Meyer Doing More Than NCAA Waiver Allows For?

On the same day it announced Urban Meyer as its next head football coach, November 29, Ohio State requested and was granted a NCAA waiver allowing the school to exceed the allowable number of football coaches on staff through the Buckeyes’ bowl game.

(Meyer not practicing what he preaches?)

Rusty Miller of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported on December 9, 2011:

The existing staff, under Luke Fickell, will prepare the Buckeyes on the field in the days leading up to and including their Gator Bowl game against Florida on Jan. 2. Then there is incoming coach Urban Meyer, who will handle only recruiting while hiring his own assistants.

The waiver specifies that no more than 10 coaches - and no more than seven at any one time - may be involved in recruiting. Ohio State asked for the waiver because otherwise it would have exceeded the maximum number of allowed coaches under NCAA rules.

Such waivers have been granted in the past, but Ohio State’s situation is unique because Fickell plans to retain a prominent spot on Meyer’s staff as a lead recruiter and defensive play-caller.

Thursday Fickell was asked by Ohio State Football Radio Network broadcaster Jim Lachey - via WBNS-FM in Columbus - how Meyer was coping with not being part of Ohio State’s Gator Bowl preparations.

Lachey: “(Has it) been tough keeping him on the sidelines?”

Fickell: “He tried not to come around too much but when it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood.”

One presumes Lachey meant to say “off the sidelines.” Regardless, Fickell’s answer has already raised some eyebrows.

Earlier today GAINESVILLE (FL) SUN columnist Pat Dooley, who has covered Florida football for decades, Tweeted this response to Fickell’s contention that Meyer has “tried not to come around too much“:

Fickell on his coach’s show last night: “(Urban) tried not to come around too much but when coaching is in ur blood it’s in ur blood.” Hmm.

Because of Meyer’s intimate knowledge of the personnel of Ohio State’s Gator Bowl opponent, Florida, his possible involvement in Ohio State’s preparations for its game against the Gators would be of more impact than had the Buckeyes faced any other opponent in college football.

If Meyer was indeed involved in briefing the Ohio State coaching staff and/or players on Florida personnel or game preparations in any way, which would be against the terms of the NCAA waiver, it’d be another slap in the face to Gator fans at the hands of the former coach.

Fickell indicating that perhaps Meyer hasn’t limited his influence on the current OSU program to recruiting is also likely to concern University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, who complained about the Ohio State NCAA waiver when it was first announced. He then provided greater detail to his objections last week.

Brandon to the DETROIT NEWS on December 22, 2011:

Our (Michigan) coaches right now are sleep-deprived. They’ve got to plan to get 130 people to New Orleans (Michigan plays Virginia Tech in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl), practicing and preparing a game plan and doing all the things coaches do, and yet this is one of the busiest recruiting seasons of the year.

“Urban Meyer is able to spend 100 percent of his (December) time recruiting athletes, and no other coach in our conference has that flexibility.

“The NCAA preaches over and over about maintaining a level playing field and treating everybody the same. If that’s their guiding principle, someone at the NCAA needs to explain how this translates into a level playing field.”

On second thought, considering the significant positive impact Ohio State is likely to gain from Meyer’s salesmanship to prospective players, perhaps Brandon would prefer the new OSU head coach spend more time gameplanning for a meaningless Gator Bowl than matching wits with Michigan’s ’sleep-deprived’ assistants on the recruiting trail.

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Video: Michigan Offense Uses Handgun Formation

You’ve heard of the “Run and Shoot” offense?

(Credit: BTN’s Saturday Night Special)

Last Saturday against Northwestern, Michigan running back Vincent Smith showed us the “Shoot and Run.

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Blacklisted by OSU, Talbott Now Works MGOBLUE

UPDATE (Sept. 21, 2011, 12:36am PT): The ASSOCIATED PRESS corrects the record, noting that Dennis Talbott did not cite his affiliation with This Week In Football - or Icon SMI - when obtaining a sideline media credential under the name “Jay Talbott” for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Dennis Talbott Ohio Sports Weekly

(Website? Dormant. Talbott Facebook page? Awash in Michigan pics!) 

Instead, Talbott duped Michigan into gifting him a field pass by noting his affiliation with the website What Talbott neglected to tell UM when he obtained his precious credential on August 31 was that he himself owned the domain - and had slapped up an empty storefront at the web address designed only to persuade media relations personnel into thinking Talbott was a member of the working media.

