Category Archives: Science Marches Onward

Cameras on the goal line?

Here’s an officiating experiment I can support:

The Big Ten is strongly considering experimenting with goal-line cameras at some football stadiums this season so instant replay officials can better review critical goal-line plays.

Big Ten coordinator of officials Bill Carollo said the conference is in discussions with its members and there’s a “very strong possibility” there will be a trial run this season…

Go for it, man.  A cost of $1 million+ isn’t that much, considering what the sport is bringing in and how crucial a call can be there.

It sounds like Steve Shaw is keeping an eye on it, which is also good.

SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said the Big Ten’s testing of goal-line cameras would add great value.

“It’s something that, if it’s successful, we need to take a look at in college football,” Shaw said. “We had some early conversations (within the SEC). You can’t put a pole up in our stadiums. Our stadiums are almost sacred ground so you’d have to find a spot, whether it’s an overhang or a deck, where you could mount a camera that would be unobtrusive and have a good view.”

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Filed under Big Ten Football, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football

Koulton Houston and the NCAA’s letter of the law

Yesterday, I noticed some commenters here, along with others on the Internet, claiming an understanding of the stance the NCAA was taking in not allowing Houston’s eligibility – Mark Emmert’s concern that making an exception for Houston “would undermine the purpose of the drug testing program.”

In response, I and others pointed out that the NCAA has exercised discretion in applying the spirit of its rules and not the letter when it felt circumstances warranted it, the Penn State sanctions being the most recent example of that approach.  The thing about it is, though, that you don’t have to wander nearly that far afield to find such an example because the NCAA has already done so in Houston’s own case.

Houston, from Buford, Ga., was an early enrollee at Georgia in January 2010. He failed an NCAA drug test April 13, 2010, triggering an automatic one-year suspension. He failed a second NCAA drug test Feb. 2, 2011, and the organization initially handed him a lifetime ban from NCAA participation.

However, Georgia successfully won an appeal by proving with results of its own testing that the drug had never fully left Houston’s system and that “the second positive drug test demonstrated residual from the initial drug use rather than re-use,” Courson wrote in a July 9 letter to McGarity. “Fortunately for our student-athlete, we have our own institutional drug testing to protect him from an unfair and unsupported accusation.”

Not only did that exhaustive testing process help Georgia win its appeal, the school also touted its results as evidence that Houston has not taken any performance-enhancing drugs in the meantime.

So, to summarize:  (1) the NCAA ruled that Houston should receive a lifetime ban due to a second positive drug test result; (2)  the school appealed based on scientific evidence it compiled showing that Houston wasn’t taking steroids; (3) the school’s appeal was successful; (4) the school appealed again, asking for the player’s reinstatement based on scientific evidence it compiled that Houston wasn’t taking steroids and that the continued presence of the drug in his system doesn’t give him a competitive advantage… and (5) Emmert purports to be surprised by Georgia’s request.

Sorry, but one of those things doesn’t follow, and it’s not Georgia’s request for reinstatement.  If in the NCAA’s eyes the continued presence of the drug in his system doesn’t automatically disqualify him for life, I find it hard to see how the same excused presence together with a showing that there is no competitive advantage from the drug in Houston’s system should keep him from playing now.  Then again, I’m not Mark Emmert.

But maybe somebody should ask Mark Emmert exactly what the purpose of the NCAA’s drug testing program is these days, because in Houston’s case it seems to be more about justifying its own existence than being about protecting competitive balance.


UPDATE:  What we could use right now is some really lazy thinking.  Fortunately, that’s why we have ESPN’s bloggers.

Unfortunately, the NCAA can’t make an exception for Houston. He’s already escaped a lifetime ban after his second positive test, and while you have to feel for Houston, making an exception for him would open up a new can of worms for the NCAA. The NCAA doesn’t want to have to deal with similar cases each year because you never know which ones could be true or fabiricated.

I’m not saying Houston’s is fabricated, but if he were allowed to play, what’s to stop other athletes from experimenting to see if they can use a similar story to slip by the NCAA?

Umm… how about that they wouldn’t have their schools running multiple tests to confirm that no further steroid usage had occurred?  And submitting data that was sufficient to allow the NCAA to withdraw a lifetime ban?


Filed under Georgia Football, Science Marches Onward, The NCAA

Nerds gotta go sometime.

