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Organization is going after Dabo's Clemson program for being 'too religious'

Immediately after reading the Greenville News' take on the Freedom From Religion Foundation's criticism of Dabo Swinney and the Clemson program for being too religious, my mind immediately went to every pre- and post-game prayer circle from youth programs, to high school teams, to college programs across the country.

If you haven't read it yet, you should, regardless of your take.

Even though religious participation in the Clemson program is voluntary, the foundation claims that Dabo crosses ethical lines because he is a government employee. According to the foundation, even though participation in religious events is voluntary, it crosses an ethical line because Swinney is technically a government employee.

"He doesn't have the right to do that as a part of his university coaching position," explained foundation staff attorney Patrick Elliott. :There needs to be a complete separation between his religious views and demonstrating that and encouraging that with people under his charge.

"It violates their constitutional rights," he continued. "Coaches have tremendous influence over players. They make decisions on who has scholarships and who plays and what they do."

In broad terms, the foundation (who says that they are the largest association of atheists and agnostics in the nation) ultimately accuses Dabo of "promoting a culture in the program that violates constitutional stipulations of the separation of church and state." To remedy the situation, the organization has recommended that the program get rid of their team chaplain and that the staff and players stop participating in voluntary Bible studies and devotionals.

Does all of this sound absolutely ridiculous to anyone but me? The part that really got me going was the comment from the foundation's lawyer about religion playing a role in who plays and who doesn't in an FBS program. People that actually believe that simply don't have a clue of how things work outside of their small bubble.

I understand there is a fine line between being a coach to a bunch of impressionable 18-23 year old kids and also being their pastor, don't get me wrong, but I highly doubt that Dabo is handing out pocket Bibles in the same hand he's handing out their playbooks. 

Clemson's chief public affairs officer, Cathy Sams, has issued a rebuttal by stating what the vast majority of coaches already understand.

"No one is required to participate in any religious activities related to the football program," Sams said. "It's purely voluntary. Religion and faith is a big part of Coach Swinney's personal beliefs, but it is in no way required. There is no mandatory participation." 

As coaches we can clearly see her viewpoint because her statement embodies how most of us run our programs, conscious of the diverse group of beliefs that make up our team.

Dabo is a smart man - and an excellent coach - who has no issues being vocal about where he stands on the religious spectrum. Players and families understand that during the recruiting process and accept it as a small part of the Clemson program. If he were truly pushing religion as hard as the organization believes that he is we'd see a mass exodus of players transferring from there every year, and that's obviously not the case.

There will obviously be parties in the coaching community passionate about each side of this controversy, but here at The Scoop, we just felt like this was an issue that our audience should be aware of. It's not far fetched to think that something like this could ultimately happen to your program, in one form or another.

Read the full story from the Greenville News here.




Predicting Week 1 of the college football TV schedule

A small piece of news from from Saturday gave us a large clue as to how ESPN plans to fit all the pieces of its Week 1 college football TV schedule together. 

On Saturday, West Virginia noted that its Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Alabama is slated for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on ABC. With a number of other big games to be televised by ABC or ESPN that day (Florida State-Oklahoma State, LSU-Wisconsin, Georgia-Clemson, to name three) I think that WVU-Alabama kick off time tells us enough that we can now piece the rest of the schedule together.

Here's how I think the major games of Week 1 will shake out.

For what it's worth, I think GameDay will be in the parking lot at AT&T Stadium to open the season. The defending national champs with the reigning Heisman winner, playing in the stadium where the first College Football Playoff will be decided, is too juicy a storyline for ESPN to pass up. 

All times Eastern. 

