us to draw conclusions.”

 PLEASE SEE THE PREVIOUS POST FOR THE NCAA'S REPORT ON UM AND MORE.

 

UM-NCAA decision day: Live blog, penalties, reaction

Please check back throughout the day for news on the NCAA's ruling on the UM case and comments from the 11 a.m. news conference.

As WQAM's Joe Rose first reported this morning -- and was confirmed by Herald sources -- UM will lose three football scholarships each of the next three seasons for a total of nine. There will be no additional bowl ban. (Of course, UM already has self-imposed two.) But recruiting visits will be limited.

"No one is going crazy," a UM official said. "It's in the tolerable range."

UM will not appeal the sanctions. It will accept the penalties and move on.

Also, UM basketball will lose three scholarships over the next three years for a total of three.

Here's the NCAA release on penalties:

Football program penalties

  • Reduction of football scholarship by a combined total of nine during the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
  • Miami may only provide a prospect on unofficial visits complementary tickets for one home game during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
  • Self-imposed by the university:
  • Two year bowl ban following the 2011 and 2012 seasons, including the 2012 ACC Championship game.
  • Reduction of official paid visits for 2012-13 by 20 percent to a total of 36 visits.
  • Reduction of fall evaluations in 2012-13 by six (from 42 to 36).
  • Reduction of available contact days during the 2012-13 contact period by 20 percent.

Men’s basketball program penalties

  • Reduction in the number of men’s basketball scholarships by one during the each of the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

Additional penalties

  • For all sports, any staff member who sends an impermissible text to a prospect will be fined a minimum of $100 per message, and coaches will be suspended from all recruiting activities for seven days.
  • Further penalties resulting from impermissible texts and phone calls are detailed in the public report.

Here is the rest of the NCAA report:

The University of Miami lacked institutional control when it did not monitor the activities of a major booster, the men’s basketball and football coaching staffs, student-athletes and prospects for a decade, according to findings by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

Many of Miami’s violations were undetected by the university over a 10-year period, and they centered on a booster entertaining prospects and student-athletes at his home, on his yacht and in various restaurants and clubs. Approximately 30 student-athletes were involved with the booster. Several football coaches, three men’s basketball coaches and two athletics department staff members were also involved in the case. These staff members had a poor understanding of NCAA rules or felt comfortable breaking them. Furthermore, some of the coaches provided false information during the enforcement staff and university’s investigation.

Timeline

Below is a timeline of events regarding the University of Miami case.

2009

November: Miami notifies NCAA of an internal investigation into potential violations

2010

March: Miami submits a reports multiple phone and text message rules violations to the NCAA

May: Miami submits a supplement to this report with additional violations

June: NCAA enforcement staff and Miami conduct joint interviews

Fall: NCAA enforcement staff sends Miami a letter to begin the summary disposition process

2011

Feb. 23: The booster sends a letter to the NCAA detailing potential Miami violations

March 31 – May 27: The enforcement staff interviewed the booster more than 20 times

Aug. 15: NCAA enforcement staff delivers a notice of inquiry to Miami and begins conducting interviews

Aug. 30: NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff determines that eight Miami football student-athletes must sit out games and repay benefits

2012

Interviews continue. From 2011 through 2013, the NCAA enforcement staff conducted more than 70 interviews with current and former coaches, student-athletes and university administration, in addition to others connected with the case.

2013

Jan. 10: NCAA enforcement staff notifies Miami that select NCAA staff worked with the criminal defense attorney for the booster to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA

Jan 14-17: NCAA enforcement staff notifies involved individuals of the procedural issue involving the criminal defense attorney

Jan. 23: NCAA announces external review of procedural issue

Feb. 18:  NCAA releases findings of external review

Feb. 19: NCAA enforcement staff issues a notice of allegations to Miami and the involved individuals

Feb. 21: Two former assistant men’s basketball coaches and a former assistant football coach submitted a request to dismiss the case or receive relief from the allegations

Feb 22: Committee on Infractions holds a prehearing conference with involved individuals and the enforcement staff.  Prehearing conferences are held to prevent new information from being introduced at the hearing

Feb. 27: After discussion with the full Committee on Infractions, the chair provided a structured course of action to handle the procedural issues while also detailing a plan to move the case forward fairly and efficiently. All involved people had until March 6 to respond to this plan.

March 2 – 6: Miami, one former assistant football coach and the involved basketball coaches provided their responses to the plan

March 8: The committee chair provided an amended plan based on these responses

March 19 – April 5: All involved groups submitted their responses, including additional requests to dismiss the case from the university and coaches.

April 23: Committee on Infractions issues decision regarding motion to dismiss

May 20: Miami and involved individuals submit response to the notice of allegations

May 22-23: Prehearing conferences conducted with Miami and involved individuals

June 13-14: Committee on Infractions conducts hearing with Miami, involved individuals and the enforcement staff

The former head men's basketball coach failed to meet his responsibilities as a head coach when he did not monitor the activities of his assistant coaches, and attempted to cover up the booster's threats to disclose incriminating information, according to the committee. Additionally, two assistant football coaches and one assistant men’s basketball coach did not follow NCAA ethical conduct rules.

The committee acknowledged and accepted the extensive and significant self-imposed penalties by the university. Additional penalties in this case include a three-year probation period; a reduction in the number of football and men’s basketball scholarships; recruiting restrictions; a five-game suspension for the former head men’s basketball coach; and two-year show-cause orders for two former assistant football coaches and a former assistant men’s basketball coach. If these individuals are employed at an NCAA member school during these two years, they and their current or future employer must appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine if the coach should have his duties limited.

When determining the facts of the case and appropriate penalties, the committee only considered information obtained appropriately during the investigative process and presented at the hearing. The case involved numerous, serious violations of NCAA rules, many of which were not disputed by the university. Overall, it involved 18 general allegations of misconduct with 79 issues within those allegations. These were identified through an investigation that included 118 interviews of 81 individuals. Additionally, the committee had the responsibility of determining the credibility of individuals who submitted inconsistent statements and information provided by a booster who is now in federal prison. In reaching its conclusions, the committee found, in most instances, corroboration through supporting documentation and the statements of individuals other than the booster.

Prior to the hearing, the committee addressed procedural issues raised by the university and the involved individuals connected with the enforcement staff’s use of the booster’s defense attorney to obtain information from depositions conducted in the booster’s bankruptcy case. As a result of the information being obtained in a manner inconsistent with NCAA policies and procedures, it was determined that all information stemming from the depositions would be excluded from consideration in the NCAA infractions case.  Further, the enforcement staff did not rely on any of the excluded information before or at the Committee on Infractions hearing.

The committee had no role or involvement in the enforcement staff’s investigation of the case, the internal investigation commissioned by the NCAA into the use of the booster’s attorney by the enforcement staff or in the report that resulted from the internal investigation. The committee did review arguments made by the university and the involved coaches asking that the allegations be dismissed or limited due to the procedural issues from the use of the bankruptcy depositions and other complaints about the investigation. Once all of those arguments were heard and addressed by the committee, the committee heard the case on its merits based on the remaining information.

