Daily Archives: April 5, 2019

Threat assessment, NCAA edition

A couple of things:

I know some of you blithely insist that collegiate men’s basketball and football could be stripped of its elite talent and not miss a beat.  I see things like bloated recruiting budgets, infrastructure spending on meeting space for recruits, theme park accoutrements (looking at you, Clemson) and $10k lockers and think that most schools disagree with that.

So I can’t help but wonder how much of a problem these startup pro football leagues are perceived to be by P5 programs.  It’s not so much that I see them as having viable futures — AAF, we hardly knew ye — as I do recognize the short attention span of some eighteen-year old boys.  I mean, check this out:

Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross thinks that for the right price some college players will leave the NCAA to play in the XFL.

Ross told Bleacher Report that before his big breakout he was ready to transfer and felt disappointed over receiving little playing time in Clemson’s first two games of the season. His mother told him to stay at Clemson, but he admitted that an XFL paycheck could be an alluring reason for some players to leave college before they’re eligible to enter the NFL.

Damn, two games in and a true freshman was already chafing over playing time?  Can I see an agent or a league rep swooping in and promising a player like Ross cash money and a better opportunity and getting a receptive response?  That I can.  Can I imagine Dabo’s head exploding in response?  That I can.

And I can only think of one way the schools could combat that.  (HINT:  It’s not by putting the XFL on probation.)

Here’s another.

The NCAA does nothing to change its hallowed “collegiate model” — aka amateurism — without pressure…

That’s why it was refreshing to hear NCAA president Mark Emmert open the door just a bit on players owning their name, image and likeness.

Novel concept, I know. Athletes taking control of their own human essence. Judging from what we heard Thursday at the Final Four, this is the latest legal hill the NCAA is not going to die on.

The legal pressure on that issue is a bill introduced by a North Carolina representative that would allow athletes to profit off what is lawfully theirs.

A similar bill is being introduced in California

When asked about Walker’s bill Thursday, Emmert seemed open to considering some form of athletes capitalizing on their name, image and likeness.

“We’ve talked to the congressman and tried to understand his position,” Emmert said in his annual state of the union address at the Final Four. “There is very likely to be in the coming months even more discussion about the whole notion of name, image and likeness [and] how it fits into the current legal framework.

“Similarly, there needs to be a lot of conversation about how, if it was possible, how it would be practical. Is there a way to make that work? Nobody has been able up with a resolution of that yet.”

What you didn’t hear is Emmert dismissing the concept out of hand. He’s too smart for that now. The NCAA has been found guilty twice in the last five years of violating federal anti-trust laws. It’s not even worth debating whether the NCAA is a monopoly.

If it’s hard for Emmert to understand Walker’s position, I don’t think that’s because Walker has done a poor job of communicating his bill’s purpose.  It’s hard because Emmert doesn’t want to cede ground on amateurism unless he has no choice.

That’s not because the NCAA stands to lose money if student-athletes can market themselves.  What concerns Emmert is if the change occurs without any resulting negative impact to collegiate revenue producing sports.  Because if it plays out that way, that’s going to grease the skids on the inevitable slippery slope for schools and the NCAA to share their revenues with student-athletes.

I wonder which of these is the bigger concern right now.

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17 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, The NCAA

(Big) youth will be served.

Even if, like me, you’re feeling giddy over the prospects of Georgia’s offensive line this season, Seth Emerson ($$) does point out one area of potential concern worth noting.

Where this year’s offensive line doesn’t match up well historically is experience. That’s been a pretty key factor for past Georgia teams.

Mark Richt’s first SEC championship team in 2002 started five seniors. Three years later Georgia again started five upperclassmen — three seniors and two juniors — and won Richt’s second and final SEC championship. Even two years ago, when Isaiah Wynn was the only senior starter and Thomas was a true freshman at right tackle, in between them were two juniors and a redshirt sophomore.

This year there will likely be no seniors in the starting lineup.

True, there is some returning experience, as six different players have made at least four starts.  But the inside part of the line, where the surest thing in April is Trey Hill taking over as the new center, is pretty up in the air.

Of course, a lot of this is driven by a surge in talent with the last two recruiting class in particular.  Five-star kids making a leap in year two, like Jamaree Salyer, are naturally going to supplant others with more experience, but if you’re Sam Pittman, you’re going to play your best five, regardless.  I don’t know how it will shake out, obviously, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect there to be a few kinks, at least early on, regardless of how big and talented the starting five is.

25 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“Who’s seriously there for the master’s?”

A reminder that the NCAA is all about heppin’ the kids:

In two weeks, the N.C.A.A.’s primary legislative body, the Division I Council, will vote on a measure that could severely restrict graduate transfers. The proposed rule change would require that colleges accepting graduate transfers be docked a scholarship the next year if the transfer does not earn his secondary degree within a year.

So as graduate transfers have continued to increase — there were 124 this season in men’s basketball, according to the website GradTransferTracker, including a handful who were key contributors on N.C.A.A. tournament teams — and as programs have found value in them as a quick fix that suits both team and player, the new rule is seeking to discourage them by effectively adding a tax on programs that accept such players.

“That’s really draconian,” Rodney Fort, a sports economist and professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, said of the rule change. “This is like losing a scholarship from an N.C.A.A. penalty.”

