Daily Archives: June 21, 2015

Today, in grasping at straws

Meet Jim Mora, evil recruiting genius.

By the way, Athlon, why wouldn’t that work just as well in reverse for Mark RiIcht?

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Filed under Recruiting

This college game ain’ no big thang, mane.

You know who’s surprisingly blase about Brian Schottenheimer’s transition from the NFL to the college game?

Brian Schottenheimer.

“It’s really not that different. The thing that’s probably been the biggest adjustment for me has been the evaluation process, quite honestly,” Schottenheimer said. “I’m used to see more of the finished product. I’m used to seeing more of the 22 or 23-year-old young man instead of trying to evaluate younger kids. But in terms of coaching them, we do the same drills here that we did all the way back in San Diego, we did in New York, we did St. Louis.”

Easy peasy, dawg.  Let’s hope he feels the same way in October.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The Pac-12’s big maybe

Boy, if there was ever a “devil is in the details” proposal, this is it.

The Pac-12 is believed to be the first conference to direct schools to pay post-college medical costs for sports-related injuries that an athlete suffered at their school. What eligibility criteria is used by Pac-12 schools will help determine how much help former athletes receive and at what costs without people abusing the benefit. The new practice could also set a blueprint for the NCAA or other conferences to follow or avoid.

Pac-12 schools must provide direct medical expenses for at least four years following the athlete’s graduation or separation from the university, or until the athlete turns 26 years old, whichever occurs first. The timeframe for coverage was chosen in part because by the age of 26 a person is covered by the Affordable Care Act.

There’s a “but” coming, I can feel it.

Each school will establish its own policies and procedures to determine who is eligible for the benefit. The conference office has no role in oversight, leaving Pac-12 schools to figure out the best approach.

Let the head scratching commence.

“It’s going to be hard to calculate,” Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said. “When was the injury created? How will we do it? We want to do the right thing and try to help out, and wherever it lands I’m going to support it. But I’m not sure right now what that is.”

The Pac-12 bylaw states that a school’s policies to determine eligibility “may include the required disclosure of pre-existing conditions not related to participation in intercollegiate athletics, mandatory reporting of injuries suffered during athletics participation at the institution, required participation in an exit physical upon graduation or separation from the institution, and other criteria that an institution deems appropriate.” In other words, Pac-12 schools are on their own to figure this out.

“It’s such a difficult thing to wrap your head around because what’s continuation of a problem and what’s a new problem?” Arizona athletic trainer Randy Cohen said. “How do you handle people who continue to do activities and maybe you recommend they don’t continue doing that? We really want to take care of these kids. But at what point is it the risk of playing sports and having injuries versus we hurt you?”

Most likely, Pac-12 schools will use exit medical evaluations of players to determine eligibility and buy insurance policies that carry stipulations, such as for in-network and out-of-network coverage. However, Cohen said finding insurance to cover an injury for four years out is difficult because most providers want a condition treated within two years. Cohen said Arizona will likely add four years to its insurance plan at a cost of a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, and require that for athletes to have costs covered they show a preexisting injury, undergo a departing physical when leaving the college, and demonstrate they followed recommendations for their health.

Cohen, who chairs the college committee for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, rattles off potential challenges to managing the Pac-12 rule. What if an ex-player elects for surgery against the wishes of medical experts who say surgery will only make the injury worse? Is the school responsible for that surgery and if the injury worsens? Does the university get portrayed as the bad guy in the media if the former player tells the public the school wouldn’t pay its costs?

How should caring for mental health related to concussions be treated? If a school agrees with research that shows hits to the head can cause long-term brain damage, that degenerative process might not occur until after the Pac-12’s four-year window. So should there be payments to the athlete if dementia occurs 20 years later?

What if a gymnast tore an ACL in college that leaves her with an arthritic knee, she runs marathons two years later, and tells the school her knee is bothering her and needs to be treated? Then what if a 225-pound football player left college saying his knee felt fine, blew up to 300 pounds after his career ended and has a bad knee while mainly sitting on the couch?

