NCAA

Tech storms back against scrappy Duke

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Tech storms back against scrappy Duke

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Logan Thomas knows what he has expected Virginia Tech football to look like this season.

He finally got to see it on Saturday, after a 12-minute beatdown by Duke put the Hokies in a 20-0 hole.

"We were able to move the ball any way we wanted to, throwing it and running it, and the defense was pretty much shutting down everything," Thomas said after the Hokies rallied from the early deficit to bury the Blue Devils 41-20.

"If we play like that, special teams on top of it, that's Virginia Tech football. That's what we need to do," he said.

Thomas threw two touchdown passes, freshman J.C Coleman ran for 183 yards and two long touchdowns, and the Hokies (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) played well in all three phases of the game for the first time all season.

Duke (5-2, 2-1) arrived having won four straight and seeking one more victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. But after the fast start, the game did more for the Hokies' expectations going forward than for Duke's.

"I think our bubble feels burst," coach David Cutcliffe said. "It hurts today. It hurts a lot."

The Blue Devils gained 150 yards in the first quarter and just 84 in the next two quarters as Virginia Tech's defense came alive, intercepting Sean Renfree twice before halftime, sacking him five times and recovering two fumbles.

Thomas and Co., meanwhile, got into their best rhythm of the season. Thomas hit Marcus Davis with touchdown passes of 42 and 47 yards, and hit Davis with a 40-yarder to set up the Hokies' first TD. Martin Scales scored that one on a 4-yard run.

Coleman later broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run, giving the Hokies their first lead at 24-20, and he added an 86-yard burst around the right side midway through the fourth quarter to close the scoring. His yardage come on just 13 carries.

"The line gave me outstanding holes to run through," Coleman said. "It was great."

Davis had five receptions for 144 yards and thought once the Hokies started clicking, Duke got timid.

"You could tell they didn't want to play with us anymore," Davis said.

It was the Hokies' most complete performance of the season, one that gives them hope following a mediocre start to the season and with a brutal stretch of games about to begin. They play at Clemson on Saturday and then have back-to-back Thursday night games -- at Miami and home against Florida State.

The Blue Devils fell to 1-40 since 2004 against the teams remaining on their schedule and need to beat either North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech or Miami to secure their bowl bid.

At the start, it looked Duke might get that victory in Lane Stadium.

After making two first downs, Renfree sent Jamison Crowder deep in one-on-one coverage with Kyle Fuller, and Crowder caught a perfect ball over his shoulder as Fuller fell down for a 62-yard touchdown. The drive took just 2:44.

The Blue Devils followed a three-and-out by the Hokies with a drive to Ross Martin's 40-yard field goal, a march aided by a 21-yard pass interference call against Detrick Bonner and a 15-yard personal foul call against Derrick Hopkins on the same play. Martin added a 28-yard field goal, and the wheels really came off for the bumbling Hokies two plays later.

Thomas threw a swing pass from his 23 to tailback Tony Gregory, who juggled the ball, allowing Blue Devils safety Jordon Byas to snatch it out of the air and take it 20 yards untouched for the touchdown.

After just 11:48, Duke led 20-0, and a near sellout crowd sat in stunned silence.

But then the Hokies "started making a lot of plays, a lot of `explosives,'" Byas said.

The Hokies' first touchdown came on the next drive, a 76-yard march highlighted by Thomas' 40-yard pass to Davis to the Blue Devils' 4. Scales took it around the left side on the next play.

The Hokies then got two big plays from their maligned defense to keep the comeback going.

Bonner's interception and 39-yard return late in the first half set up Thomas' 42-yard TD pass to a wide-open Davis 0:19 before halftime. That pulled Virginia Tech to within 20-17 at halftime.

Earlier, Michael Cole intercepted Renfree's overthrow deep in Hokies territory and returned it to the 20. Eleven plays later, Cody Journell's 37-yard field goal cut Duke's lead to 20-10.

Journell added a 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

What you need to know about the unprecedented NCAA basketball rules changes

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USA TODAY Sports

What you need to know about the unprecedented NCAA basketball rules changes

On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA made a major announcement some twenty years in the making.

