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: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Calls Iowa “Buckeyes”

After his recent immigration policy-based endorsement of Rick Perry’s bid for President, Phoenix-area Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a staunch proponent of U.S.-Mexico border control, joined Perry this week on the GOP primary trail in Iowa.

(Perry to Arpaio: “You know how to get Iowans riled up in the morning”)

While warming up the crowd for a Perry stump speech to the Westside Conversative Club in Des Moines on Wednesday morning, Arpaio mischaracterized an Iowa namesake for a state hundred of miles away:

Boy, I’m getting to know Iowa, the great state of Iowa. Was it the Buckeyes? (boos) … What are they? What are they called?”

Iowa is known as “The Hawkeye State”, while Ohio is known as “The Buckeye State.” The flagship universities of the states are similiarly nicknamed.


After his mistake was met with an inevitable chorus of boos, Westside Conservative Club co-Founder Paul Zietlow politely corrected Arpaio who, while chuckling, turned to the crowd and said, “Hawkeyes, Buckeyes, what’s the difference?”

When that comment elicited a collective groan from the crowd, Arpaio looked at his watch and replied, “It’s 3 o’clock Phoenix time.

For the record, Arpaio was speaking at 7am in Des Moines at the time. 6am, Phoenix time.

After Arpaio introduced Perry, the Texas Governor said of the Sheriff losing sight of the border between the states and two Big Ten schools:

“Well, you know how to get an Iowa crowd riled up in the morning…call ‘em Buckeyes. Actually, there’s probably some Cyclones in this crowd.”

By mentioning “Cyclones”, Perry was referring to the nickname of the second-most prominent college in Iowa, Iowa State University.

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Meyer Blocked Media With Guard Inside Pressbox

EXCLUSIVE: As confirmed here last Friday, Urban Meyer has agreed in principle to become the next head football coach of Ohio State.

Urban Meyer confronts Jeremy Fowler of Orlando Sentinel

(Meyer “berated” reporter Jeremy Fowler in March, 2010. Later apologized.)

Nothing will be signed between Meyer and Ohio State until after the Buckeyes play Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor, with an announcement likely to come as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

Despite his ABC/ESPN broadcast crew being assigned to the same game on Saturday, multiple sources confirmed this week that Meyer told ESPN he would not work the game. When ESPN, unbeknownst to Meyer, then assigned him to work its GameDay production on location before the Alabama-Auburn game, the coach refused that assignment as well. Eventually ESPN and Meyer agreed on his working Saturday in Bristol.

Why did Meyer refuse assignments in Ann Arbor and Alabama? For the same reason a security guard was stationed inside his broadcast booth last Saturday at Michigan Stadium to block reporters from asking him anything about his agreement to coach Ohio State.

The same security guard, I have confirmed via multiple sources, is normally assigned to patrol the entire Michigan press box - not guard a broadcaster - as was the case last Saturday. The guard also escorted Meyer to and from the booth from inside the press box expressly to prevent the next Ohio State coach from being confronted by credentialed, working media.

ASSOCIATED PRESS reporter Larry Lage reported that Meyer “declined comment” before the game. Along with Lage, multiple sources said COLUMBUS DISPATCH reporter Todd Jones was also blocked by the security guard from engaging in any conversation with Meyer while inside the press box.

Despite Meyer using a security guard to block reporters from a story he was responsible for, sources also confirmed ESPN’s Joe Schad could be seen talking with Meyer inside the same media-embargoed Michigan Stadium broadcast booth before the game.

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Meyer Confirms Hire to Prominent Ex-Buckeyes

Last Friday I reported that Urban Meyer had agreed in principle to become the next head football coach of Ohio State.

Urban Meyer 911 call

Multiple sources confirmed today that Meyer has reiterated his intention to take the job during recent phone calls to multiple, prominent former Ohio State football players.

Sources said Meyer contacted the ex-Buckeyes to ask for guidance on possible assistant coach hires and - just as important - their public support when Meyer’s hire is announced next week by Ohio State.

Sources close to Ohio State said today that an announcement on Meyer’s hire by the school will come next Monday or Tuesday though nothing has been signed between the two parties at this time.

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Herbstreit: ‘talked to Urban Meyer about coaching’

Friday I broke the news that Urban Meyer has agreed in principle to become the next head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Urban Meyer not calling the Ohio State Michigan football game with normal TV crew

(Ohio State: Meyer not calling OSU-Michigan game with normal TV crew)

With that agreement - which I reported Friday did not include a signed contract - I also reported that Meyer “aimed to addKirk Herbstreit to his coaching staff.


