Monthly Archives: May 2014

The reason God created the mute button

Thanks, WWL.



Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

A rock and a hard play, indeed

Mike Slive, master of subtlety:

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said if the Power Five conferences — which also include the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 12, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — don’t get the flexibility needed to create their own bylaws, the next step would be to move to “Division IV.”

“It’s not something we want to do,” Slive said on the final day of the SEC meetings. “We want the ability to have autonomy in areas that has a nexus to the well-being of student athletes. I am somewhat optimistic it will pass, but if it doesn’t, our league would certainly want to move to a Division IV. My colleagues, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t feel the same way.”

You don’t say things like that if the move towards autonomy is going smoothly.  You probably don’t get all grandiose about your ambitions, either.

“We hope everyone realizes we are moving into a new era and this is the way to retain your collegiate model. It would be a disappointment, and in my view a mistake, not to adapt the model. This is a historic moment. If we don’t seize the moment, we’ll make a mistake.”

Who’s this “we” you’re talking about, Commish?  Let University of Florida President Bernie Machen explain.

“We’re in a squeeze here,” Machen said. “There are now six lawsuits that name our conference in them that specifically have to do with the whole cost of attendance and stuff like that. We would like to make changes, but we can’t because the NCAA doesn’t allow us to. We’re really caught between a rock and a hard play. We desperately would like some flexibility.”

Problem is, the little guys are worried about the hard play, too.  Just ask ’em.

Like several other commissioners outside the Power 5, however, Aresco has questions about whether some of the areas initially included under the autonomy banner instead belong to all 32 conferences in Division I.

And one of those issues in particular — transfer rules — could very well be a fulcrum for how much power the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 are allowed to grab.

Last week, when Pac-12 presidents outlined their plan for reform in a letter to the other 53 presidents of power conference schools, one of the 10 bullet points was to “liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.”

What that liberalization encompasses, however, was left vague — perhaps intentionally. Even the power conference schools themselves aren’t sure how far to take it.

But the proverbial line in the sand could be drawn if the Power 5 want to loosen the rules so much that athletes wouldn’t have to sit out a year if they transfer.

Schools in the American or Mountain West see the possibility of de facto free agency as a major threat, where an Alabama or Texas could theoretically try to fill a hole on their roster by simply poaching a player who excelled in a less prestigious conference.

Now free agency would cut both ways.  As I mentioned before, there would be nothing stopping a Sun Belt school from trying to entice a kid warming the bench at Alabama to jump ship.  But if this sort of recruiting turns into an ongoing venture, who’s better equipped to manage it?  To put it another way, how many advisors do you think Nick Saban would bring on board to handle mid-majors recruiting?

So it’s understandable if the middies are reluctant to sign on to something they worry they’ll get steamrolled over.  But Slive’s message is that it’s a futile concern, because one way or another, the Big Five are going to get what’s coming to them.  And if that’s not clear enough,

… Machen envisions rough waters ahead if things don’t change.

“The whole thing could go up in smoke if the lawsuits come down or with the unionization rule,” he said. “So the whole intercollegiate model is at risk if we don’t do something. If they don’t want to do this, it seems to me it’s incumbent upon them to come up with something else that will help us get out us this box.”

My bet is they throw in the towel in August when the NCAA board of directors votes on the steering committee’s proposal.  Really, what choice do they have?


Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, The NCAA

Bernie Machen wants those transferring kids to stay out of his yard.

Amid news that the SEC not surprisingly has dropped its resistance to the graduate transfer rules comes some rather muddled thinking from Florida President Bernie Machen (okay, not his first rodeo when it comes to that):

Florida president Bernie Machen opposes the NCAA rule allowing immediate eligibility at a new school if a player graduates. Florida has recently added two high-profile graduate transfers: Virginia football player Jake McGee and Michigan basketball player Jon Horford.

“If they really wanted to transfer somewhere else, they should sit out a year,” Machen said. “Why didn’t Horford stay at Michigan another year? Because he had a free pass.”

When asked why not give athletes the flexibility to transfer once they’ve accomplished the goal of graduating, Machen replied, “Go to grad school at Michigan. They have some pretty good grad schools. … It’s really just a way for a school to fill a void at the very last minute, or a player going to get more playing time without having to sit out.”

Um, dude, do you even talk to your head coaches?  And if you do, why not simply tell them you won’t allow the transfers?


Filed under Gators, Gators...

“A payment of $2,000 to $4,000 is not earning a living.”

It seems like every time there’s a development in the O’Bannon litigation, it just makes me wonder what the NCAA is thinking… other than to postpone the inevitable, I suppose.  Now word comes of a finalized settlement with the video game maker.

