Daily Archives: May 4, 2016

One man’s “What’s the point?” is another’s “Just shoot me”.

Why you gotta bring me down like that, Ed Aschoff?

You simply can’t fight change. Doing so is foolish. That’s one reason the SEC has been so successful during the past decade. Those eight national championships in 10 years didn’t just materialize overnight. Careful planning and excellent business sense from league officials, universities and coaches have helped the SEC rise above the rest in college football.

Thanks to the skillful mind of former SEC commissioner Mike Slive, the SEC has stayed ahead of the curve for most of the 2000’s. New commissioner Greg Sankey is in the infancy of his reign as league commissioner, but if he wants to give the SEC another leg up on the competition, he could take a radical step into future planning.

Petition the NCAA to get rid of divisions in college football … even though the SEC created them in 1992.

Honestly, what’s the point? They are outdated, and hurt the conference more than help it.

And why so?

Elimination of divisions would also ensure that the two best teams would play in Atlanta every year. The West has won seven straight conference titles, six by 14 points or more. Florida (2008) is the last East team to win the conference. Let’s not act like there hasn’t been an imbalance of power in the SEC, thanks to divisions. There is an obvious disparity, creating more worry for teams and their true playoff hopes…

Nothing wrong with getting the most competitive game possible in your most important game every year by guaranteeing No. 1 vs. No. 2, which — wait for it — increases playoff hopes even more!

The SEC’s won, what, eight of the last ten national titles… so I guess if there were no divisions, it would have been a clean sweep.

At some point, my insistence that an expanded postseason is going to dilute the most unique thing college football has going for it, the most meaningful regular season in American sports, is going to resonate more generally.  When?  Well, if you ask Aschoff, probably ten years from now.

Cherish these days, SEC fans, because in 10 years you won’t recognize your league.

Another wave of expansion will hit and with the College Football Playoff expanding to at least eight teams within the next decade (sooner rather than later if the NCAA is smart), the SEC will go to nine conference games. The league finally will get rid of divisions (you’re welcome, Auburn and Missouri) and crown its winner by having an outright champion.

What, no SEC title game? Well, once the playoff expands (thank you) and the SEC moves to nine conference games, coaches will let their athletic directors and presidents know that they aren’t going to want to play more than 12 games before the playoff. Makes sense, so you either eliminate a nonconference game or the championship games. Less nonconference games hurts the smaller schools and since championship games affect fewer teams, buh-bye.

Gosh, I feel better already.  ‘Scuse me while I kiss the brackets.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, SEC Football

Bob Bowlsby’s mad math skillz

OMG!  It turns out the Big 12 Commissioner was wrong when he said that adding two teams and a conference championship game would increase the Big 12’s chances of cracking the college football playoffs by 4-5%.  It’s moar!

Analytics from Navigate Research are expected to show the Big 12 has at least a 10-15 percent better chance of reaching the CFP in any given year if it expands as opposed to staying in its 10-team configuration.

That percentage at least doubles than the “4-5 percent” improvement commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke about in Phoenix on Monday. That smaller figure discussed by Bowlsby only included the addition of a conference championship game, CBS Sports has learned.

The particular analysis used by Navigate for Wednesday’s presentation includes expanding the league to 12 with two additional teams, playing an eight-game conference schedule and staging a league championship game…

Oops.  This, of course, changes everything.  Except for this guy:

While the new data seems to suggest it would be in the 10-team conference’s best interest to expand, one league source called the existing analytics “statistically insignificant.”

If nothing else, expansion would provide a “buffer” of members if schools leave in the future.

Now there’s a comforting thought.  If Texas and Oklahoma leave, at least the rest of the conference would have the likes of BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston and Memphis to fall back on for comfort.

You have a bright future ahead of you, Bob.


Filed under Big 12 Football

The art of the sale

Compare and contrast two recruiting stories from Georgia’s Tyler Simmons:

When Simmons was around 8 years old, he was at Georgia Tech for a one-day youth camp. It was a short drive from where his family lived in Powder Springs. Now 18, he remembers approaching Paul Johnson, who had just been hired, and telling the Yellow Jackets’ head coach that he’d be back one day…

After Simmons’ recruiting heated up, another school to offer him was Georgia Tech. Simmons found himself in Johnson’s office.

“I told you I’d be back,” Simmons said.

Johnson didn’t remember the conversation.

Alabama’s lead recruiter was Kirby Smart.

Then the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator, Smart approached Simmons at last year’s state track meet. He showed him his phone, which had a video from the previous year’s track meet.

