Monthly Archives: May 2013

Calling ‘em like they see ‘em.

The SEC wants you to know it’s serious, by damn, about the new targeting rules.  No, really, Mike Slive means it.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the idea of creating a new rule has been on his mind for some time now. Last year, he suspended two players for controversial above-the-shoulder hits. Controversy also swirled around Alabama defensive end Quinton Dial’s nasty hit on a defenseless Aaron Murray in last year’s SEC championship game. The hit appeared to be helmet-to-helmet, but no flag was thrown and Dial wasn’t suspended for the BCS title game.

No doubt you were as shocked about that at the time as I was.

Slive applied the rule arbitrarily last season, so you’ll have to pardon me if I’ll wait to see if he’s got religion this year.

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“This is what’s wrong with recruiting.”

This is one of the funnier things I’ve read lately.  For once, Mark Emmert has a good idea – deregulation of some of the NCAA’s byzantine recruiting rules – and actually follows proper procedure in implementing proposed changes, allowing the membership the opportunity to give feedback about the new rules.  So what happens?  The rules come out and the Big Ten freaks out.

As part of its deregulating agenda, the NCAA announced 25 recruiting revisions in January. Three proposals, which eventually were tabled and  suspended, would have granted programs unlimited contact — including through text messaging — with athletes before their junior seasons. Another would have allowed programs to hire non-coach personnel directors for recruiting and a third would have eliminated restrictions on sending printed recruiting materials to recruits.

Less than a week after national signing day, the league’s football coaches and athletics directors issued a statement admitting there are “serious concerns” about the three rule changes and how they would impact the sport and the schools. The statement also questioned if the changes “are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches.”

Several Big Ten coaches voiced their concerns publicly to the changes, including Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who said college athletics could become like Major League Baseball where the New York Yankees “start in the inside lane every year. They’ve got the biggest payroll.”

Other Big Ten coaches shared similar concerns. In mid-February, Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer sent a text message to Northwestern counterpart Pat Fitzgerald, writing “that there are already teams that have made plans to have separate scouting depts. [sic]. there has already been nfl scouts that have been told they will be hired to run the dept. (hired for over 200k). I checked with an NFL friend and he confirmed that there was much conversation about this. Appealing to scouts because of no travel. Also, there has been movement to hire Frmr players/coaches with big names to work in that dept. and recruit full time. This will all happen immediately once rule is passed. Thought u should be aware if [sic] this nonsense to share with who u feel can assist.”

Now keep in mind that all this financial hand wringing is coming from the richest conference in the land (Ferentz, notably, makes almost $4 million per year).

Delany, displaying his usual charm and tact, publicly announces his conference’s displeasure with the NCAA’s new course without letting Emmert know what’s coming.  That’s when it really gets hilarious.

The legislation ignited an email chain among league presidents, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and NCAA President Mark Emmert. Delany wrote Emmert on Feb. 14 apologizing for not calling him before the league’s Feb. 11 release but hoped the NCAA would delay the rules’ implementation or risk presidents overriding the legislation. Delany wrote that he wanted to maintain the NCAA’s reform deregulation agenda but feared the rules would result in “another level of staffing” for football programs.

Sorry we sandbagged you, Mark, buddy, and we support your agenda – except where we don’t.

Emmert’s response is spot on.

“If now the membership doesn’t want some of these changes, fine by me,” Emmert wrote. “But to be honest, I don’t know how the membership wants to make decisions. The process used to make these changes was as open, representative and democratic and I could imagine — other than the old town hall convention model I suppose.” Emmert also mentioned Big Ten staff worked on the group. Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon chairs the NCAA executive committee.  [Emphasis added.]

(Of course Emmert, being Emmert, couldn’t hold the moral high ground without making at least one pointless and stupid observation, saying about one of his members, Rice University, “who I don’t believe is a mainstream D1 school,”.)

Delany’s response to Emmert is a classic.

Delany wrote that administrators understand the need for simpler rules, but added “I’m not sure anyone has an appreciation of the compulsions, competitiveness and energy that underlies that pursuit of a 16 year old recruit by an assistant coach at our institutions. This process of pursuing athletic talent nationally and globally is something we have never found even a half way healthy way of managing/regulating. This continues to be the case.”

This from a guy who’s never been shy about inserting himself into management issues at member schools.

Now he’s just the driver of the clown car.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, The NCAA

Quantity vs. quality

From that Andy Staples piece I linked to earlier today:

A note on the SEC Network and nine conference games: The assumption is that ESPN would want more conference games to improve the quality of its inventory. This certainly would not improve the quantity of inventory. Adding a ninth conference game would actually reduce ESPN’s inventory because it would put seven SEC schools on the road for an additional week. Since most SEC schools schedule mostly home payday games out of conference, the eight-game schedule, in practice, would probably produce five or six more home games that ESPN could broadcast. In an age when a 3 a.m. replay of the Central Florida-Ball State Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl nets 610,000 viewers, quantity might be more important than quality.