The committee found violations in the following areas: telephone and text messages in multiple sport programs, which resulted in Miami admitting that it failed to monitor; booster involvement in the men’s basketball and football programs; Miami’s control of its athletics programs and its commitment to rules education and monitoring.

Many of the violations in the football and men’s basketball program are separate and distinct violations, with the common link of the booster. From 2001 through 2008, the booster donated and pledged approximately $500,000 to the university’s athletics program. He hosted a fundraising bowling tournament, attended by university officials, which raised $50,000 for the men’s basketball program. The committee determined the booster was extremely visible because the university granted him special access to athletics events and named a student lounge after him. Additionally, the booster entertained groups of student-athletes and operated in the public view. Knowing all of this, the university did very little to control or to monitor the conduct of the booster, the committee said.

While Miami lacked institutional control related to the conduct of the booster, it also lacked adequate policies and procedures for staff members to report potential violations without fear of consequence. Miami did not have the policies or monitoring systems to detect improper text messages and phone calls. Many staff members did not have basic knowledge of NCAA recruiting rules or felt comfortable breaking them, and the university did not have sufficient rules education in place. Had the university properly monitored its sports programs, especially the high-profile sports of football and men’s basketball, it may have identified risks sooner. The committee added that the failings of the university enabled a culture of noncompliance within the university and resulted in a lack of institutional control.

Violations involving student-athletes and prospects resulting from the booster’s activities included entertaining student-athletes and coaches at his home; housing a student-athlete at his home; access to his yacht and jet skis; providing cash prizes to student-athletes for fishing competitions; meals and entertainment at local restaurants, clubs and a bowling alley for student-athletes, prospects and their families or friends; gifts of cash, clothing and other items, including a television and gifts for student-athletes’ families and children; hotel lodging for prospects; purchasing  airline tickets; and football stadium suite access for a prospect. Additionally, the booster was an investor in a sports agency and provided a student-athlete $50,000 to influence that individual to sign with that agency.

The booster’s personal relationship with Miami athletics was not just limited to student-athletes and prospects. Several former football and men’s basketball coaching staff members also had a close relationship with the booster. These relationships allowed the booster to gain access and become more involved with prospects. Some former football assistant coaches asked the booster to assist with recruiting for the program and two former football assistant coaches asked the booster to provide personal cash loans to them. Multiple former assistant football coaches were aware that the booster was providing meals and entertaining prospects at his home; however, they did not report the violations to Miami’s compliance office.

Two former assistant football coaches did not follow NCAA ethical conduct rules when they provided prospects with free lodging, meals and transportation. Further, one of the former coaches arranged for the booster to provide benefits to prospects. Both former football coaches provided false or misleading information to Miami and the enforcement staff during the investigation as well. In some instances, the information provided by each coach directly contradicted the information provided by prospects.

Two former assistant men’s basketball coaches looked to the booster to entertain high school and nonscholastic coaches of prospects. A former assistant men’s basketball coach did not follow NCAA ethical conduct rules when he provided false information during his interviews about providing airline points for a flight to a prospect and his high school coach. Despite giving the high school coach his airline account information to purchase flights with frequent flyer miles, the former assistant men’s basketball coach stated he did not know his airline points were used. During the hearing, the former assistant men’s basketball coach then admitted that he provided false information.

When the booster began experiencing financial trouble, he requested that the former head men’s basketball coach loan him a large sum of money or that the former head men’s basketball coach return the booster’s $50,000 donation. The former head men’s basketball coach denied the booster’s request; however, a former assistant men’s basketball coach agreed to loan the booster $7,000, which the booster eventually repaid. After the booster was incarcerated in 2010, he began to threaten the former head men’s basketball coach and assistant coach and demand money. The committee determined the former head men’s basketball coach and the former assistant men’s basketball coach worked together to make sure the booster received $10,000 to end the booster’s threats.

The former head men’s basketball coach was aware of the booster’s threats and he took steps to help a former assistant men’s basketball coach to make a payment to the booster’s mother to end the threats. As the leader of a high-profile basketball program, he had a responsibility to make sure he and his staff followed the rules. However, the former coach did not meet his responsibilities and this conduct resulted in violations. The committee noted that had he asked about the basis of the threats and the former assistant coaches’ relationship with the booster, he could have recognized potential concerns or taken the issue to the compliance office.

Because the violations occurred before October 30, 2012, and the hearing occurred before the new infractions procedures took effect on August 1, 2013, the case was processed utilizing the procedures in effect at that time. The committee moved forward with the previous penalty structure, instead of the newly-adopted Level I-IV violation and penalty structure.

A full list of penalties, including those self-imposed by the university and by a coach’s current employing university can be found in the public report. Penalties in this case include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2016.

Former assistant football coach B (as identified in the public report) penalties:

  • A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013 through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.
  • The committee also adopted penalties imposed by the coach’s current employing university, which are detailed in the public report.

Former assistant football coach C (as identified in the public report) penalties:

  • A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.

Former head men’s basketball coach penalties:

  • A suspension for the first five regular-season games of the 2013-14 season.
  • Attendance at one NCAA Regional Rules seminar at the conclusion of the 2013-14 academic year.

Former assistant men’s basketball coach B (as identified in the public report) penalties:

  • A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.

 

Members of the Division I Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the committee who reviewed this case include Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner of Conference USA; Greg Christopher, athletics director at Xavier University; Christopher L. Griffin, coordinator of appeals and attorney; Brian Halloran, attorney; Roscoe Howard Jr., attorney; James O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon; Dennis Thomas, commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; and Thomas Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association.

 

 

The members of the committee who reviewed this case include Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner of Conference USA; Greg Christopher, athletics director at Xavier University; Christopher L. Griffin, coordinator of appeals and attorney; Brian Halloran, attorney; Roscoe Howard Jr., attorney; James O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics re

####

Among former coaches:

### Missouri coach Frank Haith will receive a five-game suspension.

### Aubrey Hill, Clint Hurtt and Jorge Fernandez received two-year show cause penalties. Hurtt is on Louisville's staff (pending a decision by the school), but the penalty will make it difficult for Hill and Fernandez to land jobs in the next two years.

### Former assistant basketball coach Jake Morton did not get a show cause penalty.

Throughout the process heading into today, UM has remained optimistic that it would not get another bowl ban but likely would get football and basketball scholarship reductions.

UM and the former coaches were informed of their rulings at 8 a.m. Tuesday -- two hours before the public release.

More to come...

October 07, 2013

Fins discuss pass protection, other issues; 20 Dolphins, Heat, Canes notes

### Only three offensive tackles in the league have allowed more than four sacks. And what do you know: Two of them –- Jonathan Martin and Tyson Clabo -– play for the Dolphins. Each has yielded six sacks. Seattle’s Paul McQuistan has permitted five; no other tackles have relinquished more than four.

