Clemson looks to keep winning with new staff

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CLEMSON, S.C. – Change can bring chaos. It can also bring excitement. And new Clemson offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter believes it’s a hungry, energized team that has embraced the Tigers’ new leaders.

“Anytime you have a new starter, a fresh start with new people, new faces, it’s something different,” said Streeter, who takes control of the offense after Tony Elliott left to become Virginia’s head coach.

“When there’s something different,” Streeter continued, “there’s usually some excitement to it, too.”

The Tigers wrapped up spring workouts with their annual Orange-White game on a cold, windy Saturday at Death Valley.

It was the first chance for Clemson’s new leadership and staff to showcase their ability to guide the Tigers, who have had 10 or more wins for 11 consecutive seasons.

Along with Elliott, ex-Clemson analyst Wes Goodwin and safeties coach Mickey Conn are co-defensive coordinators after longtime leader Brent Venables became Oklahoma’s coach.

Former Clemson center Thomas Austin, an offensive analyst last year, is the first year offensive line coach after Robbie Caldwell moved to an off-the-field position in the program.

Kyle Richardson took over Clemson’s tight ends, a position Elliott coached last season.

And former Tigers defensive end Nick Eason was hired to coach defensive tackles in place of Todd Bates, who followed Venables to Oklahoma.

It’s a lot to absorb for the Tigers, whose staff stability has been a large part of their success with six Atlantic Coast Conference titles and national championships after the 2016 and 2018 seasons.

“It’s rare to have these coaches and this coaching staff together and tight knit for so long,” said defensive end K.J. Henry, in his fifth season with the Tigers. “This is not our norm. But at the same time, it’s been easy because they’re Clemson guys.”

Goodwin and Conn’s defense had the edge on Streeter’s offense. The two defenses combined for nine sacks in the first half on quarterbacks in junior D.J. Uiagalelei and freshman Cade Klubnik. Both teams combined for minus 31 rushing the first 30 minutes.

The 37-year-old Goodwin was seen by outsiders as the surprise hire. But he’s been a behind-the-scenes star for the Tigers, both as a defensive analyst from 2012-2014 and, after three years with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, a senior, off-the-field assistant from 2018-21.

Clemson has been a regular among the nation’s best defensive teams during Venables’ 10 years leading the group. Goodwin is ready to show the critics he can keep the Tigers’ strong defense going.

“We got some stuff (Brent Venables) don’t know about,” Goodwin said last month. “I’ve been other places and we know ball as well.”

Goodwin is a different voice than Venables, but one who knows what he’s talking about just like the defense’s former coach, said defensive end Myles Murphy.

“Coach V is very rowdy, loud, he likes the aggressiveness,” said Murphy, a junior. “Coach Wes is the same way. He’s not going to yell 24-7, but he will get you a defense that’s very loud and very aggressive and we still get to the ball.”

That was evident Saturday as both offenses were held to a combined total of 329 yards. Henry and Murphy combined for 6 1/2 sacks, although play was halted when the defensive linemen came close to the quarterbacks.

Tight end Jake Briningstool said elevating Streeter as the leader on offense made the hand-off simple because he’d long been part of the offensive gameplan.

Briningstool said the adjustment started in Clemson’s 20-13 win over Iowa State in the Cheez-it Bowl last December and has only improved this spring. “It’s kind of heading in the right direction for the tight end position and offense as a whole. I’m really excited about the future.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney enjoyed dipping in and out of offensive and defensive meetings, observing the interaction.

“There’s a lot of trust and respect with these players and this staff,” Swinney said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.