In the three weeks since Talbott shot the Michigan-Western Michigan game, he has added dozens of photos of the game - including one of himself shooting the action from the sideline - to his Facebook page. Yet the so-called media outlet Talbott claimed as his sole reason for being at the Big House,, not only hasn’t been updated since the UM-WMU game, the site has remained virtually unchanged since Feb. 1, 2011.

UPDATE (Sept. 20, 2011, 1:05pm ET): Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports that after learning from the SbB report below that Ohio State-blacklisted photog Dennis Talbott had gained sideline media access for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan football game at Michigan Stadium, the school announced today that Talbott “has been banned by the Michigan athletic department.

Dennis Talbott: Banned by Michigan after SbB report

(Talbott fallback? Shooting rogue OSU booster’s favorite high school coach)

Rothstein reported that Talbott used an “unfamiliar” name while claiming affiliation with the very same publication that scored him sidelines at Ohio State beginning in 2009 - and access to the high school coach who has sent the most players to Ohio State the past decade, Cleveland-Glenville head coach Ted Ginn, Sr.

- - -

Three months ago an anonymous source alleged to ESPN that Dennis Talbott, a Central Ohio-based businessman with a sudden, new-found love for photography, “made at least 35 payments to [Terrelle] Pryor in 2009 and 2010 for signing memorabilia, for a total payout of between $20,000 and $40,000.

Dennis Talbott shooting Michigan game on Sept. 3, 2011

(Banned By Ohio State, Talbott Now Employing Northern Exposure)

Following the ESPN report, SbB revealed details of those transactions and an eBay account and now-defunct company from which Talbott sold dozens of collectibles featuring the signatures and likenesses of then-current Buckeye football players.

So how did Talbott acquire the access needed to enable such a “business“?

One way was to affiliate himself with a small Ohio-based online publication called This Week In Football. Talbott struck up that relationship in large part to (somehow) obtain photographer media credentials from Ohio State - despite having never shot as a professional photographer until 2009. Talbott actually stumbled upon the idea of posing as a pro photog after snapping some pics from the sidelines of 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

Jim Tressel signing memorabilia for Dennis Talbott

Starting with the 2009 Ohio State football season, armed with sideline access provided by Ohio State, Talbott accumulated his own product - which he reproduced for signings  and sales - while also gaining the acccess needed to develop personal relationships with players like Pryor, DeVier Posey, Doug Worthington and Thaddeus Gibson.

It wasn’t long before Ohio State-licensed memorabilia dealers caught on to Talbott’s “photography” con thanks to his prior reputation as an unafraid purveyor of the sale of unlicensed OSU product - along with his alleged penchant for forging the signature of a head coach known for his flagpin affinity.

It was that steady stream of beefs from upstanding memorabilia dealers, not anyone at Ohio State compliance or within the athletic department, that caused Talbott to eventually be stripped of his prized, Ohio State sideline pass. Between that loss, his eBay account being outed and the 2011 ESPN reports, Talbott’s trafficking of Ohio State current player memorabilia, save a stealth eBay account or three, seems to have ground to a halt.

Sufficiently shunned at the ‘Shoe, there was only one thing left for a hopeless black-marketer like Talbott to do.


Dennis Talbott Facebook Photo Gallery

(All of Talbott’s shots from the Michigan-W. Michigan game on Sept. 3)

Thanks to his previous association with a small sports photo distribution company called Icon SMI - derived only from the legitimacy provided by OSU sideline access - Talbott was given sideline photographer media credentials by Michigan for its opening game of the season against Western Michigan. A staggering fact of which, if Talbott’s profile photo on his personal Facebook account is any indication, he’s quite proud.

As he’s paid by Icon SMI only for individual shots bought by media outlets, Talbott’s relationship with company has always been more about accesss to players than actual compensation. So it was gravy for him to be paid - albeit a modest sum - by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for this shot of Denard Robinson from the Sept. 3 game:

Dennis Talbott shot of Denard Robinson

(Okay I added the inset)

Probably not a coincidence that Talbott’s prize-winning shot was of Denard Robinson, considering the seeming vast demand (and supply) of Denard Robinson-signed” items for sale online. (Here’s another sweet 16 shot from the artist formerly know as “D. Jay Talbott” - coming to an eBay auction near you!)