Meanwhile, Martin remains the second-worst rated tackle in run blocking, ahead of only Baltimore’s Bryant McKinnie, according to Pro Football Focus.

Asked about being on a 77-sack pace, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman assumed the role of Mr. Optimism: “We’re a work in progress. I think it’ll all work itself out. We’re going to spend a lot of time this off week, looking at what some of our issues are, even more specifically than we already have.  We’re going to fix what needs to get fixed, and I’m pretty confident that we can do that."

Sherman blamed myriad issues: “There have been times where the back could have stepped up and picked a guy up in the hole, and didn’t. There have been times where our tackles didn’t come off on a twist, or whatever the case may be, Ryan (Tannehill) held the ball or we didn’t get anybody open.  It’s a cumulative effect and a collective effort that we’re dealing with.”

### Joe Philbin, asked about possibly turning to backups such as Nate Garner or Danny Watkins, answered he believes "in the guys we have." (Taken literally, that would include Garner and Watkins, though Philbin seemed to imply he likes his current starters. We'll see.) Sherman didn't advocate making changes, but suggested if they are going to be made, the bye week is the time to do it.

### Meanwhile, Sherman said he’s not worried about how the barrage of sacks will affect Ryan Tannehill mentally. “It’s funny, no, I don’t worry about mentally, the guy is as resilient a person, a competitor as I’ve been around,” he said.  “I’ve been around some pretty good ones, and he’s up there, he’s very resilient.  Physically after the game you ask him, ‘Oh I feel fine’ so he’s been able to handle that.”

### So why not roll out Tannehill more often to prevent sacks? “I think at times it does limit what you can do passing wise,” Sherman said. “You’re cutting the field in half for the most part. Horizontally it limits what you can do.”

### Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli addressed the Dolphins' pass protection issues on NBC Sports Network today. "They spent a lot of dough," he said. "They should have addressed that offensive line in the offseason."

### Even with Cameron Wake able to play only three snaps because of his knee injury Sunday, rookie Dion Jordan (21 snaps) again played far less than Derrick Shelby (56). Starter Olivier Vernon logged 70 snaps.

Why isn’t Jordan getting more playing time?

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said it’s partly because the Ravens “ran a lot of two tight ends. Sometimes an extra tackle was in the game running the ball. So we went with our bigger people at times to defend the run. I thought it was fairly effective for us doing it that way. Dion wasn’t in some of those packages. We plan on utilizing him more.”

### The Dolphins have opted to use second-round rookie corner Jamar Taylor instead of third-round rookie corner Will Davis each of the past two games.

In the two games combined, Taylor has allowed all six passes thrown against him to be completed, for 127 yards.

Any thought to using Davis? “I want to get Will up and running, and I want to see him out there competing,” Coyle said. “Hopefully that will be real soon. Nothing is etched in stone going into the bye week in terms of who’s going to be up. Hopefully we are going to see more of him as we go forward.”

### Rookie linebacker Jelani Jenkins played 18 snaps Sunday (the only pass thrown in his coverage area was completed, for 8 yards), and Coyle said the Dolphins planned to use him even if Dannell Ellerbe hadn’t been limited to 16 snaps because of a shoulder injury.

"He’s been practicing really well,” Coyle said. “We think he’s a guy who is going to be able to see more time as the season progresses. We didn’t want to have to do it because of injury, but yet that was in the original plan.”

### Sherman defended the decision to spike the ball with over a minute left at the Baltimore 34, essentially wasting a first down play. Philbin said it was his decision to do that. “By spiking it, it gave us a chance to collect our thoughts," Sherman said. "We felt collectively that was the right thing to do.”

### Though Mike Pouncey was the only offensive lineman that didn’t allow a sack, PFF rated him the worst of the Dolphins’ five starting linemen for Sunday's game because of a very poor run-blocking grade. Besides giving up a sack, John Jerry also allowed four hurries. Martin and Clabo each gave up two sacks.

### The Dolphins have moved away from splitting playing time fairly evenly between Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Miller played 45 of the Dolphins’ 59 snaps Sunday, compared with 11 for Thomas. Marcus Thigpen played three.

As for the tight ends, Charles Clay logged 49, Dion Sims 11 and Michael Egnew 9.

### Good work defensively Sunday by Nolan Carroll; all five passes thrown in his coverage area were incomplete, though he also was charged with a questionable pass interference penalty. Brent Grimes, who spent a lot of the day shadowing Torrey Smith, allowed 5 of the 7 passes thrown against him to be completed, for 99 yards.

### Notable: Randy Starks (three QB hits, four hurries) and Philip Wheeler graded out the best of Dolphins defenders, according to PFF.... Tannehill was 7 for 11 for 116 yards when blitzed, and 14 of 29 for 191 yards when not blitzed.... Safety D.J. Campbell, who started four games for Carolina last season, was signed to the Dolphins' practice squad after an impressive workout Monday.

HEAT, CANES NOTES

### In the Heat's win against Atlanta to open preseason Monday, Roger Mason Jr. took a solid first step in his bid for a roster spot, filling the boxscore with 14 points (3 for 4 on threes), six rebounds, four assists and a block in 27 minutes.

Because Mason and Michael Beasley don’t have guaranteed contracts, the Heat can keep both into January before deciding whether to keep either or both of them -– and thus guarantee their full salaries -– for the duration of the season.

### Beasley, who is somewhat limited by a calf injury, sat out –-- as did Greg Oden, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen. Dwyane Wade also sat out with what Erik Spoelstra termed “general leg soreness,” but it’s nothing serious. He has looked very good in camp.

### Chris Bosh stroked jumpers and flashed impressive spin moves en route to scoring 21 points (7 for 8 shooting) in 21 minutes.

### Eager to keep Ray Allen comfortable in his bench role, Spoelstra must decide whom to start this season when Wade is out –-- the role Mike Miller served last year during those occasional instances when he played at all. James Jones got that assignment Monday and scored six points, shooting 2 for 7. Mason and Rashard Lewis (11 points, 4 for 5 shooting) both shot well.

### Forward Eric Griffin’s athleticism is impressive -– he was the first player Mario Chalmers mentioned  last week when I asked who had impressed him –- but it’s difficult to see him sticking.

### Four-star North Carolina-based receiver Braxton Berrios, whom UM covets, announced he will choose among UM, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee when he announces his decision at noon Saturday. UM also remains very much in the running for two other four-star receivers: Palm Beach Dwyer's Johnnie Dixon and Palm Beach Cardinal Newman's Travis Rudolph.

### Al Golden, speaking to WQAM’s Joe Rose today, about Seantrel Henderson, who is back after a one-game suspension: “We’re on the same page. I hope he takes ownership, is apologetic and contrite… It was a step backwards. In this particular instance, he wasn’t a great teammate.”

Buzz will return later this month. 

