Sugar Bowl violates tax laws

Ohio State University players celebrate after their team defeated the University of Arkansas during the NCAA BCS Allstate Sugar Bowl football game in New Orleans, Louisiana January, 4, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The mess in college football keeps piling up. Real Sports on HBO has a new expose on how the “nonprofit” college bowls spend money like drunken sailors entertaining conference and school officials. We’ll have more on that later.

In the meantime, one of the disclosures from Real Sports involved improper expenditures by the Sugar Bowl for campaign purposes, something that violates tax laws given their nonprofit status.

An HBO “Real Sports” investigation has prompted the Allstate Sugar Bowl to self-report tax law violations it committed by purchasing three $1,000 tickets to fundraisers for then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2004 and 2006.

Under its non-profit charter, the bowl is not allowed to contribute to political campaigns, and such actions also are against bowl policy, according to a release from the bowl.

At the time of the fundraisers, the Sugar Bowl was receiving approximately $1 million annually from the state as a “cooperative endeavor” that helped fund team payouts. The arrangement, which predated Blanco’s term, was rescinded two years ago at the Sugar Bowl’s request.

The release also stated that the money has been refunded from Blanco and those funds have been donated to the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete fund.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoolahan and current bowl president Lance Alfrick declined to elaborate beyond the release, but immediate past president Dave Melius called the violation “an accident.”

“Obviously, nobody had any idea,” Melius said. “You have to understand we have an organization with about a $14 million budget, and we’re spending $14 million a year in about a zillion different ways on a lot of things we’re supporting. There are thousands of checks written, and one check goes out that didn’t go through the correct process.”

This is the same Sugar Bowl that lobbied to have 5 suspended Ohio State players be permitted to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

It’s becoming clear that the “nonprofit” status of these bowls is a complete fraud. They don’t care about college kids – they simply care about money. It will be interesting to see where that $14 million is really going as we get more scrutiny of this corrupt bowl system.

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Arkansas has Sugar Bowl win in its hands…then drops it.

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) is chased from the pocket by Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Hayward (97) during first half action of the 77th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana January 4, 2011. UPI/A.J. Sisco

Here are five quick-hit observations on Ohio State’s wild 31-26 win over Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

1. From the opening play of the game, Arkansas blew its opportunities.
Little did Arkansas know that the first play from scrimmage would be an omen for the rest of the game. Ryan Mallett threw a perfectly timed spiral to streaking receiver Joe Adams, who beat the coverage and would have had a touchdown had he hung onto the ball. It was the first of six dropped passes for the Hogs on the night, most of which came in crucial situations. And the drops weren’t the only opportunities Arkansas missed on the night. From Dane Sanzenbacher’s fluke fumble-recovery-turned-touchdown in the first quarter to the missed scoring opportunity after Boom Herron’s fumble late in the fourth quarter to Colton Miles-Nash’s inability to pick the ball up cleanly on teammate Ben Buchanan’s blocked punt to Solomon Thomas’ interception of Mallett in the final minute, the Razorbacks blew it time and time again. Wisconsin was heavily criticized for missing opportunities to beat TCU in the Rose Bowl last Saturday, but that was nothing compared to what Arkansas did Tuesday night. Their fans will need a lobotomy after watching that game.

2. Cameron Heyward will make one NFL team very happy some day.
Heyward is an absolute monster and he and the rest of his defensive linemates deserve major praise for harassing Mallett all night. He manhandled Arkansas offensive tackle DeMarcus Love and he didn’t allow Mallett to set his feet for many of his throws. When Mallett had to step up in the pocket to pass, he was widely inaccurate, often throwing the ball at his receivers’ feet. His wideouts didn’t do him many favors, but the Buckeyes’ defense really brought the heat on third down and made life uncomfortable for the Razorback signal caller. If it weren’t for Heyward and crew, Arkansas may have scored 40 points.

3. The SEC curse is over for Ohio State.
Try as they did to lose the game, the Buckeyes finally got the SEC monkey off their backs. The win snapped a nine-game bowl losing streak against SEC teams. OSU also saved some face for the Big Ten, which went 0-4 on New Year’s Day. Terrelle Pryor threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, while also rushing for 115 yards on 15 carries. On a night when Herron only gained 3.6 yards per carry and couldn’t get anything going on the early downs, Pryor stepped up several times when the Buckeyes’ offense faced third-and-long. He also picked up a huge first down on a quarterback sneak late in the game to shed time off the clock and keep the ball in OSU’s possession while they tried to preserve the lead. For the second year in a row, Pryor was special in a BCS bowl.