College football and basketball players have finalized a $40 million settlement with a video game manufacturer and the NCAA’s licensing arm for improperly using the likenesses of athletes, leaving the NCAA alone to defend itself in the upcoming Ed O’Bannon antitrust trial.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed the settlement agreement with a federal court in Oakland, California, on Friday night in an action that could deliver up to $4,000 to as many as 100,000 current and former athletes who appeared in EA Sports basketball and football video games since 2003.

That would be money paid to players for their likenesses, no?  What say you about that, NCAA?

Current players who would be due compensation include any who have appeared in EA Sports games, a legal outcome that creates another challenge to the NCAA’s prohibition on players receiving money for the use of their images as athletes.

Asked about the chances that the NCAA might object, Berman said, “The NCAA could do that. But they’ve released statements saying they wouldn’t. To me, the definition of a professional is someone who earns a living at what they do. A payment of $2,000 to $4,000 is not earning a living.”

About that, Stacey Osburn had no comment.

The rest of the results from the settlement read like a horror show for the NCAA:

However, Wilken will allow discussion about the video games, the evidence from which is valuable to the plaintiffs’ position that the NCAA and member schools knew they were in the wrong.

In the EA-CLC settlement paperwork, lawyers reminded Wilken of some of the more indicting e-mails. They cited a July 2009 e-mail from former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe saying that the conference board was “uneasy with the exploitation of player’s names and likenesses for commercial purposes.” Bill Powers of the University of Texas wrote: “It looks like the NCAA makes money from the licenses. Why should we be defendants in this, rather than plaintiffs representing our students?” Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln wrote: “(This) whole area of name and likeness and the NCAA is a disaster leading to a catastrophe as far as I can tell.”

In June 2013, former University of Michigan president James Duderstadt wrote that “(in) a sense, the NCAA’s objective is to preserve the brand so that it provides revenue primarily for a small number of people who get very, very rich on the exploitation of young students who really lose opportunities for their futures. … And that’s what’s corrupt about it. The regulations are designed to protect the brand, to protect the playing level and keep it exciting, not to protect the student athletes.”

Still, along the way, NCAA officials worked to allow EA to use player avatars in the video games, in which player names were left off but easily downloaded from the Internet by individual users, plaintiffs’ lawyers claim. Those officials include former NCAA president Myles Brand.

“EA’s internal spreadsheets show that each avatar was matched to dozens of the real student-athlete’s identifying characteristics,” according to the settlement. “For example, for the NCAA football videogame, EA matched: (1) the name of the real student-athlete; (2) his real-life jersey number; (3) his position played; (4) his hometown; (5) his year of eligibility; (6) his athletic abilities (on at least 22 dimensions, including speed, strength, agility, etc.); (7) his physical characteristics (on at least 26 dimensions, including, weight, height, skin color, face geometry, hair style, muscle shape, etc.); and (8) how he dressed for games in real life (on at least 28 dimensions, including shoes, how they taped, braces worn, undershirts, facemask and helmet styles, etc.).”

The good news hardly ends there.

Wilken did allow that plaintiffs can enter evidence related to the amount of injuries players incur in the course of playing for their universities. They’ll also be able to highlight the salaries of top NCAA administrators, which have grown as new revenues have flowed into the top tier of college sports.

So even if Mark Emmert isn’t there, his compensation package will be.

Keep in mind this is a bench trial, so when Judge Wilken makes a call on what evidence can be presented, what she’s really saying is that this is information that is material to her final ruling.  That ain’t good, no matter how vociferously Donald Remy argues to the contrary.  They’ve probably already got someone working on the appellate brief as I type this.  Well played, NCAA.


Filed under The NCAA

The yin to Saban’s yang

Junior, I mean.

Nick’s the buttoned up, kinda grumpy, don’t have time for this shit dude.  Laner’s the guy who writes checks with his mouth he can’t cash.

“As you guys know extremely well, I think the offense is led by the tailbacks. … There probably aren’t three more talented tailbacks in the NFL on a roster than we’re fortunate to be able to work with at Alabama.”

Well, now.


Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

“We also understand that other traditional dates may not stay in the same window of times…”

I am getting so tired of this.

Georgia and Auburn officials say it hasn’t been discussed officially, but moving the deep South’s oldest rivalry to earlier in the season is “on the table.”

That was how it was put by Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who said his school’s priority is keeping the date of the annual game with Florida. Moving that game would be difficult because of being in Jacksonville and it involves an NFL stadium.

The reason, of course, that they take this cutesy position is because of the scheduling shift adopted last year, which leaves both schools playing rivals on the road every other year to wrap up the season.  It’s cutesy because they’re not saying they’re gonna move it, but…

McGarity and Georgia head coach Mark Richt have said they are fine with playing two rivalry games on the road that close together. Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said he was open to moving the Georgia game if it’s decided that’s best.

“Right now we’re committed to playing just like we have, the Georgia game at home or away, then a non-conference game, then Alabama home or away. I think there’s merit to taking a look at that down the road,” Jacobs said. “In the perfect world I’d prefer it to be where we’d have another game at that back end, whether it was a Texas A&M or moving Georgia up or whatever it may be but it’s hard to argue with 2013, how it worked out for us having those two games at the end of the year.