October 06, 2013

Sunday night read-and-weep Dolphins items, thoughts; UM recruit update

By now, many of you know that the Dolphins are on pace to allow a ridiculous 77 sacks, which would obliterate the franchise record of 53 set in 1969.

By now, many of you know that if Tannehill is sacked that many times, he would break David Carr’s record for most times a quarterback was sacked in a season. Carr was dumped 76 times. (The 1986 Philadelphia Eagles own the record for most sacks given up as a team – 104!)

Some other read-and-weep tidbits:

### Here’s how the 24 sacks break down, in terms of accountability: Jonathan Martin and Tyson Clabo have each allowed six, unofficially; Richie Incognito and John Jerry, three apiece; Mike Pouncey one; Daniel Thomas two; Lamar Miller one; Dion Sims one; and Tannehill one (for holding the ball too long).

### Since Pro Football Focus began monitoring sacks allowed in 2008, no tackle has allowed more than 14 in a season (Guy Whimper relinquished 14 for Jacksonville in 2011). Arizona’s Bobbie Massie allowed the most last season (13). Now consider that BOTH Dolphins starting tackles are on pace to relinquish more sacks than ANY NFL tackle in any of the previous five years. Unacceptable.

### Not only has Martin allowed the most sacks of any left tackle this season, but consider this: According to PFF’s rankings, he entered Sunday next to last (ahead of only Baltimore’s Bryant McKinnie)  in run blocking.

And with the Dolphins running for only 22 yards on 11 carries against Baltimore, you can presume Martin’s run-blocking grades won’t be rising appreciably once PFF is done breaking down this game.

### The situation is so alarming that CBS information man Jason LaCanfora tweeted: “Few things in the NFL season more obvious to me right now than the fact Miami will be using its first round pick on a left tackle.”

### Went back and looked at Pro Football Weekly’s assessment of Martin before the 2012 draft. Even though he played left tackle at Stanford, the draft publication said “he lacks ideal foot quickness and agility for the left side in the pros.”

### Clabo was beaten on the devastating Elvis Dumervil sack that resulted in a five-yard loss and made Caleb Sturgis' late field goal longer than it should have been. One option would be using Nate Garner instead of Clabo at right tackle. Garner played competently in five games at right tackle last season after Jake Long’s injury.

Right guard John Jerry could play right tackle if the Dolphins feel comfortable enough to play Danny Watkins at right guard. (Or Garner could play guard.) Rookie Dallas Thomas isn’t considered ready for a more prominent role.

### Some might question the Dolphins passing on Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson when they traded up for the third pick, but I don’t. We saw Dion Jordan’s impact today when he deflected the Joe Flacco pass which Reshad Jones returned for a touchdown.

And Johnson has struggled at right tackle for the Eagles, allowing four sacks entering Sunday and ranking 63rd among 69 tackles that have played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps. The Dolphins weren't enamored with Johnson and never seriously considered drafting him.

### Tannehill said the problem with not generating a running game is that “it definitely hurts the rhythm.  We want to be able to run the ball, we don’t want to be one dimensional.”

### Mike Wallace, who caught seven of the 16 passes thrown to him, on the state of the offense: “We have got to get better. We make plays but we have to make some more. We make some plays sometimes and then we stall. So we have to do a better job of moving the ball. Even if we don’t score on those drives, we need to do a better job of not going three and out so much.”

### What did Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs (who had three sacks) see in preparing for the Dolphins’ offensive line? Suggs was diplomatic: “I didn’t see anything. It comes down to the fact that I always say, this is the NFL and if a team struggles in one area you need to adjust and adapt during the week. This is a very tough Miami Dolphins team and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them again.”

### Ravens coach John Harbaugh also went out of his way to praise the Dolphins: “Joe Philbin is building something here that is very impressive. For them to come back the way they did showed tremendous courage. That was a good football team we beat out there in their place.”

### But this is discouraging: Like Tony Sparano before him, Philbin’s background was coaching the offensive line. That’s supposed to be his area of expertise, or at least one of them. And yet, after years and years, the offensive line remains a weakness, largely because of questionable personnel decisions.

### In retrospect, you wish Tannehill didn't spike the ball on first down, and just over one minute left, with the Dolphins at the Baltimore 34 after Brandon Gibson’s long fourth down reception. Yes, the Dolphins were out of timeouts. But it wasn't absolutely essential to stop the clock on a spike with over one minute remaining, and a quick pass to the sideline on first down would have been a better choice.

KAAYA UPDATE

Hollywood Hills, Cal. based Brad Kaaya, one of the key recruits in UM's 2014 recruiting class, this weekend was offered a scholarship by USC, several days after UCLA offered him. That means both of his hometown Pac-12 schools are now trying to tempt him to drop his oral commitment to UM. 

Kaaya acknowledged the USC offer with this tweet: "I am committed to The University of Miami, but would just like to say thank you to the USC coaching staff for offering me a scholarship."

Rivals.com ranks Kaaya the No. 8 quarterback in the 2014 class.

October 05, 2013

Young Dolphins trying to earn trust; Fins, Heat, UM, Marlins chatter; UM-Ga. Tech postscripts

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Even with money to burn, sometimes you have to trust your young players. That was the credo Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland followed at a few positions this past spring, even amid a spending spree that augmented the roster at receiver, linebacker and tight end.

Through one quarter of the season, the results have been mixed at the positions where Ireland chose to elevate the roles of players that were drafted and developed here:

### Offensive tackle: This is troubling: Not only is Jonathan Martin one of nine NFL linemen that have allowed at least four sacks (Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo also has given up four), but runs behind Martin are averaging a puny 1.9 yards per carry, which explains why Pro Football Focus rates him 65th of 69 tackles (tied with Clabo) as a run blocker.

Conversely, Jake Long –-- who left for St. Louis after the Dolphins offered less than he sought --- has permitted two sacks and is 11th as a run-blocker. Kansas City’s Branden Albert, whom Miami possibly could have acquired for a second-round pick if it had been willing, has relinquished one sack and is 42nd as a run blocker.    

Overall, PFF ranks Long 17th, Albert 25th and Martin 37th.

Not keeping Long or acquiring Albert might prove regrettable. (It sure seems that way now.) But the Dolphins still very much believe in Martin. He’s younger, cheaper and more durable than Long and has allowed fewer quarterback hurries than Long (14 to 8). Albert has permitted six.

"There’s stuff I need to improve on, but I think it’s gone pretty well,” Martin said. “And I feel comfortable now. I felt uncomfortable last year at times at right tackle.”

### Running back: Lamar Miller, who has averaged 5.8 yards per carry the past three games, has justified the larger role with which he was entrusted. But it’s still fair to ask if the Dolphins erred by not making an offer to Reggie Bush, who has 433 all-purpose yards in three games for Detroit, which is paying him $16 million over four years.

But for Bush to maximize his talents here, the Dolphins needed to use him more like the Lions do and Bush preferred –-- getting him in space, deploying him a lot as a receiver. He’s on pace for 716 receiving yards; he had 292 for Miami in 2012.