Admittedly, these would probably freak me out.  But I’m thinking strategically locating some of them in the Level 600 bathrooms for the November 24th game with an appropriate message might be adequate payback for this.


Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Science Marches Onward

Would it matter if Penn Wagers could communicate better?

Admittedly, this sounds like faint praise, but I always thought Steve Shaw deserved his reputation as one of the SEC’s best officials.  But I’ve just got to chuckle at the idea that outfitting SEC refs with a wireless communication system is going to make a whit of difference out there.

… The NCAA football rules committee allowed the SEC and Big Ten this spring to test the system, which international soccer referees have used for several years. Wearing a small earpiece and microphone, the seven football officials didn’t have to huddle to discuss penalties and could engage in pre-snap conversations to catch possible infractions.

Great.  Penn Wagers and company will be able to discuss whom they want to slap with a penalty even before the play commences.  We are witnessing the birth of true cutting edge officiating.

And I’m sure this stuff works brilliantly.  After all, it’s been tested on the stage of the world’s biggest sporting event.

Vokkero, a European company, initially developed the system called VOK-REF in 2005 based on specifications from the French Professional Football League and French soccer referee committee. The device was used in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup.

Yeah, the 2010 World Cup, a classic example of better officiating through science.

I can’t wait.


Filed under Science Marches Onward, SEC Football

Wednesday morning buffet

Try it, you’ll like it.

  • Sporting News ranks the ACC coaches and Paul Johnson comes in at number two.  I don’t know if that more a reflection on Johnson or the conference.  (Personally speaking, I’d give Jim Grobe a lifetime achievement award for Wake Forest winning the ACC.  Is there another coach on the list who could have pulled that off?)
  • Will Muschamp doesn’t think much of Tennessee’s lack of academic prowess.
  • This is not new, but since they brought mat drills back this offseason, maybe it’s worth another look.
  • Surprise, surprise“College football players suffer knee injuries about 40 percent more often when playing on an artificial turf versus grass, according to a U.S. study.”
  • Jerry Hinnen’s look at the SEC East, post-spring practice is worth a read.  (I’ve thought the same thing he mentions about South Carolina’s pass defense.)
  • This is pretty cool.
  • I’m sure Tommy Tuberville is ecstatic that Kevin Scarbinsky’s let him off the hook for Auburn football.
  • Nick Saban is right about this, even if it is a little self-serving.  (Hell, it’s not as if what Delany and Scott want isn’t, aiight?)


Filed under Academics? Academics., ACC Football, Auburn's Cast of Thousands, BCS/Playoffs, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, College Football, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Thursday morning buffet

Another day, another buffet.

  • Nothing like having to defend the SEC Freshman of the Year to your own fan base.  Mark Richt is a patient man, bless his heart.
  • If you’re looking for the conventional wisdom on Georgia Tech’s 2012 season, here ’tis.
  • SEC coaches look at Missouri’s offense and shrug… a little.  (I’m looking forward to seeing how their defenses handle it.)
  • Another reason why I love the NCAA“Another task force has recommended firming up the scheduling window for major college football’s bowl season, setting a calendar through the 2019 season in which the first game would be no earlier than Dec. 15 and the last game no later than Jan. 13.”  January 13th?  Way to put your foot down there, fellas.
  • The first snarky response to this header is “because it doesn’t have to”.  The second one is “it doesn’t go north or east, either”.  Seriously, though, read it, because it’s probably a good model for where McGarity intends to go with scheduling at Georgia.
  • Clark Howard: “High-definition, flat-screen TVs are driving down the price of tickets to live sports events in an unexpected way.”
  • Mark Richt sees the NFL draft as more of a time to celebrate than as an evaluation of the talent on his roster.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, The NCAA


This explains why every guy in a bar believes he can manage a sports team better than the guy actually doing it.


Filed under Science Marches Onward

One thing I’ll always be grateful for.

Thank Gawd cell phones didn’t exist when I was in college.


Filed under Science Marches Onward

You, too, can be a draft expert, in five easy steps!

This (h/t Chris Brown) is easily the funniest football-related piece you’ll read today.  It wouldn’t be that hard to translate over to recruiting, either.


Filed under Science Marches Onward

And while we’re on the subject of improving the game day experience…

Here’s a little detail Greg McGarity ought to turn his attention to, especially if it doesn’t cost the school anything.

Make it so, hoss.


Filed under Georgia Football, Science Marches Onward