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Tag:Dennis Talbott
Posted on: September 20, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Michigan bans Dennis Talbott from sidelines

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The name "Dennis Talbott" should be painfully familiar to Ohio State fans. Talbott is a sports photographer who has long been linked to the Ohio State football program, and who allegedly provided Terrelle Pryor with large sums of money in exchange for autographs -- a hilariously blatant NCAA violation.

When Ohio State figured out the full extent of Talbott's alleged activity, it kicked him off campus and disassociated itself with him (though, ahem, it was aware of some shenanigans in 2007), and that was wise. What Ohio State did not do, however, was inform a certain neighbor to the north that Talbott might be looking for work... and that he might use a different name when applying for that work. And according to the Detroit Free-Press, lo and behold:

Columbus, Ohio, businessman and freelance photographer Dennis J. Talbott, best known for allegedly paying former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor between $20,000 and $40,000 for signed memorabilia, was credentialed as a sideline photographer for Michigan’s season opener Sept. 3 against Western Michigan at Michigan Stadium.

According to Michigan associate athletic director Dave Ablauf, the U-M athletic department was duped into credentialing Talbott and, though there is no known rule denying another school’s banned individual, Michigan would have never credentialed him had it known who he was, given that he applied under a name that was not widely known.

The images he photographed, which are posted on iconsportsmedia.com and at least one that appeared on SI.com are credited to the name Jay Talbott.

“We would have never allowed this person to have a credential, and we were deceived by an Ohio-based media outlet,” Ablauf said via e-mail. “This person and this media outlet will no longer be credentialed.”

Now, technically, none of this is in violation of any NCAA rules, so long as Talbott didn't break any during his time on campus in Ann Arbor. That all said, there's a greater than zero chance that he would engage in recidivism, so it's hard to blame Michigan for putting the kibosh on this immediately. Allegedly pay a star quarterback over $20,000 for autographs once, shame on you; allegedly do it twice...

Posted on: June 10, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 9:14 pm
 

Report: OSU warned about Talbott in 2007

Posted by Tom Fornelli

According to a report in the Plain Dealer, Ohio State first received a warning about photographer Dennis Talbott as early as 2007. Talbott was recently alleged to have paid Terrelle Pryor anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 for signed memorabilia. Allegations that Talbott has steadfastly denied. In the latest report it's said that Talbott has been dealing with Ohio State players and signed merchandise for a few years now.

In a March 21, 2007 email to Tressel, which was provided to the Plain Dealer, a source gave the following warning about the alleged online activities of Talbott, a Columbus-based freelance photographer who also is involved in memorabilia sales:

"He has sold over 50 items with underclassmen signatures before their eligibility expires and would seem to be someone that both you and the university is aware of. I have a full report of his eBay activities if you would like to explore further or require documentation."

The email was sent to the account tressel.3@osu.edu. That is the same address that Columbus attorney Chris Cicero used to email Tressel in April of 2010 about OSU players selling memorabilia, an email that Tressel did not disclose to his bosses, an NCAA violation that eventually led to his May 30 resignation.

The Dealer goes on to say that even though Ohio State and Jim Tressel had been warned about Talbott in 2007, that did not stop Talbott from receiving free tickets to eight games in 2008, though the names of the players who left the tickets were redacted from the record.

Ohio State then received a second warning about Talbott in 2009.

The second warning about Talbott to OSU came in the summer of 2009. Two employees of Scioto Reserve Golf Club contacted members of the athletic department after seeing Talbott and Pryor golfing together. One employee said he talked to an Ohio State assistant coach he knew socially, and was told the matter would be taken care of. Another employee, Regan Koivisto, the club's general manager, said he called the football office and detailed his concerns while talking to an administrative assistant.

"I just thought it would be best if the coaching staff was aware, because I'm certain they always had their players' best interests in mind and would want to know," Koivisto told The Plain Dealer.

So you'll begin to notice an alarming trend taking place at Ohio State under Jim Tressel. Tressel would be alerted about potential problems with his players and then do nothing about it. Despite the concerns about Talbott expressed to the school, that didn't stop Ohio State from allowing Talbott to work as a credentialed photographer at home games in 2009.

Obviously, on the surface, Terrelle Pryor playing golf with somebody isn't anything to be alarmed about. But when that person is somebody you've already been warned about in the past when it comes to his relationship with Ohio State players, the fact that Ohio State wouldn't address the issue is mind-boggling.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Photographer: 'I haven't given [Pryor] a dollar'

Posted by Chip Patterson

First Terrelle Pryor's lawyer threatened a lawsuit during an outraged radio interview, and now the photographer brought into question for paying Pryor for signed memorabilia has issued a denial of his own. Columbus photographer Dennis Talbott denied ever giving money to Pryor when speaking to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on Thursday.