“This is how much I believed in you: I’ve been wanting you since Day 1. I recorded this,” Smart said, according to Simmons’ father.

Smart and Williams took pictures with Simmons, sent them back to Alabama coach Nick Saban, and invited him to Alabama’s first summer camp.

“Basically, Kirby was the one who wanted him the most,” Leah Simmons said. “That stood out.”

I’m not saying it’s fair to hold Paul Johnson to a standard of remembering what every kid at a camp said to him a decade ago – although if you told me Nick Saban had a support staffer who catalogued that for him, it wouldn’t exactly shock me – but a little more warmth or enthusiasm might help leave a better impression.

Maybe Tech’s rousing success on the recruiting trail can’t all be chalked up to the triple option.


Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

Ignore Nick Chubb at your own risk.

Vegas now has Chubb at 20-1 to win the Heisman Trophy this season.  As Seth Emerson puts it, “That may not sound like much, but consider that a) there’s still no timetable for Chubb’s return, and b) there are only nine players with better odds for the Heisman.”

I keep saying the most amazing thing about Chubb is the level of certainty out there that he’ll be a significant contributor this season.


Filed under Georgia Football, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

Degree integrity

When “just win, baby” and the NCAA’s seeming inability to come to grips with academic fraud come together, the results ain’t pretty.

Fortunately for North Carolina athletics, being put on probation by the regional accrediting agency charged with approving North Carolina’s academic credentials doesn’t affect the school’s eligibility to compete.  Which is more than you can say for student-athletes who get put on academic probation.  As for worrying about the status of those degrees, kids, how ’bout that basketball team, eh?


Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

“The proverbial fresh table cloth on the Titanic”

I got a couple of emails yesterday about MaconDawg’s much ado about nothing post regarding SB 323 asking me what I thought about it.  Honestly, some of what he writes strikes me as spot on and some not so much.

For example, he’s got the big picture right.

And so it should not be terribly surprising that the Georgia legislature passed a bill (really an amendment to a bill) which now gives state athletic departments 90 days to acknowledge their receipt of information requests (commonly called Freedom of Information Act or “FOIA” requests) rather than the prior statutory 3 days. Journalists, including journalists with SB Nation, have come out swinging against this. I want to be clear about something right up front: I agree with them. At its heart this new law is designed to keep information hidden from the public for longer. Anyone, whether the bill’s proponents, the Lieutenant Governor, or Kirby Smart who tells you differently is lying right to your face.

But it’s when he turns to explaining a number of reasons why this isn’t as a big deal as it may seem that I have to differ with him.  Start with this:

And here’s where opponents of the new law are missing the boat. Under the existing law in Georgia, and almost every other FOIA law in the nation, there was no firm deadline on how long they had to get me all the documents. Courts have awarded penalties (usually attorney’s fees) in cases where the institution is clearly stonewalling. And a court may make the state show what affirmative steps it has taken to gather and provide the information. But at no time has anyone in the UGA Athletic Association been under a duty to get me all  the information which I seek within 3 days. Never. And there is no firm guidance regarding what information is immediately available.

This law, at least as I read it, doesn’t eliminate university officials’ duty to respond to my request in a reasonably timely manner. It gives them 90 days to tell me they a) don’t have the information I requested, b) need additional information to determine whether they have it, c) won’t be turning it over because they don’t have to (for reasons of student privacy, for example), or d) will get it to me sometime before the Big Bang Theory gets cancelled.

That’s not inaccurate as far as it goes, but then he adds this as a conclusion:  “This new law does not prevent the UGA Athletic Association from obfuscating and buying time. Nor however does it allow them to do so where they couldn’t before.”  Well, except for that whole thing about not even letting the requesting party know whether any information exists in the first place for an additional eighty-seven days, I suppose he’s right.

And this strikes me as somewhat wishful thinking:

… Also bear in mind that there’s nothing in this new law that requires athletic associations to wait 90 days before responding. If I make a fairly simple request for readily available information I’d still expect that the folks in Athens will probably get it to me within a few days, as before.

The issue, it seems to me, won’t be over how simple a request is, or how readily available such information may be.  It’ll be how comfortable the athletic department is about letting the world know it exists when the request is made.  And that is really what lies at the heart and soul of the new law – that some potentially unpleasant matters are time sensitive and don’t have a particularly lengthy shelf life.  Why should we expect Butts-Mehre to respond any sooner than it absolutely has to in such cases?

