LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger talks to reporters during SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.
Grambling to NCAA: Vacate some of JoePa’s wins, make ex-coach Robinson all-time leader
An attorney for the city of Grambling, La., has asked the NCAA infractions committee to vacate some of Joe Paterno’s record 409 Division I victories.
Grambling is the home of Grambling State University. Coach Eddie Robinson led Grambling to 408 victories during his career with the Tigers, a total that was passed by Paterno less than two weeks before he was fired as the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal broke.
City attorney Pamela Breedlove said she filed the request with the approval of Mayor Edward Jones because the university is such a valued and important part of the city.
Breedlove said she did not have an opinion about how many victories should be vacated. The three-page request she sent to the
NCAA details the city’s position, which says that the Freeh Report’s conclusions are enough evidence to give the record back to Robinson.
“We just believe that you would want to associate the record with someone who had the character of coach (Eddie) Robinson,” Breedlove said. “Especially now that we’ve come to realize how bad things really were (at Penn State).”
NCAA spokesman Amy Kudwa Dunham confirmed that the letter had been received, but added that the “issue is not before the infractions committee at this time.”
The school president at Grambling neither endorsed nor dismissed the idea.
“Grambling State University is a proud institutional member of the city of Grambling, Louisiana, and a proud member of the NCAA,” Frank G. Pogue said in a statement. “We are as passionate about Coach Eddie Robinson’s legacy as anyone. This is an NCAA matter.”
Robinson, who died in 2007, had 45 winning seasons during his career that spanned more than half a century.
Grambling plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), a step below the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), which is where Penn State competes.
HOOVER, Ala. — Les Miles admits he has watched the tape of LSU’s disastrous performance in the BCS Championship game a few times during the offseason.
It didn’t take very long. After all, the Tigers didn’t run many offensive plays.
But Miles said this week at SEC Media Days that LSU has learned from the 21-0 loss to Alabama and expects to be better on offense this fall thanks to a veteran offensive line, four experienced running backs and new starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, a former UGA star who was kicked off the team for multiple rules violations two years ago.
Miles says Mettenberger can “make all the throws” and should allow the offense to be more balanced than last season, when the Tigers had to rely on their running game and punishing defense. But the eighth-year LSU coach isn’t expecting heroics from the 6-foot-5, 222-pound quarterback. Just solid, consistent play.
“It’s going to be more of a learning curve,” Miles said. “The good news is he’s not a young quarterback. He’s had time. He’s had a full junior college slate and been with us for a year in transition. Now it looks to me that he’s kind of ready to go to the field.”
LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said the team’s relationship with Mettenberger has grown strong through the offseason. He doesn’t hesitate when asked how good Mettenberger could be this season.
“There are not too many quarterbacks I’ve seen who throw the ball like Zach does,” Beckham said. “That’s just the way he is. He’ll have any kind of year he wants to have. I tell him all the time, ‘You’re (an NFL) first rounder. You’re incredible.’ ”
The Tigers had a dream season until a nightmarish offensive performance against Alabama in the BCS championship game. LSU gained just 92 total yards in the loss. Quarterback play was spotty all season, with Mettenberger buried on the depth chart behind Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.
But Mettenberger understood why Miles stuck with the seniors.
“We were 13-0” at one point, Mettenberger said. “It’s hard to throw in the third-string guy when you’re winning ballgames and being successful. At no point last year did I think I should be playing.”
Mettenberger’s journey to a starting quarterback role hasn’t been without controversy. The former Georgia player was dismissed from the team in 2009 after being arrested and later pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.
He transferred to Butler (Kan.) Community College and played for a season before transferring to LSU last year. He played in five games while backing up Jefferson and Lee, completing 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.
“I definitely took the path less taken, you could say,” Mettenberger said. “But I’m finally here. It’s my chance. It’s my opportunity and I’m going to try to make the most of it. I’ve got a lot of great teammates around me and that’s going to help me out and make my job a lot easier.”
The LSU defense is expected to be very good again. The secondary is led by safety Eric Reid and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
Mathieu’s nickname, the “Honey Badger,” became nationally known as his penchant for big plays dominated SEC highlights. He returned two punts and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns, on top of making 76 tackles, including 7 ½ for a loss.
Missouri lawmaker tells head football coach Pinkel to keep his yap shut if he wants to defend Paterno
COLUMBIA, Mo. — A state lawmaker took Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel to task Thursday for his recent defense of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno as “a great man.”
State Rep. Sara Lampe issued a statement Thursday criticizing what she called the “Mizzou coach’s defense of a child rapist enabler.” Lampe is a Springfield Democrat seeking her party’s nomination for lieutenant governor in an eight-candidate primary election.