The NCAA announced plans to take major action to clean up and reorganize the college basketball recruiting and draft structure, on the platform of promoting integrity and strengthening accountability.

The unveiling of the action plan is in response to the suggestions made by the Condoleezza Rice-led Commission on Basketball, a governing body of 14 educators, government officials and former administrators whose goal was to address and find solutions to the major fundamental issues plaguing college basketball. 

The recommendations the NCAA will implement is as follows (You can read the entire plan right here):

Recruiting and Draft Changes:

— College basketball players will be able to participate in the NBA Draft and return to school if undrafted, pending further action from the NBA and NBPA.

— Division I programs will be required to pay for tuition, fees, and books for men's and women's college basketball player who leave school and return to the same school to earn their degree.

— High school basketball recruits and college players tabbed as "Elite" by USA Basketball will be allowed agent representation if the agent is NCAA-certified.

— High school basketball recruits will be allowed to make more frequent campus visits paid for by the school. The visits will be allowed to take place at the start of the summer before their junior year.

— Four open days in April will be added to the Spring recruiting calendar.

— College coaches will be allowed to attend recruiting events during the last two weekends in June, pending approval from the National High School Federations.

— College coaches will also be allowed to attend an additional weekend event in July as well as the NBPA Top 100 camp in June. 

What does it mean?

Well for starters, the NCAA is only allowing high school seniors what have been deemed "elite" by USA Basketball will be allowed to hire agents. What about someone like R.J. Barrett, Duke-bound No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2018? Barrett is a native of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and despite playing high school basketball for Montverde Academy in Florida, is not part of the USA Basketball program. Therefore, under the new NCAA rule, the top high school recruit would not be able to sign an agent because he does not participate with USA Basketball. 

The NCAA's implementations are a step in the right direction but still are yet to lack real substance. 

The high school players deemed "elite" enough to hire agents are unlikely to ever play in college, and the college players deemed "elite" enough to hire agents are historically unlikely to return to school. What this means is that the news of players being able to hire agents is more noise than signal.

Allowing undrafted players to return to school is an incredible change that is both pro-athlete and pro-education. But in only allowing that to players who attend the NBA Combine undercuts the rule change in totality. In most cases, players who attend the NBA Combine but go undrafted get an opportunity to participate in the NBA Summer League. 

In fact, if the rules were in place for the 2018 NBA Draft, only six of the players who went undrafted would be able to return to school: Arizona's Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier, Duke's Trevon Duval, Kansas' Malik Newman, UNLV's Brandon McCoy, and former Louisville commit Brian Bowen. 

More window-dressing, less real change.

NCAA Enforcement Changes:

— Administrators charged with investigating and resolving NCAA cases can accept established information from courts of law, government agency, an accrediting body or university-authorized commissions. 

— Schools and the NCAA will be allowed to work together toward a resolution on matters, reducing legal fees and minimizing drawn-out disputes.

— The NCAA intends to impose stronger penalties, including longer postseason bans, longer head coach suspension and increased recruiting restrictions. 

— The NCAA will appoint two independent groups to oversee the investigation and resolution of cases defined as "complex." Multiple parties will be able to request that a case is deemed "complex."

— Athletic administrators, as well as school presidents and chancellor, will be contractually obligated to comply with any investigation into their program or athletic department.

What does it mean?

This biggest revelation is that the NCAA is opening itself up to working with outside agencies to establish information. In short, the NCAA will be able to use information gathered by an entity like the FBI for a case without having to do the investigating itself.

This is a major step in the right direction for the NCAA but also provides the governing body with great power.

In addition, the NCAA will force the school administrators to "commit contractually to full cooperation in the investigations and infractions process."

What this means is that the NCAA is attempting to implement the power of subpoena, by proxy. That is a major step toward the NCAA wielding great power in investigations and enforcement.

The Wednesday news has the potential to be an industry-changer, but there is a cadre of unresolved issues and questions that went unanswered.

If you were hoping the NCAA rectified its past mistakes and turned the model of amateur athletics on its head, you will have to keep the faith. 

Yes, the changes being implemented are good for the sport. But nothing the NCAA announced will eliminate the widespread college basketball issues exposed by the FBI investigation. 