So far there’s no obvious indication that Talbot transacted monetary gain from UM media access like he did Ohio State, but remember, our favorite fake photog isn’t a trader - he’s an investor!

Don’t believe me? Ask Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington.

While still current Ohio State players, Gibson and Worthington were receiving a wide variety of NCAA-rule-violating benefits from Columbus-based NFL agent Brad Cicala as Talbott was employing his photography-fueled grift. So if Talbott wanted a Pryor-like arrangement with Gibson and Worthington, he’d have to go through an NFL agent.

Below is a shot from an ESPN’s Outside The Lines investigative piece in which Talbott was seen - coincidentally or not - outside the office complex where Cicala’s Columbus agency was located.

Dennis Talbott outside Brad Cicala's office on ESPN's Outside The Lines

(More from ESPN’s exhaustive reporting on Talbott)

Cicala also currently reps journeyman NFL player and former Buckeye Roy Hall. It was Hall who helped Cicala connect the NFL agent with then-current Buckeye Worthington - who helped Cicala get in with Gibson, a former Cleveland-area high school star. Cicala later signed Gibson as an NFL client, a coup considering Gibson’s Ohio State position coach at the time was Luke Fickell - who has long been known for his close relationship with Cleveland-area NFL agent Neil Cornrich.

Helping Cicala land Worthington and Gibson was benefits like sweet seats to the Oct. 28, 2009, Jay-Z concert in Columbus, an actual recording studio in Gibson’s Columbus apartment and, of course, Cicala’s arrangement with Talbott.

But then again, who’s to say Worthington and Gibson wouldn’t have signed with Cicala anyway!

Just look at OSU booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who enjoyed the company of dozens of Buckeyes over the years at his annual charity event in Cleveland despite providing them no benefits of any kind.

Why, I still can’t believe Bobby D. threw away his 30-year relationship with Ohio State because, in a completely isolated case, he felt like paying three Ohio State football players $200 each at his 2011 charity event.

Three players who’d never started a game.

With envelopes.

Did I mention it was a one-time deal?

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Video: Richrod’s Enemy At Michigan Was Within?

At a golf outing in Glenville, W.V., on Saturday to commemorate his Glenville State coaching days, Rich Rodriguez talked to reporters about his abbreviated stay at Michigan.

Rodriguez didn’t go out of his way create controversy with his remarks, but when he was asked about his UM ouster, he wasn’t shy about lobbing more than subtle hints about his former employer.

“There wasn’t anything in the job that surprised me. When I first got the job, after about two months on the job I figured out there was going to be more work to do than I thought.  But there wasn’t anything that we didn’t think we could handle. We thought we went through it slowly and surely until it got to the point where it could take off.

“But it didn’t happen.”

“.. I knew after my first spring it was going to take more than three years, and I told them that.

“Maybe they forgot.”

When asked about his future in coaching, Rodriguez clearly indicated why his demise was assured at Michigan - by what he didn’t say.

“I’m not going to say that I’m sure I’ll get back into coaching, but I know I want to. I just hope to get the right opportunity. Somewhere where everyone is pulling in the same direction. 

“I told a good friend of mine who is an A.D. at another school, some people think ‘this job is better than that job’ and they really don’t know that what’s really important is you have everybody pulling in the same direction. The boosters, the athletic department, the administration, the coaches and the players.

“If you have that, you have a chance to have success. 

“We had that at Glenville (State) and we had that at West Virginia.

“That’s, to me, what I’m looking for.”

So who said Stop to Richrod’s Go (Blue)?

The general consensus is that one of the keys to Rodriguez’s departure was the non-support of Lloyd Carr from the very start.

Carr didn’t dissuade that way of thinking when asked last week, “do you think the integrity of Michigan football was at all hurt by Rich Rodriguez?

Carr’s response: “I can’t answer that. I think it was a disappointment for everybody.”

Carr’s remark was in the context of minor NCAA sanctions placed on the Michigan program while under Rodriguez.

Sanctions that are a shadow of what UM interstate rival Ohio State will soon be facing.