"They are potentially destroying people's lives," Talbott said in a phone interview. "It's not true. I haven't given him a dollar. I haven't given him anything perceived as an improper benefit."

In the damning anonymous interview on ESPN's Outside the Lines, a former friend of Pryor suggested that as many as 35 to 40 payments were made by Talbott for memorabilia, with the total earned ranging anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. The website Sports By Brooks ran their own investigation on Talbott, collecting a series of photos and screen shots which suggest Talbott has not only been using an eBay name, "infickelwetrust," to sell autographed and game-used items from Ohio State football players, but also has been operating a side business - Varsity O Memorabilia, to sell signed memorabilia. Photos from Varsity O's Facebook page show items being signed/signed by A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Beanie Wells, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Maurice Wells, Mike D'Andrea, Troy Smith, Quinn Pitcock, and former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.

Talbott tried to tell the Plain-Dealer that he doesn't "have the wherewithal" to shell out the kind of money reported in the Outside the Lines piece. If Talbott, 40, has been running this multiple organization operation he should surely have the cash to arrange these payments. As far as the "infickelwetrust" eBay account, by Wednesday night the account had been deleted and all of the items had been removed.

Another case of he said-she said in Columbus, as the scandal slowly unravels and reveals a community - not just a coach - embracing ignorance in order to experience immediate success and gratification.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:41 am
 

CBSSports.com CFB 100, No. 2: The Fall of OSU



Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's fitting that Jim Tressel's nickname was The Senator. In Columbus and around the rest of the nation, that nickname was used as unironic praise, a testament to the Ohio State coach's maturity, open faith, and businesslike approach to running his football program. The name stuck because it fit. It also stuck because people conveniently forgot that Congress is and always has been one of the most reviled institutions in American history, one whose abysmal approval ratings are fueled by an institutional history of corruption, hypocrisy, and mistruths. Oh, Jim Tressel is a senator, all right. People just didn't really know it.

Back in 2010, Senator Tressel made the grave error of placing his players, his program, and himself above the law of the NCAA, and that's why we're here today (here's the full timeline). He found out that QB Terrelle Pryor and several teammates had been receiving impermissible benefits back in April, and hid the evidence from his athletic department. Astonishingly, there isn't a guarantee that the compliance department would have punished Pryor or would have withheld him from the 2010 season; after all, the department ordered memorabilia dealer (and purported Pryor payer) Dennis Talbott away from the program during the season, but Pryor was allowed to remain eligibile. 

So now, not only is Tressel out of a job and likely facing a mammoth punishment from the NCAA -- not an ideal situation for a newly unemployed, 58-year-old coach to find himself in, to say the least -- but Pryor is gone from the program now as well, right on the heels of a major NCAA investigation into his relationship with several prominent Columbus figures, and there's even been some speculation that AD Gene Smith's job is on the line too, along with president Gordon Gee

There's also a distinct possibility that the NCAA forces Ohio State to vacate some or all of the 2010 season's victories. Tressel knowingly used several players who, under NCAA statutes, were ineligible to play. And if the NCAA does indeed come down hard and takes away the 31-26 Sugar Bowl victory -- the bowl for which the "Buckeye Five" had controversially been allowed special eligibility -- oh, how the cackles of glee will ring forth from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and throughout the rest of the Southeast. The one thing OSU had been able to hang its hat on from the 2010 season that it never could before is that elusive bowl win over the SEC. It's one thing for Arkansas fans to claim that the Buckeyes only got that win by cheating, after all; it's another for the NCAA to agree with them.

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Still, it's worth reiterating that since the NCAA investigation is ongoing, it's impossible to know precisely how the story ends just yet. With Tressel and Pryor both gone from Columbus and thus no longer obligated to comply with the NCAA investigation -- though if Tressel ever wants to coach in the NCAA again, complying would be a wise idea -- the NCAA doesn't have as much to work with. That's not to say OSU's going to get off easy, though, since the NCAA probably has enough to justify significant penalties. How bad we're talking here remains to be seen.

As far as on the field goes, 2011 might be a little rough. Luke Fickell is the interim coach for now, and while there's probably a reason why Jim Tressel had named the 37-year-old his assistant head coach back in March, there's virtually no chance that Fickell has the gameday coaching chops, players' respect, or recruiting skill that Tressel had. No first-year head coaches do, for that matter. Fickell's going to have to make sure all hell doesn't break loose on that roster, keep as many recruits in the fold as possible, and also try to keep the team motivated for 2011 even if Ohio State receives some sort of postseason ban (an apt possible punishment, considering the strings pulled to keep Pryor and everyone else eligible for the game).

