From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- No. 1 Indiana will open its season Friday night without two key freshmen players.On Tuesday, the NCAA suspended 6-foot-8 forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea and 7-foot center Peter Jurkin for the first nine games this season and will require them to repay a portion of the impermissible benefits they received to a charity of their choice.Enforcement officials at the governing body officials found the players' AAU coach Mark Adams provided them with 9,702 and 6,003 in plane tickets, meals, housing, a laptop computer, a cellphone and clothing. Mosquera-Perea must pay back approximately 1,590. Jurkin must repay 250 to be reinstated.The NCAA said in a statement Tuesday night both players were qualified to receive the benefits from the nonprofit organization Adams used to help international players obtain travel documents and cover travel costs to the U.S. The problem was that Adams also was considered an Indiana booster because he donated 185 to the Varsity Club from 1986-92, and boosters cannot provide benefits to players.Adams had been involved in a previous eligibility case that involved an additional 2,655 to former Indiana basketball player Tijan Jobe."Despite the minimal nature of Mr. Adams' donations, and the fact that the last donation he made was more than 15 years before he provided expenses to a prospective student-athlete who enrolled at the institution," the NCAA wrote in its letter to the school. "Mr. Adams must be considered a representative of the institution's athletics interests."The NCAA considers these secondary infractions and credited the university for taking "substantial and meaningful" corrective actions. Those actions included paying a 5,000 fine for failing to properly certify one player before he started competing, suspending communications with Adams and disassociating the program from Adams.Indiana plans to file appeal the length of the two suspensions later this week, though schools usually win those cases. The players cannot play while the appeal is heard, though they can continue to practice and participate in other team functions.University officials were informed of potential eligibility concerns for both players in April 2011, the NCAA said, and school officials have been trying to resolve the situation since then.Indiana officials, said in a statement, that it filed the original case June 22.The NCAA reinstatement staff made its decision Oct. 29. Indiana then provided additional information Nov. 1, which the NCAA said did not change the original facts that were agreed to by both sides.Mosquera-Perea is considered one of Indiana's top recruits and is expected to play a big part in this season's push for a national championship. Jurkin is also expected to provide depth on the front line.If the NCAA ruling stands, neither player could return until Indiana's game Dec. 15 against Butler in Indianapolis."This matter was discovered internally and promptly reported to the NCAA," Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement released by the school. "At the NCAA's direction, we conducted an extensive and thorough review in cooperation and consultation with the NCAA Basketball Focus Group. While I am very disappointed with these circumstances, I am very pleased with the way we have responded and appreciative of the NCAA's professional guidance and assistance. I would also like to thank Mark Adams for his forthright candor and cooperation in this matter."
For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.
One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.
So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season.
In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare.
Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI..
Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career.
The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game.
Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins:
Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning
Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33
Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17
Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack.
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway
Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio
Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24
Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors.
Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe
Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27
Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21
Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career.
Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien
Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28
Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24
Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost
Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process.
Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that.
Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM.
Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England.
Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel.
It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.