There is finally some concrete information out about the Laremy Tunsil situation ... and it's not good news. A report by ESPN released on Wednesday night claims that the lingering NCAA investigation stems from a car loaned to him by a dealership and that Ole Miss is bracing for its star left tackle to miss "several more games," including Saturday's trip to Tuscaloosa.
The word is that Tunsil received a loaner car from Cannon Motors in Oxford while his ride was in the shop, but that he was allowed to keep the loaner for an extended period of time. That, the NCAA deems, is an impermissible benefit. The CEO of Cannon Motors is Michael Joe Cannon, who happens to be a former Ole Miss assistant coach.
If the price of the impermissible benefit was above $700, which it sounds like it was, Tunsil would be required by NCAA rules to miss at least 30 percent of the season, or four games, though it could end up being more. The ESPN report cites the suspensions of a pair of former Georgia stars as possible precedents: running back Todd Gurley was suspended four games last season for accepting $3,000 for signing memorabilia and receiver A.J. Green sat four games in 2010 after selling one of his jerseys for a grand.
An important thing to note here is that the the report makes no mention of wrong-doing by the football program itself -- the impropriety seems to be limited between Tunsil and Cannon Motors -- which means the repercussions shouldn't extend beyond Tunsil.
"The matters involving Laremy Tunsil aren't related to anybody on our football staff, Coach Freeze or any of the assistants," Ross Bjork told ESPN. "We want to protect the young man and are doing everything we can to do that, but we also have to and need to and should protect our staff and our program."
The report does mention the potential for minor penalties stemming from violations during the Nutt years (which is part of a wider, three-year investigation that includes former women's basketball coach Adrian Wiggins, who was fired in 2012), but that doesn't sound too serious.
The silver lining here is that if Tunsil's suspension ends up just being four games (and ESPN is careful to note that it could be longer), it would mean that he would be back in time for an Oct. 3 trip to Gainesville. The Rebs have a home game against Vandy between now and then, meaning that three of the four games Tunsil would miss are against gimme's that Ole Miss didn't need him for anyway.
But no matter how long the ban ends up being, it sounds like he's almost certainly missing the Bama game, which is a major blow to the Rebs' upset bid in Tuscaloosa. The Tide has arguably the best defensive front in college football, and we all know how awful everyone on the Rebel O-line except Tunsil was last year. Sure, that group has managed to pave the way for the most rushing yards in the conference through two games, but those two games were against an FCS school and a bad Mountain West team. It's gonna be a little tougher to move A'Shawn Robinson off his spot.