A one-two punch of Bush (averaging 5.3 yards per carry) and Miller (4.6) would have been dynamic, but the Dolphins didn’t like that idea because of concerns about pass protection.

But here’s the problem with Miami’s perpetual faith in Daniel Thomas: Not only does PFF rank him 11th-worst among backs as a blocker (supposedly a strength), but his 2.8 per carry average is sixth-worst (minimum 25 carries).

The Dolphins’ front office and some coaches still believe that Thomas, a second-round pick, is much better than his statistics suggest, and capable of being a very good NFL back. We’re still waiting for proof. In the meantime, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said he wants to keep giving Thomas carries.

Coach Joe Philbin said Miller has enjoyed more success than Thomas partly because “he had better opportunities and more room to run.”

This stuck out to us: Whether it’s offensive line breakdowns or inability to find creases, Thomas is being hit more quickly than most backs in the league.

He’s averaging 2.3 yards after contact (18th best) – eye-opening considering his per-carry average is just 2.8 -- whereas Miller is averaging 1.4 after contact, fourth-worst among all backs. Thomas said he cannot explain that oddity but acknowledges he needs to work on finding holes.

### Defensive end: In May, some fans clamored for the Dolphins to sign Miami native Elvis Dumervil, whose Ravens visit the Dolphins Sunday. John Abraham also tried to persuade the Dolphins to sign him, but Miami chased neither vigorously.

Instead, the Dolphins stuck with Olivier Vernon (1.5 sacks, 13 hurries, 9 tackles) and Derrick Shelby (two sacks, two forced fumbles), while slowly bringing along Dion Jordan (one sack, six hurries).

Pro Football Focus has graded out Dumervil (two sacks, 10 hurries, 11 tackles playing outside linebacker) much higher than Vernon, and Dumervil historically has been a high-impact player (11 sacks in 2012). But Vernon graded out very well against the Saints.

With Jordan and Vernon needing to be developed, Miami can justify passing on Dumervil, who is due $26 million over the next five years. But the Dolphins could have signed Dumervil and played Jordan at outside linebacker, which is where his former Oregon defensive coordinator believes he is best suited.  

As for Abraham, he has been a non-factor for Arizona (four tackles, no sacks).

CHATTER

### Reshad Jones, awarded a $29 million contract in August, has slipped from second in PFF’s 2012 safety rankings to 69th (of 87) this season and has allowed 11 of 13 passes thrown in his coverage area to be caught, for 166 yards.

“I have been playing solid, but I've made no game-changing plays,” he bemoaned this past week. “You will see me come up with interceptions.”

### Unraveling the mystery regarding Dolphins defensive lineman Vaughn Martin, who was placed on the injured list even though the Dolphins never once said he was injured: We hear Martin began suffering abdominal pain after the Falcons game and was diagnosed with a hernia. Though doctors said he could play later this season, the Dolphins did want to use up the roster spot. But they will be required to cut him when he’s healthy. Marvin Austin played well in 18 snaps as his replacement on Monday.

### Several of the eight Committee of Infractions members who are ruling on UM’s case told us last week they cannot comment. But an NCAA official cited the complexity of the case as the reason for the near-four month wait for a ruling since the mid-June hearing.

“They talked about getting it to us fast,” one UM official said. “It’s B.S. Frustrating and baffling.”

### Though Kevin Olsen was the much higher-rated prospect, much-improved UM backup quarterback Ryan Williams said: “I feel like I should be able to earn the starting job” in 2014 after Stephen Morris leaves. "I feel very good about it. It will be an open competition. Fans look at ratings, and I wasn’t highly rated. Fans hold that as a negative [against me].”   

Williams said even though his arm strength was considered “a negative” when he signed originally with Memphis, he can now throw a ball “60-to-65 yards and accurately” --– a “10-to-15 yard improvement” from when he transferred here. “I can’t throw it as fast or hard as Stephen, but I’ve improved.”

### ESPN’s Scouts Inc. raised Morris to 30th among all NFL Draft prospects, and fifth among quarterbacks, two spots behind Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

### Please see the last post for UM-Georgia Tech postscripts, notes and reaction.

### Heat players have been trying to uplift and support Michael BeasleyLeBron James called him one of the NBA’s most talented players; Dwyane Wade said he’s “the sparkplug this team needed.”

But, as Shane Battier said: “It’s up to Beasley [and other newcomers] to acclimate to our culture. If you don’t, you look like an idiot.”

Beasley said: “I’m where I need to be talent-wise” but also said he must learn to make “hustle plays” and is “petrified” because the Heat “doesn’t need” his biggest strength (scoring).

### Most surreal moment for a Heat player this offseason? Battier, who's a celebrity in China because of a marketing deal with a sneaker company, took a flight from Beijing last month, and 300 fans were waiting for him –- at 3 in the morning, no less –- at an airport in Nanning, China.

They stood cheering, holding signs, asking for pictures and autographs and giving him flowers. “Mind-blowing,” he said.

### As of Saturday, the Marlins remained very much in the mix for Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu, who hit .374 with 35 homers in 71 games in 2012 and .382 with 13 homers in 42 games this season. The Giants are reportedly the favorite to sign him, according to MLB.com. But the Marlins were expected to make a legitimate bid.

Abreu worked out for teams this past week, including a Marlins contingent led by GM Dan Jennings. Abreu, 26, could play third base, but first base is considered his better position.

### Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, dealt by the Marlins in the worst trade in team history, on the state of baseball in South Florida: “To see this, it’s sad. Baseball could be popular like basketball here. They were [drawing fans] before trading Hanley Ramirez.”  

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz   

Postscripts, notes, quotes from UM's win against Georgia Tech

Postscripts from UM’s 45-30 win against Georgia Tech on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium:

### These games against Tech are usually angst-ridden, but UM again found a way, overcoming an early 17-7 hole and unleashing a 38-6 run to seize control before a meaningless late Tech score with 10 seconds remaining.

There was Duke Johnson shaking off an early lost fumble to piece together another exemplary game (22 carries, 184 yards; 1 catch, 27 yards; 4 for 114 on kick returns ).

There was Stephen Morris shaking off two picks and closing 17 for 22 for 324 yards and three touchdowns.

There were dynamic plays from Rayshawn Jenkins and Ladarius Gunter, who each had key fourth-quarter picks, with Gunter returning his 30 yards for a touchdown to push UM’s cushion to 44-23 with 1:46 left.

And there was exceptional work from receivers Allen Hurns (4 for 108), Stacy Coley (3 for 74 in his first career start) and Philip Dorsett (4 for 66).

### Al Golden’s take afterward, on WQAM: “I learned a lot about our team. We knew it would be tough. I’m proud of them. Total team win. You couldn’t be in a worse situation. It did look bleak. But everyone dug deep. It’s a different team [than last year].

