Category Archives: Blowing Smoke

Stacey Osburn’s talking points are cheap.

If you’ve been disappointed by the NCAA’s consistent unwillingness to recognize the reality behind the recent NLRB ruling and the many antitrust complaints it’s in the process of defending, this isn’t likely to improve your spirits.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said it’s the association’s responsibility to “provide accurate and timely information on matters impacting college sports. Our members requested facts and data on pay-for-play because there was so much misinformation in the media, based in part on public statements from those who are advancing the union movement and those who have brought suit against the NCAA.”

So what kind of spin… oops, “facts and data” does Stacey have for us?

Well, there’s repetition of the irrelevant:

“We know we have work to do. But do we really want to signal to society and high school students that making money is the reason to come play a sport in college, as opposed to getting an education, which will benefit you for a lifetime? That’s not the message I want to send.”

“Do we really want to signal to society and high school students that making money is the reason to come play a sport in college, as opposed to getting an education, which will benefit you for a lifetime? That’s not the message I want to send.”

I thought one of the main reasons you went to college was to enhance your earnings ability.  I wasn’t aware there was supposed to be a restriction on when you were allowed to start reaping the rewards of that enhancing – at least there isn’t for anyone in college who isn’t subject to the NCAA.

There’s love or money and nothing in between.

“The overwhelming majority of student-athletes play college sports as part of their educational experience and because they love their sport, not to be paid a salary.”

If only Stacey’s bosses, conference commissioners and coaches felt the same way.

A little mea culpa -

“Student-athletes should not have to worry about their scholarships being pulled if they are injured or ill.”

I’m sure you’ll get right on that.

And of course, a supporting cast providing a steady dose of denial of reality.  Dabo Swinney says, “We’ve got enough entitlement in this country as it is”, but proceeds to advocate giving kids a stipend.  (And since when is doing more to prevent concussion problems an entitlement?)  Mike Slive doesn’t appreciate anyone threatening to screw with the revenue stream he’s spent so much effort on generating.  Baylor’s athletic director – his school is private, by the way – commands the tide to roll back:  “In my view, student-athletes are not employees. They attend a university to earn a degree and participate in the sport they love.”  Larry Scott and Jim Delany believe in ongoing dialogue with student-athletes, not unionization, because meaningful dialogue with parties who have less power has always been a hallmark of Jim Delany’s management style.

I could go on, but, jeez, this is depressing.  There’s a historical precedent to what college athletics is facing in what MLB went through when Marvin Miller engineered the rise of the players’ union, and, along with a little help from Andy Messersmith’s agent, the end of the reserve clause, and it seems like the NCAA and the commissioners couldn’t care less about learning any lessons from that.  I can’t help but continue to feel that Emmert, Slive, Delany and all their cohorts think they’re a lot shrewder business people than they are.  And certainly the presidents and chancellors they work for aren’t nearly as shrewd as the lawyers who are fighting over the right to pick their bones.

This isn’t going to end well for some folks.  But, talking points!  Hey, that worked well for Baghdad Bob, right?

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Filed under Blowing Smoke, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Northwestern doesn’t really care if you can play football, young man.

All you need to know about Northwestern’s 55-page opus appealing the NLRB ruling is this one sentence on page twelve:

Contrary to the Regional Director’s findings, Northwestern scholarship football student-athletes are not “initially sought out, recruited and ultimately granted scholarships because of their athletic prowess on the football field.”

Hey, color me convinced.


Filed under Blowing Smoke, Look For The Union Label

“That’s a pro model, completely different.”

Boy, after reading this Larry Scott Q&A, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think everyone in college athletics was working for free.

“The money that is generated is invested back in student-athletes and programs and enhancements for fans and making sure the programs are successful going forward. What would happen — in my view — if this unionization effort or these pay for play lawsuits are successful and you had to go down this path with football student-athletes and men’s basketball student-athletes, what it would do is take all the resources that are available for these other sports away and that would be a big concern from my perspective…”

Larry, by the way, made more than $3 million in 2011-2, and currently is working under a five-year deal.  At least somebody’s getting pay for play.


Filed under Blowing Smoke, It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label

The five million large guaranteed was purely an afterthought.

(photo via Michael Hutchins/Louisville Athletics)

Todd Grantham bares his soul on why he left Athens for Louisville.

SI: So Petrino’s offensive background played a big part in your decision?

TG: That was 100 percent the selling point. When you take a new job, you look at all the factors. From an offensive standpoint, he knows how to put points on the board, and he also knows how to manage a game, and that’s big particularly in the fourth quarter. Being able to team up with that was something that excited me.

Most coaches knew how to manage a game in the fourth quarter against Grantham’s defenses, so I ‘m not sure what’s so special about that.


Filed under Blowing Smoke

They ain’t drunk. They just buying beer.

C’mon, Joe.  You know better.

Alleva said the possibility of selling beer isn’t about money. Has he even run the numbers?

“I haven’t studied it,” he said. “I have no idea.”

First rule of life:  when they say it’s not about money, it’s about money.


Filed under Blowing Smoke

“There’s no reason for the NCAA to exist. None.”

Especially when you make shit up out of thin air.

“I think what will end up happening — and this is my opinion, not that of the league — is if the colleges don’t change from the one-and-done, we’ll go after the one,” Cuban said.

Gee, Mark, exactly how would the colleges change from the one-and-done if the professional organization you belong to continues to prohibit high schoolers from being eligible for the NBA draft?  I guess they’d just add the NBA as another recruiting competitor.

“We can get rid of all the hypocrisy and improve the education,” Cuban said. “If the whole plan is just to go to college for one year maybe or just the first semester, that’s not a student-athlete. That’s ridiculous.

