Daily Archives: May 10, 2016

Sweet deal

Only in America:

Tennessee student Breana Dodd is dating Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Josh Smith. She has cultivated an Instagram following. She is now using that following to promote Jolly Ranchers.

We presume Jolly Ranchers is paying Dodd for this ad placement . She includes the “#ad” lest anyone mistake this for an unbidden candy endorsement (Media members take note). If that’s the case, she is now earning more endorsement income than every college football player combined.

I gotta keep asking:  who’s not making bank off student-athletes?





Filed under The NCAA

I got your massive package right here.

You may recall that, earlier this year, the NCAA announced with some fanfare an initiative with regard to time demands on student-athletes.

Division I athletes will have a say in shaping NCAA policies about time demands through a survey distributed this week to all 346 schools.

Athletes in every Division I sport will be asked to provide feedback in the survey, distributed Monday by the NCAA. The Power 5 conferences, the NCAA Division I council and the Division I student-athlete advisory committee formulated the survey. Results are due March 21 and will be relayed to the Division I council, which will meet in April.

The survey is being conducted online and not being administered by coaching staffs that could attempt to influence the responses.

According to a survey sent to a Football Bowl Subdivision player and obtained Friday by ESPN, respondents complete sections on in-season countable athletic-related activities (CARA), out-of-season time demands and travel.

A “massive legislative package” regarding time demands will be introduced by September, according to Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips, chair of the council. After several months of review, a proposed policy will go to a vote at the NCAA convention in January 2017.

Yeah, well, the results are in and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of shape that so-called “massive legislative package” will take.  Not because of a lack of response from players, but because, shall we say, there’s a certain lack of consensus between labor… er, student-athletes, and management… er, coaches and ADs.

To start with, here are the spots where the parties see eye to eye:

All of the participants in the survey generally agreed that there should be at least eight hours overnight between activities that can be counted toward the NCAA’s 20-hour-per-week limit on what athletes can do with their teams during the season. There also was agreement about implementing what is termed a “mandatory no-activity period” immediately following the end of a season, as well as offseason no-activity period in which athletes would be encouraged to participate in an educational or career-development activity.

But even that last point was the start of a disagreement as to how long such a period should be.

Meanwhile, where the rubber meets the road…

The survey showed that a majority of athletes felt that travel to and from games, compliance meetings and organized team promotional activities also should be counted toward the 20-hour limit. A majority of the faculty athletics representatives agreed, but a majority of AD’s, coaches and administrators disagreed. For example, 63% of athletes said travel should count against the limit while 7% of coaches and 25% of AD’s said travel should count.

Participants also were asked: If the definition of countable activities was expanded, would you be supportive of increasing the hours limit? Athletes in some of the NCAA’s most prominent sports were among the least supportive of this idea. FBS football players were least supportive (34%), followed by those in men’s lacrosse (35%), women’s basketball and FCS football (38% each), men’s lacrosse (35%) and men’s basketball (41%). At least 60% of the head coaches in each of those sports supported that idea (73% in men’s basketball) and 64% of the athletics directors did so, including 56% of the ADs at Power Five conference schools.

Athletes in these sports also largely supported the creation of time limits on team activities during preseason practice and academic vacation periods, while majorities of head coaches in those sports did not, except 52% of men’s lacrosse coaches said they supported this during vacation periods.

Somehow, I think that legislative package may not be so massive now.  And the beat goes on…


Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

Early thoughts on the SEC East race

Prompted by yesterday’s “Bold Predictions” post and my observation that if nobody catches Tennessee before the first week of November, the Vols are likely headed to Atlanta, I thought I’d take a look at the calendar and see how the SEC East race might shape up in that regard.

Here’s the 2016 SEC football schedule.  Assuming for the sake of argument that there are three contenders in the division – Florida, Georgia and Tennessee – my knee-jerk reaction to Urnge November is pretty accurate.  First of all, Florida and Georgia both play only two conference games in November, so that limits their ability to play catch up if UT leads at that point.

Again, remember the Vols close out with their usual November gauntlet, in this case, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt, with only the last game being on the road.  Florida has to go on the road for both of its November conference match ups, against Arkansas and South Carolina.  Georgia splits its two, but one is against a big rival, Auburn.  So the Dawgs and Gators have both quantity and quality working against them.

Tennessee does have that rough earlier stretch of five straight conference games, although the last of those is separated with a bye week, but if it can come out splitting the first four, particularly if those two wins come against Florida and Georgia, it’s hard to see how the race isn’t over, regardless of which team wins the Cocktail Party this year.  Bottom line:  in terms of playing in the SEC championship game, there are conference games Georgia can lose and survive, but beating Tennessee in Athens probably isn’t one of them.

Of course, if Vanderbilt rises up and shocks the nation, you can forget what I just wrote.


Filed under SEC Football

If you look hard enough, there’s always an angle.

Also from that Staples piece, is a revisit of a concept of his that I’ve long favored.

