The North Carolina Tar Heels, who were a favorite to win the ACC this year, were plagued by a flurry of scandals in the offseason and are now feeling the brunt of the NCAA violations in a big way. About as big as Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn and Greg Little, to be exact. Three of head coach Butch Davis’ top recruits ever at UNC, the trio of Tar Heel stars are still being investigated for receiving improper benefits in large amounts from agents.
Austin, a top defensive line recruit from Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., was expected to be a surefire top ten pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, as was his counterpart defensive end Quinn, a preseason All-American pick. Little, a senior wide receiver, led the team last season with 62 receptions, 724 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
“Not only did they jeopardize themselves in their lives, they certainly have jeopardized this team, the university and I know that they’re very remorseful about that,” Davis said. “But it doesn’t diminish the fact that these actions were poor choices in these kids’ lives.”
While Austin was simply kicked off the team, Quinn and Little were ruled “permanently ineligible” by the NCAA. The absence of these three key players, as well as more than a dozen others who were all missing from UNC’s season-opening 30-24 loss to LSU in Atlanta, caused the Tar Heels to drop their first two games of the year, also losing to Georgia Tech by an identical score of 30-24 in week two. Davis has rallied the troops, however, and the Heels have now won three straight over quality opponents.
As it turns out, Virginia Tech left guard Greg Nosal actually played a good portion (and blocked pretty well for fleet-footed quarterback Tyrod Taylor, at that) of the Hokies’ 45-21 win over the Central Michigan Chippewas with half of a finger. Nosal apparently lost the tip of his pinkie finger between two colliding helmets in the first half of the game and decided to play on without it even after the VT medical staff found the rest of his finger nestled into the netting of his glove. As Nosal wanted to keep playing for the Hokies (4-2, 2-0), the doctors put the pinkie part on ice until it was finally re-stitched in the fourth quarter, with the Hokies leading 31-7 and the game outcome well in hand.
Tech lineman suspended
Texas Tech has suspended defensive end Scott Smith for the rest of the season, said head coach Tommy Tuberville. Smith, who terrorized the Longhorns’ offensive line in week three with an interception, two deflections that led to interceptions, two sacks and three tackles for a loss, allegedly violated team rules, though no further details were released on Smith’s misbehavior.
“He made a mistake, but he’ll pay for it, and he’ll be out the rest of the season,” Tuberville said.
Keenum to seek sixth year
Houston quarterback Case Keenum, widely regarded as a favorite in the wide-open Heisman trophy race entering the season after passing for over 5,000 yards and 44 TDs the last two seasons, will attempt to follow in the footsteps of former Longhorn Jordan Shipley and become a “super-super senior.” Keenum’s decision to apply for a sixth year of eligibility comes a few weeks after his season-ending ACL injury in the Cougars’ 31-13 loss at UCLA.
“This ending wasn’t exactly what I predicted for my senior year and because I care so much about this team and this university, I would love to be able to play one more season,” Keenum said. “I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I at least want to see the whole process through.”
Since Keenum’s injury, quarterback Terrance Broadway has led the Cougars to a 1-1 record including Saturday’s 47-24 loss against Mississippi State.