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Faux Throwbacks Cheapen Michigan, Notre Dame

On Sept. 10, Michigan and Notre Dame will play the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan Notre Dame Throwback Uniforms

I’m pleased to report that in keeping with that historic break from tradition, adidas will outfit its two highest profile college football clients in throwback uniforms of somewhat dubious distinction.

Unfortunately for the uniphiles at adidas charged with boosting the bottom lines of their clients, ND’s most glorious seasons coincided with decidedly drab on-field apparel, while the actual Michigan Menswear of past Wolverine teams apparently wasn’t enough of a hard sell either.

Last month Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly leaked details of the antique uniques to be worn by ND and UM to Brian Hamilton of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE:

Irish coach Brian Kelly spilled the beans Friday that the programs will wear throwback uniforms for their Sept. 10 matchup.

Kelly wouldn’t get specific about the design of the Notre Dame outfits beyond saying they hearken back to the Joe Kuharich Era — perhaps an odd choice, given that Kuharich was 17-23 in four years as Irish coach from 1959-62.

“I’m just trying to help you guys piece together what it’s going to look like, without me saying and then getting yelled at by our adidas people that we blew the surprise for them.

“But yeah, we’re going to have throwback uniforms. As they will. I can tell you what theirs look like: They have a block ‘M’ on them, and a number, and a number on their helmet. How’s that? The adidas people at Michigan are going to be (ticked) at me.”

So instead of celebrating one of Notre Dame’s most famous teams or eras, the school will instead remind us of perhaps the most forgettable collection of Fighting Irish squads in history.

Notre Dame Shamrock Throwback Helmets


Not to mention that the Fighting Irish helmet logo featured at that time, as noted by Matt Hinton of Yahoo Sports, was a shamrock more resembling the international symbol for radiation than anything associated with a football institution fallen on hard times. (Or as Hinton called it, a “nuclear shamrock.”)

Notre Dame Shamrock Throwback Helmets

(Little known factoid: Perry Como once coached ND Special Teams)

Then there’s Michigan, which will will break out a set of ancient on-field apparel that Ann Arbor annals reveal never fully existed.

Yesterday the DETROIT FREE PRESS reported:

Michigan’s jersey, according to a sample provided to the Free Press, will be modeled after the image shown above. A small number also will be added to the upper-left corner of the jersey front, opposite the Adidas logo.

Michigan 1899 Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

Last week, athletic director Dave Brandon told a meeting of the state’s sports editors that U-M intended to hold a nighttime unveiling of the jersey this summer and that U-M hoped fans would purchase a lot of jerseys, as they did for the Big Chill last winter.

Asked about the night-game jersey Thursday, associate athletic director Dave Ablauf responded: “We are still tweaking and making final decisions on the look of the uniform. We won’t be commenting on the throwback uniform design until we have the product in hand.” is a remarkable archive of all things Michigan, so after seeing the Free Press report, the UM-centric site was my next stop.

The reaction from Greg at MVictors today was, in a word, pained.

I’m sure there are certain constraints the athletic department and adidas are dealing with (material, size, and marketing – they want to sell a bunch of these, afterall). The question mark for me concerns those stripes on the sleeves. I don’t recall stripes having a prominent presence on the gridiron, really, at any point in history.

Again – nothing is official so please only panic quietly to yourself until we see the final designs.

Greg pointed out that, from the UM-released image, the jersey does not fully resemble any past Michigan football ensemble.

Though it was noted that similarities are seen in 1899 UM squad:

Michigan 1899 Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

And the Fielding Yost-coached teams of the early 1920s:

Michigan 1920s Fielding Yost Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

Per Kelly, apparently UM’s venerable winged helmet design, instituted in 1938, will include player numbers affixed to the sides as was custom in Ann Arbor from 1959 to 1968.

Ron Johnson Michigan Winged Helmet With Numbers On Side


Of course, the argument for such historical incongruity is in making the jersey as palatable to the money-spending public, players and recruits as possible. An early return on that front comes from current Michigan player Troy Woolfolk, who had this reaction on Twitter after a fan Tweeted an image of the faux throwback to him:

Troy Woolfolk Tweet about Michigan Football Throwbacks

If a Michigan football historian and current player don’t like the look, what exactly is the demographic UM and adidas is targeting?

I’m all for celebrating the past, especially when the schools involved have such rich football histories. But the above in no one way resembles anything other than a naked grab for cash.

