Former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce dies at 87 – USA TODAY

Citizens decry city of Tallahassee's in-house football ticket probe as a 'whitewash' –


Ben Wilcox, research director for Integrity Florida, tells the city’s Independent Ethics Board he has little confidence in a City Manager’s Office investigation into FSU football tickets given to staff.

Concerned citizens blasted the city’s in-house investigation of whether laws were broken when former City Manager Rick Fernandez gave Florida State University box seat tickets to two high-ranking employees.

The city, in a report that became public Monday, found that neither of the employees violated state ethics laws by accepting the tickets in 2016 and not reporting them on state disclosure forms. Florida law requires certain public officials to report gifts over $100 and bans them from soliciting a gift from a lobbyist or vendor or from accepting such a gift over $100.

The controversy in question involves Ellen Blair, director of Human Resources, and Mike Tadros, general manager of Underground Utilities. Both accepted luxury box seat tickets from their boss Fernandez for FSU’s home game against Charleston Southern University in September 2016. The city’s Ethics Board last year referred a complaint over the tickets to the City Manager’s Office to investigate.

More: Fernandez gave football tickets to city officials; investigation finds ‘no rule violation’

Ben Wilcox, research director for Integrity Florida, was among citizens questioning the investigation and its findings. He spoke out during Tuesday’s meeting of the city’s Independent Ethics Board.

“You’re asking an employee to investigate his employees,” Wilcox said. “So it appears to me that this report … is more of a whitewash than it is an independent investigation.”

Richard Herring, chairman of the Ethics Board, said the board doesn’t have the authority to investigate the matter because the allegations date back to 2016, before it had the jurisdiction it has now.

“Even if there were a violation, I don’t know that there’s much we can do about it,” Herring said.

Bill Hollimon, a Tallahassee lawyer and member of the board, also expressed frustration, saying, “I wish we could investigate it, too.” He said if it happens again, there would be a “different kind of investigation.”

But the Ethics Board’s attorney, Jerry Currington, said the same situation could happen tomorrow and the board would have no authority to investigate because the City Commission hasn’t adopted state ethics law into the city’s ethics ordinance. He said the city Ethics Board similarly could not investigate alleged violations of its own gift policy because it’s not included in the ordinance.

“We could get a complaint tomorrow about sexual harassment,” Currington said. “It’s not in the (city) ethics code. It may be in the human resource policy manual. It may be somewhere else in the city’s procedures and policies. This board does not enforce the city’s policies and procedures. That’s the sad truth.”

Local businessman Erwin Jackson, whose verbal complaint about the tickets led to the report, said the city focused in on one football game and never asked the employees if they were given tickets to other games.

“The sad thing is no one asked the question because they didn’t want the answer,” Jackson said. “That’s part of the cover-up.”

Wilcox asked the Ethics Board to weigh in on the city’s investigation and issue its own findings. He noted the board took similar action when it admonished Fernandez last year for accepting nearly $5,000 in a catering discount from the city-backed Edison restaurant. A complaint about that matter is pending with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The Ethics Board opted to revisit the ticket issue during its next meeting. Herring noted the board needed time to digest the report, which Interim City Manager Reese Goad sent to Independent Ethics Officer Julie Meadows-Keefe on Monday.

Meadows-Keefe last year referred the matter to the City Manager’s Office because of Ethics Board bylaws, which direct complaints about city employees below the appointed level to their supervisor. The Ethics Board had first reading Tuesday of a change in the bylaws allowing the ethics officer or a third party to conduct an investigation in such situations.

Interim City Manager Reese Goad, who appeared before the Ethics Board on Tuesday, defended the city’s handling of the matter, saying the report was “very thorough.” He also said he’s planning a workshop soon to discuss such matters.

“What became clear … was that we need greater awareness as an organization as it relates to these matters,” Goad said. “Clearly, we need to instill a culture of top of the mind awareness, not casual awareness, not a situation where you find yourself trying to … determine whether the gift is appropriate. I think it needs to be an easier decision. I think that it comes with more awareness and greater training.”

Goad asked Assistant City Manager Raoul Lavin to handle the investigation. Lavin’s report, dated Thursday, said neither Blair nor Tadros violated state law because the tickets didn’t exceed $100 in value. Lavin used five different calculations to determine the price of the tickets, which had a face value of $30. 