“You don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to pretend. A major college has to pretend that they’re treating them like a student-athlete, and it’s a big lie and we all know it’s a big lie. At least at most schools, not all. … But we can put more of an emphasis on their education. We can plan it out, have tutors. We can do all kinds of things that the NCAA doesn’t allow schools to do that would really put the individual first.”

Cuban’s biggest concern about one-and-done prospects is that they’re often not mentally, emotionally and psychologically prepared for the NBA after spending only one season in a college environment.

He believes the D-League could provide a better atmosphere for freshman-age players to develop on and off the court.

If by “better atmosphere” he means a steady paycheck, well, sure.  But the idea that the NBA will be better able – not to mention more motivated –  to offer kids who don’t want an education educational opportunities is laughable.  Bottom line, just like the NCAA’s members, his league will be getting the stars on the cheap for a year.  That’s all this is about.

Yeah, the NCAA is hypocritical.  Big surprise there.  Cuban?  To quote Rick from Casablanca, I don’t mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.


Filed under Blowing Smoke, The NCAA

Coach speak about coach speak

You’ll never guess what sold Doug Nussmeier on moving from Alabama to Michigan.

… something that really resonated with me the first time I spoke with coach Hoke (in the process), we were just talking about life and things, and he made a statement to me – I’ll never forget it.

“We were talking about what we do football-wise, and he said, ‘The most important thing we do is to make an impact on these young men in order to be successful for the rest of their lives.’ Having known coach Hoke for a long time, I know that’s what he’s about, that’s what he stands for and it’s what everybody in this room stands for. That’s the main thing that resonated with me and why I’m here.”

Incredibly profound, that.  Seriously, is there a college head coach in America who hasn’t uttered that same banal message?  (And, yes, I’m including Bobby Petrino in that count.  And Nussmeier’s former boss.)

Maybe it’s the way Brady Hoke delivers the message.  Kind of like the way Putin let George Bush see his soul.


Filed under Blowing Smoke

Fool me once…

Gee, where have I heard stuff like this before?


Filed under Blowing Smoke

“Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game.”

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. College football has survived, even flourished, in an era when sheer greed has driven it to blow up longstanding rivalries, remake conference alignments at a dizzying rate, explode the amounts paid to head coaches (the average salary for head coaches in the SEC West next season will be $4 million), create conference networks that require us to pay extra money for games we were already getting, enlarge the postseason to squeeze even more money out of fans…

But it’s player compensation that’s gonna drive a stake in our hearts.  Right.  Got it.

The idea that college athletes “play for the love of the game” is the core notion of college sports, Pilson said. “To the extent that the viewing public believes in this ideal, paying student-athletes would undermine the cornerstone of the viewing public’s belief that student-athletes play for the love of the game,” Pilson wrote.

It’s sure killed the Olympics.

Oh, but this wouldn’t be complete without a disclaimer.

In a deposition, Pilson said he has not run an economic model on model [sic] on his prediction of a 15- to 20-percent ratings decline.

And one of the greatest example of logic chopping you’ll ever see.

What the O’Bannon plaintiffs “call the ‘commercialization’ of college sports is nothing more than schools’ decisions not to refuse revenues available to them,” Pilson wrote.

Yeah, not refusing money must be exactly how it works when Mike Slive sits down with ESPN.  Too bad the players don’t get the same opportunity.  But at least they’ve got the love of the game to keep them going when they don’t have enough money at the end of the month to do anything.  It’s a win-win:  the players stay pure of heart and the schools don’t get their revenue streams cut.

All of this puts me in mind of a (definitely NSFW) clip from North Dallas Forty:

You can’t put a price tag on love of the game.  Well, at least the players can’t.


UPDATE:  Can’t believe I missed this.

In court papers filed last Thursday, the NCAA argued that college athletes are not entitled to revenue from live broadcasts of their games. The NCAA’s theory rests on the First Amendment, which generally allows broadcast companies to televise live news events (such as political events or press conferences) without compensating persons shown in those events. The underlying logic is that the public has a stake in knowing about live events and broadcast companies should not be deterred from covering news out of concern they may be sued if they don’t pay. The NCAA contends this same principle applies to live broadcasts of college games.

That begs for a rebuttal so obvious, even a caveman could do it.

O’Bannon will likely ask why does the NCAA and its members demand payment from broadcast companies to televise games if those games are free news?

Love of the game, beyotch.


Filed under Blowing Smoke, The NCAA

Getting while the getting’s good

LSU is raising ticket prices again.  When asked why that was necessary in light of the increased revenues expected to roll in from the SEC Network, here’s what the AD had as a response:

“I know there’s a lot of talk and discussion about the SEC network, however, we don’t have any idea of how much money that is going to generate,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said…

“It has to be sold to the carriers. It has to be sold to COX, Time Warner, and to Dish TV and satellite TV,” Alleva said. “As of right now, it hasn’t been sold. We have no idea how much revenue it’s going to bring in.”

So… you’re telling us that the SEC embarked upon a path of massive disruption to its conference scheduling – something which you and your head coach have been bitching about on a non-stop basis ever since, by the way – without having the faintest notion about how much the bank account would grow?  Yeah, sure.

But there is a consolation prize.

Alleva said if the athletic department is fortunate and the SEC network contract does generate a significant amount of money, the department already has a revenue sharing agreement with the university.

“So if that does come to fruition, the university is going to benefit significantly from that situation,” he said. “And that will alleviate the need for us to increase ticket prices in the future because our expenses continue to go up $2 to 3 million a year.”

Well, that’s a relief.  Unless state governments that don’t have a problem with starving their college systems see that new revenue stream as a great source to tap as a substitute.  Gee, I wonder where that might happen.

Don’t put that checkbook away just yet, peeps.


Filed under Blowing Smoke, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football