Monthly Archives: July 2012

One man’s “narrow focus” is another man’s “thorough investigation”.

Oh, boy.

A member of the team that produced a 267-page report condemning the response of Pennsylvania State University’s leaders to a serial child molester believes that the NCAA’s use of that document was insufficient to justify the punishment it handed the university this week.

“That document was not meant to be used as the sole piece, or the large piece, of the NCAA’s decision-making,” a source familiar with the investigation told The Chronicle on Thursday. “It was meant to be a mechanism to help Penn State move forward. To be used otherwise creates an obstacle to the institution changing.”

A better way of putting that would be to say that in the future, schools will see Penn State as a cautionary tale about the risk entailed in authorizing an investigation like this to start with, or, if after authorizing one, accepting its conclusions.  It’s hard to see how that helps strengthen Emmert’s stated goal of changing the culture in big time college athletics.

Especially when the goals of the school and the NCAA may not be entirely aligned.  And I don’t mean that in anything other than a neutral sense.

“The Freeh team reviewed how Penn State operated, not how they worked within the NCAA’s system,” this person said. “The NCAA’s job is to investigate whether Penn State broke its rules and whether it gained a competitive advantage in doing so.”

Now I don’t have any sympathy for the institutional stature concern the source raises – if you don’t want that problem, don’t enable a serial child molester – but this argument about the obvious structural inadequacies of the process behind the report as the basis for NCAA action certainly resonates:

Mr. Spanier was the only one among them to be interviewed by the Freeh investigators, and that was just days before the report was released. (Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz, facing charges of perjury and failing to report child abuse, did not answer questions for the report.)

Because of those and other limitations, some of the Freeh team’s findings were circumstantial. “The report is critical, but nothing is black and white,” The Chronicle‘s source said. “No investigation can totally answer all the questions everyone has.”

The Freeh report also could have explored more about the various coaches who knew about Mr. Sandusky’s showering with boys—an area in which the NCAA obviously should have followed up, said the person close to the Freeh investigation.

“The NCAA took this report and ran with it without further exploration,” this person said. “If you really wanted to show there was a nexus to cover up, interview the coaches. See their knowledge and culpability and how far this went.”  [Emphasis added.]

That’s not an issue the people who hired Freeh were concerned with, as they were looking top down at how Sandusky was able to operate with apparent impunity for more than a decade on the Penn State campus.  And that’s why Freeh’s report goes no higher than Spanier in assigning blame for that.  But, again, from the NCAA’s perspective, if this is supposed to be about rooting out a diseased football-first culture, then the investigation didn’t go nearly far enough.  Emmert failed to follow through on his mission.

In short, by his own standards, Emmert did a half-assed job, regardless of the sincerity of his intentions.  And because of that, it won’t surprise me at all if over the next couple of years some of the sanctions begin to be walked back.  And that’s going to look bad for all parties concerned with message sending.


Filed under The NCAA

The Montana Project: a GTP bleg

I wish I could claim full credit for what you’re about to read, but the reality is that I serve merely as the inspiration for Travis Fain, he of lucid idiocy fame, who sent me this e-mail a few days ago:

What if you and I worked to find a Dawg fan living in Montana, shipped him a UGA helmet, sent him to a sports bar and had him ask 100 strangers whether or not they recognized it? Maybe he, or even better, she, could have someone film it.

Is this idea ridiculous … or brilliant?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

Travis has dubbed this the “Montana Project”.  That works for me.

Here’s the bleg part:  we need your help, Dawgnation.  We’re looking for a true, dyed-in-the-wool Dawg fan who lives in Stewart Mandel’s go-to state.  If you’re a loyal GTP reader who lives in Montana and would like to take part, fabulous.  If you’re a loyal GTP reader who knows a Dawg fan who lives in Montana and is willing to help, that’s just as good.  In either case, please get in touch with me via e-mail so we can try to get this show on the road.

Of course, any suggestions on this are welcomed.  Encouraged, even.


Filed under Georgia Football, GTP Stuff

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.

From yesterday’s Seth Emerson Mailbag:

1. Much has been said good and bad about OC Mike Bobo and his skill as a play caller. What do you expect from him this season in his play calling? What will be a good sign that it will be a good season for him…and (uh-oh)then bad signs…

 - HammerDawg

1. Bobo is aware of the criticism, but he’s hard-headed in the sense that he’s not going to let it dictate his play-calling. I don’t see the offense becoming more wide open for the sake of being wide open.