These two schools, in my estimation, are better than that.

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John Cooper: ‘They’ll Never Fire Me For Cheating’

On Tuesday in New York City, the National Football Foundation announced that former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. After the formal announcement, Carr talked to national columnist Dan Wolken and related a tale about an unguarded - and recurring - moment he used to have with Jim Tressel’s predecessor at Ohio State.

Carr also relayed a fallback once used by Bo Schembechler for never coaching the Wolverines to a national title and an appalling, personal example of the crippled state of NCAA rules enforcement.

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Hoke’s ‘State’ Embargo Of Buckeyes Is By Design

Wednesday night I posted video of new Michigan football coach Brady Hoke referring to UM’s Buckeye rivals as “Ohio” over and over and over again.

Brady Hoke Michigan Countdown Clock To Ohio State Game

At the time I posted the footage, I wasn’t completely sure that Hoke had deliberately enacted an abbreviation-based embargo on Michigan’s interstate neighbors.

Now I am.

Today I was sent a photo of a rather unique clock currently on prominent display in the Michigan football team’s weight room that rules out Hoke’s halfway characterization of the Buckeyes as anything other than gamesmanship. The Wolverines coach has installed a reverse countdown clock in the UM conditioning facility that tracks the exact time ’til Michigan takes the field against Ohio State on Nov. 26, 2011. Under the clock’s display is a Buckeye football helmet and the words, “BEAT OHIO.

But “Ohio” isn’t the only UM rival assigned such in-house hokum by the Wolverines coach.

Hoke also has a backwards-running clock for Michigan’s Oct. 15, 2011, East Lansing engagement with Michigan State.

Brady Hoke Mark Dantonio Quote On Beating Michigan

A supposed quote by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio - apparently uttered at a recent gathering of Ohio high school football coaches in Columbus - is also noted by a sign erected in the same UM training area: Read more…

Hoke’s ‘Ohio’ Abbreviation Subtle Poke at Rivals?

So far during his young tenure, new Michigan coach Brady Hoke has repeatedly taken to calling UM’s Columbus-based arch rival “Ohio” instead of the more customary “Ohio State.”

Having covered Ohio State football as a local, credentialed media member myself for several years, I can assure you that Hoke’s insistence on abbreviating The Ohio State University during press conferences and interviews, whether deliberate or not, is not going over well in Columbus.

And though his “State” embargo doesn’t extend to East Lansing, what else is Hoke supposed to call the Spartans?

UPDATE: It’s official. I talked to a UM athletic department staff member Thursday morning and was told that Hoke is indeed engaging in some gamesmanship with the Ohio “State” embargo.

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Grant Hill-Jimmy King Story Excised By NY Times

Last night I reported that Grant Hill would be publishing an editorial in the NEW YORK TIMES this week that responded to ESPN’s recent documentary about the Michigan basketball team of the early ’90s.

Grant Hill Jimmy King Training Camp Anecdote Excised From NY Times story

I also noted that in that piece Hill retold an anecdote about trying to help former Wolverine Jimmy King at Pistons training camp in 1999. (You can read about it here.)

Because of that NBA episode between the two former collegiate rivals, I reported last night that in Hill’s NYT piece, he mentioned his disappointment at King calling him a “bitch” in the ESPN documentary - which King himself helped produce. Read more…

Grant Hill To Hit Back At Jimmy King In NY Times

An ESPN documentary on the 1991-93 Michigan basketball team premiered last Sunday.

Jimmy King: Failed NBA player

Contained in the retrospective was former Wolverine Jimmy King offering this analysis of former Duke Blue Devil Grant Hill:

“I thought Grant Hill was a bitch.”

Hill, whose two NCAA basketball championships at Duke included a 71-51 tournament final win over King’s Michigan in 1992, is currently enjoying the 16th season of what has been a remarkable NBA career.

Meanwhile King, after leaving Michigan, played one season in the NBA before being released in 1996 by Denver. Though in ‘99, King was invited to training camp by the Detroit Pistons - a squad led at the time by perennial all-star Hill.

A source at the NEW YORK TIMES told me late Tuesday that Hill has submitted an editorial to the newspaper to be published this week that will detail his feelings about the aforementioned Michigan team. Included in Hill’s piece is an anecdote about King attending Pistons training camp in 1999. Read more…