In light of recent allegations brought forth by a Yahoo! Sports report, Tennessee coach Butch Jones announced Thursday that defensive lineman Maurice Couch was ruled ineligible for Saturday's game against No. 2 Oregon.
The university is investigating allegations that Couch was one of five SEC players to receive improper benefits. The senior was the only active college player named in the report, which said Couch had received four payments totaling $1,350. The other players named in the report were former Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, former Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and former Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis.
"As of right now, the situation with Mo Couch is we've declared him ineligible for this game," Jones said Thursday during his weekly interview with a Nashville radio station. "Right now our compliance group is currently in the process of working through all the details and logistics of the situation. That's all we kind of know right now, but as of right now moving forward, he will not make the trip to Oregon."
It's a blow to Tennessee's defense days before a game against one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but it's the right move by Jones and Tennessee's compliance department. As of now, these are merely allegations, but the school is doing its own investigation and as long as there are questions, it doesn't make sense to play Couch. The risk of losing games in the future because of a potentially ineligible player isn't worth it.
Whenever you're dealing with a potential NCAA issues, it's much better to be safe than sorry.
This is a smart move by Tennessee.
Couch apologized on Twitter on Friday.