Daily Archives: January 18, 2011

The difference between ignorance and inadvertance

The other day I posted a story about Houston Nutt’s staff violating a recently passed NCAA rule prohibiting contact with high school juniors.  In Ole Miss’ case, that involved sending written scholarship offers, signed by Nutt, to seven high school juniors.  Nutt was fairly blasé about the transgression.

“I think the NCAA knows where our heart was and where our mind was on this thing, and I feel good about what was said,” Nutt said.

Nutt attributed the violation to a mistake, saying the offers were inadvertent and not a way to gain an advantage.

“I’m on the rules committee, and I understand where we’re going with secondary violations and I agree 100 percent,” Nutt said. “The coaches that are trying to get an advantage by doing secondary violations, they’re going to be punished. There’s no question about it, and that’s the way it should be.

“… That was not the intent of what we’re trying to do. It was very inadvertent. It’s a brand new rule. This rule just started.”

In its report, the school said its football staff “misunderstood the legislation and failed to remove seven junior prospects from their ‘scholarship offer’ mailing, mistakenly believing the letters would be permissible if sent to the prospect’s coach.”

Interestingly, it turns out that Mark Richt was guilty of a similar secondary violation.  But compare the story and the outcome to Nutt’s:

Richt had contact with Curry prior Sept. 1 of his senior year, which is against NCAA Bylaws 13.1.3.1 and 13.1.3.1.2.

In a letter from Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity to the SEC, McGarity called the violation “inadvertent.”

He wrote “Coach Richt was on a call with another prospective student-athlete (PSA) when he missed a call from a senior PSA’s mother (Mr. Sterling Bailey from East Hall High School in Georgia). The mother’s cell phone had a 678 area code. While he was checking the voicemail left by Ms. Bailey, Coach Richt missed another call from the 678 area code. After he listened to Ms. Bailey’s message, Coach Richt hit the send button for what he thought was Ms. Bailey. When a male’s voice answered the phone, Coach Richt was surprised and asked if it was Sterling, thinking he was calling Ms. Bailey and the PSA answered; however the person answering the phone told him he had the wrong number. When Coach Richt asked who it was, the individual said it was C.J. Curry.”

Richt ended the call and self-reported the violation to Georgia’s compliance office. Georgia’s coaching staff was also prohibited having any written or phone communication with Curry for 30 days.

So Richt knew at the time a problem had occurred, immediately ended contact and reported the error.  All of which earned him a week’s suspension from contacting not just Curry, but any of Georgia’s recruits.  Nutt and staff were merely prohibited from corresponding with the seven recruits for sixty days, presumably due to their ignorance.

At some point Georgia’s staff is going to realize that in dealing with the NCAA, the smart move is to be stupid.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, The NCAA

“We are a playoff nation.”

This is really, really good.

We, as American sports fans, like endings. I think that speaks a little bit to who we are. We tend to think of September baseball games being more important than April games. We tend to think of sports heroics in the fourth quarter being more meaningful than heroics in the second. We tend to put more stock into great Sunday finishes in golf than great Thursday opening rounds. I think the vast majority of us believe in the fairness of playoffs over the fairness of extended excellence, the value of single elimination games over the value of many weeks of consistent winning. Like I say: I think that speaks a little to who we are.

Posnanski delves into the history of the NFL playoffs, notes that teams with bye weeks have become less successful, acknowledges that makes the efforts during the regular season less meaningful and yet doesn’t see a problem with that.

… Is this good for pro football? I would say largely that it is. I love the NFL playoffs. I love the randomness of it. The NFL is built around that Any Given Sunday credo, and the game thrives largely because of that. You really don’t know what’s going to happen. But the question I think about, the question I want to ask here: WHY do we love that sort of randomness?

To me, that gets to the heart of what’s different about the NFL game and the college game.  The pros really are about structuring parity above everything else.  You’ve got salary caps, the draft and scheduling reinforcing the attempt to level the playing field for all the teams.  That doesn’t mean that every team finishes 8-8 every season, but it does make it harder to sustain excellence over time (or to stay crappy over time, unless you’re a member of the Smith family).  And that’s good business for the NFL.

But that’s not what college football is about.  First off, it’s not a monolith.  Its conferences compete with each other in the market place as well as on the field.  And it’s not structured to promote parity.  There’s no draft; instead, teams fight and claw with each other for recruits, regardless of the previous season’s records.  There’s a limited salary cap in the sense that there is a limit on the number of players who can receive scholarships, but that just encourages schools to spend moneys on infrastructure and coaches’ salaries.

So in any given season, it’s far more likely that you have a bigger pool of relatively equal talent, team-wise, entering the NFL postseason than you do at the end of the college football regular season.  The point of inviting the Sun Belt champ to a sixteen-school playoff isn’t that such a team has a legitimate shot of surviving a four-round tourney and winning a national title.  It’s to introduce a Cinderella factor into the postseason process.

Posnanski asks if that’s more fair.  Eye of the beholder, I suppose, although what I’d really argue is that it’s more entertaining for the people whom he describes in the first paragraph of his piece.   Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not what I want the guiding principle behind a college football postseason to be.

20 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

‘Da schedule, ‘da schedule

If there’s one thing for optimists about Georgia’s 2011 season to hang their hats on, it’s the schedule.  It’s about as beautifully structured as Mark Richt could hope for:  no Alabama, Arkansas or LSU from the SEC West, a bye week before the Florida game, New Mexico State inserted between the Florida and Auburn games and no game in the stadium of an opponent with a winning record in 2010.