Thursday, Aug. 28
Texas A&M at South Carolina - 6 p.m. - SEC Network
Wake Forest at Louisiana-Monroe - 7 p.m. - ESPNU*
Boise State vs. Ole Miss (at Atlanta) - 8 p.m. - ESPN
Temple at Vanderbilt - 9:30 p.m. - SEC Network
Rutgers at Washington State - 10:30 p.m. - ESPNU

Friday, Aug. 29
BYU at Connecticut - 8 p.m. - ESPN
Bowling Green at Western Kentucky - 8 p.m. - ESPNU
UNLV at Arizona - 10 p.m. - Fox Sports 1

Saturday, Aug. 30
Penn State vs. Central Florida (at Dublin, Ireland) - 8:30 a.m. - ESPN2*
Arkansas at Auburn - 12 p.m. - ESPN
Appalachian State at Michigan - 12 p.m. - ESPN2
UCLA at Virginia - 12 p.m. - ABC
Florida Atlantic at Nebraska - 12 p.m. - ESPNU
California at Northwestern - 3:30 p.m. - ESPNU
West Virginia vs. Alabama (at Atlanta) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC*
Rice at Notre Dame - 3:30 p.m. - NBC*
Ohio State at Navy - 3:30 p.m. - CBS Sports Network
Clemson at Georgia - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN
Southern Miss at Mississippi State - 7 p.m. - ESPNU
North Texas at Texas - 7 p.m. - Longhorn Network
Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma - 7 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
LSU vs. Wisconsin - 7:30 p.m. - ESPN
Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (at Arlington, Texas) - 8 p.m. - ABC
Fresno State at USC - 10:30 p.m. - ESPN

Sunday, Aug. 31
Utah State at Tennessee - 7 p.m. - SEC Network*
SMU at Baylor - 8 p.m. - Fox Sports 1

Monday, Sept. 1 
Miami at Louisville - 8 p.m. - ESPN*

* - previously announced

Those are my guesses, what have you got? ESPN has provided the full schedule right here, so give it a gander and come up with your own semi-educated guesses if you're so inclined.  




Video: Division III team holds its own player draft

I don't mean to alarm anyone, but not many Division III football players get picked in the NFL Draft. It'll be a warm day in Antarctica before ESPN sends Todd McShay to cover a Division III pro day. That didn't stop D3 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology from having its own draft fun, though.

The Fightin' Engineers got together and held their own draft last spring, and then did it again last week. Coaches don't have to fret about getting buy-in from their players when they're already holding their own player draft. That's the type of commitment every coach would love to have. 

"Having a former player of mine continuing his success at Rose is truly a blessing, and I will continue to suggest to my current players and their families that they take a serious look at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology when searching for a college," Sean MacWilliams told FootballScoop. "I urge all high school coaches that have players interested in Math, Science, or Engineering to recommend Rose-Hulman."

The defending Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champions, the Terre Haute, Ind., school is already successful in its own type of draft. The Rose-Hulman football program enjoys a 100 percent job placement rate within six months of graduation with an average starting salary of $63,000 a year. 




Every DFO is going to want to read this today

A year ago, I attended the annual Directors of Football Operations national meeting. In two days of sitting in that Fort Worth hotel ballroom, the most prolonged, most passionate discussion was the DFO's collective frustration at the NCAA's arcane rules for feeding athletes. DFOs from schools around the country expressed their frustration at not being able to feed their athletes when they have the means to do so. Many that spoke up wanted to feed their entire rosters (scholarship and walk-on players) three meals a day for 365 days a year, but the NCAA wouldn't let them.

That might change soon, and DFOs have Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier to thank for it. "There are hungry nights that I go to bed and I'm starving," Napier said following the Huskies' national championship win last week. The comment went viral, and now the NCAA is prepared to do something about it.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the NCAA Division I Legislative Council will meet Tuesday to consider a proposal permitting schools to feed their athletes "pretty much whenever and wherever they want." 

The Journal points to the example of George Washington University, an urban school without many on-campus dining option. Players can leave campus with their school-issued meal card, but it doesn't last the entire semester. The school asked the NCAA for permission to build an athletes-only dining hall, but the NCAA denied it.

This is the world the NCAA has been living in, but that's about to change. The stomachs of student-athletes across the nation will thank them. 

Read the full article here.

PM Update: The NCAA has altered their training table policy, allowing for unlimited meals and snacks for scholarship players and walk-ons in conjunction with their athletic participation.