“Great adjustments by Mark D’Onofrio. The defensive staff was great. When Mark got to halftime and drew them up, the guys came out with a vengeance. Mark made a shift up front. They took away [Tech’s rushing offense]. If you said we would have [four] turnovers and win the game, I’d say I have some sand to sell you. It says a lot about our team and the way we’re playing.”

### After allowing 150 yards rushing in the first quarter, UM relinquished 185 the rest of the day. Tech finished averaging 5.3 per carry, but UM averaged 7.3 per carry.

And UM held Georgia Tech quarterbacks to 66 yards through the air, on dismal 6 for 19 accuracy.

### Besides each of their picks, Gunter also made a terrific play on a third quarter run, forcing a five-yard loss, and Jenkins deflected a pass earlier in the half.

And there were a bunch of other key defensive plays in the second half: Anthony Chickillo snuffed out a run for no gain or a third and three, then added another tackle for loss on Tech’s next series… Shayon Green had a sack, the second of his career and second in two weeks…. And Tyriq McCord had a sack (and forced a fumble that Tech recovered) before Gunter’s late pick-six.

### Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio made a good call on two key Georgia Tech plays with UM leading 31-23 and just over five minutes left. On the first, he blitzed Denzel Perryman and Tracy Howard, forcing an incompletion on a third and seven from the UM 38. On the next, he went to a 3-4 defense after using a 4-3 most of the day, and Jenkins got the interception.

“We were looking for the right opportunity to get into our three-down package,” D’Onofrio said. “That was unbelievably executed by our guys. Jenkins got the pick and that was exactly what he was coached to do.”

### Tech burned UM on the perimeter in the first half, but UM wasn't exploited on the edges nearly as much in the second half.

D’Onofrio said Tech, early on “gave us something we haven’t seen in a couple years we played them, something they hadn't shown previously. So we had to scramble there a little bit. We were able to settle the guys down. I was able to draw up stuff on the board, get [them] lined up correctly. We were able to do a really good job in the third and fourth quarters. We could have played better.

“There were times in the first quarter guys were freelancing, maybe playing a little tentative and nervous. Once we settled them down and locked them in, the difference in the third and fourth quarters was guys doing their job.”

D’Onofrio said “It was important we could [rotate] four inside guys. We didn’t want to get tired. Kelvin Cain was our second-team Mike linebacker because he played against this [before]. Nantambu Fentress [played]... It takes everyone not pouting and executing their role. Fortunately, we have a lot of flexibility right now.”

### Golden said “the difference between the 2012 and 2013 Canes is finishing plays” like Gunter’s.

### Golden, on Duke’s fumble, after two last week: “We can’t say: ‘Duke, sit on the bench the rest of the day because you fumbled.’ I don’t know if there’s a running back in college football that hasn’t gone through a [stretch] like this. Don’t dwell on it.... He's going to get it fixed. I don't have a concern level.

### UM closed with 551 yards, Tech 401. “Over 10 yards a play [on average offensively],” Golden said. (10.4 to be exact.) “You take the turnovers away, it could have been a prolific day. Blocked it really well. James Coley called a great game.”

And UM’s ability to run the ball and drain the clock late was encouraging. After the Jenkins pick, UM pieced together a six-play, 66-yard drive in 3:27 –-- all running plays (five by Duke, one by Dallas Crawford) --– to push the margin to 38-23. Crawford finished that drive with an 18-yard touchdown, his second of the day, shortly before Gunter's pick-six.

Crawford had scored on a three-yard run earlier in the quarter after a key 44-yard pass from Morris to Coley, pushing the lead to 31-23 at the time.

### It’s easy for overlook what a solid, reliable player Hurns is. Hurns had his first career 100-yard receiving day highlighted by his 69-yard TD catch late in the third quarter (49 yards coming on yards after catch) to break a 17-17 tie. "That is a smart football player," Golden said. "He studies the game."

### The Canes overcame four turnovers: the two Morris picks, the Johnson fumble (he was stripped on the play), and a Dorsett fumbled punt to open the fourth quarter, which led to Tech’s TD that sliced UM’s lead to 24-23. (Tech missed the extra point.)

### Morris, afterward: “There’s a lot of room for improvement. We turned the ball over too much. A couple times, we got beat by a holding call. The offensive line had the best game of their life.”

Morris had his fifth career 300-yard passing game and has thrown at least one touchdown in 10 games in a row.

### With Seantrel Henderson suspended for violating team rules, Jon Feliciano started at right tackle. But Brandon Linder ended up playing much of the game there.... Golden said Henderson was not at the game but will be reinstated (he didn't say when). He did say they will talk on Sunday.

### Shayon Green (nine) and Justin Renfro (six) set careers highs in tackles... Jimmy Gaines had a fumble recovery for the second game in a row... Denzel Perryman led UM with 10 tackles.

### UM fell behind in a game for the first time this season, leaving Washington, Louisville and Ohio State as the only major-college teams not to trail in a game this season.

### UM became the first team to beat Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson five games in a row. And for the first time, Golden reached .500 in his career as a coach (45-45).

“Anytime you take over a job like we did at Temple, where they won 10 games in 10 years before you got there, it’s going to take time to get to .500,” D’Onofrio said. “Good for him. He’s done an unbelievable job here.”

### Check back late tonight for the Sunday buzz.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

October 04, 2013

Ex-UM people mentioned in A-Rod lawsuit; Dolphins, Canes, Heat notes

Fourteen notes:

### It will be fascinating to watch this revitalized Canes defense against Georgia Tech's run-heavy offense Saturday.

UM’s run defense has improved more than any aspect of this Hurricanes team; the Canes have risen to 33rd among 123 major schools in that category and are allowing 123 yards per game on the ground and a 3.4 average per carry.

But the Canes will face no bigger test than Georgia Tech, which enters averaging 291 yards per game on the ground (10th in the country) and 5.2 per carry.

UM’s Al Golden said the Hurricanes prepared to face Georgia Tech’s triple option not only this week but also during the spring and in August. Golden said this is UM’s “sternest test to date” defensively. “With all respect to Florida," Golden said, "if you want to test your defense, this is the team to test it against.”

From a UM perspective, there are far fewer concerns about Tech’s passing game. Quarterback Vad Lee went 7 for 24 with two picks against Virginia Tech last week.

### UM is mentioned three times in Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuit against MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig, in which A-Rod alleges a witch hunt against him:

1) A-Rod’s lawyer notes that "in 2003, he donated $3.9 million to UM to renovate the baseball stadium [though he only has given UM a portion of that amount to this point]. In 2007, he received UM's Edward T. Foote Alumnus of Distinction Award, three years after he was named an honorary alumnus of the university. He also is a member of UM's Board of Trustees."

2) The lawsuit asserts MLB "has relentlessly harassed individuals by canceling and re-noticing depositions countless times... For example, [former UM pitching coach] Lazaro Collazo has been served with at least four notices and re-notices of subpoenas for videotaped deposition." Collazo told The New York Daily News that MLB investigators intimidated him and his family at his Miami home when they were seeking information concerning their investigation.