Overall, John Pennington rates it as the eighth-easiest schedule of any team in the SEC.  But it’s not just the easy parts that are attractive.  Georgia opens with two ranked opponents, but will not leave the state to play either.  Given the attention that the opener against Boise State will generate, if the Dawgs can get off to a good start in the first two games (boys, hang on to those jerseys!), they will find themselves highly ranked.

It’s hardly worth saying that this is no guarantee of success.  But it’s why I understand cocknfire’s reasoning here:

… I will say this much: If you were to combine the likelihood of an SEC East team going undefeated or having just one loss and having the schedule that would put it in the national championship game, I think Georgia is the best choice. I just have a difficult time seeing anyone in the east go undefeated or once-defeated this year.

And here’s something you can think about and chuckle over:  during the SEC’s current fabulous run of BCS title game winners, it hasn’t been the preseason front-runner that’s had the greatest success.  In fact, during the last five years, the highest ranked team in the conference has only won the big game once.

… Coming off a 3-5 SEC slate in 2009 (8-5 overall), Auburn was preseason No. 22 and ranked fifth among SEC teams in the poll. So while Alabama will likely be the highest-ranked SEC team in the preseason AP Poll, don’t ignore teams with similar resumes to this season’s Auburn, entering 2011.

That’s a spot LSU could find itself in entering 2011. The Tigers, as Chris Low noted, were 5-2 against ranked teams in 2010.

We’re talking about Florida, which finished 8-5 overall, 4-4 in SEC and won the Outback Bowl just as Auburn did to end the 2009 season.

There’s also Georgia, which was 3-5 in the SEC, but could have the top quarterback in the SEC next season in Aaron Murray.

31 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Mark Cuban’s marketplace of ideas

As I read Mark Cuban’s latest suggestion for improving college football, a question popped into my mind.  Here’s a guy who’s creative, passionate about the game, wealthy, confident that he has access to significant amounts of capital and experienced in successfully running a professional sports franchise.

So why is he pushing to tweak college football instead of starting a professional college football league that would target kids coming out of high school?  If he’s got a half a trillion dollars to toss into a college football playoff, it would seem to me that he could get a pro football league started up for a whole lot less than that and that he could structure its schedule and postseason to meet his ideal format.  So why not pursue that?

Could it be that dear ol’ Whattsamatta U brings something of value to the table?  Shocking to consider that, I know.

And while I’m throwing this out, here’s something else to consider:  what’s stopping the mid-majors from taking up Cuban’s big money playoff proposal right now?  Get Arent Fox lobbying and somebody like Sally Jenkins to push it in the media as a fair alternative to the BCS and they’d have something, right?  A couple of years of watching the MAC and the Sun Belt settling it on the field while making boat loads of money would be a humbling experience for Jim Delany and Bill Hancock.  The BCS would no doubt crumple in the face of such an assault.

Because it’s all about the format.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness

Clans and factions, red and black version

Only a blind loyalist would deny that Mark Richt inhabits some shaky ground these days.  It’s my hope that he’s able to get things turned around this season, but there’s a part of me that’s starting to brace for what may come if he doesn’t.

That’s one reason I’ve taken a lot of interest lately in what Brian Cook and Michael Elkon have had to say about the coaching change (and the process which led to the coaching change) at Michigan.  Obviously, no two situations are identical – for one thing, I’ve got more faith in Greg McGarity than they have in Dave Brandon – but as an exercise in be-careful-what-you-wish-for, it’s been useful.

With that in mind, take a look at this post at mvictors.com which Brian linked to yesterday.  It’s an attempt to put the Michigan fan base on the couch and break down the various factions in play and how they’re responded to events on the ground.  Because it does so without getting emotional and without taking sides, I found it fascinating.

Things aren’t as complicated with the Georgia fan base, due, I suspect, in large part to the length of Richt’s tenure and to the fact that he’s had more success than RichRod did, but we’ve certainly got our share of clans.  Rather than spell out my version of the state of the Dawgnation, I thought I’d let you guys give it a shot.  What resonates with you from that post?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Tuesday morning buffet

I guess the football gods heard my plea yesterday, because I’ve got a decent number of tidbits for you to sample today.

  • Cecil Newton on this season:  “It will take a book to really, really tell it,” Cecil said then. “Chapter after chapter of a lot of intricate situations.” Let the bidding commence!
  • One week on the job and Charlie Weis is already having a positive impact on Notre Dame’s recruiting.
  • Some interesting results found in the most recent NCAA survey of Division I athletes.
  • Here’s CFN’s first look 2011 rankings.  Georgia, ranked #24, faces four teams ranked in CFN’s top 25 and two more in the top 40.  (Although Florida at number 6 looks like a stretch to me.)
  • Georgia makes Phil Steele’s list of teams hit hardest by early entries to the NFL draft.
  • Mark Emmert wants everyone to know that skirting NCAA rules and regulations is complex stuff.
  • Mark Richt on the hot seat talk:  get used to it.
  • The next excessive celebration train wreck is no doubt coming down the track.  And it’ll probably be spectacular.
  • Lawyer who’s a no-show for a scheduled deposition cites Auburn’s appearance in the BCS title game as a reason for his absence.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat..., College Football, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Recruiting, The NCAA