No, the world isn’t going to end because of SB 323.  And, like MaconDawg, I don’t expect the school to use this new law as an excuse to behave in an egregiously nefarious way.  But if this law is such a benign thing, again, all I can go back to in response is to question the way in which it passed, as I did in this post:

So, ultimately, here’s what you’re being asked to swallow here:

  1. In the midst of recruiting, organizing the program and his very first spring practice preparation, Kirby Smart somehow found the time to show up for a friendly chat with the folks in the Georgia General Assembly.
  2. In the midst of a typically contentious session, members of the Georgia General Assembly found the time to ask what could be done to help the Georgia football program.
  3. Kirby Smart casually mentioned that Nick Saban has an easier time of responding to open records requests but didn’t make a big deal of it, even though he’s described as “the key influence to members of the General Assembly deciding to act”.
  4. Just as casually, Georgia legislators tacked an amendment on to an existing bill that gives Butts-Mehre unprecedented scope in responding to open records requests in the future.
  5. Even though the bill’s scope clearly exceeds the stated nonsensical goal of protecting recruiting secrets, neither Georgia’s athletic director nor its president had anything to do with it.

Georgia wasn’t acting like it was such a small thing when it pushed for this, so why should we believe it’s a small thing now that it exists?


Filed under Georgia Football, Political Wankery

“Tunsil and the agents”

Let me see if I’ve got this timeline straight:

  • At the end of June last year, Laremy Tunsil gets in a tussle with his step-dad that stemmed from an argument they had about Tunsil “riding around with football agents” and is arrested as a result of the altercation.
  • That, in and of itself, isn’t an issue with regard to Tunsil’s eligibility, as Tunsil can speak with certified NFL agents and still maintain his eligibility as long as he doesn’t accept any impermissible benefits or sign.
  • In the face of that, Ole Miss remained calm.  “We are aware that Laremy and his family have met with potential agents, which is within his NCAA rights as a student-athlete,” Freeze said in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger on Tuesday afternoon. “Regarding the altercation, we will continue to gather facts and cooperate with the proper authorities.”
  • Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, the school elected to sit Tunsil for the first six games of the 2015 season.  Then, in mid-October, the NCAA issued a seven-game suspension that allowed him to return against Texas A&M on Oct. 24.  The suspension wasn’t tied to receiving benefits from an agent or signing with an agent, but it was made clear that Tunsil received impermissible financial benefits from third parties and “was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators”.

Whew.  I mention all of that to set up what Mark Schlabach and Nicole Noren report about Tunsil’s camp investigating the source of the embarrassing leaks on the evening of the NFL draft that cost Tunsil some money as his draft stock sunk.

Tunsil, a former All-American offensive tackle at Ole Miss, hired a man to work as his business manager and financial adviser in mid-October, about two-and-a-half months before his junior season with the Rebels ended, according to the sources. The man scheduled agents’ meetings with Tunsil and his mother, Desiree Polingo, and handled other duties for him.

Tunsil fired the business manager after other agents informed Tunsil that the man wasn’t licensed or registered to work as a financial adviser but was a “runner,” a term used to describe someone who gives money and other benefits to a player in order to entice the player to sign with an agent or financial adviser with whom the runner is working.

The sources said the business manager gave Tunsil a new cell phone in mid-October. People close to Tunsil believe the man might have accessed Tunsil’s social media accounts Thursday by logging into them through his old phone.

So while Tunsil was on suspension for accepting improper financial benefits, he takes on a business manager/adviser whom he then cans when he suddenly discovers it’s a no-no to deal with “someone who gives money and other benefits to a player”.  Are we really expected to buy that?  More to the point, are we supposed to believe that Ole Miss bought that?  Or was the school into full don’t ask, don’t tell mode by then, hoping to ride things out until season’s end?

And now, Team Tunsil is reportedly in hot pursuit of this guy.  So I wonder, what happens if they manage to finger him and turn their evidence over to authorities?  For one thing, do you think the NCAA might want to discuss things with this person?

College players cannot hire agents, per NCAA rules, while they are playing or undeclared for a professional league’s draft. The NCAA has rules that broadly define what an “agent” is, and those rules can include people acting as financial advisers to players. An NCAA official declined comment to Outside the Lines about whether it is investigating anything related to Tunsil’s former business manager/financial adviser, citing policy that prohibits it from commenting on current, pending or potential investigations.

I guess the NCAA might, after all.  And it’s Tunsil’s folks that are apparently driving the bus that might make that possible.  Makes you wonder if Hugh Freeze has spoken with his agent about that yet.



Filed under SEC Football, The NCAA