3) The lawsuit asserts MLB investigators "harassed, intimidated and pressured individuals from whom they sought cooperation," including former UM pitcher Marcelo Albir.

The suit claims MLB "harassed and threatened Albir" and that MLB investigators impersonated Miami-Dade police officers to get Albir to open the door to his apartment. The suit says MLB "dropped claims against Albir in an effort to avoid exposing its unethical tactics." Albir, who attended Miami Columbus High, pitched in 42 games for UM from 2003 to 2006, finishing with a 2-5 record.

### The most salacious part of the lawsuit has nothing to do with UM. A-Rod alleges that Dan Mullin, an MLB investigator, purchased stolen Biogenesis documents for $150,000. The lawsuit also alleges Mullin engaged in a sexual relationship with a witness whom he interviewed about Biogenesis.

### Dolphins defensive end Cam Wake, listed as questionable, hopes to play Sunday against the Ravens, but it will be a game-time decision. Also questionable: Brandon Gibson (ankle), Jason Trusnik (ribs) and Don Jones.

Dimitri Patterson (groin) is out and said today he hopes to return after the bye week (Oct. 20 against Buffalo) but cannot be certain. “It’s feeling better,” he said.

### The Dolphins will promote safety Jordan Kovacs from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. He impressed them in practice, and the Dolphins believe he will be a productive special teams player.

### Frightening stat of the day: Over the past 20 games (including 16 with Oakland last season), 73 of the 87 passes thrown in Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler’s coverage area have been completed.

### The Dolphins want to use Marcus Thigpen in small spurts on offense, and Thigpen made the most of his three snaps last week, taking one of them 50 yards on a short pass. Thigpen said he’s convinced he caught the Saints by surprise.

“I can make people miss,” he said. “It’s hard to catch me in the open field.” (But a Saints player did, and Dolphins teammates have been “picking on me” for allowing that to happen.)

He said the Dolphins keep giving him snaps at receiver and running back in practice.

### ESPN's Ron Jaworski today elevated Ryan Tannehill to 17th on his quarterback rankings, just ahead of Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Alex Smith.

### Rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor, who made his regular-season debut against the Saints, admits he’s still not back to his pre-hernia form. “I’m not content with how I’m moving,” he said. “I still have a lot of work to do.”

### The Heat worked mostly on defense during its six training camp practices in the Bahamas. “We’ll spend more time on offense next week,” Erik Spoelstra said. “We won’t want to neglect that entirely.” The Heat returned to South Florida on Friday night, has a scrimmage on Sunday and plays Atlanta on Monday – both at AA Arena.

### Michael Beasley and Greg Oden have been arriving 75 minutes before practice to partake in sessions in which they familiarize themselves with the Heat’s system and terminology.

Oden “has enjoyed it, has responded well to it,” Spoelstra said.

The Heat continues to limit Oden’s practice participation, to an extent, as he works his way back from years of knee problems.

### Encouraging to see there's no championship hangover; Spoelstra commended his players' conditioning this week, with Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade among those singled out. Chris Andersen lost 10 pounds, and Mario Chalmers said he has lost six since early last season, which he believes will help his on-the-ball defense. "Mario is coming in the lightest he's ever been, and that says a lot about him," Udonis Haslem said.

### Spoelstra told ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard today that he has had blowups with LeBron James over the past three years but “not maybe the blowouts I’ve had with Dwyane and U.D.” When? “Moments we’re getting beat up on the glass, and I’m playing” LeBron at power forward.

### Six of the Heat’s eight preseason games will be televised, including Monday’s opener against Atlanta. TNT has a Heat-Nets preseason game Oct. 17, opposite a UM-North Carolina football game on ESPN.

October 03, 2013

Media column: Fins ratings still lagging; Le Batard radio goes national; Personnel notes

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

Media news and views from the couch:

### The good news for the Dolphins, from a TV perspective: Their games are the highest-rated programming on local TV over the last month, which is to be expected.

The not-so-great news: Despite their fast start, the jump in their average rating over last season isn’t dramatic (17.7 to 18.5). And excluding the two-team NFL markets (New York and California’s Bay Area), the Dolphins’ local ratings this season are the NFL’s second-lowest, ahead of only Rams ratings in St. Louis. (In fairness, the large number of Hispanic homes in our market can affect some English language ratings, though that didn't seem to hurt the Heat much.)

Even the dreadful Jaguars are drawing a higher percentage of viewers in Jacksonville than the Dolphins are in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.

Between ESPN and WSFL-Channel 39, the Dolphins-Saints game drew a 17.1 local rating, extremely weak for an NFL Monday night game even factoring in the lopsided score. That’s equal to 17.1 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets, with each ratings point equaling 16,211 homes. Conversely, the game drew a 61 rating in New Orleans.

And consider this: When the Heat won its 23rd consecutive regular-season game on a Monday night in Boston last March, that game drew a 17.5 local rating –- higher than Monday night’s Dolphins game, which would have been unfathomable in the pre-LeBron era, and before the Dolphins’ decade of mediocrity eroded some of their fan base.

### Like how The Ticket’s Dan Le Batard and Jon Weiner have maintained their irreverent, self-deprecating approach while breaking in a new audience on ESPN Radio.

The show hasn’t changed much since going national this week, beyond an additional four minutes of commercials per hour, which could leave the program vulnerable to dial surfing.

“We’re looking to keep the local audience happy while not alienating a national audience,” Le Batard told listeners. “This is going to take some [audience] training.”

That’s especially the case with whimsical segments such as one this week about who has the best tan in sports, and another in which listeners were asked to turn athlete's names into musical groups.

While South Florida listeners are accustomed to that sort of silliness, listeners elsewhere might find that peculiar or too outside-the-box. (But the show tends to grow on many listeners who didn’t “get it” initially.) And it’s perversely amusing to hear Le Batard educate the national audience about his non-pleasantry policy.

“We’re being met with a great deal of resistance when we do what we normally do,” Le Batard told his audience. “We will get better at this. The idea is to be silly and light to get you into the tent” to stay tuned to the more analytical discussions.

The show has been South Florida-sports heavy during the 3 to 4 p.m. hour that airs only locally on The Ticket, which has a marketing partnership with this newspaper.

This week, the majority of guests on the ESPN Radio portion (4 to 7 p.m.) have had South Florida ties (Ryan Tannehill, four Heat players, Jimmy Johnson). Le Batard continues to host an ESPN2 TV show, Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable.

### Been meaning to address this for several weeks: ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte made an interesting point when he asked why ESPN did not mention on air that former NFL linebacker Hugh Douglas was fired for reportedly using a racial epithet in an off-air exchange with Michael Smith, his Numbers Never Lie co-host, at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.

Lipsyte noted that ESPN provided considerable coverage when Eagles receiver Riley Cooper used the same epithet.