Monday Herbstreit confirmed to Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio that he had spoken to Meyer about coaching.

Excerpt from Herbstreit comments:

“I’ve talked to Urban Meyer just like I’ve talked to a lot of other coaches in the past about getting into coaching. It’s in my blood, I’d love to coach. But at this point, do you think I’m crazy? I’ve got the best job, for me, in television.”

After the Sports by Brooks report on Friday, Chris Low and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com were first to report an on the record confirmation from Ohio State that the school had been in contact with Meyer about the job.

Meyer will also not be calling the Ohio State-Michigan football game on television despite his play-by-play and color analysts partners, Dave Pasch and Chris Spielman, being assigned to the game.

UPDATE: Onlygators.com reports that Meyer is not working the Ohio State-Michigan game with his normal crew in order to appear on ESPN’s College GameDay - with Kirk Herbstreit - from the Alabama-Auburn game.

UPDATE: Pat Dooley of the GAINESVILLE SUN reports, “Urban Meyer isn’t sure where he will be Saturday for ESPN but it won’t be Alabama-Auburn, he said.

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Meyer Agrees To Coach Buckeyes, Building Staff

Multiple sources close to the Ohio State football program have confirmed that Urban Meyer is assembling a coaching staff after agreeing to become the next head football coach at Ohio State.

Urban Meyer and Gene Smith on Sept. 3, 2011 at Ohio State before OSU game against Akron

(9/3/2011: Meyer & Ohio St. Athletic Director Gene Smith at Ohio Stadium)

The deal between Meyer and Ohio State was consumated in principle earlier this week in Columbus but not signed. It includes a multi-year contract that will make Meyer once again one of college football’s highest paid coaches.

In additon to Meyer’s generous compensation package, sources said a major factor in the coach’s decision to agree to take the position was the school promising him the budget to assemble what is expected to become the highest-paid assistant coaching staff in college football history.

Of that staff, sources indicate Meyer’s intial plan is to retain current Ohio State head football coach Luke Fickell and current Buckeye wide receivers coach Stan Drayton.

Meyer also aims to add Chris Spielman, Kirk Herbstreit, current North Carolina State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta and current LSU offensive line coach Greg Studwara to his Ohio State staff.

Studwara was offensive line coach for Bowling Green when Meyer was the head coach of the Falcons in 2001 and 2002. One source indicated Studwara is being considered by Meyer as possible offensive coordinator for the Buckeyes.

Meyer was one of two candidates Ohio State contacted during its hiring process. Jon Gruden was also approached by the school, but declined interest.

Photo credit: The-Ozone.net.

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Banned Ohio St. Booster Selling Tickets On Ebay

At the time of this posting, less than an hour remains in an Ebay auction for disassociated Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo’s tickets to the Buckeyes-Nebraska game tomorrow - with no bids as of yet.

Bobby DiGeronimo Disassociated Ohio State Booster Selling Tickets On Ebay

(Attendance: Optional)

Earlier this week DiGeronimo was cited for overpaying five Ohio State football players for summer job work. Those overpayments - discovered by NCAA investigators - led to three of the Buckeyes involved, DeVier Posey, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Marcus Hall being suspended for the game in Lincoln.

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Bobby D Speaks; Seen With OSU Rose Bowl Ring

On Feb. 4, 2011, disassociated Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo appeared on WMJI-FM’s “Lanigan & Malone” morning show in Cleveland to promote the charity event which ultimately rendered three Buckeye football players ineligible.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Banned OSU Booster Has His Own Championship Ring? Of Course He Does)

DiGeronimo has since admitted to giving three Ohio State players envelopes containing cash at this Feb. 19, 2011, Cornerstone of Hope Gala, which has subsequently led to his own formal ban from all contact with OSU athletics.


During his Cleveland radio appearance, DiGeronimo led off his description of the the event thusly:

“… We try to make this fun, we do about 25 minutes of serious stuff, including introducing all the Ohio State Buckeyes on this current team that’ll be there, last year there was 20 of them. Then Troy Smith, Teddy Ginn, Robert Smith, Mike Vrabel, Tom Cousineau, Doug Dieken, those kind of people show up and give us their support. And we have some great auction prizes …

Among the current Ohio State football players who attended the Feb. 19, 2011, event were Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Hall, Corey Brown, Travis Howard and, as reported only by SbB, Nathan Williams and Braxton Miller. SbB also broke the news that Pryor’s late August testimony to the NCAA was why Hall, Brown and Howard were cited - and suspended - by Ohio State for the DiGeronimo cash grab.

