Search Party! Firm Scammed Rams For 250 Grand

Yesterday Colorado State Athletic Director Jack Graham introduced Jim McElwain as the school’s new football coach at a press conference in Fort Collins. The new CSU coach’s appearance and remarks to the large gathering of media and Rams fans was standard fare until McElwain opened the floor for questions from the media.


Instead of the initial media query being directed to McElwain, the man for whom the press conference was allegedly held, CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham was first asked, “what help you got from the search firm for the money that was spent, obviously that was a pretty big commitment.”

Why was that question more important than McElwain getting an opening day whack at a batting practice fastball from a crack Rams football fan scribe? Because Graham paid search firm Spencer & Stuart a staggering $250,000 for the arduous, week-long task of locating football coach candidates for Colorado State. (Eight days to be exact.)

Colorado State. 

Graham’s response to the $250,000 question:

The process to screen candidates for this position was thorough and professional. We began by defining the state of CSU football; understanding the state of football. We defined a brand. What do we have to sell at Colorado State?

“We talked about the characteristics of the head football coach that we wanted here, both the personal characteristics and qualities as well as technical characteristics and qualities, recruiting capabilities, et cetera.

We defined that profile and said this is the kind of human being we want to have lead our football program in this bold new era. And with that, we started with a list of 75 to 100 names.

“We dragged a comb through that list, narrowed it down to about 25, kept on working and debating. (We) came up with a list of 10, set up appointments and we hit the road and started interviews. It was very thorough.

We also had a guy sitting beside me who was a behavioral psychologist, a PhD, in behavior psychology. That helped me not just work on the back of gut and instinct and intuition, but rather objectively.

“What kind of a human being is this, how is he going to think, how is he going to lead, how is he going to manage? It was a very thorough process.

What Graham wasn’t asked, unfortunately, is why he decided to pay Spencer Stuart executive Jed Hughes well over double what Boise State recently paid Hughes for assistance with its athletic director hire.

The IDAHO STATESMAN reported on Dec. 2, 2011:

Boise State will pay Jed Hughes, a senior partner with the executive search firm Spencer Stuart, at least $107,250 — or one-third of the athletic director’s first full-year compensation package. Kustra said Hughes was the one who called his attention to Coyle.

The $250,000 to help Graham land McElwain was also well over double what Tennessee forked over to Parker Executive Search, perhaps the largest college coaching search firm in the country, to assist in the Cuonzo Martin hire last March.

On June 24, 2011, the KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL reported:

The University of Tennessee was contracted to pay Parker Executive Search $90,000 plus up to $20,000 in expenses in its quest to hire a new basketball coach after Bruce Pearl was fired.

While the $250,000 fee Colorado State was fleeced by Spencer Stuart’s Hughes may seem steep, it’s still over three times less than the $910,000 CSU recently paid former Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk to go away.

Why did they do that?

So Graham, a longtime CSU booster with no athletic administration experience, could name himself athletic director.

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USC Assistant Quits After Being Tied To Will Lyles

Just two days before the Trojans’ opener against Minnesota, USC announced today that assistant football coach Willie Mack Garza had resigned his position.

Willie Mack Garza quits after being connected to Willie Lyles during Lyles interview with NCAA this week

USC’s official statement:

USC secondary coach Willie Mack Garza has resigned for personal reasons.

“I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC,” said Garza, who was in his second year at USC. “I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address. I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won’t be with them in what I know will be a very successful season.”

Garza’s resignation is a direct result of comments made to NCAA investigators earlier this week by former recruiting service operator Willie Lyles. In those comments, Lyles revealed to NCAA officials that he had previously had a working relationship with Garza.

Garza spent last season at USC and was hired by current Trojan Coach Lane Kiffin in a similar capacity at Tennessee, serving as an assistant coach for the Volunteers in 2009.

Brooks can be reached on Twitter, Facebook and directly at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com

Exclusive: Pearl Endures ESPN Employ Embargo

Terrelle Pryor’s escape from the burning building that is the Ohio State football program straight onto an ESPN set is firmly esconced in the long, illustrious history of unintentionally comedic ESPN programming decisions.

Bruce Pearl

But while Pryor was deified by ESPN mere hours after the extra-beneficiary torched future OSU football fortunes, the same can’t be said for another notorious NCAA arsonist: former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Read more…

Alabama Football Player Dies In Jacksonville Area

*UPDATE*: Fernandina Beach, Florida police say Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas was found dead at the scene on the second-floor balcony of a residence Thursday morning after attending a party there the night before. The cause of Douglas’ death remains unknown pending a medical examination.

A Knoxville radio talk show host has confirmed through the University of Alabama athletic department that Alabama football player Aaron Douglas recently passed away in the Jacksonville, Florida area.