Pinkel defended Paterno on Tuesday while speaking with reporters at SEC’s Media Days. He called the Penn State sex-abuse scandal a “tragic situation,” but said Paterno’s legacy shouldn’t be tarnished by the actions of Jerry Sandusky.
Paterno’s former top assistant coach is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85.
“Joe Paterno’s a friend that I got to know professionally, and you can’t take away the greatness of this man,” Pinkel said. “He was a great man. However you analyze this, you can’t erase all that this guy’s done. You can’t do that. Nobody can do that.”
Lampe said she felt compelled to speak out after hearing Pinkel’s “revered comments.”
“I believe coach Pinkel was using his public voice to do what’s right, and I’m doing the same,” said Lampe, a former high school teacher and principal. “I have spent 30 years standing up for children.”
Lampe said she read an executive summary of the 267-page report by former FBI director Louis Freeh that was released July 12. In it, Freeh concluded that Paterno, ousted Penn State president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and other top officials ignored child sex abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago to avoid bad publicity.
Pinkel said last week that “I don’t read a lot about it,” and seemingly dismissed the investigation during his remarks Tuesday as a case of people who “are going to point fingers.”
“It’s so easy in hindsight to go back there and say what it is,” Pinkel said. “But don’t take away all this guy did, and to sit there and blame him for all this, I think is wrong.”
Lampe said that by Thursday, she had already been excoriated for her strong words. Her statement lumped Pinkel in among “all but the most sycophantic of Paterno worshippers” who still defend the late Penn State coach despite the report’s findings.
Freeh and his team, which included lawyers and former law enforcement officials, interviewed more than 430 people and examined more than 3.5 million emails, handwritten notes and other documents. Paterno died before he could be interviewed, but testified before a grand jury.
“Coach Pinkel’s defense of the indefensible indicates that he holds the same attitude that allowed the reprehensible situation at Penn State to occur; the attitude that building a successful football program is more important than everything else, including protecting innocent children from rapists,” Lampe’s statement said.
Dooley: It's time to put up or shut up
HOOVER, Ala. — Tennessee coach Derek Dooley believes his team has improved substantially after suffering through two mediocre seasons.
He also knows that talking about improvement isn’t good enough anymore.
“It’s kind of like that song — a little less conversation and a little more action,” Dooley said. “So we have to go out and prove it, and that’s what we intend to do this year.”
The third-year coach said Thursday at the Southeastern Conference Media Days he feels better about his team this season than at any point during his tenure.
The Volunteers have an 11-14 record over the past two seasons, including a 4-12 mark in the SEC. Dooley says that should improve thanks to a stabilized roster, a healthy quarterback and 17 returning starters.
It has been reported that Dooley needs to have a good season to keep his job. But quarterback Tyler Bray said the criticism of his coach is unwarranted, and should be directed toward the playing field.
“I don’t think he’s on the hot seat,” Bray said. “I think the team’s on the hot seat. The team hasn’t executed the game plan the way we should have.”
Bray’s development will probably be a large determining factor about Dooley’s job status. The 6-foot-6, 213-pound junior from Kingsburg, Calif., was one of the SEC’s best passers last season before a fractured thumb on his throwing hand sidelined him five games. He threw for 1,983 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Bray also has talented receivers around him
Da’Rick Rogers led the SEC with 67 catches for 1,040 yards last season. Justin Hunter also returns to the Volunteers after missing most of last season because of a torn ACL in his left knee. He had 17 catches for 314 yards in just three games.
Dooley said the team’s “spirit was broken” last season after the rash of injuries to important players. He was disappointed the team wasn’t able to bounce back and hopes added depth will keep that from being a problem again.
“We had some good teams in our league that lost great players and they didn’t skip a beat,” Dooley said. “That’s what you’re going to have to do in this league, because you’re going to have injuries.”
Though the return of Bray and Hunter should be a huge boost for the offense, Dooley’s concerns range all over the field. Tennessee had the worst rushing offense in the SEC last season and ranked just ninth in scoring defense.
“We need to improve on just about everything, because we really weren’t good at anything,” Dooley said.
One thing helping the Volunteers is there’s no clear favorite in the SEC Eastern Division. Georgia, South Carolina and Florida are generally considered the best teams, but Tennessee’s players see an opportunity to rise back to prominence.
“We haven’t had the seasons Tennessee’s had in the past, but we’re going to try to change that,” Bray said. “We have great leadership this year and a good offense and a good defense.”