Ironic that DiGeronimo didn’t cite John Cooper as a past or future attendee of the Feb. 19, 2011, charity event to the Cleveland radio show considering the rogue OSU booster’s close relationship with the former Ohio State head football coach. It was Cooper who afforded DiGeronimo sideline and locker room access at Ohio State football games, along with rides on the team plane.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Yes, The Photo Is Real. And Spectacular.)

Not to mention an Ohio State championship ring that DiGeronimo was seen wearing in an Associated Press photo in 1998.

In the above photo DiGeronimo, who has also staged Cooper’s annual charity event golf tournament the past two years, can be seen wearing what appears to be a personalized 1996-97 Big Ten Rose Bowl Championship Ring identical to the rings given to OSU players and coaches.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Photo Credit: Mark Hall of the ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Here’s a link to a sample of Cooper’s ring - which is clearly the same style ring DiGeronimo was photographed wearing while he attempted to escort the Buckeyes football coach off the playing field following Ohio State’s 31-16 victory over Michigan on Nov. 21, 1998.

If you had had that kind of access to the Ohio State football program - not to mention the accompanying bling - would you throw away that 30 -year relationship by handing $200 to three players who hadn’t yet started a game at Ohio State?

That’s essentially what DiGeronimo claimed he did when he told the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER on Sept. 21, 2011, that the cash envelopes were the only time he’d paid OSU football players. Ever.

Apparently DiGeronimo forgot he paid still-suspended star Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey over $700 for summer job work Posey didn’t do, along with overpayments to four other Buckeyes including still-suspended OSU running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.

So now that he’s officially disassociated from the Ohio State football program - thanks to recent testimony to the NCAA by Terrelle Pryor - will DiGeronimo have to give his Big Ten & Rose Bowl ring back to the school?

As Ohio State gave Pryor, who is now disassociated himself from the school, a 2010 Big Ten championship ring from a now-vacated season, I have a sneaking feeling I am the first - and last - person to ask that question.

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Ohio St: 326 Percent Overpayment “Not Obvious”

Today Ohio State released a statement detailing more NCAA violations involving the football program. In the NCAA-addressed report, OSU confirmed that 30-year Buckeye booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who last month was cited for paying Ohio State players at his 2011 Cleveland-based charity event, also “provided five (OSU) student-athletes wages in excess of hours worked.  While the student-athletes were provided an appropriate wage and performed the work asked of them, the then representative paid the five student-athletes in excess of the number of hours worked.

(DeVier Posey: 326 Percent Overpayment By Booster ‘Not Obvious’?)

As a result of the violations, DeVier Posey, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Marcus Hall have been declared ineligble to play football for Ohio State. While the school has applied to the NCAA for their reinstatement, it’s unclear when the players will return.In the report, Ohio State Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Doug Archie noted “the following mitigation” as it pertained to the NCAA violations by Posey, Herron and Hall:

It was not obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid.  The student-athletes were not told their hourly wage.  According to the controller, no timecards were completed, as a supervisor verbally reported the hours worked to the controller, who wrote the check.  The check provided to the student-athletes did not include the number of hours worked nor the hourly wage.  As a result, while the student-athletes generally understood the number of hours they worked due to their presence at the job site, they did not know their hourly rate and would not have known if they were overpaid. 

Later in the report, Archie provided this summary of payments made from DiGeronimo - via his company Independence Excavating - to DeVier Posey:

Based on employment information provided by Independence as to the amount paid and the rate of pay, it was determined that DeVier was paid for 70 hours of work at a rate of $15.00 per hour. The NCAA Enforcement staff and institution concluded that DeVier worked a total of 21.5 hours at a rate of $15.00 per hour, and therefore was paid for 48.5 hours of work that was not performed (an over payment of $727.50).

OSU’s accounting translates to Posey being overpaid by now-disassociated OSU booster DiGeronimo by 326 percent.

In the second-to-last paragraph of his report to the NCAA on behalf of Ohio State, Archie states:

While the institution acknowledges that the student-athletes were paid by Independence for work not performed, it may not have been obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

So in less than two pages, Ohio State’s Associate Athletic Director for Compliance indicated to the NCAA:

1)  It was not obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

2) DeVier worked a total of 21.5 hours at a rate of $15.00 per hour, and therefore was paid for 48.5 hours of work that was not performed (an over payment of $727.50).

3) … it may not have been obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

Not as obvious - at least as a 326 percent overpayment - was why DiGeronimo wasn’t disassociated by Ohio State until Sept. 20, 2011.