When considering food and drink served in luxury boxes, the amount that’s tax-deductible and other factors, the city found in four of the five calculations that the tickets were valued between $30 and $100. One calculation, based on a price given by Seminole Boosters, Inc., came in at $128, above the state threshold.

But Jackson said the city cooked the numbers so they’d come in under the state threshold. He said actual box seat tickets have an actual value closer to $300.

Earlier this year, Fernandez was ousted as city manager in a scandal involving box seat tickets given to him by a lobbyist with Adam Corey’s Unconventional Strategies firm. Fernandez asked for the tickets in text messages with the lobbyist that were published by the Democrat.

The city’s report on the tickets to Blair and Tadros do not say from whom Fernandez got the tickets or whether they came from Corey’s firm. Corey, an owner of the city-backed Edison restaurant, is a central figure in the FBI’s ongoing investigation into local public corruption. 

The back story:

Goad, asked Tuesday, said Fernandez got the tickets from FSU Old School, but he said he didn’t know who specifically gave them to the former city manager. Corey, a former Seminole Boosters fundraiser, is a founder of FSU Old School.

Wilcox criticized the city for not disclosing which individual gave the tickets to Fernandez.

“That’s not an investigation,” he said. “We need answers to these questions.”

Contact Jeff Burlew at or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.

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OU football: How many different Sooners quarterbacks have been featured on a Sports Illustrated cover? – Tulsa World

Baker Mayfield will be on his fourth Sports Illustrated cover this week, which is more than any other Oklahoma student-athlete in school history.

Mayfield’s appearance — shirtless and staring at the camera — coincides with the magazine’s April 23 NFL Draft preview and includes a feature from Robert Klemko. Mayfield’s other appearances were in 2017 — Dec. 25 (Rose Bowl advance), Dec. 14 (College Football Playoff advance) and Dec. 4 (Heisman Trophy advance).

How many other Sooners quarterbacks have been featured on the magazine’s cover? It has been eight times, including once that wasn’t a proud moment.

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Trevor Knight was on the Aug. 18, 2014 cover previewing the upcoming season. Landry Jones made back-to-back season cover appearances on Aug. 22, 2011 and Aug. 20, 2012.

Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was on an NFL Draft cover on April 26, 2010. He was also on the Dec. 1, 2008 SI front after a win over Texas Tech set up a BCS championship game appearance.

Jason White, another Heisman Trophy winner, was on a pair of covers on Oct. 20, 2003 and Aug. 16, 2004. The first appearance celebrated a win over Texas and jockeying for BCS position. The second accompanied an SI top 10 list which included the Sooners at No. 2.

Josh Heupel throwing a football (Feb. 1, 2001) punctuated OU’s perfect season and national championship.

Probably the most difficult cover for Oklahoma fans to stomach was the Feb. 27, 1989 shot when Charles Thompson was shown in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.

The late Steve Davis was on the Sept. 8, 1975 cover which proclaimed the Sooners as the country’s top football team.

SI cover appearances by Oklahoma quarterbacks

2: Sam Bradford, Landry Jones, Jason White

1: Steve Davis, Josh Heupel, Trevor Knight, Charles Thompson

Former Michigan football player posts threatening tweets, tags Jim Harbaugh – Sporting News

Former Michigan football player Elysee Mbem-Bosse deleted a series of tweets where he appeared to threaten the university, including coach Jim Harbaugh.

An MGoBlog user collected screenshots of the tweets, which refer to guns, an apparent suspension and a tweet where he tagged Harbaugh’s Twitter handle. His Twitter account has since gone private.

MORE: Jim McElwain ‘trying to learn’ as Michigan assistant

(WARNING: The below screenshots contain explicit language).

Michigan campus police sent the following statement to Sporting News: “We are aware of [the] tweets and the case is currently under investigation. We will provide updates when possible.”

Michigan football has not commented on the situation.

Mbem-Bosse’s name does not show up on the official Michigan 2018 roster online and in a story listing the 2018 scholarship count it notes, “Removed LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse” under recent adjustments. 

There are no stories directly explaining what happened to Mbem-Bosse on Michigan, but he tweeted an image of a text that appears to say he was suspended by Harbaugh.

It’s unclear exactly what Mbem-Bosse is venting about, though it may have to do with the fact he’s no longer on Michigan’s football roster. He would have been a junior in 2018.