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Utah pistol-whips Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Brian JohnsonIn one of the more dominating performances of the bowl season, the undefeated (and still undefeated) Utah Utes flat out ran over Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide 31-17 in Friday night’s Sugar Bowl.

I’ll always be the first one to admit when I was wrong and I was dead wrong when I previewed this game in my BCS Bowl Preview.

I thought Alabama would control both lines of scrimmage and wear down Utah over four quarters. Wrong. I said that Saban would shove Glen Coffee down the Utes’ throats for four quarters and that Utah would eventually cave in the second half. Wrong. I said that the Tide’s defense would shut down an explosive Utah offense, but one that hadn’t seen a decent defense outside of TCU’s in the regular season. Wrong.

What happened was that Utah was flat out the better team and they showed it Friday night. They played with more passion, more fight and more determination than any team this bowl season and they proved that they not only belong in the top 10, but they belong playing for a national title.

Utah’s game plan was executed brilliantly. Alabama had one of the best defensive lines in college football this season, but Utah quarterback Brian Johnson neutralized the Tide’s front seven by getting rid of the ball in a timely manner every time he dropped back. The result was a 336-yard, three touchdown performance and more importantly, Johnson didn’t throw any interceptions.

Then in the fourth quarter up by 10, it was Utah who wore down the Tide – not the other way around. Instead of Coffee being shoved down the Utes’ throats, it was Matt Asiata being shoved down ‘Bama’s throats as he picked up important first downs late in the fourth quarter. And Utah wasn’t doing anything unique; Asiata just lined up at quarterback, took a direct snap and rushed right up field. ‘Bama knew it was coming, but they couldn’t do anything about it.

This was by far the most impressive win of the bowl season and I tip my hat to the Utes. They were far and away a better team than I gave them credit for in my bowl preview and they were fun to watch. Too bad college football isn’t smart enough to have a playoff system so we could really see what Utah can do.

Couch Potato Alert: 1/2

All times ET…

College Football

Friday, 2 PM: No. 20 Mississippi vs. No. 8 Texas Tech – Cotton Bowl, Fox
Friday, 5 PM: Kentucky vs. East Carolina – Liberty Bowl, ESPN
Friday, 8 PM: No. 7 Utah vs. No. 4 Alabama – Sugar Bowl, Fox
Saturday, 12 PM: Buffalo vs. Connecticut – International Bowl, ESPN2

College Basketball

Friday, 8:30 PM: No. 11 Syracuse vs. South Florida, ESPN
Saturday, 12 PM: No. 3 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Georgetown, ESPN
Saturday, 12 PM: No. 23 Ohio State vs. No. 21 Minnesota
Sunday, TBA: Kentucky vs. No. 18 Louisville, CBS


Friday, 7:30 PM: Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks, NBA TV
Saturday, 8:30 PM: Philadelphia 76ers vs. San Antonio Spurs, NBA TV
Sunday, 6 PM: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks, NBA TV


Saturday, 4:30 PM: Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals, NBC
Saturday, 8 PM: Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers, NBC
Sunday, 1 PM: Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins, CBS
Sunday, 4:30 PM: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings, Fox


Friday, 7 PM: Montreal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils
Friday: 10 PM: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Anaheim Ducks
Saturday, 5 PM: Ottawa Senators vs. New Jersey Devils

Alabama suspends best offensive lineman for Sugar Bowl

Alabama head coach Nick Saban suspended offensive tackle Andre Smith for the upcoming Sugar Bowl for violating team rules. Smith is highly regarded as ‘Bama’s best offensive lineman and a future top 10 NFL Draft pick.

“The University of Alabama, the team and the football program are more important than any individual player,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said in a released statement today. “Every one on our team depends on each other to be responsible, to make good choices and decisions relative to their actions.”

Saban did not specify Smith’s violation leading up to Friday night’s game against No. 7 Utah.

The junior is expected to be one of the top players selected in the NFL draft if he opts to skip his final season at Alabama. Smith has been noncommittal about his future plans, but Saban offered a hint in his statement that the player wouldn’t be back.

“Andre Smith has done an outstanding job in our program as a person, student and a player, and we will do all we can as an institution to support him in all future endeavors,” Saban said.

An instant starter with the Tide, Smith has allowed only one sack this season and seven during his 38-game career.

He won the Southeastern Conference’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy as a sophomore and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award this season.

One can’t help but wonder how this will affect the Tide’s game plan for Utah. ‘Bama definitely had the edge (and might still have the edge) up front, but maybe the Utes will overload one side and bring added pressure on quarterback John Parker Wilson.

Utah’s defense is quick and can fly to the football. Not having to get around Smith will be a huge advantage for them.

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