Exclusive: Pulitzer Prize Winner Tailing Buckeyes

Today I confirmed that the last sports reporter to win the Pulitzer Prize, current SPORTS ILLUSTRATED contributor George Dohrmann, has recently been in Columbus investigating the Ohio State football program.

George Dohrmann's Pulitzer Prize Reporting Led To Clem Haskins' Ouster At Minnesota

(Dohrmann’s reporting led to the end of Clem Haskins at Minnesota)

In 1999, it was Dohrmann’s exhaustive, investigative reporting for the ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS uncovering academic fraud within the University of Minnesota basketball program that led to the forced departure of coach Clem Haskins, subsequent NCAA sanctions against the school, and a Pultizer Prize for the Dohrmann.

Though Dohrmann burst on the national media scene reporting a college basketball story, as recently as last football season he broke a story that foreshadowed the impending mess wrought by Jim Tressel & Co.

Last October, Dohrmann convinced former NFL agent Josh Luchs to admit on the record that the ex-agent paid thousands of dollars to dozens of college football players - along with providing meals, trips and concert tickets - in an Oct. 18, 2010, SI cover story titled, “Confessions of an Agent.

Interestingly, Luchs’ client list included notorious Ohio State football player Maurice Clarett and a well-funded pursuit of another former Buckeye star.

Excerpt from Luchs’ account to Dohrmann:

“In November 2005, Steve (Feldman) and I flew to Ohio State to talk to receiver Santonio Holmes. We met him outside the football building, and he said, ‘Listen, I want to save you the time. We don’t need to meet. I’ve been taking money from [an agent] the last couple years, and he’s been taking care of my family too.’

“Had it been 10 years earlier, I would have probably said, ‘Santonio, whatever he’s paying you, I’ll double it.’ But now, being at Gersh, I had Hollywood to sell. Let the other agents pay kids.”

Feldman, a current NFL agent who has represented multiple pro football Hall of Famers over the past three decades, later confirmed to Dohrmann that Holmes told him and Luchs that an agent was paying the then-current Buckeye football player.

Feldman also told HBO Real Sports last March that he actually witnessed that conversation between Luchs and Holmes.
Through the New York Jets, Holmes denied the claims made by Luchs and Feldman.

After the allegations about Holmes being paid by an agent during his Ohio State days surfaced - courtesy Dohrmann’s report - the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported Jim Tressel’s reaction:

Tressel said he saw no signs of Holmes being improperly involved with agents while at Ohio State from 2002 through 2005.

… Tressel said assistant coach Darrell Hazell called Holmes after the story broke.

“His statements to Darrell put your mind at ease,” Tressel said. “You’re always concerned when anything is brought up.”

“In fact, I remember Darrell sat through the agent interviews with (Holmes) as kind of his sounding board,” Tressel said.

Of the agent business in general, Tressel said he tells players, “There’s 1,200 registered agents, and only 300 have clients. And that leaves 900 desperate folks, and desperate people do desperate things.”

… OSU compliance officials have said they are looking into the allegation.

Tuesday afternoon in Columbus WBNS-AM talk show host Scott Torgensen, who does a midday show on the official broadcast outlet for Ohio State football games, claimed on the air that Sports Illustrated was set to publish a damaging investigative piece written by Dohrmann about Ohio State football - “on Tuesday“:

“George Dohrmann, the guy’s who is writing the article, and it’ll be out Tuesday, has spent about six weeks writing this article.  About three weeks ago he was in Columbus for a week. A Monday through Thursday type thing. Last week he was in Columbus. I can tell you I know he went to the state pen and visited this tattoo artist from a place called “Dudley’s. I don’t know what that has to do with this story.

“One of my sources talked to Dohrmann yesterday, I actually had this guy talk to Dohrmann to fish about what the article is going to be about for me. So this is from Dohrmann, not from me, this is what I heard. Dohrmann told this guy that SI executive editors are salivating over the article. The quote was [from the source] ‘it’s going to be bad for Tress. … it’s something new and it’s big-time, it goes back to when Tress was at Youngstown.’ I was told that it’s all new stuff.

” … I don’t know who he (Dohrmann) was talking to or what it’s going to be about, I’m just telling you that it’s going to be next Tuesday, I know that George Dohrmann is a Pultizer Prize-winning investigative reporter.”

From talking to someone today who has intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the editorial operation at Sports Illustrated, I can confirm that Torgensen has something in common with Dohrmann: the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist doesn’t know what his story will be about either.

Because it hasn’t been written. Nor has the decision been made by Dohrmann to write such a piece. Or by Sports Illustrated to publish it.

