Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Headlinin’: Ohio State introduces America to its (temporary) new boss

Making the morning rounds.

? He knows nothing, part one. Not that Luke Fickell needs any introduction to Ohio State fans ?�he's a Columbus lifer who earned local headlines as a legendary high school wrestler, an anchor of several first-rate Buckeye defenses from 1993-96 and a veteran OSU assistant long before being tabbed as Jim Tressel's game-day stand-in in the spring ?�but for the sake of the rest of us, the 37-year-old went in front of the cameras Monday for the first time since Tressel's resignation on May 30 as the interim head coach of his alma mater. Fickell may have been "visibly nervous" throughout the press conference, but he still managed to achieve his four primary goals:

a) Not doing or saying anything remotely controversial;
b) Promising to keep the rest of the coaching staff intact for the upcoming season;
c) Pledging to "be myself" in the job, not a Tressel clone;
And most importantly, d) Emphatically distancing himself from any knowledge of the alleged NCAA violations that brought down his mentor and his star quarterback.

In fact, Fickell seems to have deliberately avoided speaking to Terrelle Pryor ahead of Pryor's decision to end his college career last week, lest the embattled QB threaten Fickell's appeals to plausible deniability during the ongoing probe by the NCAA. [Associated Press, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Columbus Dispatch]

? Meanwhile... The tremors from Columbus hit the recruiting trail for the first time on Monday, when touted Cleveland offensive lineman Kyle Dodson spurned a fresh offer from OSU to commit to Wisconsin instead. [Wisconsin State Journal, Rivals]

? Dumb-Dumb-Dumb-Dumb. Dumb-Dumb-Dumb-Dumb-Duuuuuumb. Florida Atlantic safety Cortez Ash was arrested over the weekend for allegedly stealing 400 pounds of copper from a Boca Raton scrapyard early Saturday morning ?�and then allegedly returning to sell the copper back to the same scrapyard a few hours later. Security cameras caught two men dragging the wire underneath a fence around 3:15 a.m., and the owner of the yard called police when Ash, 19, and a 21-year-old accomplice ? both of whom the owner said he recognized from the video ?�came in with the wire around 10:30 a.m. (The accomplice told police he would have taken the wire to another scrapyard, but it was closed. So at least it crossed his mind.)

Ash was charged with burglary of a business, third-degree grand theft and dealing in stolen property; he posted bail on Sunday. FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said he will "follow the proceedings closely" to determine discipline, presumably via ticker tape while enjoying his morning pipe. [TCPalm.com, FAU Owl Access]

? He knows nothing, part two. As expected, the Fiesta Bowl has officially tabbed University of Arizona president Robert Shelton to lead the bowl out of the darkness as its new executive director. Shelton replaces disgraced CEO John Junker, whose epic largesse and possible criminal activity over the last decade threatened the bowl's BCS status and possibly its very existence in the wake of a damning internal report earlier this year. [Associated Press]

? I can't quit you. Penn State quarterback Robert Bolden is back on campus and enrolled in summer school, a hopeful sign for the Nittany Lions that he plans to stick around to compete for the starting job in the fall. Bolden started the Nittany Lions' first seven games last year as a true freshman before going out with a concussion in late October, and threatened to transfer in January after failing to see the field at all during teammate Mike McGloin's five-interception meltdown in the Outback Bowl loss to Florida. Bolden agreed to hang around for spring practice on a provisional basis, presumably to gauge his shot at retaking the starting job, which remains in the air going into the fall. [The Patriot-News]

? Let's discuss the parameters of our future discussions about forming committees to discuss. NCAA president Mark Emmert announced Monday he plans to hold a two-day retreat with "about 50" university presidents and chancellors on Aug. 9-10 to discuss "the future of Division I sports" ? specifically, how to potentially pay athletes enough to keep them from claiming poverty when agents and boosters offer to slip extra cash and prizes in their pockets without, you know, actually paying them like university employees. "There is a model for that, it's called professional sports, and I love them," Emmert told the Associated Press. "But that's not what college sports is about." [Associated Press]

Quickly… Rivals unveils its first position-specific rankings for the 2012 recruiting class. … Auburn no longer has the authority to suspend Gene Chizik's pay during an SEC or NCAA investigation. … A beat writer's plea to blame Mike Garrett for USC's probation woes, not Pete Carroll. … Kentucky players recount their "life-changing experience" in Ethiopia, including being confronted with AK-47s for snapping a picture. … Quarterback Cody Green on his impending transfer from Nebraska, including the revelation from a recent visit to Kansas State that's "It's not Nebraska." … Top QB prospect Zach Kline is growing out his hair for a good cause. … Auburn's BCS charter bus saves a bunch of stranded school kids in Arizona. … And word on Twitter is that Terrelle Pryor will spend Wednesday morning playing pitch-and-catch with Chad Ochocinco, who may even learn to spell Terrelle's name correctly in the process.

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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