A year ago, Rodriguez began exploring the idea of eliminating National Signing Day and allowing colleges to sign players at any point during their high school careers. This notion sounds counterintuitive to people who don’t understand how recruiting works in 2016, but it would slow the process because each offer would correspond to one of a school’s 25—or fewer—scholarships a year. Think about it this way: If you had to present a diamond ring the first time you said, “I love you,” how long would you wait to utter those words? “It’s an easier solution than looking at changing the recruiting calendar and visits,” Rodriguez said. “Most of the other issues can be tied directly to that.”

If this concept sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about it when Rodriguez suggested it last year. I also suggested it back in 2008, and the idea has only grown more practical since.

Rodriguez sits on the board of trustees of the American Football Coaches Association, and he is using that pulpit to spread the gospel of a world without National Signing Day. Would some coaches sign ninth- and 10th-graders? Of course. The dumbest ones would. Then they would get fired. Rodriguez pointed out that most schools’ admissions offices would tap the brakes for their respective coaches. Unless a prospect’s transcript absolutely sparkled, admissions would probably stop the coach from extending the offer. And if the coach extended it anyway and the player didn’t qualify? “If you sign him and he didn’t qualify, you made a mistake,” Rodriguez said. “You’ve got to eat it.”

A world without Signing Day sounds wonderful.  But what, you say, if a coach leaves before the kid makes it to campus?  Well, it turns out RichRod is more liberal on that than Staples.

When I proposed this idea, I suggested that players would have to stick with the school they chose or face penalties associated with breaking the National Letter of Intent. Rodriguez is nicer than me. He is in favor of creating a clause that releases a player from his commitment if the head coach he signed to play for leaves or gets fired. “Sometimes they pick a school,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes they pick a staff. You’ve got to protect them there.”

Gosh, that’s nice.  Gosh, there might be an ulterior motive straight out of the Jim Boeheim school of coaching stability:

Though Rodriguez didn’t say it, this model could also benefit coaches. It would make athletic directors think long and hard before firing anyone. If they did, they would do so knowing they might have to release much of their next recruiting class from their Letters of Intent.

These guys don’t miss a trick.  Although I’ve always said keeping a coach too long to avoid losing a recruiting class is as dumb a move as an AD can make.  Not that there aren’t plenty of dumb ADs out there.


Filed under Recruiting

Help me to help you help me.

Andy Staples points out a little money-making quirk in the satellite camp business.

… Now, a college program can pay a high school any amount of money to host a camp the college coaches would then work. If that high school features recruits the college wants, that dynamic would provide an unfair advantage under the current NCAA framework*. Schools can pay high school coaches to work their on-campus camps, but the NCAA examines the payouts and can punish schools that pay one coach at a higher rate than another. There is no such way to control satellite camp payments. For instance, Big State could insist that renting the field at High School High costs $50,000, and no one could dispute it…

At this point, is there anybody left in the college athletics business… oh, excuse me, the noble pursuit of helping young amateur athletes achieve their goal of obtaining a college education… who’s not getting a piece of the action?  (Besides the student-athletes themselves, that is.)


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

There’s money in those hashtags.

This is pretty damned cheeky, don’t you think?

Texas coach Charlie Strong has turned the phrase #Letsride into his social media clarion call. When the Longhorns land a new recruit, Strong tweets out the catchy phrase as something of a de facto press release.

Texas officials were surprised Monday after learning that a reporter who covers Longhorns recruiting had trademarked Strong’s phrase in March 2015 and recently started selling #Letsride T-shirts.

Jason Higdon, the lead recruiting analyst for Horns Digest, filed two federal trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year to use the phrase on various sports apparel and wristbands.

Higdon, who actively talks to UT recruits and reports on whether they are leaning toward the Horns, recently began promoting a website selling Lets Ride Sports merchandise.


In a message board thread initiated Monday on Horns Digest, Higdon wrote, “I understand everyone has an opinion. I want to promote commitment back in team sports.

“Regardless the team, I am in talks with high school football programs in the southeast, little league baseball teams etc,” Higdon continued. “Doesn’t matter if its 13 year olds, 18 year olds or 25 year olds, and regardless of the team they all must have a certain level of commitment. The ‘LetsRide Initiative,’ which means commitment to yourself, to your teammates and your coaching staff is something I came up with. It just kind of evolved into what it is today.”

… Before Strong arrived in Austin prior to the 2014 season, #Letsride was not a part of the UT lexicon. According to the coach’s Twitter timeline, Strong first used the phrase on Feb. 22, 2014, after getting a commitment from Huntsville offensive lineman Buck Major.

That’s one heck of a coincidence.  I guess this was, too.

On Monday morning, the site offered “Texas Orange” shirts featuring white and black lettering with the phrase #Letsride. After the Statesman began making inquiries, the website changed its language during the afternoon and was selling “Dark Orange” shirts.

I assume the school, which hasn’t commented, is either pissed off or kicking itself for not having thought of it first.  Bet that won’t happen again.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.