In the OSU report to the NCAA, Archie also attached a June 29, 2011, letter from DiGeronimo to the attorney of the five Ohio State players.

In that communique DiGeronimo detailed the hours the five Ohio State student-athletes allegedly worked for Independence Excavating - hours that were subseqently found to be fraudulent and in the case of DeVier Posey, wildly overstated.

But in the Sept. 20, 2011, dissociation letter from OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith to DiGeronimo, there was no mention of any NCAA rules impropriety involving summer jobs for Buckeye football players.

Why did it take Ohio State six weeks to disassociate booster after letter detailing bogus work hours by OSU football players?

So when exactly did Ohio State find out that DiGeronimo had - according to OSU and the NCAA - exaggerated the hours worked by Buckeye football players? Today’s OSU report to the NCAA doesn’t say - this is all we get:

The institution and Enforcement Staff determined the actual number of hours worked based upon cell telephone and bank records and the student-athletes’ testimony.    

If the NCAA and Ohio State had already zeroed in on the hours worked of those five players -  so much so that DiGeronimo sent a letter to the attorney of the players detailing hours worked of that particular quintet - why the six week delay by Ohio State to disassociate DiGeronimo?

And no announcment until today?

Brooks is on Twitter, Facebook and at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com

Booster Sold Right To Dine With Current Buckeyes

On Sept. 15, 2011, 30-year Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo confirmed to Bill Lubinger of the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER that he facilitated cash payments to three current Ohio State players - from envelopes distributed at a Cleveland-area charity event - on Feb. 19, 2011.

Bobby DiGeronimo OSU Rogue Booster Sold Right To Dine With Beanie Wells Buckeyes At 2008 Charity Event

(Private access to then-current Buckeyes available in 2008 - at the right price)

As part of his piece on DiGeronimo, Lubinger reported:

Cornerstone for Hope has held a charity dinner and auction for eight years, raising from $150,000 the first year to $300,000 this year. It draws between 650 and 750 guests. One of the attractions is celebrity guests at each table, including Ohio State athletes.

And years back, when DiGeronimo’s close friend John Cooper was still head coach of the football team, the auction would include an offer to play “Buckeye for a Day” — a chance to attend football practice and meet the players. It brought in winning bids of $2,500 to $3,000.

In 2011, Cornerstone of Hope’s charity auction included autographed - and framed - Ohio State memorabilia items from then-current Buckeye football star Terrelle Pryor and current Ohio State basketball player Jared Sullinger:

Bobby DiGeronimo OSU Rogue Booster Sold Signed Memorabilia From Terrelle Pryor and Jared Sullinger at 2011 Event

(Part of live auction guide from rogue OSU booster’s charity event)

As he reportedly did during the Cooper era at Ohio State, DiGeronimo also sold a Buckeye fan experience at his 2008 event. But this time, thanks to a sign seen in a photo of the Cornerstone of Hope gala in progress that year, we now know DiGeronimo wasn’t merely hawking access to practice.

Terrelle Pryor at Charity Event in Cleveland where 3 Ohio State players were paid

(Pryor, seen at 2011 event, ratted out teammates, DiGeronimo to NCAA)

As seen below, one of the auction items at the 2008 Cleveland-area charity benefit was titled “Dinner with Beanie.” The sign display clearly states that personal access to then-current Ohio State football players Beanie Wells and Lawrence Wilson was available - at a price.

Bobby DiGeronimo OSU Rogue Booster Sold Right To Dine With Beanie Wells Buckeyes At 2008 Charity Event

Ironic that the partly-obscured description of the “Dinner with Beanie” experience sold by DiGeronimo that year also noted the words “strict compliance“, considering Ohio State is on the record in stating that the rogue Buckeye booster’s entire event that year was non-compliant.

Ohio State Buckeyes, including Branden Smith, broke NCAA rules at 2008 charity event in Cleveland

 (Same 2008 OSU Booster Event Where ‘Dinner with Beanie’ Auctioned)

A week ago DiGeronimo contended to the Plain Dealer that his providing envelopes containing cash to three Ohio State players who, at the time, had never started a game “was the only time players have been paid in the gala’s eight years.

Ohio State Players at 2008 Cleveland Charity Event - Noncompliant

(Some of the Buckeyes who attended 2008 non-compliant DiGeronimo event)

So what’s the odds Ohio State compliance ever investigated whether Wells and Wilson paid for their own dinners - and travel expenses - for participating in the DiGeronimo-germinated Buckeye football fan experience?

Check? Please.

Brooks is on Twitter, Facebook and at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com.