Blinn (Texas) head football coach Brad Franchione was placed on an indefinite paid suspension Thursday afternoon, which was lifted just a few hours later.
Might this prove a distraction when the Buccaneers, the defending NJCAA national champion, hosts No. 3-ranked Fort Scott Community College in both teams' season opener in Brenham, Texas, Saturday afternoon.
Blinn defeated Fort Scott in last year's Citizens Bank Bowl in Pittsburg, 31-26, on an 84-yard punt return by then-sophomore Chad Froechtenicht with 15 seconds remaining to give the Buccaneers the title.
This year was the start of a new two-year series between the Kansas and Southwest Junior College Football Conference schools and it was natural to pit these schools against each other once again.
Both conference's runners-up open the junior college season Thursday night when Navarro (Texas) faces Butler at Wichita's Cessna Stadium,
As for Franchione, who has ties to southeast Kansas and the Pittsburg area in particular, the issue that led to his suspension, according to an article by Brenham Banner-Press Sports Editor Richard Bray, is the sale of seats from the Dallas Cowboys' former home at Texas Stadium that were donated to Blinn.
On Aug. 11, Franchione and Blinn College Alumni Association president Nathan Winkelmann placed an advertisement in The Banner-Press offering fans the opportunity to purchase the seats for $150 per pair, with the money going to the Blinn College football program. The advertisement was billed to Winkelmann.
Athletic director David Rehr said that he wasn't aware Blinn's seats were being sold until Tuesday - six days after the advertisement ran.
Franchione was reinstated as Blinn College opted to bring in a third party to conduct the review. A statement issued by the college said that "having a third party involved will allow coach Franchione to have a completely impartial review of the facts."
Blinn has self-reported two NJCAA violations in the past five years. In 2006, an athlete made two official visits to the college but only one is allowed under NJCAA rules. In 2008, Blinn self-reported a violation when an assistant coach made a recruiting visit during a dead period when coaches were not allowed to make contact with recruits.
Saturday, Franchione was at the helm when Blinn defeated Monterrey Tech, a powerhouse among Mexican colleges that play American football, 30-21.
According to a Banner-Press staff report, Boston College transfer quarterback Justin Tuggle led Blinn to touchdowns on the No. 1 offense's first three possessions. Although there were no official statistics, one of Tuggle's completions was for a touchdown.
"I think we're right where we need to be," Franchione said. "Obviously the next five days are critical to that process. We have to make the best out of these next four or five days of practice because I'm sure the Greyhounds will have some sort of surprise for us."
The Greyhounds scrimmaged at Frary Field Friday afternoon but kept it closed to the public, so Blinn could well be surprised.
Fort Scott and Blinn will kick off at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Cub Stadium, which has just installed artificial turf. The stadium is owned by the Brenham School District, which has allowed Blinn to use the facility as Blinn's stadium is no longer adequate for night games and the cost of repairing the lights has proven cost prohibitive.
Brenham is roughly a 10 1/2-hour drive from Fort Scott (614 miles). It's about 75 miles northwest of Houston.
For those adventureous enough to take that drive, here are directions:
* Approaching town from the north on Texas route 36, continue south when the road splits to Business route 36.
* Turn left on Blue Bell Road, which may be marked as Farm Route (FM) 577. Follow that to Tom Green St., then turn right and look for the stadium to your left.
FSCC Sports Information has issued a reminder that Greyhound games are now broadcast on KSEK-FM 99.1. For those who may have trouble receiving the signal, the broadcast will also be available over the Internet at www.991espnfortscott.com.
Once on the page, click "Listen Live Here!" to get games streamed to your computer, laptop, or smart phone. The pre-game show will begin at 2 p.m.