Aaron Douglas Tweet

Tony Basilio, who hosts a show on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Knoxville, reported via Twitter on Thursday:

Alabama Athletic Department Confirms Douglas Story. He died in Jacksonville, Fla…Awful

Basilio also reported he confirmed Douglas’ death through a family friend of Douglas. From Basilio’s Twitter account:

Just got word from a friend of the family. He says it’s true….

Chase Goodbread of the TUSCALOOSA NEWS reported via Alabama’s Rivals.com website:

I have confirmed with the Fernandina Beach police department that a death in that area is being investigated. Until identification is complete, and next of kin is notified, the FB police will not release further information. If anyone believes they can help with the investigation itself, the police department told me they would be interested in speaking with anyone with direct info. As soon as more is available, I’ll bring it here.

Douglas, an Alabama offensive lineman who previously played as a freshman at the University of Tennessee, had most recently participated in the Crimson Tide’s spring practice drills.

Douglas was only 21.

UT AD Reaches Out To Media Celebrating Cuonzo

After Tennessee announced it had hired Cuonzo Martin as its new basketball coach last night, school athletic director Mike Hamilton felt the need to reach out to social media.

Mike Hamilton Twitter: Promotes Hiring of Cuonzo Martin

As you can see from the above screenshot of his official Twitter account, Hamilton proceeded to retweet positive media reaction to Tennessee’s Martin.

Okay I made that last one up.

Video: Bruce Pearl Spells Denial Without An “I”

After his Tennessee Volunteers were destroyed by Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Charlotte Friday, Vols Coach Bruce Pearl was asked by a reporter if he thought he’d return next season as Tennessee coach considering the NCAA sanctions the school will likely soon face thanks to his egregious NCAA - and ethical - violations.

In response, Pearl said:

I think our program is on very solid footing. We’ve got to go before the committee of infractions in June and it’s going to be difficult.

We made mistakes and we’re going to try to be accountable for those mistakes.

My goal and my desire is to be the basketball coach of Tennessee.

As everyone knows, the first rule of the NCAA is admitting you have a problem. Read more…

Moore’s Confusion: “I’ve Never Heard Cecil Talk”

Yesterday I reported that WZZN-FM radio host Scott Moore has recently touted on several major radio outlets in the past week the existence of audio “tapes” that could possibly further incriminate the Auburn football program and implicate the Tennessee football program with the NCAA.

WZZN 104.5 The Zone Huntsville Scott Moore

Of those tapes, allegedly owned by former Mississippi State players and current boosters John Bond and Bill Bell, Moore told WNSP-FM in Mobile last Friday:

“They’ve (Bond and Bell) got tapes that exist that has Cam Newton in the room with his dad talking about these deals. You have got him (Cam) present in the room while his dad (Cecil) is on the phone trying to shop his son around. That’s a fact.”

Subsequent to Moore’s numerous, remarkably detailed claims, a source who has spoken to both Bond and Bell about the so-called “tapes” confirmed to me that no tapes in their possession contain Cecil Newton’s voice. Bell has electronic audio file recordings of voicemail messages from Kenny Rogers and Bond has a copy of those files. Those voicemails contain no additional information or evidence that would further incriminate Auburn with the NCAA.

This morning Moore appeared on Cole Cubelic’s WZZN-FM morning show in Huntsville to once again discuss the “tapes.”

Less than a week after claiming as “fact” that Bond and Bell had tapes, that has Cam Newton in the room with his dad (Cecil Newton) talking about these deals,” Moore said today he had not authenticated the tapes allegedly in the possession of Bond and Bell.

Further, Moore verified on WZZN this morning that he has never actually heard Cecil Newton’s voice - despite Moore’s previous, repeated claims Cecil Newton’s voice was contained on the “tapes.”


Cubelic:

“Did you hear Cecil Newton’s voice on the tapes?”

Read more…

Infamous M-State Tapes Do Not Include Newtons

In the past week a Huntsville, Alabama-based radio talk show host named Scott Moore has been touting the upcoming release of audio tapes he claims may further incriminate Cam and Cecil Newton and Auburn and Tennessee with the NCAA.

WZZN 104.5 The Zone Huntsville Scott Moore

(Moore confusion from Barrett Sallee of CollegeFootballNews.com)

Here’s a sampling of Moore talking about the “tapes” today on the Chuck and Chernoff Show on 680 The Fan in Atlanta:

“Is Cecil Newton shopping his son around on these tapes? The answer to that is, yeah, he is. … Cecil said that there are offers from Tennessee on there (on the tapes) and offers from Auburn. That’s according to Cecil Newton.

“Cecil’s shopping him around, and the sentiment there is, I believe we’ll be able to show and prove that Cam knew what was going on.

“What I’ve said is true, the tapes exist of Cecil shopping him around.”

On his own show on WZZN-FM in Huntsville last week, Moore said of the tapes:

“The bottom line is these numbers that we keep hearing about — this $150,000 offer from Tennessee, this $180,000 from Auburn — those came from Cecil Newton (to Rogers on the tapes). They didn’t come from Auburn or Tennessee, they came from Cecil Newton. He’s the one that said these offers were made to him.

“What I’ve heard is offers… (Newton) saying on these tapes that these offers were from Tennessee for $150,000 and a $180,000 offer from Auburn. I heard him say that, I’ve seen the text messages. And they exist, that’s the bottom line.”

Moore claims he acquired the tapes from former Mississippi State football players and current boosters John Bond and Bill Bell. It was Bond who first reported details of alleged impropriety involving Mississippi State’s recruitment of Cam Newton to the school’s athletic department.

Bell later reported to ESPN.com that former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers contacted him on behalf of Cecil Newton in order to solicit Cam Newton’s football services to MSU as part of a pay-for-play scheme.

Today I talked to a source who has spoken to both Bond and Bell on multiple occasions, most recently about Moore’s claims involving audio tapes allegedly in their possession. Read more…

Pearl Cheated 4 Days After Teary Apology, Promise

At a Sept. 10, 2010, press conference in which he admitted to lying to NCAA investigators about possible rules violations by the Tennessee basketball program, a teary-eyed Bruce Pearl said:

Bruce Pearl

“I hold the University of Tennessee, its students, faculty, staff and our fans in the highest regard and the highest esteem.

“I’ve made some serious mistakes and for that I’m truly sorry. I’ve learned some invaluable lessons

“I’ve put my heart and soul into this program, and I will not let you down again.”

Today the NCAA released its official notice of allegations to the University of Tennessee and the public.

Buried in the laundry list of alleged violations perpetrated by Pearl and his staff, the NCAA noted the following: Read more…

Witness: Instigator Simms Called Howard ‘Fraud’

Yesterday I reported on a confrontation that went down between Phil Simms and Desmond Howard at the NFL Xperience exhibit in Dallas on Saturday.

Desmond Howard reports about near attack by Phil Simms in Dallas

The heated exchange between Simms and Howard came to light after Howard sent out a series of Tweets indicating that he’d been antagonized by Simms to the point of Simms threatening violence against him.

After my report, Simms sent out the following statement through CBS regarding the incident:

“Desmond and I were having a private conversation that became heated. But at no time was there ever a chance of any physical confrontation or that I felt the police officer assigned to me by the event planners for my appearance needed to separate the two of us.”

Howard also addressed the situation in a statement released by ESPN:

“I was at a public signing for a sponsor when Phil approached me to express anger over on-air analysis I made months ago about his son, Tennessee QB Matt Simms. During the conversation, Phil made a reference to hitting me and security and sponsor representatives soon stepped in. It was an unfortunate incident and I’m moving on.”

Since those statements were released, I’ve learned details of what happened between Simms and Howard from eyewitnesses at the scene.

It wasn’t coincidence that Simms and Howard were in the same proximity Saturday in Dallas, as both were making a promotional appearance for the same sponsor.

Desmond Howard reports about near attack by Phil Simms in Dallas

Simms had just finished his appearance in the sponsor’s exhibit area and was about to leave when Howard sat down at a different table in a separate, partitioned area that was roped-off for his appearance.

It was then that Simms, who was behind a rope and being accompanied by a sponsor-assigned security officer as he was leaving the exhibit, spotted Howard and attempted to get his attention. As a sponsor rep alerted Howard, Simms blurted out loudly in Howard’s direction:

“Hey Desmond, I saw the tape. You called my son (Tennessee football player Matt Simms) the worst quarterback in the country.”

Howard then slowly got up from his promo appearance and approached Simms. Once he reached Simms, Howard said,

“I never called your son the worst quarterback in the country, I said that in the Tennessee-LSU game you will see three of the worst quarterbacks in the SEC.”

Simms replied, “That’s bull—-, you don’t say that about anyone else.

Howard: “I just said it about two other guys (in the same sentence) and statistically, they were.

Simms: “Well, you didn’t say statistically.”

Howard: “You’re in the business, I’ve got 20 seconds to make my point and I think people got what I was talking about.

It was then that Simms indicated he “wanted a piece” of Howard to which Howard said, “I’m here Phil, let’s go.

At that point, Howard turned to somewhat-flummoxed sponsor reps and the two security officers assigned to the event - one of whom was to escort Simms out of the area following his promotional appearance - and said, “Are you all just going to let this happen? What’s going on?

Desmond Howard reports about near attack by Phil Simms in Dallas

Once the officer assigned to Simms began to move in his direction, Simms started to walk away. But not before delivering some parting shots at Howard. Read more…