Daily Archives: February 25, 2015

Shoot, the messenger

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but chuckle about the hope some of you have that this time the schools are serious about academics in pursuing the pipe dream of reinstating freshman ineligibility for football and basketball players. Why is that funny?  Because it depends upon believing people like Jim Delany.  You know, the guy who once said we’d have a college football playoff over his dead body.  The guy who once said that if the NCAA lost the O’Bannon case, the Big Ten would have no choice but to explore turning to a Division III model.

A guy who’s full of shit when the need arises, in other words.

The thing is, he’s not even bothering to bluff this time.

“We’re sort of on the clock, is the way a lot of us look at it,” Delany said in a recent interview with the Big Ten Network. “We’ve got a lot of litigation challenging intercollegiate athletics, we’ve got congressional interest and we have public skepticism. What we want to do is drive the message that education is first, athletics is second, even though these are the two most popular sports commercially.”  [Emphasis added.]

Got that?  This isn’t about serious academic reform.  It’s about optics with the public and having a sales pitch for the courts and the feds.  That’s all.

Delany as the front man is pretty amusing, too, when you get down to it.

And yet Delany is also more responsible than any other college athletics figure of the past 30 years in commercializing those sports. He annexed Penn State in the early ’90s, touching off the first massive TV-driven realignment wave. He started the influential and money-printing Big Ten Network. He touched off Realignment Mania II five years ago when the league began hunting for a 12th member that eventually became Nebraska, and then he took it to another degree with his conference’s East Coast push.

You know what would really help Rutgers’ basketball players focus on academics? Not having to travel to Iowa City in the middle of the week for a conference game, as they did last week.

Ah, c’mon.  They could always study on the plane, right?

11 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Living the dream

Those of you who think I ought to quit bitching about the NCAA’s twisted vision of amateurism really should fuck off.

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UPDATE:  A heartwarming farewell from Baylor…

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UPDATE #2:  It’s getting weird.

Okay.  Now, will somebody tell us what’s going on here?

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UPDATE #3:  Geez, guys.

Maybe Nacita declared himself ineligible.

121 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

The rise of Jordan Jenkins?

If there’s a roster position that should warm the cockles of your red and black heart, it’s outside linebacker, where, barring injuries (not an insignificant concern, given Floyd and Bellamy look to be limited in the spring), there should be an abundance of riches.

But what should really make your heart palpitate is that it sounds like Jordan Jenkins looks to be stepping up his game.

Is this going to be Jenkins’ team?
Reports from winter workouts have already been that Jordan Jenkins is stepping up as a senior and leading these Bulldogs, not just at outside linebacker or on defense. He is developing that type of presence for the entire team. And while that doesn’t sound out of character at all for a high-character guy Jenkins, it shouldn’t be overlooked, because Georgia’s defense really hasn’t had that kind of vocal, lightning-rod, clear leader since Jarvis Jones left early for the NFL. Most of that has come from the offensive side of the football, and while you will have an experienced offensive line and Malcolm Mitchell back at receiver, quarterback, tailback, tight end and other roles look to be filled by relatively young players in 2015. If there is one guy you’d point to as a team-wide leader, it just might be Jenkins.

He’s always been a sharp kid, but there’s been a sense on occasion that he hasn’t pushed himself to the best of his abilities.  If he’s ready to take on a leadership role on in a serious way, that tells me he’s matured.  And that could be really exciting to watch.

That’s your Dawg porn for today, folks.

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

This is why you can’t have nice things, student-athletes.

Putting lipstick on a pig ain’t cheap.  What, you’d rather see that money spent on cost of attendance support?

3 Comments

Filed under Blowing Smoke, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Stubborn is as stubborn does.

Jeff Schultz wrote something about the Braves’ recent change at hitting instructor that is worth pondering in the context of Georgia football.  No, really.

There was a week remaining in the last Braves’ season when hitting coach Greg Walker, worn down by too many strikeouts and hard-headed players, phoned team executive John Hart to announce his exit.

“He called me and said, ‘Uncle,’” Hart said. “He had done a good job here. I wanted him back, and I ended up bringing him back later as an adviser. But he said, ‘John, I’m done.’”

We’ll never know if Hart, now the Braves’ president of baseball operations, really intended to keep Walker as hitting coach, given that the club ranked 26th in the majors in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, 29th in runs scored and fourth in strikeouts.

But Walker’s exit reaffirmed his former job can crush a man’s will, fry his brains and lead them to run screaming into the night, like the health inspector at a nuclear-waste repository.