Ohio State's Meyer put on leave, investigation opened

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Ohio State's Meyer put on leave, investigation opened

Urban Meyer's job appears to be in jeopardy.

Ohio State placed Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in college football history, on paid administrative leave Wednesday while it investigates claims that his wife knew about allegations of domestic violence against an assistant coach years before the staff member was fired last week.

Courtney Smith gave an interview to Stadium and provided text messages to former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy between her and Shelley Meyer in 2015 and with the wives of other Buckeyes coaches. Courtney Smith also provided threatening texts she said came from her ex-husband, former Ohio State assistant Zach Smith.

"Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban," Courtney Smith told Stadium. "I said: `That's fine, you should tell Urban.'"

Zach Smith was fired last week after an Ohio court granted a domestic violence protective order to Courtney Smith.

Meyer is heading into his seventh season at Ohio State, where he is 73-8 with a national title in 2014 and two Big Ten Conference championships. Shelley Meyer is a registered nurse and is employed as an instructor at Ohio State. Both Meyer and his wife could be in violation of Ohio State's Title IX sexual misconduct policy on reporting allegations of domestic violence against university employees.

Violation of university's policy could result in Meyer being fired with cause by the university, according to provisions placed in his contract when it was extended by two years in April. The new deal runs through 2022 and increases Meyer's salary to $7.6 million in 2018, with annual six percent raises for the bulk of his compensation.

Hours after Courtney Smith's interview was posted online Wednesday, Ohio State announced in a short news release it was conducting an investigation into the allegations and Meyer was being placed on leave.

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will serve as acting head coach for the Buckeyes, expected to be one of the top teams in the nation again this season. Ohio State's first preseason practice is scheduled for Friday. The season starts Sept. 1 with a game against Oregon State in Columbus, Ohio.

Meyer said in a statement he and athletic director Gene Smith agreed that his being on leave was best for the investigation.

"This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter." Meyer said.

Zach Smith was charged in May with misdemeanor criminal trespass. At the time of the charge, Zach Smith's attorney said Courtney Smith had accused him of driving to her apartment after she told him they would meet elsewhere so he could drop off their son. Zach Smith pleaded not guilty last month. A hearing has been scheduled for Friday.

Zach Smith was also accused of aggravated battery on his then-pregnant wife in 2009 while he was a graduate assistant on Meyer's staff at Florida. The charge was dropped because of insufficient evidence. Urban Meyer brought Smith, the grandson of late Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce, to Ohio State in 2012. Meyer worked for Bruce and considers him a mentor.

Two police reports filed in 2015 in Ohio's Powell County, after the Smiths separated in June of that year, accused Zach Smith of abuse. Charges were never filed.

At Big Ten media days, Meyer said he knew of the incident in 2009 and that he and Shelley Meyer addressed it with the Smiths. He was also asked about the 2015 incident alleged by Courtney Smith.

"I can't say it didn't happen because I wasn't there," he replied. "I was never told about anything and nothing ever came to light. I've never had a conversation about it. I know nothing about it. First I heard about that was last night. No, and I asked some people back at the office to call and say what happened and they came back and said they know nothing about it."

The Smiths divorced in 2016.

Meyer is on the short list of most accomplished coaches in college football history, with three national championships and an .851 winning percentage in 16 seasons at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and now Ohio State, the team he grew up rooting for in Northeast Ohio.

Meyer won national championships with Florida in 2006 and '08, but his teams also had more than two dozen players get into trouble with the law. He resigned twice at Florida, citing health reasons. First in 2009 season after the Gators lost the Southeastern Conference championship game while trying to repeat as national champs. He changed his mind soon after and coached another season. The Gators went 8-5 and this time he stepped down for good.

Meyer was out of coaching for a season, but was hired by Ohio State in November 2011 to replace Jim Tressel, who was fired before that season for lying to the NCAA and University of about rules violation committed by some of his players.

Since returning to coaching, Meyer's program has been one of the most dominant in college football and his players and coaches have mostly stayed out of major trouble.

Meyer did face some criticism in 2013 for allowing running back Carlos Hyde to return to the team after he was charged with striking a woman in a bar. The case was dropped by police when the woman chose not to pursue charges, but Hyde was suspended three games by Ohio State.