COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: LSU No. 1 in first USA Today Top 25 poll, while ’Bama No. 2, UGA No. 6 and FSU No. 7; Ark. trooper fired over bizarre stop of ex-Auburb RB Dyer

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

BATON ROUGE, La. — Despite its lopsided loss to Alabama in last January’s BCS national title game, LSU will open the 2012 season ranked No. 1 in at least one poll.

LSU sits atop the USA Today Top 25 coaches poll released Thursday, with Alabama second and Southern California third.

There are five SEC teams in the poll’s top 10 and 12 in the top 25, including Georgia at No. 6, while FSU is No. 7 and Auburn is No. 25 . Georgia Tech is not ranked, but the Yellow Jackets did receive votes from 35 media members to be included in the poll.

LSU received 18 first-place votes, slightly fewer that the 20 first-place votes for the Crimson Tide and 19 first-place votes for the Trojans. Still, the Tigers narrowly had the most overall points in the poll, which awards 25 points for a No. 1 vote down to one point for 25th.

Oklahoma and Oregon round out the top five.

LSU and Alabama, rivals in the SEC, meet Nov. 3 in Baton Rouge.

The USA Today Top 25

Record Pts Pvs

  1. LSU (18) 13-1 1403 2

  2. Alabama (20) 12-1 1399 1

  3. Southern Cal (19) 10-2 1388 —

  4. Oklahoma (1) 10-3 1276 15

  5. Oregon 12-2 1258 4

  6. Georgia 10-4 1061 20

  7. Florida State (1) 9-4 1055 23

  8. Michigan 11-2 1023 9

  9. South Carolina 11-2 981 8

  10. Arkansas 11-2 948 5

  11. West Virginia 10-3 833 18

  12. Wisconsin 11-3 743 11

  13. Michigan State 11-3 717 10

  14. Clemson 10-4 598 22

  15. Texas 8-5 549 —

  16. Nebraska 9-4 501 24

  17. TCU 11-2 499 13

  18. Stanford 11-2 497 7

  19. Oklahoma State 12-1 476 3

  20. Virginia Tech 11-3 461 17

  21. Kansas State 10-3 398 16

  22. Boise State 12-1 271 6

  23. Florida 7-6 250 —

  24. Notre Dame 8-5 166 —

  25. Auburn 8-5 66 —

Others receiving votes: Washington 64, Louisville 46, Georgia Tech 35, Cincinnati 32, Texas A&M 28, Baylor 23, Utah 22, Mississippi State 21, South Florida 12, N.C. State 11, BYU 10, Louisiana Tech 10, Virginia 9, Houston 7, Southern Mississippi 6, UCF 5, Rutgers 5, FIU 3, Missouri 3, Tennessee 3, Northern Illinois 2, Texas Tech 1.

Ark. trooper fired over Michael Dyer traffic stop

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas State Police have fired a trooper accused of illegally confiscating a gun and dumping marijuana found during a traffic stop involving running back Michael Dyer, a former MVP of the national championship game who is now without a team.

A termination letter from state police commander Col. J.R. Howard released Thursday listed several actions by Cpl. Royce Denney during the March 10 traffic stop that suggested he was “unable to conform to the standards of professionalism” expected of a trooper. Denney has appealed and his attorney, Jeff Rosenweig, declined comment

The letter cites Denney for failing “to conform to law and (using) poor judgment” by confiscating without legal justification a gun found during the traffic stop of a car driven by Dyer, not long after the former Auburn star joined Arkansas State and coach Gus Malzahn. The letter says the trooper disposed of potential evidence by dumping the alleged marijuana at the roadside and improperly turned off the video recorder in his cruiser during the stop.

Audio and some video from the 58-minute stop was recorded and revealed that Denney spoke at length with Dyer about how he should handle getting in trouble.

“What if I talk to Gus Malzahn, or however you say his name?” Denney asked. “I really don’t want to tell him about this because of the NCAA crap. I know there’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind closed doors between coaches and players. I’m still in a predicament, even if I talk to coach.”

Denney scolded Dyer for allegedly having a gun, saying: “You don’t need it. If you think it makes you look cool, you’re stupid.”

“It pisses me off that someone of your stature and your ability does this kind of stupid (expletive),” Denney said. The trooper asked Dyer if he wanted him to hold onto the gun, and Dyer said he did.

“I didn’t say keep it,” Denney responded. “Maybe we can get together some other time, and you can have it back after me and coach talk.”

The termination letter says Denney had been disciplined three months earlier for failing to conform to the law and using poor judgment during a separate traffic stop.

“Your conduct leaves me with no other choice than to terminate your employment with the Arkansas State Police,” Howard wrote.

Malzahn, who left Auburn to return to his home state and the school in Jonesboro, opened practice Thursday. Dyer, who had been suspended indefinitely by Auburn coach Gene Chizik after last season’s Chick-fil-A Bowl, had followed Malzahn to Arkansas State.

Malzahn dismissed Dyer from the team last week after revelations about the traffic stop, in which Dyer was ticketed for going 96 mph in a 70 mph zone.

A university spokesman said it wouldn’t be appropriate to weigh in on a police matter.

“It’s a state police matter being handled separately from ASU and we’ll respect that the state police are handling it internally,” ASU spokesman Jerry Scott said.

On the other side of the state, trooper Capt. Jeffrey Lance King was cited by the Arkansas Ethics Commission earlier this year after he asked the panel to look at whether he received improper gifts from the Arkansas football program.

Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino summoned King after he wrecked a motorcycle last spring while riding with a female employee on the back. Athletic director Jeff Long fired Petrino on April 10, saying Petrino had a conflict of interest by hiring Jessica Dorrell as a football program coordinator without disclosing they had an affair.

State police looked at the relationship between Petrino and King, who accepted about $3,000 worth of tickets and Razorback gear while assigned to Petrino. The agency found no laws were broken.

Dyer was a star at Little Rock Christian High School and was a top-rated recruit when Auburn landed him. He was the first Auburn tailback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, including a 1,093-yard performance as a freshman that broke Bo Jackson’s school record of 892 yards set in 1982. Dyer rushed for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He was also the offensive MVP as a freshman in Auburn’s victory over Oregon in the 2011 championship game.

Dyer transferred to the Arkansas State in Jonesboro in January, and the school tried unsuccessfully to convince the NCAA to let him play in the coming season.