Daily Archives: April 21, 2016

“There’s got to be some limitations.”

You know, for a sport defined by a lack of parity, college football sure seems to have a lot of folks demanding a level playing field.


Filed under College Football

A stacked deck? Well, there’s nothing they can do about it.

This Dan Wetzel piece is good.  A taste:

In 2011, the University of Michigan athletic department employed 253 people, according to state records. Four years later, in 2015, it was 334, up 32 percent.

During that period, the average salary grew 22.4 percent, to $89,851. Over a seven-year span, the number of athletic department employees making six figures went from 30 to 81.

Michigan is hardly unique. It’s on par with its peers. Critics point to the salaries of big-name coaches, but it’s everything that is growing in college sports.

It’s the National Collegiate Industrial Complex.

Soaring media rights and vast new revenue streams continue to flood department coffers. Like any good non-profit bureaucracy, they have deftly figured out how to spend … mostly on themselves.

Michigan didn’t add 32 percent more sports in those four years, or 32 percent more scholarship athletes, requiring 32 percent more staffing.

It just made about $30 million more dollars per year, from $122.7 million in 2011 to $152.5 million in 2015. Most of the increase came courtesy of the Big Ten Network.

So it spent the money: on new workers and new raises and more assistant directors and more construction and additional private plane flight hours and the gold plating of everything…

All of this money – namely all of this brand-new money that isn’t even needed – ratchets up cries to share it with the student-athletes.

That’s the exact kind of black/white wedge issue however that college sports executives’ love. It’s so complicated, so all or nothing, so emotionally charged that they can use it to stall any progress or let the entire debate get bogged down in nonsense.  [Emphasis added.]

They can turn Marxist and note wrestlers work just as hard as football players. They can throw up their hands at Title IX. They can form another subcommittee and stage February meetings somewhere warm.

And they can hire another 100 people and refurbish their corner office. Or build an entirely new one, because, you know, it’s good for recruiting or something. They can spend every penny so they don’t actually have any left and then cry poverty (generally less than 20 athletic departments nationally turn a “profit” each year).

A lot of them still hit actual students up for athletic fees, because college isn’t expensive enough.

You can make all the excuses in the world for inaction, but the bottom line is that this is how a cartel behaves.  Because it can.  After all, that money isn’t going to spend itself.

If your objection to this is simply that players don’t deserve to be paid, Wetzel’s got a response for that, too.

The NCAA is vehemently opposed to paying the players or even allowing them to profit off their own image and likeness. (It’s worked well for the Olympics.) Doing so might chip into the revenue coming in, after all.

Why do the schools limit the number of scholarships handed out though? Why do they not provide additional educational opportunities for athletes? Not just in football and basketball, but all sports. Non-revenue teams exist essentially as a form of welfare from what football and men’s basketball brings in, a questionable practice but one that isn’t reasonably going to change.

So go with it. Why does women’s gymnastics have an average roster of 19, according to scholarshipstats.com, yet can only offer 12 scholarships, which they often divvy up? Why not all 19? The money is there. Or coming. Men’s gymnastics is capped at just 6.5 scholarships. That, leadership says, is because of Title IX. Fine, so add seven to each side.

That’s 14 more kids getting a full ride. Then move on to soccer and softball and swimming and everything else.

Or they can add a hundred new jobs and dole out bigger raises and construct bigger facilities that no one rightfully needs. They can put the kids paying their own way in a nicer locker room or hire Ludacris to 15 minutes. Before long, it’s all spent and there is nothing left for the players.

Then they can keep dropping draconian rulings and say any solution is simply impossible while they stand around and argue about real dangerous, pressing issues such as where Jim Harbaugh wants to stage a practice.

It’s a corrupt system, plain and simple.  If it’s really supposed to be about the student-athletes, big time college athletics sure has a funny way of showing it.



Filed under It's Just Bidness

Race to the bottom

Nathan Deal is all in on Senate Bill 323.

Our AJC colleague Dan Chapman asked him Wednesday why he signed Senate Bill 323, which allows the athletic departments at UGA, Georgia Tech and other state colleges to wait 90 days before responding to Open Records Act requests. Athletic associations, like all state agencies, previously had three days to acknowledge the requests.

“The members of the General Assembly felt that that was necessary and I’m sure Greg and you have already tried to figure out how long it takes for the University of Alabama to respond to similar inquiries already being made of the University of Georgia as well,” he told Chapman. “We’ll see how long it takes you to get a response from them.”

I never thought I’d see the day when the overriding goal of my state government would be for this state to become more like Alabama.  Or that most people would think that was swell.  Maybe we ought to scour their books for a few more ideas.


Filed under Political Wankery, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Auburn with a lake vs. Auburn

It suddenly dawned on me that the Auburn/Clemson game could be a lot of fun to watch.

Meanwhile, Auburn has more questions than answers at many of its positions.

