Maryland Terps

Streaking Navy hosts skidding Florida Atlantic

Streaking Navy hosts skidding Florida Atlantic

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) First-year Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelinia views Navy's football program as a model for what he wants to build in Boca Raton.

``Navy embodies so much of what I believe in,'' Pelini said. ``The discipline, structure, character, leadership - those all the type of traits I am trying to instill in our players.''

Pelini and the Owls will get a firsthand look at the Midshipmen on Saturday when the teams meet for the first time. Navy (5-3) has won four in a row and can become bowl eligible with a win over Florida Atlantic (2-6).

Pelini wants to turn Florida Atlantic's program around the way Navy has been able to do.

Navy underwent a culture change in 2002.

Paul Johnson took over as head coach of a program that had compiled a 1-20 record the previous two seasons. One year later, the Midshipmen went 8-5 and made their first bowl appearance since 1996. That began a string of eight straight winning seasons capped by bowl berths.

Johnson left Navy for Georgia Tech and turned the head coaching reins over to top assistant Ken Niumatalolo, who directed the Midshipmen to three winning seasons before the streak ended last year.

``I have a lot of respect for what Navy has been able to accomplish. That has been one of the most consistent programs in the country,'' said Pelini, who came to Florida Atlantic after serving as defensive coordinator at Nebraska under younger brother Bo Pelini.

To pull off an upset, Florida Atlantic must stop Navy's triple-option offense. Freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds has been outstanding since taking control of an attack that ranks sixth nationally in rushing offense (271.1 yards per game).

Senior slotback Gee Gee Greene has been the most dangerous weapon for Navy with team-highs of 511 yards rushing and 203 yards receiving. Reynolds, who can become the first Navy quarterback since Bob Powers (1979) to win his first four career starts, has completed 64 percent of passes for 413 yards and six touchdowns.

``This is a huge litmus test for our defense. Do we have the discipline and focus to face an offense like this for down after down,'' Pelini said. ``It's a unique challenge for us because you need to have your eyes in the right place, read your keys and play your assignment. Those are all things, quite frankly, that we've been struggling with this season.''

Stopping opponents has been an issue for Florida Atlantic, which is allowing an average of 31.1 points and 413 total yards. The Owls haven't been much better on the other side of the ball, ranking 103rd out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in total offense (325.1 yards) and 111th in scoring offense (18.4 points).

Graham Wilbert has thrown for 1,570 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead Florida Atlantic, which usually operates out of a shotgun formation with one setback and either three wide receivers or two tight ends.

``They do a good job of using a lot of formations and spreading you out,'' Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. ``The quarterback has good size, a strong arm and can really throw the ball. Their wide receivers have beaten everybody deep, but what has really impressed me is that they have big tight ends that can really run. They are like oversized wide receivers that get downfield and can make tough catches.''

Niumatalolo is tied with predecessor Paul Johnson for most wins in the first five seasons as head coach at Navy. A victory Saturday would be No. 38 for Niumatalolo, who would move into a fourth place tie with Wayne Hardin (1959-1964) on the school's career list. Niumatalolo is more concerned with the Midshipmen earning their sixth win to earn a berth in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29.

``Obviously, that would be monumental for us. That would enable us to accomplish one of our goals,'' Niumatalolo said. ``Two of our main goals are capturing the Commander-in-Chief and winning a bowl game.''

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

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USA Today Sports Images

Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

The world of college basketball has been on high alert since last fall when reports first surfaced of a long-term FBI investigation into the worst-kept secret in sports: college athletes being paid to play.

News surrounding the scandal died down after the inital wave of arrests, but Yahoo! Sports released a warning of sorts recently and followed it up on Friday by naming players (both past and present) for the first time. There were dozens of programs and players implicated, including Maryland's Diamond Stone.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon released the following statement Friday afternoon.

"Late last night we were alerted of a report associating one of our former student-athletes with an agent. We are extremely disappointed, and we will fully cooperate with any investigation. I do not have a relationship with Andy Miller or anyone from his agency, and at no time have I ever had a conversation with Andy Miller or his agency regarding any Maryland basketball player. We remain steadfast in upholding a program of integrity that reflects the values of our University community."

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season, after which he left for the NBA. That Terps team was highly-ranked entering the season but ended up losing in the Sweet 16 to top-seeded Kansas.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

Andy Miller is the agent whose financial records were used to implicate so many players in the Yahoo! Sports report. It's no surprise that Turgeon would deny having a relationship with Miller regarding any of his players, but the question remains: What does this mean for Maryland basketball?

You can be sure that Turgeon will be meeting with both past and current assistant coaches Friday to confirm they have not had any involvement with Andy Miller. He'll also certainly be meeting with higher-ups at Maryland, as they try to cover their bases. 

That said, it seems unlikely Maryland would take an action as drastic as firing Turgeon over these allegations. There has been no evidence released so far that implies Turgeon had any knowledge of Stone's actions. Barring further information coming to light, it seems as though this is a case of Stone developing a relationship with Miller's agency separately from Maryland.

Some of the more vocal members of Maryland's fan base would like to think Turgeon is on the hot seat. The truth is, given his long-term contract and the current state of Maryland's finances, it's not currently feasible to fire him and expect to afford a more accomplished coach. Though if further reports indicate Turgeon was complicit, then all bets are off.

It remains possible the NCAA will impose punishments on the schools involved with this scandal, in the form of reduced scholarships, postseason bans, or worse. But that's likely off the table until further evidence comes out regarding how much schools and coaches actually knew. It is a near-certainty that some schools were in cahoots with Miller and other agents; the problem is identifying which schools were intentionally breaking the rules, and which were simply unaware. Ultimately, however, some degree of responsibility falls on the head coach.

For now, the biggest worry on the minds of Maryland fans should be vacated wins. If Diamond Stone was ineligible, then it's possible the victories Maryland recorded during the 2015-16 season will be erased from the record books. Unfortunately, this could include their run to the Sweet 16, which was the program's first in more than a decade.

Given the expectations surrounding the team during Stone's year in College Park, his tenure could already be considered a disappointment. Losing those wins would further dampen the memories fans have from that season.

On the bright side, at least the Terps didn't have a Final Four run to lose.

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.