Now, we’re talking about professional baseball players, men who earn a salary from their job performance.  Skip playing winning baseball as a team goal.  You’d think that listening to people whose jobs are to make you better in your line of work would be natural, given that bettering yourself will eventually lead to a bigger paycheck.  But apparently last year’s Braves team had its share of stubborn knuckleheads who reacted to that kind of support like a stone does to running water.

And yet somehow, there’s a chunk of us who expect college players, who are (presumably) younger, dumber and motivated by things other than money, to absorb their coaches’ direction and play at their peak, emotionally, mentally and physically, week after week.  Because if they don’t, you can’t blame an inexplicable failure to be prepared at, say, a game against a mediocre Florida team on them.  It can only be the fault of lousy coaching.

That isn’t to say that coaching sometimes isn’t the right place to point the finger, or that some players do have the internal stamina to show up every week regardless.  But while Mark Richt, durr, may be a satisfying explanation for the knee-jerk crowd, sometimes you have to take into account that kids will be kids.  Learning to listen is part of growing up.  At least for some.

68 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Education first!, for the win

If there’s somebody who tosses out dumb stuff about college football more consistently than Matt Hayes… well, I probably need to know who it is, so I can have a new source to mock.

Hayes riffs off the notion that schools are considering reinstating freshman ineligibility, which he notes isn’t happening, to make the point that what schools are going to do is hold student-athletes accountable in ways going forward that they never have before.  Because, you know, gettin’ paid and all.

… Think about that: universities were upset because they were “paying” scholarship money, yet players weren’t playing in their freshmen seasons — so universities weren’t seeing a return on their investment.

But freshman ineligibility isn’t the point. The obvious question is, what’s next?

Where do universities set the bar, and how far do the tentacles reach? In other words, what exactly are the “multiple ideas” and how do they connect with the stated “education first” mantra?

It most certainly is education first if universities decide student athletes must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to be athletically eligible.

It most certainly is education first if universities decide student athletes must take 12 credit hours a semester (roughly four classes) — and (key point) must pass all 12 hours to be eligible the following semester (hello, One and Done).

It most certainly is education first if universities decide student athletes are immediately suspended from all team activities — including games, offseason workouts, access to weight room and training tables, etc. — for one full semester if these academic requirements are not met.

It most certainly is education first if universities decide once players are kicked off a team for behavior issues, they can’t play at another university for one full year — so they can adjust to academic life at their new institution.

BWAHAHAHA!!!  Stop it, you’re killin’ me.

You see, schools didn’t actually care about academics when the players, er, student-athletes, were mere amateurs.  But now that there’s real money involved, they’re gonna get all serious about it.  Because that will help them better realize a “return on their investment”.  Uh hunh.  I can’t wait to hear Mark Emmert sell that one in court.  Or to Nick Saban.

5 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Media Punditry/Foibles

Art Briles’ butt still hurts.

Which isn’t a real surprise, given what Baylor was denied.  (And it’s probably a precursor to future whining from coaches who just miss making the four-team tourney.)

But there’s a troubling part to his complaint.  As much as he tries to acknowledge that the fault lies on his end – “What we have to do is find a way to make sure when they’re voting that we’re giving them enough reason to vote for Baylor.” – he keeps coming back to the composition of the committee as suspect.

To that end, Briles likes the composition of the committee heading into 2015. He got his “Texan” — Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt (replacing West Virginia’s Oliver Luck) — and the return of Archie Manning. Hocutt is a Sherman, Texas native. Manning — that son of the South — intends to return if he can get over some physical issues that caused him to step down last season.

“What we’ve done now is really diversify the committee,” Briles said. “There’s people that represent all there is in the United States of America.

“I wasn’t really so much concerned about my needs. I just think it was the proper thing to do. If you have a jury, you have selected peers that qualify all across the levels. What we really have is a jury that needs to be qualified from all regions of the United States of America.”

Of course the process is subjective.  If anything, by ditching direct influence by computer rankings, the CFP folks have made the voting process more intensely human.  But subjective is one thing.  Alleging flat-out bias is another.  And that’s really the message Briles is sending.

And note that his solution isn’t to find ways to minimize bias  (*** approval voting *** cough *** cough ***).  It’s to introduce more bias in the hopes that it balances out in the end.  Coming from someone whose experience before this season has been with the effect of the Coaches Poll, I guess that’s to be expected.

But what’s the message being sent that such a level of bias is perceived to be built into the selection committee’s thinking?  I’d say that if we keep hearing stuff like this, it’ll wind up being another justification for enlarging the size of the postseason field.  The way most of these people think, the best cure for bias is wider inclusion.

19 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Wednesday morning buffet

Let me light the chafing dishes… ah, there.

27 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Urban Meyer Points and Stares