Meanwhile, under center, the loss of Terrelle Pryor could be disastrous. The long-running joke in Columbus was that the depth chart had been "Pryor and Prayer," and now Buckeye fans will have to prostrate themselves in front of the football gods in search of mercy. Left on the depth chart are four quarterbacks whose benefits scarcely outweigh their drawbacks at this point, and it's unlikely that any of them will be given a long leash in 2011 until a clear No. 1 QB emerges. Braxton Miller has the highest upside, but the kid is 18. Joe Bauserman was the backup last season, but he might not actually be any good -- and he's already 26. Neither Kenny Guiton nor Taylor Graham seems ready to start yet. Yes, this motley crew was going to have to take care of the offense for the first five games no matter what after Pryor was initially suspended by the team, but now there's no cavalry coming -- and Big Ten defensive coordinators know it.

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The biggest consequence of Ohio State's fall from glory, though, might have nothing to do with Ohio State itself. Now, every compliance department is under increased scrutiny, whether from outside media sources or from within the program. There's no shortage of secretly terrified athletic directors who look at what's happening in Columbus and now have to double-check that their own athletic departments are actually on the up-and-up or if there's the possibility of serious malfeasanceColt McCoy's wife gave the city of Austin a collective minor heart attack when she went on the radio and described the uphill battle Texas' compliance office faces, but she stopped short of actually saying any violations had ever occurred. Is that because none had occurred, or she just knew better than to publicly admit anything? That's the type of million-dollar question every major football program faces now, thanks to Tressel and Ohio State.

And yet, regardless of what happens from here on out, the fall of Ohio State is still going to be an endless topic of debate in the 2011 season -- just as it has been already. Everyone's got an opinion on Tressel, and everyone's going to have an opinion on what the NCAA ends up doing to the Buckeyes. Once football season rolls around, all it'll take is one "how about this Ohio State situation" from a play-by-play announcer, and all of a sudden the guys in the booth have something to talk about for the rest of the fourth quarter of some inconsequential September blowout. Most of the opinions aren't exactly going to be positive, though Tressel will probably remain something of a sympathetic figure among the talking heads. He is not a crook, they will say, and they will be correct. Tressel is not a crook. He is a senator, and one whose senatorial hubris brought down his entire football program. Other powerhouses should take heed.

Posted on: June 8, 2011 12:43 am
 

Report: Pryor received up to $40,000 in payments

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Terrelle Pryor announced today through his lawyer that he would not be returning to Ohio State for his senior season after all. If that sounds like an odd thing to announce through a lawyer, well, it is. The situation in Columbus is obviously dour, however, and since Pryor has been reported to be at the center of that maelstrom, the last thing he needs to be doing is drawing attention to himself.

Unfortunately for Pryor, his announcement was shortly followed by multiple reports that he had received tens of thousands of dollars for things like memorabilia and autographs, which is an egregious violation of the NCAA's amateurism clause. Here's more from an ESPN report:

Terrelle Pryor [...] made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia in 2009-10, a former friend who says he witnessed the transactions has told "Outside the Lines."

The signings for cash, which would be a violation of NCAA rules, occurred a minimum of 35 to 40 times, netting Pryor anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 that year, the former friend says.

He said Pryor was paid $500 to $1,000 each time he signed mini football helmets and other gear for a Columbus businessman and freelance photographer, Dennis Talbott. Talbott twice denied to ESPN that he ever paid Pryor or any other active Buckeye athlete to sign memorabilia. He said last week he has only worked with former players to set up signings. On Tuesday evening, he declined to comment whether he had ever operated a sports memorabilia business and said he was not an Ohio State booster.

The unnamed friend goes on to describe various lavish purchases Pryor made, which ESPN independently confirmed. The friend also details the arrangement Talbott had with Pryor, and it basically sounds like Talbott was a clearinghouse for Pryor to make money off his autographs. Again, obviously, that's completely illegal in the NCAA.

This would sound like an unverifiable hatchet job by a former friend if his story weren't apparently corroborated by Sports By Brooks, which provides evidence that Talbott has been selling Pryor-autographed material (along with other sports memorabilia) on eBay. Additionally, SBB reports that the NCAA has recently discovered checks from Talbott to Pryor, though that report is unconfirmed.

Brooks notes, however, that OSU asked Talbott to disassociate himself completely from the football program during the 2010 season, which could be a very troubling development. If Ohio State's athletic department uncovered evidence that Pryor had been accepting money from Talbott -- precisely the type of thing that would necessitate such a disassociation -- then let Pryor play anyway, then that is a serious violation of NCAA rules. In other words, it would be another instance of a possible sham of a compliance department. And if that's the case, all of a sudden, the heat's not only on Jim Tressel anymore, and the possibility for massive punishment increases dramatically.

Of course, just as with the car dealership issue, there are still plenty of ifs between here and "sham compliance department," and the investigations are still ongoing, so there's no need to shovel dirt on Ohio State just yet. These are still dark days in Columbus, however, and president Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith must be hoping there's no bad news left. The way this situation has unfolded already, though, that's far from a guarantee.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com