Category Archives: College Football

Playing the long game

As yesterday’s statement from the Big Ten indicates, I think it’s slowly dawning on college presidents that O’Bannon is turning into a losing proposition for them.  Now even if they lose the trial, the walls don’t start falling down around their ears immediately.  There’s an appeal process that they’ll likely milk for all it’s worth if for no other reason than that every day the inevitable is postponed is another day they don’t have to share the loot with anyone else.  But that won’t last forever.  Plus, there’s the concerns raised by the unionization effort at Northwestern and other litigation threats.  All it takes is losing once.

At some point, then, it’ll be time to turn to the last refuge – politics.  And don’t think that’s not already on their minds.

Did the reform movement arrive too late? Delany doesn’t think so. “Are you kidding me? This will be with us for a decade,” he said. “Between the reform, the restructuring, the litigation, congressional activity. This is the beginning. Not the end.”

A sentiment echoed by one of his bosses:

“A lot of water has got to go under the bridge before we’d have serious conversations about doing that,” Kaler said. “There’s a whole long list of possibilities that are out there. … A lot of people think this will go to the Supreme Court and maybe even Congress. There’s a lot of water to move.”

These guys, as much as they may protest to the contrary, ain’t going the Division III route.  There’s simply too much money involved for them to walk away from it.  They will run to the feds instead, to try to hold on to what they’ve got.  And, yes, the irony of Jim Delany asking people like Joe Barton and Orrin Hatch for assistance isn’t lost on me.  (And probably won’t be lost on them, either.)

Here’s the thing, though – who’s to say they’re any good at lobbying?  Delany can be Delany when it comes to bullying mid-major conferences who want him to throw them a bone, but how does that work when he’s the one who comes asking for a favor?  Will the presidents he speaks for be willing to do any serious horse trading for an antitrust exemption, or will they continue to operate with the same combination of arrogance and myopia that’s gotten them into the mess they’re trying to extricate themselves from?

And, maybe more importantly, should they even assume Congress is of a mind to help?

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery

Wednesday morning buffet

Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

  • Did you know that Clemson’s Frank Howard once threatened to sue over a piece Lewis Grizzard wrote about him?
  • I always love it when somebody else does the heavy lifting for me, so, thanks, Tyler, for counting the number of scholarship players currently on Georgia’s roster.
  • Barry Alvarez sez, “To keep fans in the stands, you have to keep up with the technology, so they can continue to use those things in the stadium.” You could always beef up the home schedule, Barry.
  • Hunter Atkinson’s high school coach says the kid’s family has endured a backlash from third parties as a result of his withdrawal from Georgia.  Stay classy, people.
  • Troy’s Larry Blakeney suggests an interesting proposal for paying players – a stipend based on academic performance, paid to student-athletes per hour passed with a C or above.
  • Marc Weiszer talks to Danny Ware about a Knowshon-Gurley comparison.
  • High school quarterback being recruited by Georgia has this to say about his first conversation with the head guy:  “… The SEC is the biggest in college football. I was super excited to talk to Coach Richt. I was a little nervous. I had never talked to a coach that big before. It was awesome.”
  • Amateurism, first half of the 20th century style.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, College Football, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting

Tuesday morning buffet

Have a bite or two…

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

Competitive balance, my arse

If Emmert’s testimony yesterday about player compensation was little more than a combination of sanctimonious wishful thinking and denial, his defense of competitive balance in college football was downright dishonest.

Emmert said amateurism is essential to competitive balance in college sports. While he has supported reforms such as cost-of-attendance increases — though he wouldn’t call them stipends — he added that requiring further compensation to athletes would result in some schools having to drop other sports programs or drop out of Division I altogether, which require schools to offer 16 sports in order to qualify.

He even went to the extent of citing Alabama’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe and Michigan’s loss to Appalachian State in support of that.  (Nevermind that losses like those are so rare that it’s easy to remember them by name.)

But this is where my bullshit detector’s needle broke:

“To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports,” Emmert said. “And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.”

Professional minor leagues aren’t the minor leagues because their players are paid.  They’re minor leagues because their teams are under the control of parties who don’t have a stake in the outcome of their seasons.

Back in the 1930’s Branch Rickey came up with a revolutionary innovation, the baseball farm system.  Twice, Commissioner Landis freed a number of players in Rickey’s system from their contracts because he opposed turning the minor leagues into vassal states of major league teams.  Read this exchange between the two to understand what the real issue is with minor league play and fan interest.  Landis’ final observation - “I think it is as big as the universe.  This is just as important in the Three-I League as it would be in the National or American Leagues.” – is the crux of what defines being a minor league.

It’s not about pay.  It’s about independence.  Until the NFL can dictate to Mark Richt during the week before the Georgia Tech game that Todd Gurley is being brought up to play for one of its teams, Emmert is completely off base with his analogy.

But skip past that.  If you want something in the here and now that exposes the phoniness of Emmert’s concern about competitive balance, check out one of the impending fruits of the Big Five’s push for autonomy, a proposed change to the transfer rules.

The wealthiest college football conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Conference, Pac-12, Southeastern Conference) are willing to work with all of Division I to come up with a solution, but they also want the power to make their own transfer rules if need be as part of an autonomy structure the NCAA is moving toward.

If you think this is making mid-major schools nervous, give yourself a nickel.

That worries the schools outside those powerful leagues, concerned they’ll be in danger of losing their best players to the Big Five.

