Preps Talk

Did Bernie Fine's wife sleep with 'Cuse players?

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Did Bernie Fine's wife sleep with 'Cuse players?

From Comcast SportsNetSYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- An affidavit filed in a slander suit against Syracuse University and basketball coach Jim Boeheim says the wife of fired assistant Bernie Fine had sex with players, and several people associated with the program knew about it, including Fine. In the affidavit, Bobby Davis, a former ball boy with the men's team, says he was present on several occasions with basketball players when he heard them speaking of having sex with Laurie Fine. Davis said players joked about it and it seemed to be an openly known fact that Laurie Fine had sex with basketball players. A lawyer for Laurie Fine said the accusations were "disgusting." After Davis and his step-brother, Mike Lang, accused Bernie Fine of molesting them when they were boys, Boeheim vehemently defended his longtime friend and assistant coach. He said Davis was lying to cash in on the publicity generated by a sexual abuse scandal unfolding at Penn State University. The Hall of Fame coach later backed off, saying he based his defense on loyalty and two previous claims of abuse against Fine that authorities could not substantiate. Boeheim apologized after a third accuser came forward at the end of November and a years-old audiotape surfaced of a phone conversation between Davis and Laurie Fine that some have interpreted as Fine acknowledging Davis was abused by her husband. In December, Davis and Lang filed a slander suit in state court. The affidavit filed Monday repeatedly makes the point that Davis believes Boeheim knew or should have known what his players were up to. He also believes Boeheim should have backed his accusations. "He knew or purposefully chose to ignore Fine and his wife's behavior," Davis said in the affidavit. "He had every reason to know that I was telling the truth, but he instead lashed out at me and called me and my brother liars." Lawyers for Boeheim and Syracuse University did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The court document also says Davis spoke directly to Bernie Fine about his wife's sexual relationships with players and that "Bernie Fine did not react in the slightest." Davis, who lived with the Fines for a time, said Laurie Fine would lavish certain players with attention, including doing their laundry, lending them her car and giving the player money and gifts. A lawyer for Laurie Fine calls the accusations in the affidavit a "desperate" attempt to keep the suit alive. "Only the news media can think that 20-year-old hearsay is newsworthy if it is salacious enough," Edward Z. Menkin said in an email to The Associated Press. "This is both desperate and disgusting, an example of an irresponsible and unprofessional lawyer flailing about to keep a dying lawsuit in the public eye." The affidavit was filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court by high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred. "If Laurie Fine was having multiple sexual relationships with basketball players, then the university must explain how this could have been taking place for years right under Coach Boeheim's nose without his being aware of it and without the university's doing anything about it," Allred wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Davis, now 40, and Lang claim they were repeatedly forcibly touched by Fine in the 1980s. Fine, who was fired Nov. 27, has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer declined comment Tuesday. Davis tried to get Syracuse police to investigate Bernie Fine in 2002 but was told the statute of limitations had expired. The same was true of any charges brought by Lang. The U.S. attorney's office is investigating the claims of a third man, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine, who says Fine abused him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.

Recruiting news and notes: Lincoln-Way East's AJ Henning piling up major offers

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HUDL

Recruiting news and notes: Lincoln-Way East's AJ Henning piling up major offers

Lincoln-Way East sophomore athlete recruit AJ Henning (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) continues to pile up the major Power 5 scholarship offers this winter including his latest from Stanford on Wednesday.

"Stanford offered me a scholarship today (Wednesday)," Henning said. "I have thirteen scholarship offers so far and it's pretty amazing to have opportunities from such great schools and football programs."

Henning, who was a key performer in leading the Griffins to the 2017 Class 8A state championship run has been taking all of the recruiting attention and offers in stride.

"My family and I talk about recruiting a little bit but it's not really that pressing for me," he said. "I still have two years left of high school so I'm really not in any rush."

Henning, who plans to visit Notre Dame on March 3 is now holding early scholarship offers from Central Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Miami of Ohio, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Syracuse and Western Michigan.

Oswego East junior defensive back recruit Justin Clark (6-foot, 180 pounds) has also seen a nice spike in his overall recruiting stock this winter. Clark has been able to add six scholarship offers along with recruiting attention from several Big Ten programs.

"I have offers now from NIU, Bowling Green, Miami of Ohio, Iowa State, Toledo and Ohio University," according to Clark. "I've also been staying in touch with Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa and Purdue. Northwestern is waiting on my test score and they seem pretty interested. Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota all want me to come out and visit them on campus and the same goes for all the schools who have offered me."

Clark, who played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety, cornerback as well as return kicks and punts and also punted for Oswego East being recruiting to play at what position in college so far?

"So far the majority of schools are recruiting me to play safety," Clark said. "I'm very open when it comes to position and I also love to return kicks and punts. I just like to be as versatile of a player as I can for my team."