For one, a newcomer could be Auburn’s starting quarterback when Clemson comes to the Plains. Auburn’s identity could also change at several position groups, including the entire defense with the addition of five new staff members, including former Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

Steele was fired at Clemson after West Virginia knocked off the Tigers 70-33 in the 2012 Orange Bowl.

Deshaun Watson facing the Auburn defense does not promise to generate a low-scoring result.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

Always be digging.

Georgia will always be on the mind of one Steven Orr Spurrier.

What are the best jobs in the SEC? Steve Spurrier says it’s Georgia and LSU.

On Finebaum, Spurrier said, “Of course, Nick Saban has made Alabama the best right now, but as far as recruiting advantages, LSU doesn’t have much competition in their state, and Georgia pretty much should own their state there. “

“Pretty much should own their state”, eh?  That’s a subtle change in tune from what he once lobbed in Ray Goff’s direction.

Spurrier could recruit, but he could also coach. He felt Goff and his staff at Georgia, on the other hand, only proved themselves adept at the former. So after Spurrier and the Gators whupped the Bulldogs 45–13 in 1991, he asked the following hypothetical question.

“Why is it that during recruiting season they sign all the great players, but when it comes time to play the game, we have all the great players? I don’t understand that. What happens to them?”

I guess Georgia doesn’t recruit like it did in Goff’s day.


UPDATE:  I’m not the only one.

… And naming Georgia as the SEC East’s top job isn’t a controversial statement either.

But it’s also a hint-hint, nudge-nudge at his dominance of the hated Bulldogs as a head coach. Spurrier went an astounding 11-1 against Georgia during his dozen years at Florida (the Gators were 2-10 against UGA in the 12 years prior to Spurrier’s arrival) and 5-6 against the Dawgs at South Carolina (the ‘Cocks had beaten Georgia 13 times in 57 tries before the HBC got to Columbia).

If Georgia is the best job in the SEC East, it makes his six SEC championships and eight SEC East titles won while working at jobs worse than that one look all the more impressive. For the record, Georgia has won two SEC titles and five SEC East crowns over that same span.

An overly cynical view of Spurrier’s honest and entirely reasonable assessment? Perhaps. But I doubt it.


Filed under The Evil Genius

This is what you get when you mix Jim Harbaugh and the NCAA together.

Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more to be said about the NCAA’s ban on satellite camps comes the news that two conference reps on the D1 Council voted against the wishes of their conferences.  The Pac-12 vote was evidently so egregious that Larry Scott criticized it.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday night that the league’s representative on the Council, UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero, “Did not vote the way he was supposed to vote.”

Scott said 11 of the conference’s 12 member schools favored the existence of satellite camps.  When asked which school did not, he said, “I’m not gonna say. Form your own conclusion.”

When a reporter replied, “You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes on that one,” Scott said, “I can’t blow anything by you.”

UCLA officials did not reply to a request for comment from Guerrero. Council representatives are not required to vote to the exact wishes of their conference membership.

Scott said the Pac-12’s voting guidelines call for a “directed vote” in the case of a clear position by conference members. He said while the members favor comprehensive study of football recruiting, “in the meantime we preferred the status quo (in satellite camps), which for us allows coaches to attend camps in other markets.”

“He didn’t follow what was supposed to be a directed vote,” Scott said.

Guerrero’s response?  Um, well

However, in an April 13 email obtained by FOX Sports later Wednesday night, Guerrero indicates he was trying to protect the conference from being at a competitive disadvantage if the SEC proposal passed, so instead he voted to approve the ACC’s proposal (2015-59), which came up first.

At issue for Guerrero with the SEC proposal: other programs would be permitted to hold camps within 50 miles while the Pac-12 would be prevented from doing that by their own conference rule, keeping institutional camps on campus.

“Prior to these meetings, I had extensive conversations with Pac-12 representatives in regard to the Conference’s position on a number of legislative proposals — the ‘satellite camp’ proposals included,” Guerrero wrote to his Pac-12 colleagues. “With an 0–11–1 vote cast by the Pac-12 Council, a vote to oppose [both] proposals was the charge with the ultimate goal to refer the legislation [back] to the Football Oversight Committee (FOC).

“Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged. In fact this was the preferred outcome by our Conference as indicated in the preparatory materials I received prior to the meeting.

“When this did not happen … I made the call to support [the ACC’s version], which was the preference of the two options.”

Andy Staples translates the gobbledygook.

Guerrero climbed from beneath the bus under which Scott threw him Wednesday and told SI.com that he went to the meeting with the intention of voting against the ban—if it even came to a vote. Guerrero had expected the Football Oversight Committee to table the satellite camp discussion, but a one-vote margin moved it to the council for action. And when it became apparent from the discussions in the meeting that the Big 12, Sun Belt and Mountain West would join the ACC and SEC in voting for the ban, Guerrero had to make a call because the Pac-12’s “no” vote would not change the outcome. This is common in the NCAA’s version of representative democracy. Occasionally leagues will direct a representative to vote a certain way no matter what.

