Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke ready for his encore performance

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Tyler Van Dyke has studied every play from his 2021 season at Miami. There are some plays he’s evaluated much more than the others.

And they’re not the highlight-reel entries, either.

Van Dyke’s right arm is carrying a significant amount of No. 16 Miami’s hopes entering this season, for good reason. Over the final six games of the Hurricanes’ schedule a year ago, his numbers were among the very best in the country. He started the year as a backup; he ended it as a full-fledged NFL draft hopeful.

But in the film room, it’s the mistakes that motivate him.

“When I watch the film of games last year, when I really look back, I always look at the negative things,” Van Dyke said. “If I had two bad plays or a few bad plays, I’d be like, `Was that really a good game with those bad plays I had?’ ”

To be fair, the answer to that question would be “yes,” particularly in his final six games and after finding his footing as the starter.

The Connecticut native completed 66% of his passes in that six-game span, with 20 touchdowns, just three interceptions and threw for 2,194 yards. The only other FBS quarterback during those weeks to have that many yards, that sort of accuracy, that many touchdowns and that few interceptions was Mississippi State’s Will Rogers – who had a 77% completion rate, 21 touchdowns, three interceptions and 2,287 yards.

If Miami had gone to a bowl game – the Hurricanes’ trip to the Sun Bowl was derailed by virus-related issues – Van Dyke almost certainly would have finished with 3,000 yards. He ended up 69 yards short. Still, not bad for someone who played only nine games a year ago and got the starting job only after D'Eriq King was lost early in the season with a shoulder injury.

“After all the work we’ve done, I can’t wait to get back out there,” said Van Dyke, who will lead the Hurricanes into their season debut at home Saturday against Bethune-Cookman.

Inheriting a quarterback like Van Dyke is something first-year Miami coach Mario Cristobal calls “a tremendous blessing.”

“You have a natural leader that’s one of your hardest workers, competing to be recognized as the hardest worker, that demands as much of himself as he does of anybody else,” Cristobal said. “That type of mentality and that work ethic, he has also displayed in the classroom and the way he approaches community service and everything he does.”

It’s probably hard for Van Dyke to totally ignore the highlights when he looks at those films.

There were plenty of them.

He ended last season on an absolute tear – with at least 300 yards passing and three touchdowns in each of his final six games. No quarterback at the major college level had six such games over that span; Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe had five, and three others had four apiece.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, there are just six players with better odds of winning the Heisman Trophy this season than Van Dyke.

“Last year, when he was the starting quarterback, he was more of the offensive leader,” Miami receiver Xavier Restrepo said. “But this year, I feel like everybody listens to him. He controls the whole entire team.”

That said, Van Dyke gets legitimate competition every day in the Miami quarterback room.

Jake Garcia, who wanted to play through a broken ankle last year, excelled in his lone appearance a year ago – throwing two touchdown passes against Central Connecticut, the game in which he got hurt. Freshman Jacurri Brown is a highly regarded newcomer who had offers from Auburn, Florida, Mississippi and others.

“I mean, all those guys are just insane,” Restrepo said. “You know, their arm talent is ridiculous. And sitting behind TVD and just listening to TVD, they’re also gaining knowledge about football, so I think that’s very important for them.”

Van Dyke is already mentioned as a potential first-round pick if he chooses to enter the 2023 NFL draft. He’s been in high demand as an endorser, thanks to the NCAA’s policy that now allows student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness.

It’s all nice. He enjoys the attention. But he insists that his focus is on the field.

“I’ve played this game my entire life and obviously it’s pretty cool to see all that stuff,” Van Dyke said. “But at the end of the day, all that stuff is projections. I only played like three-fourths of a season last year. I just can’t wait to play a full season this year.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

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
1 Comment

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 MLive.com 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.