Excuse me, but I think Seth just blamed Bobo.  Welcome to the party, pal!


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

For Jim Delany, one of these things is not like the others.

The man has to twist himself into knots dissecting the differences between the programs he oversees that are now on NCAA probation.  It’s almost painful.

“I don’t really care if it’s a precedent. I don’t really care about whether or not they [NCAA] had jurisdiction or whether or not there was an underlying NCAA violation. There’s been a lot of debate by pundits one way or the other.

“The only thing that matters to me is I think the NCAA did have moral authority to act, and I think the Big Ten had moral authority to act …

“I think because the Freeh report has been accepted by the institution, it allowed for the NCAA to take its next steps it felt were appropriate. You can debate them all you want, but in my view they had moral authority and responsibility to act as did the Big Ten …

“This case is unique in the sense that I think it involved people with senior executive and management responsibilities … I think the other issue is that Penn State adopted — not only adopted, but authorized the Freeh report and then adopted it. So that in addition to the moral authority, they had a legal set of findings which the university accepted and embraced and commissioned.

“If this is precedential and — I don’t believe that it is — but if you ever had senior executives and a set of findings that the NCAA could rely on that related to a criminal charge, I think perhaps you would — an institution would have something to worry about, because of the elements or the facts would have some commonality. But absent those kinds of things, where you don’t have a factual set of findings and you don’t have senior involvement in those findings, I think it’s a stretch.”

In a league that prides itself on academic excellence, Delany had to admit that a third of his league is currently on probation — Penn State, Nebraska (books), Michigan (20-hour work week) and Ohio State (Tattoogate).

“The Penn State situation certainly needs to be separated from the discussion of Nebraska’s book-buying policies. I think it’s intellectually and morally difficult to even discuss those things in the same sentence.

“In the case of Ohio State, you had a coach who lost his job for not being honest about answering questions about tattoos. I think that also has to be separated and it’s morally and intellectually a stretch to discuss that in the same sentence.

“Having said that, there are all three NCAA cases. And so when you look at NCAA cases, we — and me in particular — have never claimed that we don’t have teams on probation or that we don’t have teams that make mistakes.”

Clear as mud, that.  Maybe the problem is that college football’s moral authority is the new jumbo shrimp.  But it’s good to know in advance what card Delany or Emmert might play the next time either claims his delicate fee-fees are hurt.

And let’s hear it for Illinois’ new head coach, who is obviously not troubled in the least by where any of this hair-splitting leads.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman acknowledged he is “just following the rules of the NCAA” and has nothing to apologize for, refuting reports Wednesday that members of his staff were on campus. Beckman said Illinois provided Penn State with a list of the names of players it was interested in pursuing.

“We were in State College, but we did not go on campus,” he said. “We went to two establishments outside campus and called some individuals and if they wanted to come by, it was their opportunity to come by.”

Hooker with a heart of gold, that one is.  But Beckman did manage to pull off something that’s hard to do – give Urban Meyer the chance to grab some higher moral ground.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he “has a problem” with coaches being able to solicit players from Penn State.

Told of Meyer’s comments, O’Brien said, “That’s why he’s got two national championships. That’s why he is the coach he is.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your Big Ten Conference.  They didn’t name those divisions Legends and Leaders for nothing.


Filed under Big Ten Football, The NCAA

“And if he has a problem with anything I say, come on after me, big guy.”

We all know what a meteor game is, right?

Well, I think I may have discovered my meteor pissing match.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules

Mark Richt has lost control over Derek Dooley’s sense of humor.

SOD haz a funny about his supposedly maturing quarterback’s latest troubles.

Later Dooley said: “Obviously, his accuracy isn’t where it needs to be. He missed the trash can.”

Now, I’m as big a fan of gallows humor as there is, so let me say for starters that I approve this message.  But can you imagine the reaction Richt would have gotten if he’d have cracked wise about scooters, alleys or withholding middle names from Athens’ finest?  Half the Red and Black‘s staff would have had a fainting spell.

Hey, you think the AJ-C will ask Derek’s daddy if a key player behaving like a moron during the summer can have a unifying effect on the team?


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

“He is very good. He’s good. He’s really good.”

I’m beginning to wonder if the Mike Bobo-Todd Grantham battle over Malcolm Mitchell’s services will devolve into something reminiscent of an ugly child custody battle.


