Thom Brennaman’s heart just skipped a beat.
Daily Archives: January 6, 2011
Here’s an academic development that should surprise exactly no one.
… Auburn’s top-ranked football team, which is preparing to play Oregon in Glendale, Ariz., for the national title on Monday, has tumbled in the N.C.A.A.’s most important academic measurement to No. 85 from No. 4 among the 120 major college football programs.
The decline came after the university closed several academic loopholes following a New York Times article in 2006 that showed numerous football players padded their grade-point averages and remained eligible through independent-study-style courses that required little or no work…
Amazing how that works. It’s pretty clear who those loopholes were meant to benefit.
Among all the bowl teams this season, Auburn has the highest disparity in the graduation rates between white players (100 percent) and black players (49 percent), according to a study at the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
Auburn’s athletic director, Jay Jacobs, declined to comment. The Tigers’ second-year football coach, Gene Chizik, said of his team’s academic performance and support, “We do a great job, so we’re not concerned with that.” When pressed on the issue of graduating black players, Chizik said, “Those are circumstances; there’s all kinds of different things.”
You can see the complete study report here. One can only conclude that there are a large number of Division 1 schools which aren’t facing similar circumstances.
As an aside, notice that there’s one school on the list which managed to graduate its football players at a rate higher than that of
the general student body its overall student athletes: Texas Tech. With data like that, it’s easy to see why Mike Leach can’t find a job. And maybe we should wonder how quickly Tommy Tuberville will work his magic in Lubbock. It’s not like he didn’t leave a trail.
John Pennington has a good post up today about how important turnover margin is to winning in the SEC.
49 conference games in 2010
12 times both teams had the same amount of turnovers
37 times one team won the turnover battle
In those 37 games, the team that won the turnover margin won 32 times.
That’s a 32-5 record in SEC games in 2010 for the teams that won the turnover battle.
Looking at Georgia’s performance in that category, you’ll find a consistent result. Georgia’s 2010 record in games in which it won the turnover battle was 6-1, which means the Dawgs didn’t win a single game this season when they didn’t finish in the black in turnover margin.
No, I’m not talking about Xzavier Dickson’s verbal to Alabama. (And after reading some of the Georgia message boards last night, I think there’s a sizeable chunk of the online Dawgnation community which needs to walk away from the keyboard for a few days.)
Rather, it’s the call to revoke the offer to Zack Witchett.
UGA revoked the football scholarship offer on Wednesday to Booker T. Washington WR/DB Zack Witchett, who had been committed to the Bulldogs since last summer.
The news was delivered by UGA assistant Tony Ball in telephone calls to Witchett and his high school coach Stanley Pritchett.
“[Ball] said they were going to revoke the offer,” Pritchett said. “They said Georgia couldn’t take a chance on a guy that they didn’t know whether or not he could stay out of trouble and contribute to the team next year.”
When’s the last time you heard a Georgia coach make a public comment like that? And it’s even more puzzling given the timing:
… Witchett was suspended three games during his senior season for violating undisclosed team rules, according to his coach. Georgia was made aware of the situation at the time and waited until less than a month before signing day to revoke the offer.
This isn’t a Dexter Moody situation. That was a decision made almost immediately after Moody’s troubles came to light, and was made with zero comment by Georgia.
Something’s changed and the program wants that known. I expect there are some interesting conversations coming up in the next four weeks between high school coaches and Georgia’s staff.
It’s pretty easy to analyze most of the major issues driving college football in the context of the haves and the have-nots. But as last summer’s crazed chase over conference expansion showed, college football’s powers don’t always act monolithically.
Stewart Mandel posted something in his Mailbag yesterday that makes me ponder whether we might be getting ready to see a few more cracks in that façade. Noting the apparent decline of the Big Ten in comparison to the SEC, Mandel writes
… As Michael Rosenberg wrote Tuesday, the league is being dragged down right now because two of its marquee programs, Penn State and Michigan, aren’t what they once were. The Nittany Lions seem to be stuck in a perpetual state of good-but-not-great that likely won’t change until JoePa retires and the Wolverines have been a mess for several years. That’s the big difference between the SEC and Big Ten — the talent pool is deep enough in the South that an Auburn or Arkansas can rise up in a given year and compete nationally, but that’s rarely going to happen with Purdue or Illinois.
That’s just the short-term analysis, though. In the long term, we have to concede — as Jim Delany himself has — that the effects of population shift on Northern and Midwest football are very real and very irreversible. (The SEC’s penchant for oversigning has its own effect, too, though that’s another column entirely.)
And so I wonder: are we about to enter a phase where several of the power conferences decide it’s in their best interest to take on the (largely SEC) practice of oversigning?
Don’t laugh. I can think of some compelling reasons they might. For one thing, it’s a great excuse to use to explain the SEC’s recent dominance in the BCS title game and the other power conferences’ shortcomings there. (See if the drumbeat grows louder in the event Auburn takes care of business next Monday night.)
But the bigger concern might be demographics, as Mandel hints. You’ve already got a situation where the population shift from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt favors the SEC, the Pac-10 and at least the southern part of the Big XII at the expense of the Big Ten and the Big East (another reason TCU’s move to that conference looks shrewd). To the extent that it restricts the talent pool available to the latter two, oversigning by SEC programs exacerbates that problem.
It’s hard to see how that changes. And if that’s the case, how long is it before Jim Delany decides he has no choice but to lead the charge to get the NCAA to tighten up the rules on class signing numbers? No doubt he’d couch it in terms of doing what’s best for the student athletes, but we’d all know what that’s really about. And it would be fascinating to see where the battle lines get drawn in that fight – the Big East and the mid-major conferences would seem to be natural allies for Delany, but would the Pac-10 and Big XII commissioners stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Mike Slive?
For those of you who are certain Greg McGarity will be hunting for a new head coach after next season, you might want to bookmark Brian Cook’s post on potential candidates for the Michigan job.
It’s probably safe to ignore Brady Hoke, though.