Yes, Dohrmann has been in Columbus chasing down leads but no, there are zero immediate plans for a story from him about Ohio State football to be published in Sports Illustrated.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

‘Disruptive’ Santonio ‘Escorted Off Plane’ In Pitt

WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh reports that Santonio Holmeshad to be escorted off a plane Thursday night at Pittsburgh International Airport, investigators said.

Santonio Holmes Tweet Before Being Thrown Off Pittsburgh Plane

(Follow Brooks on Twitter for more real-time updates)

Investigators told Channel 11 News reporter Renee Kaminski that the incident happened shortly after 9 p.m. They said Holmes wasn’t arrested but was escorted off the plane for what investigators call being a “disruptive passenger.”

The plane was docked at Gate D77 when a “disturbance” involving an iPod and refusal to comply with flight crew demands was reported.

Based on a Tweet from the official Twitter.com account of Holmes last night from the plane, perhaps that wasn’t the only issue involved in the incident. Read more…

Getting To Know The Steelers New Glass Receiver

21-year-old Anshonae Mills last week filed a civil lawsuit against Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Mills is seeking $15,000 in damages for battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from a March 7 incident at a central Florida nightclub.

Anshonae Mills Photos Santonio Holmes Accuser

(”I love money” part of Mills online dating account)

According to court papers, Mills accused Holmes of harassing her in an attempt to force her to exit a VIP area of the club. That harassment allegedly included Holmes throwing a glass at Mills, which cut an area of her face above her right eye.

After Mills was injured, she initially demanded to attending Orlando police that Holmes be arrested. Mills claims Holmes then stated that he was “an NFL football player and could not face criminal charges,” before the Steelers receiver then offered to give Mills money.

Anshonae Mills Photos Santonio Holmes Accuser

Mills alleges that eventually she was pressured so much by Holmes and police that she did not press charges, giving only a largely incoherent statement to the presiding cops. Read more…

Santonio Holmes Dons Vick Jersey, Nation Shrugs

So, yeah, Santonio Holmes wore a Michael Vick Eagles jersey on Thursday night after the Steelers/Titans game. The story here? That there isn’t much of a story. Blogs that have covered this have nearly unanimously said that it’s not a big deal, and we can’t really disagree. Vick and Holmes are buddies; they share an agent, profession, and union. Why wouldn’t friends support each other?

Santonio Holmes Michael Vick Jersey

In fact, the real only criticism of the move seems to be of Holmes’ fashion sense. As someone who has been known to wear a jersey to a game (but nowhere else), we’re not going to pile on there. But my, how far we’ve come in the few short months since Vick was released from prison.

Read more…

Danica’s Tat Taken Out Of Latest SI Bikini Shoot

Danica Patrick has a cute li’l back tattoo, but you wouldn’t have known it from her latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot.

Danica Patrick with tattoo without

(Danica: with tattoo and without)

• Just how bad have things become for the San Francisco 49ers? They might soon welcome in Michael Vick AND Raiders fans.

Hasheem Thabeet survives a fall, but his #1 UConn Huskies do not.

Mike Leach & Texas Tech are taking their cases to the media.

Read more…

Santonio’s Gloves Fetch $70K In Online Auction

Have you ever paid $70,000 for a pair of gardening gloves? Well, one Steeler fan now has, and he better put them in a safe place so he doesn’t come home and find his wife using them to pull a few weeds.

Santonio Holmes

The very gloves Santonio Holmes wore while making one of the greatest catches in NFL history went up for auction, and while they didn’t fetch anywhere near the “buy it now” price of $1 million, they still took in a pretty good haul. The proceeds went to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, which is a good cause. Just don’t ever let these people run your online auction.

Read more…

Big Ben Played Super Bowl With Two Broken Ribs

Before helping cap off one of the most exciting Super Bowl finishes in NFL history with the touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had spent most of the two weeks leading up to the game just hoping he wouldn’t mess things up. After all, his first trip to the big game didn’t go so well in Super Bowl XL. Yeah, the Steelers won, but it wasn’t thanks to Ben’s 9 completions in 21 attempts, 123 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Ben had been hoping that he’d be able to actually help his team win the second time around instead of slowing them down, and he followed through on it. Though Holmes made the big catch and won the game’s MVP award, it could easily be argued that Roethlisberger deserved the award more than Holmes after he completed 70% of his passes for 256 yards and orchestrating that final drive. What makes it more impressive? He did it all with a couple of broken ribs.

Read more…

Speed Read: Is Haley Ready For Chiefs Hot Seat?