I’m not exactly sure Mike Slive would agree with that last point.  But I’m not sure how relevant Staples’ whole argument is there, because it leaves out an important part of the equation.  CBS would love to see the conference improve the quality of its inventory.  And considering it just redid its broadcast deal with the SEC without handing over an additional penny of revenue for the next ten years, I bet the conference would be interested in determining how much that love is worth.  (If it doesn’t already know, that is.)

Oh, yeah – as a fan, it goes without saying that I’ll pick quality over quantity every damned time.  If I’m dying to watch a noon Sun Belt game, that’s what ESPN the Ocho’s for.  Save the filet for Verne and Gary.

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The First Amendment is alive and well in the Southeastern Conference.

There’s some Mike Slive wisdom that’s about to be put to the test.

Finebaum: Robert from Iowa is probably as well known as any caller we have. We have Darryl from Georgia. We have a guy in Ohio. . . .

Someone asked me the other day: “The first week (back on the air) are you going to have (Nick) Saban and Mark Richt and Kevin Sumlin?” And my thinking was, “No.”

It will then be five, six months since we have spoken to callers and I hope the first five callers are Robert, Legend, Tammy, Jim from Tuscaloosa and I-Man. To me, that’s what I’m looking forward to getting back to — not to listening to a coach say little about the upcoming football season. We’ll get plenty of that.

Can’t say I blame him for that.  It’s what’s buttered his bread, so to speak.  But it will be amusing to see what happens if heads butt over the show’s content.

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Filed under PAWWWLLL!!!

2012 SEC SDPI still thinks the world of Mike Bobo.

Matt Melton’s back with his annual analysis of the strength of conference teams.  (If you need an SDPI refresher, take a look at last year’s post on the subject.)

Here’s how things shape up:

The West was stronger than the East, but not so much because of the teams at the top, which broke pretty evenly.  It’s the suckitude at the bottom of the East that’s the difference there.

A few other observations:

  • The top of the conference wasn’t as dominant in 2012 as it was in 2011.  You have to get all the way down to sixth before you see an SDPI figure that’s an improvement.  Is that a reflection of expansion or overall quality?  Beats me.
  • Boy, Auburn really sucked last year.  Loeffler being worse than Malzahn isn’t a surprise but VanGorder being a bigger flop than Roof is.  No wonder he’s just a position coach in the NFL now.
  • Hugh Freeze did a fine job in his first year at Ole Miss.
  • The header is a little tongue in cheek.  Georgia didn’t slide in the offensive rankings, but its SDPI figure did – ever so slightly more than Grantham’s group did, in fact.  (Bobo wasn’t juggling suspensions over the first third of the season, either.)
  • LSU slid big time in one season.  Of course, Les chalks that up to the cross-divisional rivalries.  Unfair!
  • More and more, Vanderbilt looks like a program that has its bearings.  The numbers show an impressive consistency that’s solid.
  • Mississippi State’s consistent, too.  But in the Bulldogs’ case, that’s not really a compliment.
  • If TAMU gets a defense, look out, world.

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Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Coaches corner: conference scheduling

To what should be nobody’s surprise, the SEC will soldier on with an eight-game conference schedule for the time being.  (Mike Slive’s “the First Amendment is alive and well” schtick is code for “I’m not ready to make a decision”.)

What is a little surprising is how much thought the conference’s coaches have put into the matter of how many times they should face each other in a regular season.  (It’s a lot more than I suspect they put into voting in the Coaches Poll.)  At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got Nick Saban, who thinks that a nine-game schedule is both smart and inevitable.

Hugh Freeze objects.

“For me, when you add a ninth game, that’s seven more losses for our conference,” Freeze said. “We want to fill all of our bowl slots, we want our kids to represent our conference. When you play that extra ninth game, I know it’ll probably create some more revenue, but it also is seven more losses for us.”

(Did I miss a reference to what the fans might want in there?  Hmm… I guess not.)

James Franklin strongly objects.  This has to be the most over the top comment of the week.

“We’ll go to nine and people will say, ‘We don’t have enough sexy out-of-conference games anymore so you’re going to have to play nine and another,'” Franklin said. “When’s it going to stop? Two years from now they’re going to say, ‘You know, we probably ought to schedule an NFL team. You’re probably going to have to play the Jets. You’re going to have to play the Falcons.’ Now we’re going to play nine games and and an NFL team. When’s it going to end?”

Dayum.  Now that is some Olympic-class whiny-ass bitching there.  And I’m not sure how that squares with Franklin’s declaration that “…the Commodores will push for some of the toughest nonconferences schedules in the country in future years.”  Except that one way or the other, he’s full of shit, that is.  If you’re going to commit to playing a tough ninth game against any school, it’s likely going to be on a home and home basis, so what’s Franklin’s beef here?

As a counter, tune in and listen to the mellow sounds of Mark Richt, traditionalist.

“The one thing I will say I would vote on is to continue to have a rivalry game with Auburn,” Richt said. “Does that involve an eight-game, a nine-game? I don’t know. If (the Auburn game) goes away, then does an eight-game change in my mind compared to nine? I think one of the keys to this whole thing is whether the rivalry games stand. That can change how people think about the big picture.”

I think we know how Slive gets Georgia to vote in favor of a nine-game slate, if that time comes.

There are even some helpful suggestions put forward on the broadcasting front.

Franklin and Bielema also have a solution they believe would satisfy the league’s television partners. “You don’t have to go to nine games to make sure we have more really good games,” Franklin said. “What you do is you force everybody to spread their out-of-conference games out. You can’t open the season with three out-of-conference games and then hold one for late. There have to be three SEC vs. SEC games Week 1. There have to be three SEC vs. SEC games Week 2. And do that the whole year. Now, that’s going to allow the SEC Network or ESPN to make sure there are great games the entire year.” Bielema agrees completely. He said he suggested the same thing to the Big Ten three years ago while he was the head coach at Wisconsin. “I told them I’d gladly play Ohio State the first week of the year,” Bielema said, “just to get that wow factor.”

That may put asses on the couches, but I’m not sure it does much to answer one of Saban’s concerns.

“I’m absolutely in the minority. No question about it, but everybody’s got their reasons,” Saban said. “The biggest thing we all need to do in some of these decisions that we’re making about who we’re playing and what we do is, ‘What about the fans?’ because one of these days they’re going to quit coming to the games because they’re going to stay home and watch it on TV.

“Then everybody’s going to say, ‘Why aren’t you coming to the games? Well, if you play somebody good we’d come to the game.’ That should be the first consideration. Nobody’s considering them. They’re just thinking about, ‘how many games can I win, can I get bowl-qualified, how tough a teams do I have to play?'”

That last paragraph really does sum things up nicely, except for how much money the conference wants to make.  Which, let’s face it, will be the deciding factor in the end.  This issue really does have much of the same feel as the change in the recruiting rules that were taken up in Destin a couple of years ago.  Slive gave the coaches their head for a while and then told them what was going to be done.  I expect we’ll see much the same result this time as well once all the information is in on the criteria to be used by the playoff selection committee and the final price tags from CBS and ESPN for expanding the conference schedule.

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Profiles in stupidity

If you wonder why I can’t wait for the door to finally close on the Michael Adams era in Athens, let me take you back to the man’s reminiscence of the Harrick hire.

“I said to coach Dooley, ‘Would you like for me to get Jim Harrick in the pool,” Adams said. “He said, ‘Yes. I think the better the pool, the better.’ We interviewed three finalists. Coach Dooley made a recommendation to me for whatever reasons. I think, and still think, that he and coach Harrick got along very well.”

Dooley’s first choice was then Delaware coach Mike Brey, who turned down the chance and eventually landed at Notre Dame. Harrick won the national title at UCLA in 1995 but was fired the next year over expense reports from a recruiting dinner that violated NCAA rules.

“Ultimately on decisions on the head basketball coach and the football coach, I make the decision only from the standpoint of that was my recommendation to the president,” Dooley said.

Adams said Dooley recommended Harrick twice, the second time after Harrick decided he wanted to stay at Rhode Island before changing his mind.

“I think the AD was involved in the hiring, he played the lead role in hiring Jim Harrick, not once but twice,” Adams said. “I think that I can document all that.”

Adams still calls Harrick “one of the best final-two-minute coaches that I’ve ever seen, and I know enough about basketball to know the difference. I regret what happened to him, but he made mistakes here at a level that would have made it impossible to stay whether I was making that decision or coach Dooley was making that decision. It was just obvious to both of us.”

That wasn’t the only obvious decision Adams and Dooley made about Harrick.

Now keep in mind that Harrick’s career wasn’t exactly a mystery at that time.  He’d already been canned at UCLA –  after winning a national title –  for falsifying expense reports and asking others to lie about that and at Rhode Island managed to raise a few eyebrows by letting Lamar Odom on to the team after Odom’s departure from UNLV.  But nobody at Georgia thought it was wise to pick up the phone and make a couple of calls to get some more background on the guy.

That’s basically how you wind up a few years later with an academic fraud scandal on your hands.  Too bad nobody judged Adams by the same standard he judged Harrick.

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Filed under Michael Adams Wants To Rule The World