Most of the areas in which the Big Five conferences are seeking autonomy are related to how schools spend money on athletes. Transfer regulations are seen more as purely competitive-balance issues.

”I still haven’t gotten a good answer as to why transfer rules have been included in the autonomy bucket,” said SMU athletic director Rick Hart, whose school plays in the American Athletic Conference, one of the other five leagues in the top tier of college football knows as FBS.

I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, Rick.  Besides, I think you already know the answer, even if it isn’t what you’d call a good one.  Or the one the Big Five commissioners – or Emmert, for that matter – will give when they enact their own version.

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UPDATE:  More thoughts on competitive balance here.

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Filed under College Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, The NCAA

Friday morning buffet

Just because it’s June doesn’t mean I can’t fill a few chafing dishes for you.

  • I’ll go into detail later this summer about it, but perhaps this is the best thing Georgia’s secondary has going for it this season.
  • Bitcoin is going to sponsor a bowl game.  Will it hand out a virtual trophy?
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Aereo case may impact how we watch the NFL, but keep in mind what’s written in this piece could also apply to CBS and its contract with the SEC.
  • Here’s the Post and Courier’s preview of the Clemson-Georgia game.  And here’s the preview of the South Carolina-Georgia game.
  • One reason the schools fear Jeffrey Kessler’s lawsuit:  one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys used to be an associate director of enforcement for the NCAA.
  • Believe it or not, ESPN preseason rankings have Georgia’s secondary as seventh best in the conference.
  • Gene Chizik predicts a 10-2 season for Auburn, with losses to South Carolina and Alabama.
  • Vanderbilt checks in at #74 in Paul Myerberg’s preseason roundup.
  • College coaches try to figure out the best way to utilize the new rules on summer supervision.  (Brian Kelly knows what to do, but if he told you, then he’d have to kill you.)
  • We’re guessing that many people would agree that college president or medical school dean is slightly more beneficial to humanity than being a football coach.”  Depends whom you ask, I suspect.
  • Bill Connelly looks at this year’s Clemson Tigers team and comes away impressed, particularly with that defensive line.

29 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, College Football, Gene Chizik Is The Chiznit, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

Wednesday morning buffet

The buffet line never ends.

79 Comments

Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, PAWWWLLL!!!, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football, The NCAA, Tommy Tuberville - Mythical National Champ, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Division IV and the next round of conference realignment

And while we’re on the subject of big conference autonomy, John Pennington asks an excellent question that I’ve pondered lately, namely, if the mid-majors call Mike Slive’s bet and the Power Five react by forming the Division IV Slive threatened to create if he didn’t get his way, will that lead to a new round of conference expansion/realignment?

Pennington’s in the “duh, of course it will” camp and cites a couple of reasons why.  First (and most obvious), there are going to be some programs left out initially that want to be brought into the tent.  Because, you know, money.  Second, a hyper division is going to lead to plenty of political jockeying among the power conferences and a bigger conference will be able to cast more votes on a contentious issue.

I tend to agree that a new division will set off another realignment whirlwind.  I’d like to think it would be for a positive purpose, as it would give the power conferences a chance to realign into something that could benefit the postseason in a way that would strengthen the regular season – the chance to organize four sixteen-team conferences, with the conference championship games serving as the first round of the playoffs for the national title.  But I’m kidding myself, of course.  For one thing, that would mean lopping off one school (current power conference members plus Notre Dame total sixty-five.)  Second, when’s the last time these people did the right thing?

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Filed under College Football

“What we really see are the ‘haves,’ the ‘have-nots’ and the ‘forget-about-its.'”

While we probably won’t hear from Brother Emmert until next week, yesterday had its moments in the O’Bannon courtroom.  I can’t say for certain which side will prevail, but it’s already clear that competitive balance is getting the crap beat out of it.

Coaches are getting money that otherwise would go to players.

He and Hausfeld emphasized that the compensation of football coaches has risen more than 500 percent since the 1980s, in part because of exploding revenues and NCAA rules controlling how much of that money can flow to players. Additionally, Noll said, schools are redirecting money to the building and gold-plating of athletic facilities — $5.1 billion in 104 stadiums, arenas and practice facilities since the late 1990s.

None of this has helped level the competitive playing field, either, he said. Hausfeld showed slides highlighting the dominance of about a dozen teams in football and basketball since 1993, in contrast to the bottom quarter of programs that struggled mightily.

How much would directing more money towards players change the status quo?  In the world of Mike Slive’s “so-called level playing field”, not nearly as much as the NCAA would have you believe.  Especially if them what’s got the gold get to make their own rules.

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UPDATE:  Exchange from today…

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Wednesday morning buffet

Some things to take your mind off… well, you know what.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, College Football, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Political Wankery, Recruiting, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are., The Blogosphere

I got your competitive balance right here.

I tweeted yesterday about what an excruciating experience it was to catch Andre Ware bloviating about college player compensation.  Ware’s basic position seems to be if he can’t figure out a way to make something work, he’s against it.  (He’d fit right in over at NCAA headquarters.)

One of the things he fretted about greatly was the idea that paying players would somehow rupture the delicate balance of competition that amateurism somehow magically sustains right now.  Andre, I’ve got some news for you – when four of the Big Five conferences are reporting annual revenues totaling more than a billion dollars, that balance train done left the station already.  So unless I missed you suggesting that the big boys share some of that loot with their less fortunate Division I brethren, I think I’d worry about something else.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA