Some pre-weekend nibbles for your reading pleasure:
Jeff Driskel has been, to say the least, a disappointment. But it sounds like he’s had a heckuva supporting cast.
But Driskel’s biggest problem just might be his teammates. “I don’t think those guys really totally believe in him or want to play for him anymore,” the assistant said.
Not that Florida’s offensive woes are entirely Driskel’s fault. The assistant also placed significant blame on senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar, who didn’t start for the first time since 2012 in Saturday’s loss and hardly played after repeated drops in previous games.
“He thinks he’s the next NFL dude,” the assistant said. “He’s nothing. He’s just a guy out there filling a spot.”
I bet when’s he’s out there, he’s one of the loudest woofers, though.
UT athletic director Steve Patterson may be the biggest jerk working in college athletics, but he’s not stupid. His announcement this week that, should things play out in the legal arena such that O’Bannon is the law of the land, Texas is prepared to pay its student-athletes $10,000 a year is a clever shot across the bow. It doesn’t cost him anything now to say it, it’s nothing he could avoid paying in the future if the courts rule against him, and in the meantime his athletic department will reap the benefits of his planting the first flag with a dollar sign on it in the minds of recruits. That’s well-played in my book, especially from a guy who’s been dismissive of the entire effort to compensate student-athletes more fairly.
But I doubt it’s the end of the matter. Not even close. He may be cracking open the door, but I suspect there will be other schools ready to push it far more open.
Long term, let’s face it: if there’s one thing that can trump demographics, it’s money. They may not be growing the five-star talent in the Rust Belt at the rate they way they are in the Sun Belt, but Big Ten money spends just as well down here. Besides, it’s good for BTN ratings.
Can you say bidding wars? I thought you could.
The North Carolina academic scandal that’s unfolding makes what the Harricks did look like small potatoes.
The academic fraud in the university’s African-American studies department was first revealed three years ago. But a new investigation shows that the fake classes were even more common than previously thought, and that athletes in particular benefited from the classes, in some cases at the behest of their academic counselors. Previous investigations had found no ties to campus athletics.
On campus, the fake classes, which at least 3,100 students took, were hardly a secret. They were particularly popular with athletes, who made up about half of enrollments. Nearly a quarter of students who took the classes were football and basketball players. And the classes made a difference: good grades that students didn’t have to work for made more than 80 eligible to graduate who otherwise would have flunked out.
The big question, of course, is what the NCAA intends to do about it. This situation cuts at the core of what the NCAA likes to proclaim is what collegiate athletics is supposed to be about. In that sense, it’s a far more troubling problem than what Mark Emmert rushed to deal with at Penn State.
The early indication appears to be that there won’t be a rush to judgment.
There is a lot of gray area for the NCAA to work through. The parties directly responsible for managing the fake classes aren’t facing criminal charges and cooperated with the investigation. But the report clearly points fingers at the two. The trickier part the NCAA will have to navigate is that while there was widespread knowledge throughout the campus of what was going on with these classes, the report does not directly implicate higher-ups. As the New York Times puts it,
Although the report found no evidence that high-level university officials knew about the fake classes, it faulted the university for missing numerous warning signs over many years.
Deciding who gets to skate and how much institutional blame is merited is where the NCAA is going to spend most of its time in review of the situation.
Using them for political gain.
That violates NCAA rules, but I’m not exactly sure whom the NCAA can punish. I bet if Prewitt and Love were threatened with suspension over it, heads would roll, though.