Filed under Georgia Football

“We all think the sky is the limit for us.”

Yeah, it’s a nice example of preseason happy talk, but there’s some good stuff to take away from this article about Georgia’s defense.  Like this:

For the first time in program history, two Bulldogs defenders who earned All-America honors the year before (linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Bacarri Rambo) are returning to Georgia’s lineup.

I have to tell you, I never would have guessed that.


Filed under Georgia Football

“Hello, Georgia. Hey there, South Carolina.”

I hope you’ve been reading Paul Myerberg’s excellent preseason run down of every D-1 school.  Today he turns his attention to his No. 44, Missouri.  There’s plenty to digest, but I’ll cut to the chase for you with this:

I think that a perfect 4-0 mark during non-conference action and three wins during SEC play is in the cards for Missouri in 2012. But… if Franklin is ready, the defensive line better than advertised and the secondary improved, the Tigers are going to end up loving life in the SEC – and eventually ranked far higher than No. 44.

Read the whole thing.


Filed under SEC Football

One man, one (quick) vote: the NCAA and due process

We’ve certainly had a lively debate on the subject of the NCAA’s punishment of Penn State.  It’s obvious I’m not changing any minds with my position and it’s probably time to move on, but before I do, there are just a couple of final bits worth mentioning.

First, Tony Barnhart weighs in with this:

But in our haste to make things right, we cannot forget about due process. Emmert’s position is that the Freeh Report established the facts of this case. And once Penn State signed off on the report and answered a few additional questions, the NCAA had everything it needed to act.

“There was no compelling reason to delay the process,” Emmert said.

How about this? The Freeh Report is just that, a report. It is going to be challenged in a court of law. What if that court finds the report is flawed? I tend to believe that the former director of the FBI probably got it right. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to let the NCAA investigators do their work, let the legal process play out, and then determine if such sanctions were warranted?

I understand the counter argument to that. This case was too important, too tragic, too raw to be left to the normal, flawed, NCAA enforcement process. Emmert needed to assert this authority, like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to address a clear case of wrongdoing with swift and certain punishment. In doing so he would put everybody else on notice in a culture that occasionally needs to get taken to the woodshed. That’s a good thing, right?

But that’s the issue. Mark Emmert is not Roger Goodell. Goodell is the commissioner of a professional league, hired by owners, and given virtually unlimited powers to police that league.

Emmert, a very smart man for whom I have a great deal of respect, is the president of a voluntary association of universities. Yes, the idea that these are still amateur sports is a horse that left the barn a long time ago. Feel free to insert your joke here.

Still, the powers of the president are limited by the governance structure of the NCAA. And that can be frustrating as hell. Emmert felt he was operating within that governance structure when he acted in the Penn State case. I’m not comfortable that he did.

When you’ve lost Mr. Conventional Wisdom, you’ve lost, period.  And Barnhart’s not the only one who’s uncomfortable about Emmert’s exercise of power.  The NCAA itself isn’t comfortable.  Look at what’s being cooked up in reaction to his move:

To help allay those concerns, the NCAA plans to examine when and under what circumstances its senior leaders might take future disciplinary action outside of the traditional enforcement and infractions processes, Bob Williams, an NCAA spokesman, told The Chronicle on Wednesday.

The move follows the extraordinary steps taken this week by top NCAA leaders in punishing Penn State for its reported role in covering up child sex abuse by a former football coach. On Monday, Emmert announced stiff penalties against the university, including a $60-million fine, deep scholarship cuts, and a four-year bowl ban.

While many people praised the toughness of the NCAA’s penalties, some athletics officials raised questions about the association’s process, in which Emmert and members of the NCAA’s Executive Committee and Division I Board of Directors sidestepped the normal judicial system.

“When I got started in this business, it used to be one school, one vote,” said a longtime compliance director at a BCS university. “Now it’s one man, one vote.”

Although he stepped in this time, Emmert would be required to receive the board’s and the Executive Committee’s permission to issue sanctions in any future disciplinary case, Williams said.

Again, I understand why this happened.  It was a human response to a grave tragedy.  But it was a dangerous one, too.  I hope nobody has cause for regret about it down the road.  And I’m glad to see the discomfort set in.


UPDATE:  It’s being reported that Penn State was threatened with a four-year death penalty.


Filed under The NCAA