“Do I not take care of the girl when she’s exercising and making it worse, but I take care of the guy who’s doing absolutely nothing and gaining 75 pounds?” Cohen asked. “Most people logically would say if you’re doing something that aggregates the knee, don’t pay them. But on the other end, if the guy does nothing to help his knee, how do I balance those two? We don’t want to encourage people not to have active lives after they’ve stopped playing. I don’t have an answer to that.”

At some point in time, you figure these guys are just gonna throw up their hands and decide it’ll be easier to deal with a players’ union.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, Pac-12 Football, The Body Is A Temple

“We’re not done yet.”

In the Blogger Roundtable podcast Weiszer and Page hosted this week, I was asked if I was making preparations to go to Los Angeles for the UCLA game scheduled a decade from now.  It was a tongue-in-cheek question, and I treated it as such, but what I would have liked to get into then was a discussion about scheduling priorities.  There wasn’t time, so I’ll do it here.

I can’t deny there’s a certain novelty to the experience of traveling to the Rose Bowl, or to see Touchdown Jesus, that has an appeal to me.  In the long run, though, as a fan of a program in the Southeastern Conference, I’d rather have the satisfaction that comes with a nine-game conference schedule.

If it’s a venue I want to see, I don’t need for the Dawgs to be there for me to enjoy that.  If I want to see Georgia play in Tuscaloosa, though, I’ve got to wait twelve years under the present format; with a ninth SEC game on the books, that gap shortens noticeably. Either way, it’s one less slot for a cupcake game on the schedule, so there’s no skin of McGarity’s back whichever way it goes.

But that’s not what these high profile games are about.

“We wanted to be able to compete in some non SEC games that really from a national perspective were very attractive,” McGarity said.

Attractive to whom, Greg?

“We do want to be picky,” McGarity said. “We are targeting certain teams and venues that bring excitement not only for our fans and students, but college football fans in general.”

Translation:  we want a football schedule that our broadcast partners find pleasing.

Just shut up and hand over your credit card.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Mad dawgs and Georgia fans go out in the midday sun.

A timely follow-up to a point of discussion in the comments to my last post can be found in the most recent of Bill King’s Mailbags.

Bobby Flannagan writes: Bill, like you I go way back with the Dawgs and remember the days when you could count on games in Athens kicking off at 1 p.m. (or, for years before that, 2 p.m.). Nowadays, you have to keep your plans on hold, sometimes until only a little more than a week ahead of time when they finally announce the kickoff time. And when they do, it could be noon, could be 3:30 p.m., could  be 6:30 p.m — you never know! Those noon games all but kill the gameday experience since they just about rule out any meaningful pre-game tailgating. And in the case of a cupcake game like Louisiana-Monroe, that’s taking away just about the most enjoyable aspect of the day! Sure, you can tailgate after the game to wait out the horrible Athens traffic, but by then most of us would just as soon be on our way home. Is there any hope of sanity being restored to kickoff times?

Short answer: Nope. Television calls the shots when it comes to kickoff times, and, with the addition last year of the SEC Network, now that applies even the games against lesser opponents. It’s the downside of the Faustian deal college football has signed with the TV networks: you take their money, you give up control. Just be thankful that (so far) UGA has made it clear it doesn’t want to play on Thursday nights like so many other schools are willing to do. If they ever relent on that, you’re going to hear howls from the fans in South Georgia.

Actually, I’m more grateful not to be the fan of a school in the SEC’s Western Division.  There you get the pleasure of having to show up for cupcake games with starting times in the morning.

What’s really sad about this isn’t that King is right – he is, of course.  It’s that we’re all so resigned to it.  There’s no way to fight Mickey, and we know it.

We’ve lost control of the schedule and sooner or later it’ll be the program that pays the price.  Michael Adams may be happy that the tailgating experience is shrinking, but at the end of the day, if you take that away from the fan base, what do you have left to offer?  My home WiFi works better than Sanford Stadium’s does.

No wonder there was a preference for stadium food over tailgating in that study I linked yesterday.  You can’t lose what you never had.

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Filed under Georgia Football