Daily Archives: January 3, 2008

Never forget it’s all about the student athletes.

A couple of stories on academics -

First,  it looks like there’s some tension in the Big Ten about recruiting those fast athletes we’ve heard so much about.  The concern about recruiting rankings is hopefully the author’s weak attempt at a joke, but Lloyd Carr’s concern about an uneven playing field…

“When you look at our bowl hookup with the SEC … it’s an important rule,” Carr said then. “I can remember going to bowl games with 77, 76 guys on scholarship against a team with 85.

“In bowl games against conferences that have an advantage of doing that, Big Ten teams were at a severe disadvantage.”

… is certainly a valid one.

The Big Ten’s “solution” of allowing a limited amount of oversigning would seem to be the recruiting equivalent of being a little bit pregnant.   Once you’ve started the journey, it’s hard to protest that you’re more virtuous than the next guy whose traveled a little bit farther.

Then there’s this story that I found (courtesy of Groo at DawgsOnline) that’s a doozy. Evidently the head coach at Florida International has a clause in his contract that provides that

“University shall admit to FIU all student-athletes meeting the NCAA Academic Eligibility requirement … provided the student-athlete has been cleared through the NCAA clearing house and been approved by the Athletic Director.”

In other words, either FIU’s AD on his own overrides the university’s admission standards for a student athlete or the football coach declares his contract with the university in default.  It’s Tommy Bowden’s wet dream.

Don’t worry, says FIU’s AD.  It’s not a license to undercut the university’s admission standards.

Such a clause is not known to exist in any other NCAA Division I-A head coaching contract. While some see it as an end run around the admissions process, Garcia says it’s an escape clause for a hot new coach FIU wanted to sign.

“Student-athletes have — and will be — admitted, but if that doesn’t happen, he can leave,” which is why Cristobal asked for it, Garcia says.

“If the rules changed and admissions standards went up, if this clause wasn’t in there, he would be stuck with it.”

Yeah, we can’t have coaches “stuck” with improving admissions standards.

As for the effect of the clause, it’s a lot easier to let a coach walk when the program goes 1-11 (which FIU did this year) than it is when, say, it goes 10-2 and said coach is a hot prospect at other schools looking for a savior.

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Filed under Academics? Academics.

You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Michael Elkon’s got an interesting post up today about the sagging TV ratings for the Rose, Cotton and Sugar Bowls this season. His basic point is that we shouldn’t expect Fox to put up with that for very long with the bucks it’s laying out for the BCS broadcast rights:

…Thus, if I’m a Fox executive, I’ll be lobbying hard next year for competitive match-ups between teams of roughly equal ability so the games won’t bleed viewership in the third and fourth quarters…

Well, last year’s Sugar Bowl was as big a rout as this year’s was. The difference? Notre Dame’s national following dwarfs Hawaii’s. Michael thinks that Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl drew better than the Sugar Bowl because of more compelling story lines (Carr’s retirement and Tebow’s Heisman), but isn’t it just as likely due to more of the same – teams with bigger national followings?

Go back to last year. Is there any doubt that the Fiesta Bowl was last season’s most compelling BCS game and that it wasn’t even close to being the biggest draw on TV?

I doubt Fox cares nearly as much about teams with roughly equal abilities being matched up as it does about making sure it’s got teams in the mix whose fan base will watch no matter what. All of which isn’t good news from schools not in BCS conferences, or who aren’t traditional powers.

And there’s a second point to consider here. The scuttlebutt is that the Sugar Bowl made it clear it wanted Georgia to insure a sellout of the game. Take a look at what a compelling matchup Pete Thamel at The Quad came up with for the Sugar: Hawaii vs. Arizona State. Anybody think that one would have put the necessary number of asses in the seats in New Orleans?

Do I think that Fox will have some discussions with the bowls along the lines Elkon suggests? To the extent it’s a complaint about the sagging ratings, sure. Do I think that the bowls will yield completely to Fox along the lines Elkon suggests? Doubtful. Do I think the small fry schools are about to get screwed in a back room deal? You bet.

Over time, it will become apparent that Hawaii’s loss has done a lot of damage to the non-BCS conferences chances of putting one of their member schools in a BCS game. Going forward, if you’re coming out from the WAC, Conference USA or the Mountain West, you’d best have an impeccable resume if you want to crash the party.

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UPDATE: Tony Barnhart makes an excellent point along these lines in his blog today:

… Consensus on anything is hard to come by in the bowl business because each conference has its own agenda and wants to protect its interests and its relationships.

There was no way the Big Ten, for example, was going to agree to let Georgia play in the Rose Bowl instead of Illinois. If I’m Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, it’s my job to use all of the political power I have to protect my conference.

And if I’m SEC commissioner Mike Slive, I’m not going to let the Rose take Georgia away from my bowl partner, the Sugar. The Sugar has already lost LSU to the BCS championship game and needs Georgia to protect its game. It is Slive’s job to protect the long-term interests of the SEC and not sacrifice them for one game in one year. That is what the SEC presidents pay him to do.

And quite frankly, if I’m the other BCS commissioners, why would I want to just give the Rose Bowl the best game (Southern Cal-Georgia) of the season? The Rose Bowl, along with the Big Ten and Pac-10, basically hold the rest of the BCS hostage to any kind of meaningful change. They have their own TV deal with ABC. They operate in their own universe.

Why in the word (sic) would the other commissioners want to help those guys?

Now that’s a good question.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

Fool me once…

Remember this? Tuberville’s defense was that his guys didn’t mean to do it.

So explain this one:

(h/t The Wizard of Odds)

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, SEC Football

Here comes the boom…

Here’s the first highlight video of the Sugar Bowl I’ve seen, complete with some Hawaii fans’ pregame smack.

Watch for the jailbreak by the Dawg defense that led to the Ellerbe interception. It’s at about 4:50 on the video.

(h/t Dawgbone)

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UPDATE:   Nobody’s blocked this Brennaman highlight yet, so here comes the gaffe:

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Filed under Georgia Football

Ree-count

Anybody else have the feeling after watching last night’s Fiesta Bowl that maybe the wrong QB won the Heisman?

Directing an offense that gained 525 yards and 48 points on a supposed defensive genius in Bob Stoops ain’t too shabby. And don’t forget that Slaton was pretty much a non-factor in the game due to injury.

The last QB to smoke Oklahoma like that in a BCS game didn’t do badly at all in the Heisman vote.

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UPDATE: Looks like White’s performance has already led to one result. Tater Tot fans everywhere mourn.  Or snipe.

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Filed under College Football

Bang for the buck

One other thing we can say about this season:  if you’re one of the top five college coaches in pay, you sure didn’t earn it on the field.

Courtesy of Coaches Hot Seat Blog, here’s the list.

  1. Charlie Weis ($4,000,000) – worst season in Notre Dame history.
  2. Bob Stoops ($3,620,000) – fourth BCS loss in a row.
  3. Nick Saban ($3,503,000) – narrowly avoided losing record with Independence Bowl win.
  4. Urban Meyer ($3,384,000) – four loss season.
  5. Kirk Ferentz ($3,030,000) – capped a 6-6 season with a loss to a 5-7 MAC team; no bowl.

Mark Richt is currently at #13 on that list.  Contrary to Dink’s expectations, there’s probably a raise in MR’s future.  He’s certainly had a better season than the above group.  And is looking at better prospects for next year, for that matter.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness