Looking into the Mayday Crystal ball the Buckeye head football coach in 2013 will be Nick Saben—
Mark May (@mark_may) May 31, 2011
Then again, I doubt it.
Bobby Petrino on Sugar Bowl: 'We wanted to play their best players. No question I don't understand how they were eligible & never will.'—
Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyCBS) May 31, 2011
Congratulations, Coach. You’ve managed to allow Bobby Petrino to occupy the moral high ground.
The Wall Street Journal, bastion of capitalism, asks a simple question and gets a simple answer.
… we asked recruits themselves what they’d like to be paid. Surprisingly, not all of the class of 2012’s top football and basketball prospects think they should get a paycheck that goes beyond scholarship-covered items… defensive tackle Quay Evans of Morton, Miss., said $200,000 a year would be an appropriate sum. “We work hard,” Evans says.
200 grand a year? Gee, that’s more than Cecil Newton wanted.
Mike Slive tells his good friend Tony Barnhart what he’s after with his “roster management” legislation:
CBSSports.com: This week you are going to bring forth some proposals to change some of the “roster management” issues in football. You believe that this is an issue whose time has come. Why do you feel that way?
Slive: People talk about “oversigning” and “grayshirting” the most, but we’re going to look a proposals that deal with everything including early admits, mid-year admits, summer admits and medical hardship cases. Philosophically, we want to make sure that our rules are fair to the student-athlete. That’s the context. This isn’t about what gives us a competitive advantage with other conferences. [Emphasis added.] We have to be fair to the kids who want to come to our institutions. It will be a good conversation.
So what does that mean? Perhaps the better question to ask is what it doesn’t mean. For that, let’s turn to Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone, who has been part of the committee to help draft the proposed SEC legislation.
“I don’t think there is an intent to use the Big 10 (Conference) policy, which says you can sign no more than 25 and may go further to say that if you only have 18 scholarships available to get to your limit of 85 that you can’t sign more than 18. I don’t think we want to do that,” Boone said. “I do think everybody wants transparency in everything we do in dealing with our prospective student-athletes.”
A shrewd politician – which Mike Slive certainly is – knows you only pick the battles you know you can win. Pushing something which
many most SEC coaches believe would amount to unilateral disarming in the recruiting wars ain’t one of those, even if you think that Saban and Nutt overstate their case. What Slive wants this week is a win-win, legislation that does in fact aid the kids without having much of an adverse impact on the programs. You may find that particular eye of the needle exceedingly narrow and you may very well be right, which is why all that may come out of the meetings is window dressing.
But it’s clear Slive intends to come out with something, if for no other reason that it gives him something to build on if there’s little impact from what gets enacted this time:
… We want to make sure that it is a more equitable relationship for both sides — the institution and the students who we recruit. So we’ll have this discussion. We’ll make some changes. If the changes don’t work we’ll come back in a few years and make some adjustments.
None of that sounds like the SEC presidents are ready to override those coaches who are vehemently opposed to restrictions on a program’s ability to maximize the number of roster slot openings. So the commissioner may have little choice but to settle for steps to make the process more open for recruits and their families. Is that better than nothing? It should be. But Slive may be unduly optimistic about what he can carry out over time. Saban’s no dummy, either. As hard as he intends to fight Slive on the front line to prevent action, he’ll be studying ways to emasculate whatever new rules do get passed. It’s not as if Saban lacks experience with that.
UPDATE: Good post from Cecil Hurt (although if you’re going to invoke Elliott Porter, it’s only fair to note Porter’s elected to walk-on at LSU).
If the NFL lockout stretches into, say, early September, this should be a fun development to keep an eye on.
So how devastating was this SI article to Jim Tressel? Pretty damned devastating:
… That support crumbled suddenly over Memorial Day weekend. Tressel was forced out three days after Sports Illustrated alerted Ohio State officials that the wrongdoing by Tressel’s players was far more widespread than had been reported. SI learned that the memorabilia-for-tattoos violations actually stretched back to 2002, Tressel’s second season at Ohio State, and involved at least 28 players — 22 more than the university has acknowledged. Those numbers include, beyond the six suspended players, an additional nine current players as well as nine former players whose alleged wrongdoing might fall within the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations on violations.
One former Buckeye, defensive end Robert Rose, whose career ended in 2009, told SI that he had swapped memorabilia for tattoos and that “at least 20 others” on the team had done so as well. SI’s investigation also uncovered allegations that Ohio State players had traded memorabilia for marijuana and that Tressel had potentially broken NCAA rules when he was a Buckeyes assistant coach in the mid-1980s.
Last Friday, SI informed Ohio State spokesman Jim Lynch of the new allegations and asked that Tressel be made aware of them. Lynch said the school would have some comment by the end of the day. No comment came, and on Saturday, Lynch told SI to contact Tressel’s lawyer, Gene Marsh, for any response from the coach; Lynch also said he could not confirm that Tressel had been apprised of the new allegations. The implication was clear: Ohio State was distancing itself from Tressel. (E-mails from SI to Tressel and to Marsh and multiple phone messages for Marsh went unanswered.)
As bad as that sounds, Tressel’s mortal sin wasn’t being in charge of a program with all that going on. He’d made a career out of plausible deniability.
… Yet while Tressel’s admirable qualities have been trumpeted, something else essential to his success has gone largely undiscussed: his ignorance. Professing a lack of awareness isn’t usually the way to get ahead, but it has helped Tressel at key moments in his career. As coach at Youngstown (Ohio) State in the mid-1990s, he claimed not to know that his star quarterback had received a car and more than $10,000 from a school trustee and his associates — even though it was later established in court documents that Tressel had told the player to go see the trustee. In 2003, during Tressel’s third season in Columbus, Buckeyes running back Maurice Clarett was found to have received money and other benefits. Even though Tressel said he spent more time with Clarett than with any other player, he also said he did not know that Clarett had been violating the rules. A year later an internal Ohio State investigation (later corroborated by the NCAA) found that quarterback Troy Smith had taken $500 from a booster. It was the second time the booster had been investigated for allegedly providing improper benefits to a star player, but again Tressel said he had no knowledge of the illicit payment.
It’s just that you can’t lie to the NCAA and hope you’ll get away with it. That’s why Gee and Smith had no choice but to cut Tressel loose – they’ve got their own reputations for plausible deniability to protect. They’ll portray themselves as a couple of doofuses who were misled by a man whom they believed had a sterling reputation. (In Gee’s case, that’s probably not much of a stretch.) Look for this to get pretty cold-sounding when the school makes its case to the NCAA’s infraction committee; it’s not like they have much of a choice but to lay it all on Tressel to save the program’s (and perhaps their own) skin.
That being said, don’t feel too sorry for the man nicknamed the Senator. It never ceases to amaze me how often people who should know better ignore the lesson of Watergate – that the consequences from the coverup wind up being worse than those from the crime. In the end, all Tressel got out of the mess he made was a Sugar Bowl win. That hardly seems worth losing a career over.