Daily Archives: June 5, 2013

If a game falls in the Longhorn Network and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Next time, Ole Miss, you might want to read the fine print.  (And don’t forget to thank your new broadcast partner.)


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

“If four is good, eight is better.”

Dennis Dodd tells me that the war is over and I’ve already lost.

Remember all that hand-wringing over impacting the regular season? In the era of conference championship games, league titles already have been devalued. Divisional play has seen to it. In leagues with conference championship games — only the Big 12 won’t have one by 2014 — a conference’s best team doesn’t necessarily play in that league title game…

The sanctity of the regular season isn’t so sacred after all: We’ve already told you about how divisional play has stolen some drama from the regular season. The game has survived, even thrived. Now think of Ohio State and Michigan being locks for an eight-team playoff as they meet in late November. How would that steal the hype one bit from “The Game”?

Because both teams would still be in the postseason and, if things break right, might face each other again in a game that would mean more than The Game?  Oh, never mind – we’ve still got something to comfort us.

One concern in that scenario is teams resting players. Maybe, but this is college where the rivalries are so much larger than those in the NFL. They’re so much larger than the coaches and players themselves. I can’t envision Urban Meyer resting Braxton Miller against Michigan because he has a playoff berth sewed up, can you?

Seriously, playing the tradition card?  In a world which has already ditched the Nebraska-Oklahoma game, do I think a guy as smart as Urban Meyer (who’s been at Ohio State a whopping couple of seasons) might rest a dinged-up quarterback in a rivalry game in order to save him for a rematch in the national playoffs?  Does a wild boar pee in the woods?  Maybe Dennis ought to ask himself how OSU fans would feel if a healthier Miller was the key to their beloved Buckeyes winning the national title.  My educated guess is all would be forgiven.

Sadly, while this pisses me off, I can’t say Dodd’s wrong about where this is headed.

Are we ahead of ourselves? Absolutely. Do eight teams make total sense before four teams even kick off? Absolutely.

All we had to do was ask.

So when do you think they’ll go to twelve or sixteen?



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

Leverage and “the worst contract in American sports”

Man, make sure you read Andy Staples’ excellent, excellent take on why top recruits shouldn’t sign a national letter of intent.  It’s not that hard to understand:

Here is what the NLI guarantees the school:

• The player cannot be recruited by any other school.

• The player must enroll at the school for at least a year, or he/she must give up 25 percent of college athletic eligibility.

• Once said player is enrolled at the school, he/she is bound by NCAA transfer rules, which allow the school’s coach to decide if the player can transfer and receive an athletic scholarship anywhere else. (Also, the athlete still must sit out a year after transferring regardless of whether the program released him or her to receive a scholarship.)

• All these penalties stay in effect even if the school fires the head coach or the head coach leaves (usually basketball) or the assistant coach who recruited the player takes a new job within a week of National Signing Day (usually football).

Here is what the NLI guarantees a player:

• Other schools aren’t allowed to recruit him.

That’s it.

Such a deal!

Now of course if you’re not a five-star stud, you may very well be stuck with the NLI on a take it or leave it basis.  But there are a few kids like this in every class…

That is, unless that player is special and the coach feels he must have him to succeed. That’s where Vanderdoes and Thomas, the Miami linebacker currently fighting with Florida State, made a mistake. Notre Dame or Florida State might not have signed those players had they declined to sign the NLI, but plenty of quality programs would have. That isn’t the case for the 20th guy in the East Carolina signing class, but it is for the recruits at the top of the food chain. Ole Miss was not going to say no to Loganville, Ga., defensive end Robert Nkemdiche if he didn’t want to sign an NLI.

So why doesn’t it happen very often?  Why are Vanderdoes’ and Thomas’ situations getting the attention they’re getting now?  There’s a pretty obvious explanation for that.  As Staples puts it, “The entire recruiting system is built on the premise that the schools know and make the rules and then enforce them on people who have little or no familiarity with the process.”  And that’s not going to change if the schools/coaches have anything to say about it.  And why should they?  There is no downside to a school reneging on a deal, as we saw with LSU and Elliott Porter.  (Fairness only goes so far for Les Miles.)  Meanwhile a player who wants out loses a year of eligibility.

It’s a crappy deal and it deserves more exposure, so kudos to Staples for laying out a plan of action.

The smartest move for players with dozens of scholarship offers is to refuse to sign. If every player in the Rivals100 for the class of 2014 refused to sign an NLI, top-tier schools would be forced to make some difficult choices. First, they’d have to decide if they wanted to allow the best players in the country to simply go elsewhere. (They wouldn’t allow that much talent to trickle down to the have-not schools — which would happily agree to the players’ terms.) Then, with their precious document neutered, would schools stick by the NLI, or would they adjust it to make it a little more reasonable?

We’ll only know if the top prospects decline to sign the worst contract in American sports and demand something better.

Every high school coach in America with a five-star recruit on his team ought to make sure his kid and his kid’s parents know about this.


Filed under College Football, Recruiting

The story of Gee

“What do I know about college football? I look like Orville Redenbacher. I have no business talking about college football.” – Gordon Gee, 2010.

Yet he kept at it.  And now he’s out of a job, presumably one he loves.  Smart guy.

The lesson that should be taken away from his retirement isn’t that Gee suffers from an incurable case of oral diarrhea.  It’s that Gee and Michael Adams and others of their ilk have an oversized impression of their abilities as captains of sport.  They act as if the revenue spurts their schools enjoy from college athletics are the result of their shrewd business acumen.  The reality is that they’re simply people in the right place at the right time who do just enough not to screw up the bounty they’ve been handed.

In other words, Gordon Gee is little more than Jed Clampett in a bow tie.

The real shame is that Mark Emmert’s strategy over the past couple of years has been to empower the school presidents with significant input in fashioning the NCAA’s direction.  Which explains a lot, when you think about it.


Filed under College Football, The NCAA