Surprise: Kiffin denies knowledge of Garza/Lyles allegation

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Late last night, Yahoo! Sports broke yet another damning piece of investigative journalism, this time aimed at the University of Tennessee. According to the report, Complete Scouting Services owner Willie Lyles — the man at the center of the NCAA’s interest in Oregon and LSU — paid nearly $1,500 for airplane tickets for then-recruit Lache Seastrunk and his mother to take an unofficial visit to Tennessee in 2009.

Lyles claims he was reimbursed by former Vols and USC assistant Willie Mack Garza. Garza followed Lane Kiffin from Knoxville to LA when Kiffin took the USC job and resigned suddenly at the beginning of this month following another interview between Lyles and the NCAA. 

When asked about the report today after practice, Kiffin said pretty much what you would expect:

“All I can say on that, the alleged incident, I had no knowledge of (it), or knowledge of a relationship at all.”

Hey, it’s better than “no comment.”

But even if the latest allegation doesn’t involve Kiffin directly — although that could change — it’s another blemish for a coach who left Tennessee football with several recruiting violations and a slew of NCAA-approved, self-impose sanctions.

If the report is true, a major area of concern becomes who will be directly affected. Tennessee? Kiffin? Tennessee placed itself on probation from August 24, 2011, through August 23,  2013 as part of the self-imposed sanctions. Because the latest allegation reportedly took place before the 24th of last month, it’s unlikely that UT will be considered a repeat violator in the eyes of the NCAA.

Still, current Vols coach Derek Dooley says he’s hopeful that whatever the NCAA finds — if anything — won’t be connected to the his coaching staff and players.

“All we can deal with is make sure everybody understands that this wasn’t under our watch, and it wasn’t involving a coach on our staff and it doesn’t involve a player that’s been in our program.”

Ironically, Kiffin and USC are dealing with the repercussions of NCAA sanctions stemming from violations connected to a former player, Reggie Bush, and an assistant coach, Todd McNair.

Alabama’s Anderson repeats as Bronko Nagurski award winner

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. has become the second two-time winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award given to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player.

Anderson was presented the award on Monday night by the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

The 6-foot-4, 243-pound Anderson had 10 sacks for the No. 5-ranked Crimson Tide this season. He also won the award last year after recording 17 1/2 sacks.

Anderson, a junior, had two sacks in Alabama’s regular-season win finale against rival Auburn and had his first touchdown when he returned an interception 25 yards against Louisiana-Monroe.

Anderson joins former Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald as the only two-time winner of the award. Fitzgerald won the award in 1995 and 1996 and later went on to become the head coach at Northwestern.

It’s unclear if Anderson will enter the NFL draft or return to Alabama next season.

FSU standout QB Jordan Travis returning for senior season

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis, the fourth player in school history to account for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a single season, is staying in school for his senior year.

Travis made the announcement Monday, the same day hundreds of players across the nation entered the NCAA transfer portal or declared for the NFL draft. Travis chose a different path and could be an early favorite in next year’s Heisman Trophy race.

“So many memories have been made on this field and we’re not done yet,” Travis said in a highlight video posted on social media. “See y’all in 2023.”

A fourth-year junior, Travis has 22 touchdown passes to go along with seven rushing scores, one receiving and just four interceptions. He has led the 13th-ranked Seminoles (9-3) to five consecutive wins as they prepare to play Oklahoma (6-6) in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando.

Travis joined FSU’s three Heisman Trophy winners – Charlie Ward in 1993, Chris Weinke in 2000 and Jameis Winston in 2013 – to account for 3,000 yards and 30 TDs in a season. He is one of six QBs in Power Five conferences with at least 20 TD passes and four or fewer interceptions.