“Don’t fans have a right to know as much about [Douglas and Smith] as about a 25-year-old backup player caught in what seems to be a moment of alcohol-fueled frustration?” Lipsyte said. “An airing out of why corporate decisions were made in the NABJ case was in order.”

ESPN senior vice president Vince Doria said: “We didn’t feel it merited coverage in SportsCenter.”

But Lipsyte disagreed, and I do, too, because Douglas is a prominent former NFL player and his exit from ESPN warranted explanation. Since his firing, Douglas was charged with assaulting his girlfriend.

### Charismatic Ray Lewis has been decent in his first month on ESPN studio shows and has the potential to be very good but must tighten his comments and stop referring to the Ravens as “we.”

Lewis has needled the Ravens, suggesting his leadership is missed and that Joe Flacco needs to spend more time working with his receivers.

### Amusing to see Randy Moss now a member of the media (on Fox Sports 1) after he showed so much disdain for the media as a player (much like former ESPN announcer Sterling Sharpe).

Moss blasted the Vikings for giving his former jersey number, 84, to rookie Cordarelle Patterson. “That’s disrespectful to give a rookie my number!” he said. “I [made] that number!”

### ESPN’s Trent Dilfer keeps trying to impress us by coining new phrases when old ones will suffice. To Dilfer, a quarterback doesn’t face pressure in the pocket. Instead, he faces “pocket conflict.” If he called NBA games, a player surrounded under the basket would be facing “paint conflict,” presumably.

### Odd this week to see Keith Olbermann hosting TBS’ baseball playoff postgame while his own show, Olbermann, was airing simultaneously on ESPN2, with guest host Larry King.

Olbermann remains something of an acquired taste, but his 11 p.m. program had begun to find its rhythm the past few weeks, with a blend of smart and often sardonic commentary (though the opening monologue could be shorter), highlights, a witty “Worst Person in the Sports World” segment and interviews. Olbermann took the TBS MLB playoff gig before ESPN2 hired him.

SHORT STUFF

### The Marlins gave TV play-by-play man Rich Waltz permission to move back to Seattle for family health reasons. But he will remain paired with Tommy Hutton on Marlins broadcasts and continue calling the OB Basketball Classic…. CBS is sending Dolphins-Ravens to nine percent of the country, with Marv Albert and Rich Gannon announcing….

NFL Network received the go-ahead to air the Raiders-Chargers game, which was moved to 11:35 p.m. Sunday to allow Oakland’s stadium to be converted after a Saturday night baseball playoff game. NFL Net will use CBS announcers (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts) but NFL Net graphics….

To avoid competing with Dolphins-Ravens, WSVN-7 is airing an unappealing Carolina-Arizona game at 4 p.m., instead of Saints-Bears or Giants-Eagles at 1 p.m….

The Panthers will televise 78 of 82 games on Fox Sports Florida, and the only untelevised games will be four of the final eight…. ESPN hired George Karl and Avery Johnson for its NBA studio and is closing in on a deal with Doug Collins

Baseball fans who want to watch Game 2 of Pirates-Cardinals at 1 p.m. Friday might be annoyed to learn the game is on MLB Network (which is in 71 million homes, equal to 62 percent of the country), and not TBS (which is in 100 million homes and gets most of the divisional series games). But MLB Network can air a couple of playoff games each year in the new TV deal, with Bob Costas handling Friday's call.

October 02, 2013

Dolphins, Canes, Heat notes; Philbin mulls options; Beasley "petrified"

Some quick tidbits:

### With Baltimore visiting Sunday, expect to hear a lot this week about Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe facing his former team, which he said made only a “bottom of the barrel” offer to keep him last spring. By “bottom of the barrel,” Ellerbe apparently meant less than $5 million a year, according to The Baltimore Sun. The Dolphins are paying him $7 million a year.

Ellerbe has been productive – he’s tied for third in the league with 38 tackles, one more than the man he replaced, Karlos Dansby – and the Dolphins’ shift to Ellerbe is understandable because he’s younger and faster than Dansby, and still has upside.

But it’s notable that PFF.com ranks Ellerbe 68th of 79 inside linebackers this season; Dansby, with Arizona, is 59th.

What’s more, Ellerbe is 74th against the run, Dansby 21st. Ellerbe’s pass coverage has been merely average (15 of 22 completed, 99 yards).

“I know I can play a whole lot better,” he said.

### Baltimore media asked Joe Philbin today about the Dolphins’ deplorable pass protection --- only Jacksonville has allowed as many sacks as Miami’s 18 – and Philbin said it has reached the point where “we are going to have to consider every option. There are a lot of things we can do – more three-step drops, sprint out pass, you name it…. The whole spectrum of things have gone wrong.”

### The Dolphins are on pace to allow 72 sacks, a franchise record, and left guard Richie Incognito said: "If we give up 72 sacks, everyone should be fired, the whole offensive line. That [would be] atrocious... We're sick of hearing about it."

### Though many clamored for the Dolphins to sign Vonta Leach in June and July, you can understand their decision against it, in retrospect. The Dolphins have ended up rarely using a fullback (Tyler Clutts was cut this week), and PFF ranks Leach only 19th among 20 fullbacks this season, with a poor grade as a blocker.

### We mentioned this past offseason that UM players were expecting more use of the 3-4 defense this season. And though nobody has discussed it publicly until this week, Al Golden said on WQAM Tuesday: “We’re moving to a 3-4 team. It’s no secret. We’re a 3-4 team.”

UM wants to recruit more athletic outside linebacker types in the mold of Tyriq McCord.

### Georgia Tech visits Saturday, and Golden said Wednesday he believes receiver Malcolm Lewis, who suffered his gruesome ankle injury against Georgia Tech last year, finally “looks like Malcolm. The last couple of days he's starting to play fast again. He's slayed that demon in terms of going out and competing."

### Tracy Howard has been UM’s best cornerback so far, and Golden said one key is he has become more “coachable.” He’s paying more attention to what his defensive coaches tell him.

### Michael Beasley had some interesting comments during a chat with Marc Hochman and Jonathan Zaslow on 790/104.3 The Ticket on Wednesday.

He admitted: “My whole career is built on me scoring. My one niche, where I know no one can do this better than me...they don't need it. So I'm petrified. I’ve got to start from scratch.”

He said he lives across the street from AmericanAirlines Arena and marvels at “the amount of people I get yelling my name, beeping the [car] horn, happy to have me back. Just that feeling of somewhere in the world I can still call home, where people still care about me.”

He said he was “surprised and anxious” when Pat Riley called him a few weeks ago.

 And for the two games against each other when the Heat and Nets likely will be allowed to place nicknames on the back of their jerseys, Beasley said he will go with “Easy.” (B-Easy has been his nickname for years.)

### LeBron James said Wednesday that “we’re trying to make [Beasley] as comfortable as possible. [In practice], he shouldn’t be afraid to mess up.”