So much for decades of tradition wrapping up division and conference titles in that rivalry game.

When you’re done jerking things around, could you let us know, fellas?  Assuming that’s a when, not if, question, that is.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football

The cool part of the afternoon

Time for the opener’s been set.

Could be worse, that’s for sure.


Filed under Georgia Football

What’s another $15 million a year?

Not exactly chump change:

How much will the network cost me to get?

According to Sports Business Journal, carriers in the 11-state SEC footprint are expected to pay $1.30 per month per subscription. In non-SEC states, the license fee would be only 25 cents, according to SBJ.

How much is the network going to be worth to each school?

It’s hard to count that high.

Based on the rate within SEC states alone, if you multiply $1.30 times 12 months times the estimated 30 million subscribers in that footprint, you get $468 million. That would be $33.4 million per school — per year. And that’s without counting advertising revenue or subscribers from non-SEC states. Factor that in, and the SEC Network could easily be worth $500 million per year or $35.7 million per school once full distribution is achieved.

Easily.  And what’s that going to mean for the fan?  Ask Joe Alleva.

Currently, each SEC school gets about $20 million per year in TV revenue, so it’s easy to see what a huge impact the network will have on SEC bottom lines. LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva has said he hopes revenue from the SEC Network will reduce or at least postpone the need for raising ticket prices.

Well, we can always hope.  But I think that’s about as likely as a hope that beer sales will reduce or at least postpone the need for raising ticket prices.

At least they’ll be able to afford to fund that tenth football coaching position now.  So there’s that.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Necessity is the mother of less amateurism.

I know some of you cling to that romantic, Chariots of Fire version of amateurism… you know, because there’s so much British aristocrats and inner city kids have in common.  It’s charming, and the NCAA thanks you for your service.  The reality, though, is that amateurism at its heart is about control, nothing more and nothing less.

Don’t believe me?  Well, check out what Dennis Dodd says Mike Slive’s conference is pondering right now.

We’re being asked to care about, oh, 100 kids. A hundred football players out of 450,000. When you start evaluating the early entries into the NFL Draft, that care factor comes out to .00022 percent of all NCAA athletes.

And, yet what the SEC is thinking about — what all of college football is having to consider — is upheaval. The answer to a record number of undrafted juniors (almost 40 percent) is to allow perhaps more agent interaction.

You can semantically dress it up any way you want. Commissioner Mike Slive here at the SEC spring meetings this week called for a “neutral or selfless” panel “so credible” that its advice to these wayward youths cannot be denied.

Amateurs, we’ve been told over and over, don’t need professional advisors.  It’s even codified.

There’s a quiet revolution coming in the next few months. Legislation emerging from autonomy could come as soon as January. The commissioners will have to deal with this issue head-on at some point. It could require changing the NCAA’s decades-old view of improper agent dealings:

Bylaw 12.3.1 reads: You are not eligible in a sport if you ever have accepted money, transportation or other benefits from an agent or agreed to have an agent market your athletics ability …

That was all great until the futile outflow of talent – those juniors may not have been drafted, but that doesn’t mean they were warming the bench in college – turned into a torrent that doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down any time in the near future.  At least not without some proper management, right, Mike?  And the SEC is here to help, kids.

Slive’s intent is invite “people into the tent,” to provide better career counseling.

“Let’s be more open about it,” he added. “Instead of the separation of it, let’s bring them in as opposed to doing things more covertly.”

The SEC obviously has a stake in the issue. Nick Saban would like the NFL to invite a more realistic number of prospects to the combine. The SEC has had its share of slimy agent issues.

“If you have a student who is incredible at biology, if some petroleum company wants to come hire him, they’ll talk to him as a junior,” Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said. “The challenge that we have, is telling our student-athletes … where they would go in the draft. Whether that is using agents or some other model we’ve got to provide better resources.”

The nobility is touching.  I might even believe it on the day when the SEC announces it’s permitting recruits to seek professional representation before signing a letter of intent.  Until then, I think I know who is best being served here.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Summer camp blues

In one sense, I’m a little amused by the firestorm that’s arisen over James Franklin’s end run around the summer camp rule.  The SEC coaches are pissyNotre Dame thinks it’s a swell idea, too.  It’s even given ESPN’s bloggers the chance to wax righteously indignant over Houston Nutt’s 37-signee class.  Again.

Fun times, indeed.  (And when can we expect Corch to announce an appearance?  You know he’s got to be kicking himself for not coming up with the idea first.)

But ultimately, it’s futile for the SEC to wage this fight.  The NCAA isn’t going to do anything about it, especially in the new age of autonomy.  And the coaches up north are going to keep at it, because here’s where the talent is.


Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football