In other cases, the representative will be given latitude to assess the situation and cast the vote that either helps the league the most or damages the league the least. It appears this was one such situation for Guerrero. There were two proposals before the council. Proposal 2015–59, from the ACC, was the one that ultimately passed. It banned FBS coaches from hosting or working camps off their own campuses. Proposal 2015–60, from the SEC, was modeled on the SEC’s rule that banned coaches from working camps more than 50 miles from campus. Because the Pac-12 has a rule that bans coaches from hosting—but not from working—camps off their own campuses, Guerrero voted for 59 to block 60.

“My assessment was that one of the two was going to pass, and we didn’t know which one,” Guerrero said. “I had to vote for 59 because if that failed and 60 passed, Pac-12 schools would have been at a disadvantage.”

What he means is that other schools would have been allowed to hold camps within 50 miles while Pac-12 schools would be banned by their own rule from doing that. Whether closing that particular potential loophole is worth all the grief Guerrero has received since casting that vote is another question. But it is clear Guerrero did not expect the issue to come to a vote…

To put it even more succinctly, Guerrero didn’t have a fucking clue what he was doing.

Not that he was alone.

Sun Belt NCAA Council rep Larry Ties, the athletic director at Texas State, cast his vote against satellite camps despite a “majority” of conference officials supporting it, according to commissioner Karl Benson.

All of this is allowed by the NCAA legislative process. Council members are expected to consider input from around the conference before making their own decisions.

“The majority of Sun Belt membership did support the camps,” Benson said. “It wasn’t unanimous, but Larry Ties based [his vote] on dialogue. He made a decision based on the best interests of college football.”

“There are conferences that do a crap job of prepping their people,” countered one FBS official.

Now there’s your understatement of the day.

You can probably guess the punchline that’s coming here.

Because Power Five conference votes count double, the result of the vote was 10–5 for the ban. Had Guerrero and Teis voted in accordance with the wishes of the majority of their respective conferences’ schools, the result would have been 8–7 against the ban.

If the NCAA ever decides to adopt a theme song, it ought to be “Yakety Sax“.

Staples believes the vote will likely be revisited by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors when it meets on April 28.  Eh, maybe.  As he goes on to note, “(t)he board typically rubber-stamps the council’s votes, but in this case it could overturn the result and demand the issue be discussed more thoroughly before a rule is enacted.”  If that’s where things go, it won’t be without a fight.

And you’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that Greg Sankey is disappointed.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, whose conference is widely considered to have led the charge against satellite camps, fired back at critics of the legislation to reporters here Wednesday.

“What’s caught me by surprise is the notion that there’s a lot of name-calling and finger-pointing,” he said. “It’s not a healthy byproduct of the legislative process.”

In the land of the morons, the half-assed man is king.


Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

Need a G-Day game hype video?

Okay, here’s a G-Day game hype video.


Filed under Georgia Football

Baghdad Bill rides again.

Bill Hancock may blame the decline in the college football playoffs’ TV ratings at least partly on a “sophomore slump”, but the slump doesn’t extend to the most awesome part of the CFP.

There will again be six weeks of rankings during the season, the first on Nov. 1 and with the final poll coming out Dec. 4.

“That’s a good number,” said Hancock, noting the first ranking will be after the ninth week of the season and provide “plenty of games to evaluate.”

Hancock believes the CFP rankings have helped the regular season.

“I think we probably underestimated how much boost that would give to the regular season, as fans from around the country could now look around and see who they had to cheer for,” he said.

So you see, we were more excited about the chase to see which schools would be in the semi-finals than we were the semi-finals themselves.  Boy, don’t I feel foolish now for ever having thought the regular season risked being diminished by an extended postseason.

I wonder how long it takes for him to come up with some of the crap he says.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Blowing Smoke

“Our thing is, when you go, you go.”

For those of you fretting over the wussification of college football, this Paul Myerberg piece on the evolution of tackling in practice is worth a read.

It’ll be interesting to watch over the next few years to see if those teams which have gone to rugby-style tackling are fundamentally sound in games.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The Body Is A Temple

How do you know when the NCAA is lying to you?

When somebody tells you there’s a spending crisis.

Okay, if you want the longer answer…

So how has this perpetual crisis rhetoric survived so long in the face of year-over-year revenue growth? The best explanation comes from a working paper by two economics professors at Western Kentucky University, Brian Goff and Dennis Wilson, which explains how useful it is to look poor whenever someone comes looking for money:

Keeping awareness of the rent flow4 low, permits either certain athletic or other university officials discretion over use of the flows. As a result, the most common practice over many decades has been to minimize or diminish apparent surpluses. In fact, the supposed losses have been a means for university presidents to pursue “cost containment.”

In other words, we’re always in a crisis because the people in power have a vested interest in seeming poor. This means many of those who’ve been predicting a looming college sports apocalypse have something very much in common with your run-of-the-mill apocalypse cult: They have something to sell. It’s worked for a century, so why not keep selling it until people stop buying?

Makes you wonder if anyone in Congress will be paying attention when Mark Emmert comes calling to ask for that antitrust exemption.


Filed under The NCAA