LSU’s Ed Orgeron gives lawmakers statement on Guice complaint

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
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LSU coach Ed Orgeron maintained in a statement provided to state lawmakers that he does not recall speaking with an elderly female security worker who said then-Tigers running back Derrius Guice made offensive sexual advances toward her during an event she was working in 2017.

Orgeron said he recalls only a brief phone conversation with a man who spoke on behalf of the woman, Gloria Scott, and that he was told soon after that LSU athletics administrators and lawyers were handling the matter.

“That is my remembrance from three years ago of a telephone call that I do not believe lasted much longer than two minutes, if that, and is admittedly vague,” Orgeron’s statement said. “At the same time it is important to say, that me speaking to Ms. Scott directly or not, does not change the fact that what happened to Ms. Scott in 2017 is unequivocally wrong.”

Orgeron’s statement conflicts somewhat with in-person, tearful testimony that Scott, now 74 years old, provided on March 26 to the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children. Orgeron had been asked to either provide a statement or appear before the committee during a hearing scheduled in Baton Rouge.

State Sen. Regina Barrow, a Democrat from Baton Rouge who chairs the committee, called Orgeron’s decision not to appear in person “troubling.”

“Coach Orgeron and all those involved in this matter owe it to (women who filed sexual misconduct complaints) to stop with this dismissive behavior and to own up to what occurred, taking responsibility for the actions that took place and the cover-up that followed,” Barrow said. “Only then can we begin to heal.”

The committee is looking into LSU’s handling of sexual assault complaints made by or against its students and, in some cases, athletes and even former coach Les Miles.

Scott testified that she spoke with Orgeron. She said Orgeron described Guice as a troubled child and asked if the player could have the opportunity to apologize to her directly.

Scott recalled stating that she was not interested in an apology and wanted Guice suspended from LSU’s upcoming game, the Citrus Bowl.

But Orgeron’s version of events differ in that he said the man he spoke to “refused to put Ms. Scott on the phone unless I agreed to the (suspension of Guice) upfront.

“I told the gentleman that I would have to get back to him,” Orgeron stated. “I was not prepared to suspend a student-athlete for a game without a discussion with the university and obtaining more thorough information.”

Orgeron said that the following week, he was told by LSU officials that a man saying he represented Scott had called the university to demand monetary compensation, and that “the university’s lawyers were now handling the situation.”

Guice never was suspended. He left LSU in good standing and was selected by Washington in the NFL draft, but was released after being arrested on domestic violence charges.

The legislative committee began its work on the heels of a report by a law firm hired law by LSU to audit how the university dealt with such cases. Among the audits conclusions: women students were often met with official resistance when seeking to report sexual misconduct perpetrated by fellow students, including football players during the tenure of Orgeron and previously under Miles’ leadership. Since the audit, Miles has been fired from his most recent head coaching job at Kansas.

Orgeron has asserted that he supports the state Senate committee’s “important work in protecting the safety and welfare of the greater Louisiana State University community,” and that he has cooperated fully with LSU’s own efforts on that front.

“It is important for me to continue to state that what was said to Ms. Scott by Mr. Guice in 2017 is utterly unacceptable,” Orgeron’s letter to the committee said. “Further, I was deeply upset when I watched the video of Ms. Scott’s testimony, as it was the first time that I heard all of the details of her encounter with Mr. Guice. I am devastated that she was talked to in such a vulgar and inappropriate manner, and I applaud her courage to provide her statements to the Committee.”

Lane Kiffin staying at Ole Miss with ‘a lot of work left to do’

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
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Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin says he has informed school officials he will be staying at Ole Miss, putting an end to speculation that he was the leading candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy at Auburn.

“Same as I said last week: I’m staying here and we have a lot of work left to do,” Kiffin told The Associated Press in a voice message.

Kiffin added he has not signed a contract extension with the school.

The 47-year-old Kiffin is 23-12 in three seasons as Rebels coach. No. 20 Mississippi finished its regular season 8-4, losing four of its last five, including a 24-22 loss to Mississippi State.