Batavia junior linebacker Michael Jansey Jr. (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) has continued to remain on several college recruiting radar screens this winter and Jansey Jr. has also seen his offers list grow.

"It seems like my recruiting is all starting to come together really well," Jansey Jr. said. "My latest offers from from Miami of Ohio, Kent State, Eastern Kentucky, Cornell and Wyoming."

Jansey Jr, has also remained in steady contact with several Big Ten schools this winter.

"I'm also in touch with Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska," he said. "Also some of the SEC schools are starting to follow me on Twitter. It's just pretty exciting and my recruiting is really starting to all coming together."

Jansey Jr. has early scholarship offers now from Central Michigan, Ball State, Toledo, Illinois State, Iowa State, Western Michigan, Princeton, Cornell, Kent State, Miami of Ohio, Wyoming, Illinois State and Eastern Kentucky.

One of the better stories in the Class of 2019 in Chicagoland has to be Jacobs junior offensive tackle Joacheim Price (6-foot-8, 310 pounds). Price, who has been a mainstay on the Golden Eagles basketball team since his freshman year had never played football until last June. Price is now holding early offers from the likes of Illinois, West Virginia, Iowa State and Northern Illinois this winter. 

"The first time in summer football workouts I didn't know how to get into a stance," Price said. "I had to stay over after every practice that summer just to work on getting into a stance. I also had to learn all of the plays and also learn technique. I just hung in there and kept working and started to gain more and more confidence."

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive backs

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive backs

2017 grade: B-

Level of need: High

Decisions to be made on: Kyle Fuller (free agent), Prince Amukamara (free agent), Marcus Cooper (contract), Sherrick McManis (free agent), Bryce Callahan (restricted free agent), Quintin Demps (contract)

Possible free agent targets: Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Gaines, Rashaad Melvin, Robert McClain, Darrelle Revis

There’s a wide spectrum of scenarios for the Bears at cornerback, ranging from keeping the status quo to blowing the whole thing up, and everything in between. Safety is far more stable, with Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson proving to be a reliable pairing, so that’s set for 2018.

Let’s start with one end of that cornerback spectrum: The Bears keep the top of this unit intact. That means, No. 1, retaining Kyle Fuller via the franchise tag and/or a long-term contract. No. 2, it means bringing back Prince Amukamara, who didn’t record an interception and committed a few too many penalties, but otherwise was a fine enough cover corner. No. 3, it means keeping restricted free agent Bryce Callahan as the team’s No. 1 slot corner.

On paper, this doesn’t seem like an altogether bad option. The Bears weren’t spectacular at cornerback in 2017, but the position was a little better than average, which isn’t the worst place to be for a single unit. Couple with solid play from the safeties and the Bears’ defensive backs were overall a decent enough group. Outside of Marcus Cooper -- who is a candidate to be cut for cap savings -- the Bears may not need to make wholesale changes to this group.

That, though, is a rosier look at this unit. The Bears can certainly improve the personnel in it with a healthy amount of cap space and a strong crop of free agent cornerbacks about to hit the market. Keeping Fuller and then signing a top-tier player like Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler would upgrade this group, as would bringing back Fuller and Amukamara but then using a high draft pick on a player like Ohio State’s Denzel Ward.

Unless the Bears sign two big-time cornerbacks -- i.e. Fuller and Johnson, or even a guy like Brashaud Breeland or E.J. Gaines -- it would seem reasonable for them to use a first or second-round pick on a cornerback in an effort to find a longer-term solution at the position. That doesn’t mean the Bears would absolutely have to go that route, especially with other needs at wide receiver, guard and outside linebacker.

But here’s another thought: It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Bears are able to sign a combination of two top cornerbacks in free agency. With plenty of cap space top-end free agents lacking at wide receiver and outside linebacker/edge rusher, could Pace allocate a good chunk of that money to, say, tagging Fuller and making runs at Johnson, Butler and/or Breeland? 2018 looks to be a good year to be aggressive in the free agent cornerback market, and that could play into the Bears’ strategy well.

Before we finish, we should carve out some space for Amos and Jackson. Pro Football Focus isn’t the only outlet that’s given Amos high marks -- Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 ranked him as the No. 1 free safety in the league, too. Jackson came in at No. 19 in B/R’s strong safety rankings, which is pretty solid for a fourth-round rookie.

But the larger point here isn’t exactly where Amos and Jackson are in outside evaluations -- it’s that, tangibly, the pair played well off each other on a consistent basis last year. Seeing as Amos didn’t enter the Bears’ starting lineup until Week 4 -- after Quintin Demps suffered a season-ending broken forearm against Pittsburgh -- how quickly and successfully he and Jackson meshed was one of the more impressive developments for the Bears’ 2017 defense. Amos needs to make more plays on the ball and Jackson has some things to clean up, but the Bears enter the 2018 league year not needing to address their safety position. That’s a good place to be for a team with other significant needs.