It guess it’s not just to the victor that go the spoils: despite his team falling just short in the Super Bowl, Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley was rewarded for the team’s miracle run, as the KANSAS CITY STAR reports that he has reached an agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs to become their new head coach. Now, with the absolutely mess that the Chiefs are right now, it’s debatable how much of a “reward” this job is. But hey: it’s not the Raiders.

New Chiefs coach Todd Haley

Clearly, by resurrecting the career of Kurt Warner and turning the Cardinals into a fearsome offensive machine, Haley’s proven that he can coach an offense. But can he be the leader? After all, this is someone who never played college football (instead playing and later coaching college golf) and only got into football as a scout in 1995. Can he earn the respect of the players with such little experience?

I don’t want to raise any red flags here, but when you think of “head coach with no college playing experience,” who do you think of? Charlie Weis? And if Haley commands the type of respect and admiration from players and fans that Weis does - yikes. It might even have Chiefs fans longing for the halcyon days of Gunther Cunningham. (Note: this will never happen.)

But I had an inkling this was going to happen. A source (a teammate on my kickball team) mentioned earlier this week that his father spotted Chiefs GM Scott Pioli having a lengthy meal with Todd Haley’s representatives at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in St. Louis, hurriedly shooing away waiters and looking out for spies (apparently not well enough).

Ruths Chris Steak House

Which brings up an interesting point: Ruth’s Chris Steak House? Really? There was no better place in St. Louis to conduct an important, secretive conversation about your next head coach than a chain steak house? Granted, it’s not Sizzler or Golden Corral, but St. Louis has to have dining options with red leather chairs and lots of dark corners - don’t they have Italian restaurants there? And why not have the meeting in Kansas City? Can someone point him to Yelp, please?

In other news: it turns out that corporate sponsors don’t like it when the person they are using to sell breakfast to millions of kids is pictured taking a rip from a bong. Who knew? CNBC details how Kellogg’s has decided not to renew Michael Phelps’ endorsement contract, which is set to expire at the end of the month. Which was probably going to happen anyway - except very quietly versus with a public statement from the company admonishing Phelps for behavior that “is not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”

Michael Phelps bounced by Kelloggs

At least Phelps can always count on USA Swimming to have his back in their usual, clumsy way. The organization decided to crack the whip on their poster child by giving him a three-month ban, during a time when he wasn’t expected to compete in any meets of significance. (He will miss one meet, but let’s be serious here - if it’s not the Olympics or World Championships. does it really matter?) It’s the equivalent of a five-game baseball suspension for a pitcher, which just means that his next start is pushed back a game.

While all this was going on, there were actual games being played last night. And none were more important - or exciting - than the clash between the Lakers and the Celtics in Boston. The last time the Lakers were seen at the Garden, they were dodging green and white confetti as they exited the court to lick their wounds after having the Celtics pound them like a two dollar steak in their Finals-clinching 131-92 victory.

Los Angeles Lakers celebrate win over Boston Celtics

That didn’t happen this time. Despite Kobe Bryant having an off shooting game (10 of 29 from the field), the Lakers found a way to prevail 110-109 in a seesaw overtime thriller. The key for the Lakers was defense - a concept many thought they had abandoned about a month ago - even without injured center Andrew Bynum, and the scoring of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (a combined 44 points).

But if you want to talk about winning, you have to start with Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. After missing at her first attempt earlier in the week against Oklahoma, she notched her 1,000th career win on Thursday, with her Lady Volunteers thumping Georgia, 73-43.

Say what you will about women’s basketball, but that’s an incredible feat. Consider this: in all team sports, only Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has recorded more wins with one team. The difference, of course, is that Summitt actually knows how to win championships (although to be fair to Sloan, she never had to game plan for Michael Jordan.) In other news:

Based on the last few nights, who do you have winning the NBA Finals?

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Should Media Make a Big Flap Over Phelps Photo?

• Have corporate sponsors successfully smokescreened the media over Michael Phelps’ marijuana mess?

michael phelps bong

Jim Fassel finally finds himself a football coaching job - if you count the UFL as a stable employer.

• Golfers & wait staff, beware! Tiger Woods is back & “better than ever“!

• Wonder where some of your taxpayer money is going? How about toward Santonio Holmes’ new $85,000 Cadillac Escalade?

Read more…

Closeups: Did Santonio Really Stick The Landing?

From Will Leitch’s personal blog today:

Santonio Holmes Football Out Of Bounds Photo

UPDATE (2:30pm PT): Just saw this in the ARIZONA REPUBLIC, on a tip from Jamie Mottram:

Santonio Holmes Gets Both Feet Down

And yet another seemingly definitive photo of the play after the jump. Read more…