Jay Hayes is a rare find for Oklahoma football –

OU coach Lincoln Riley walks the sideline during the Sooner spring game Saturday. (Photo by Steve Sisney)
OU coach Lincoln Riley walks the sideline during the Sooner spring game Saturday. (Photo by Steve Sisney)

This is the time of year when wide receivers fall out of trees onto the Oklahoma football roster. Justin Brown. Geno Lewis. Jeff Badet. Excellent additions to any squad.

But again, receivers. Receivers can be found in a variety of locales and ways.

Over the weekend, the OU roster was crashed, not by a wide receiver, but by a far more precious jewel. A defensive lineman.

Jay Hayes announced two weeks ago that he was leaving Notre Dame as a graduate transfer. Sunday, he announced OU would be his destination. Hayes is a 6-foot-4, 289-pounder from Brooklyn who started all 13 games for Notre Dame last season as a defensive end in its 4-3 alignment. It’s assumed he’ll be a defensive end (I call them tackles) in OU’s 3-4 alignment.

“Officially an Oklahoma Sooner!” Hayes tweeted Sunday.

Well, it’s not official. Hayes still must graduate from Notre Dame. But all signs point up.

Notre Dame media report that Hayes had no off-field issues that would hasten his exit. He faced pressure to keep his position – it’s Notre Dame, and the Fighting Irish defense was good in 2017, giving up 369 yards per game – but it certainly looks like a superb addition for OU.

Defensive lineman are hard to find. Experienced, ready-made d-linemen are even more rare. Of course, if Hayes was a star, he likely would be headed for the NFL. But the Sooners don’t need superstars. Well, they can always use a superstar. But they need good, solid defensive linemen and lots of them.

Hayes had 27 tackles last season and a sack. For his career, he’s had 39 tackles, four of them for loss of yardage.

Hayes joins a defensive line that includes Amani Bledsoe, Neville Gallimore, Marquise Overton and Dillon Faamatau on the interior, with Kenneth Mann, Addison Gumbs, Tyreece Lott, Mark Jackson and promising freshmen Ronnie Perkins and Jalen Redmond on the outside. Not a bad group. Not exactly the Selmon brothers, either. There is always room for another good defensive lineman.

Hayes was recruited to Notre Dame by Bob Diaco, then the Irish defensive coordinator. Diaco recently joined OU as a defensive analyst, so Diaco’s presence already is paying off.

Hayes gave no clue as to why he was leaving Notre Dame. On Twitter, he wrote, “I just want to thank the University of Notre Dame for the love and support they’ve poured into me. I will like to thank the coaching staff for granting me my release as a graduate transfer. ND is a special place to grow as man on and off the field. I’ve learned that so many valuable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I’m going to miss the relationships I’ve established along with all the guys on the team. It’s nothing but love for y’all. I will graduate this May and I’m currently in the process of selecting a new destination for my last year of college football. Blessings!”

A blessing is when a senior defensive lineman from a place like Notre Dame shows up on your doorstep, ready to play.

Memphis Tigers football lands first 2 verbal commits in class of 2019 – The Commercial Appeal


Memphis football team does the Tiger Walk before spring game.
Evan Barnes/The Commercial Appeal

Memphis landed its first two verbal commits from the class of 2019 when Keveon Mullins, a four-star recruit from Whitehaven, and Trevis Hopper, a three-star recruit from Central High, announced their decisions over the weekend.

Hopper, a defensive tackle who was previously committed to Arkansas, announced his decision on Saturday. On Sunday morning, Mullins, who plays wide receiver and safety, followed suit with his commitment. Both made the announcements on their Twitter accounts.

Both attended the Tigers’ spring game Friday, where more than 10,000 fans watched Memphis in action in one of the largest crowds to see a Memphis spring game in recent memory according to a Memphis athletics department spokesman.

More: Memphis Tigers spring football game: Defense stands tall once again

More: Memphis Tigers spring football game: 5 things we learned

Both are also a great start for Memphis’ 2019 recruiting class since the 2018 class only had one local scholarship player in Lausanne’s Nyle Love. 

Mullins, who is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, is rated No. 18 in the state and the No. 31 athlete in the country according to 247Sports. He is the Tigers’ first four-star commit since Obinna Eze two years ago. 

Mullins caught 52 passes for 1,011 yards last season for East before transferring to Whitehaven.

Hopper, who stands 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, de-committed from Arkansas earlier last week and also had offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia and Clemson, among others. Hopper was named Tennessee Mr. Football Class 5A Lineman of the Year as a sophomore.