From the NCAA release:

Division I student-athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation, the Legislative Council decided Tuesday.  The rule, which applies to walk-ons as well as scholarship student-athletes, is an effort to meet the nutritional needs of all student-athletes.

The provision of meals approved today is in addition to the meal plan provided as part of a full scholarship. Prior to this change, scholarship student-athletes received three meals a day or a food stipend.

Council chair Mary Mulvenna, associate commissioner of the America East Conference, said Tuesday’s decisions underscored the commitment to student-athletes.

“Today we took action to provide meals to student-athletes incidental to participation,” Mulvenna said. “I think the end result is right where it needs to be.”

More changes were also announced Tuesday. See the full list here.




Video: Inside the Illinois QB battle and their spring ball draft

Illinois decided to engage their fan base this off season by cracking their quarterback competition wide open and having camera crews embedded with each of the three guys battling it out.

The latest installment takes place just before their orange and blue spring game, and includes some good coaching points from Bill Cubit during practice before stretching into their annual spring ball draft with the seniors and coaching staff compiling the teams.

With just three scholarship quarterbacks available, and one of them being senior Reilly O'Toole (who helped draft his team), the first pick of the draft, which belonged to O'Toole's team, was fellow quarterback Wes Lunt. That left Aaron Bailey the only other scholarship quarterback available for the Orange team. Great strategy considering Lunt threw for over 1,000 yards and completed 61% of his passes while starting a handful of games for Oklahoma State.\

These episodes have had quite a bit of time in between each of them, but it's always a great idea to provide fans and recruits a peek like this inside of the program. Really looking forward to the season finale.




Video: 'Big man' 7-on-7

Who doesn't love watching a big man 7-on-7?

Here, the Angelo State offensive line take on the defensive line. Some of these guys can move pretty well, and they even try to pull off some trickeration at about the 30 second mark, but the offensive line's ability to swivel their hips and break on the ball was sorely underestimated.

Notice that both teams looks like they're running lots of zone coverage...wouldn't want any one-on-one mismatches out there.




Sold! Arkansas State coaching auction goes for $11,700

The results are in, and Arkansas State's head-coach-for-a-day auction has gone for $11,700 to a bidder that is anonymous at this time.

The auction drew 58 bids over four days, rising from a starting price of $2,500. More valuable than the $11,700, though, is the marketing value that the Red Wolves' auction generated. Th e auction was picked up by nearly every major college football blog on the web.

The brainchild of new head coach Blake Anderson, Arkansas State will give the money to the Red Wolves Foundation to help fund the program. "This is a great way for us to raise money to help us function when a line item doesn't fit, as in needing a new computer or a bus to take us somewhere," Anderson told ESPN.com.

The winner will don Red Wolves coaching gear and a head set and call plays for the defending Sun Belt champs. 

For the record, Arkansas State pays Anderson $700,000 to serve as the Red Wolves' real head coach for the other 364 days a year. 

Self-styled sports business expert Darren Rovell has more on the auction: 

Wouldn't we all love to have $12 grand to burn at 25?




These HS helmets are the first of their kind

 

According the Shiloh Christian's (AR) website, the Saints will be taking the field this fall with a brand new custom gold chrome helmet unlike any other gold dome out there.

The Saints apparently worked hand in hand with Riddell to select a "Championship Gold" color that would help their helmet stand out from other gold lids.

As their site explains "The new helmet is the first of its kind in high school football. The new paint developed by Riddell has a reflective chrome-like aspect to it, while still maintaining the gold color and sheen. While the Saints have worn different shades of gold throughout the years, this helmet brings it all into one shiny, vegas gold that truly represents the Shiloh championship tradition."

Head coach Josh Floyd noted that their aim was to do something for the kids that would help set them apart, and this hits the mark. The helmets still maintain their old integrity while incorporating a modern flavor of sorts, and the video certainly helps the overall allure as well.

It's not everyday you get to work hand in hand with a company like Riddell to create your own color, so props to Shiloh Christian and head coach Josh Floyd for a job well done on these. There really isn't a whole lot that a lot of programs feel like they can do with the traditional gold helmets, but coach Floyd and his guys proved that notion wrong.