Auburn was playing at No. 8 Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and its coaching search figured to heat up soon after its season concluded.

Auburn fired coach Bryan Harsin earlier this month and has gone 2-1 since under interim coach Carnell Williams, the former star running back for the Tigers.

With Kiffin off the market, Auburn is eyeing a former Mississippi coach to be its next coach.

A person familiar with the search told the AP that Auburn is interested in Liberty coach Hugh Freeze. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Auburn was not making details of its search public.

Freeze coached at Ole Miss for five seasons before leaving in disgrace in 2017 after the school discovered he used a university cellphone to call an escort service.

He landed at Liberty and has gone 34-14 in four seasons with the Flames.

Nebraska signs Matt Rhule to 8-year deal

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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After six straight losing seasons and more than 20 years removed from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is turning to Matt Rhule to rebuild its program and make it competitive in the Big Ten Conference.

Rhule signed an eight-year contract to be the Cornhuskers’ next coach and will be introduced at a news conference, the school announced.

The 47-year-old Rhule quickly turned around downtrodden programs at Temple and Baylor before leaving for the NFL to coach the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired him in October after he started his third season with four losses in five games.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska football program,” Rhule said in a statement. “When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football, Nebraska is right at the top of the list. The fan base is second to none, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to coach in Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to become a part of the Husker Family, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Rhule was 11-27 with Carolina and left with about $40 million remaining on the seven-year, guaranteed $62 million contract he signed in 2020. The contract made Rhule the sixth-highest paid coach in the NFL when he signed in 2020, according to Forbes.

Nebraska said it would release details of Rhule’s contract.

“It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife, Julie, and their family to Nebraska,” athletic director Trev Alberts said. “Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program.

“Matt is detail-oriented, his teams are disciplined and play a physical brand of football. Matt also has the personality and relationship-building skills to build a great staff and excel in recruiting.”

About an hour after Rhule’s hiring was announced, wide receiver Trey Palmer announced on Instagram that he would declare for the NFL draft. Palmer, who transferred from LSU after last season, had three 150-yard games this year and set the Huskers’ single-season record with 1,043 yards.

The Huskers are among eight Football Bowl Subdivision programs with at least 900 wins, and they have won or shared five national championships. The last one came in 1997 under Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne.

Five coaches have come and gone since then, most recently the quarterback of that ’97 team, Scott Frost.

Alberts fired Frost on Sept. 11 after the Huskers opened 1-2, with losses to Northwestern in Ireland and to Georgia Southern at home. They were 3-6 under interim coach Mickey Joseph and finished the season 4-8 following a 24-17 win at Iowa.

Nebraska was 16-31 in four-plus seasons under Frost, never finishing higher than fifth in the Big Ten West or going to a bowl.

In four seasons at Temple, Rhule coached the Owls to 28 wins. That included 26 from 2014-16. Temple was 10-4 in 2015 and reached the American Athletic Conference’s inaugural championship game. In 2016, Rhule led the Owls to a 10-3 record and an AAC championship. The conference title was the first in 49 seasons for the Temple program, and the Owls reached bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

Rhule was named Baylor’s coach in December 2016 in the wake of an investigation that found the private Baptist university had not responded adequately to allegations of sexual assault by players, resulting in the firing of Art Briles.

Rhule’s trajectory was similar at Baylor, where he went from 1-11 in 2017 to 7-6 with a bowl game the next season. In his third and final season, Baylor was ranked in the top 10, played in the Big 12 championship game and finished 11-3 after a Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia.

Rhule’s collegiate success provided him the opportunity to take over as the Carolina Panthers’ head coach in 2020. He guided the Panthers to five wins in each of his first two seasons before this year’s 1-4 start got him fired.

Rhule has ties to the Big Ten. He moved from New York City to State College, Pennsylvania, as a teenager. He played linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97 and began his coaching there as a volunteer assistant.