… Justin Sell, the athletic director at South Dakota State who led the Division I transfer working group that developed the proposal, said that too often graduate transfers in men’s basketball and football had little interest in obtaining graduate degrees.

“We really want to protect against the football player who is done and leaves in December and the basketball player who is done and leaves in March,” Sell said. “A lot of students are looking to use it to play another year. Who’s seriously there for the master’s?”

Yeah, if there’s one thing schools are concerned about, it’s sham decisions.  What I love about Sell’s reasoning is the way he conveniently pretends the players are operating in a vacuum here, as if the coaches who take in these kids are mere accidental bystanders as they’re looking to play another year.  It takes two to tango, last time I checked.

But if you really want to gauge the hypocrisy of this, you don’t have to look very far.  For one thing, the new rule only applies to three sports, football, women’s basketball and men’s basketball.  Gee, what a funny coincidence.  Second, they know it’s bullshit.

Sell conceded objections about practicality (many graduate programs take two years to complete) and fairness (the rule does not apply to athletes who compete as graduate students without transferring) were fair, but said his group’s intent was to “manage behavior.”  [Emphasis added.]

“When you’re trying to manage behavior and put together policies and rules in trying to create ethical behavior and integrity, there are challenges to that,” Sell said. “It’s really hard to police integrity.”

To put that highlighted point another way,

If managing behavior is the major concern here, then why isn’t the rule going to be applied to all graduate student-athletes, not just those who seek to transfer?

I think we all know the answer to that.

It’s all about the control, baby.  That’s how you get to the faux concern of Jim Harbaugh.

However, Harbaugh does have one tweak he’d like to see — not even to the rulebook. Instead, he’d like to see one particular rule applied uniformly.

Last season, the NCAA changed the redshirt rule, making it so players could play in any four games and still retain that season as a redshirt year — meaning, they would retain a year of eligibility, regardless of having seen playing time. That new rule went into effect this past season, but only for players who utilized said rule.

Harbaugh would like to see that apply in arrears, so that any player who’s currently enrolled would have that same rule applied if they played in four or less games, but before the new rule went into effect.

“The other thing, though, I would say, because it can affect a lot of players – the new rule of being able to play in four games and still being able to have a redshirt, there should be a retroactive for those players that are juniors, seniors and possible fifth-years,” Harbaugh said. “Because right now, I believe there’s a hard-line on them, even though you have a new rule. If a player only played in one game or two games or played near the end of the season, but now they’re a junior or a senior, that year shouldn’t be, they should be under the same eligibility. It should be grandfathered in like those that played this past season. Hopefully, people come to the logic of that.”

That’s really considerate, Jim.  It’s nice to see that some coaches can selflessly support players… eh, what’s that?

That would give players such as Shea Patterson, who lost a year of eligibility having played in Ole Miss’ final three regular season games in 2016, a redshirt year, and an ability to come back for another season, if he so chose.

Oh.

In the context of college athletics, integrity doesn’t mean what I think it means.

12 Comments

Filed under The NCAA, Transfers Are For Coaches.

2015, the year we don’t need to revisit S&P+

Bill Connelly tells us what we instinctively knew:  Georgia fell fifteen spots in S&P+ from 2014 to 2015 and it all came from the transition away from Bobo to Schottenheimer.

Georgia’s 2014 offensive S&P+ ranking was sixth.  With the switch in offensive coordinators, that tumbled all the way to 70th.

Defensive S&P+ rankings actually improved, from tenth to second.

Makes for an interesting debate over whether Martinez or Schottenheimer was the worse coordinator under Richt.  Sure, that’s a helluva one-season drop, but Martinez does have duration working in his favor.

41 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Cracking the case: the Kyle Guy wedding registry

Turns out Mark Emmert’s defense is technically vindicated.

Joe Kinsey, founder of the irreverent sports blog Busted Coverage, initially shared the link to Guy and Jenkins’s gift registry in a post published Monday. Then he received a cease and desist letter from Kelly Korras, Virginia’s associate director of compliance.

The letter, which was shared with The Washington Post, read in part: “The University is requesting that you immediately remove the wedding registry link. The receipt of items from the registry could constitute an impermissible extra benefit. By posting these items, you are jeopardizing the student-athlete’s eligibility for competition.”

NCAA rules stipulate college athletes are not permitted to receive extra benefits, including “cash, gift certificates or other items with value” from athletic representatives, boosters or fans.

“It was a joke. I thought it was funny,” Kinsey said of his blog post, which he removed after receiving the letter. “He’s getting married, and here’s his registry. But I didn’t want Kyle to get in trouble.”

Two things here:  one, I said technically correct.  The NCAA didn’t directly bring the hammer down, but it certainly created the framework that led UVa to its anal compliance concerns.

In a statement to Yahoo Sports, Virginia assistant athletic director for public relations Erich Bacher explained the school’s thought process. It was all an effort to make sure Guy did not have any eligibility issues.

“Once we were informed about Kyle and Alexa’s wedding registry being online and publicized by a media entity, our Compliance Office instructed Kyle to make the wedding registry private to help ensure there would be no issues with his eligibility,” Bacher told Yahoo Sports via email.

“Since that time the UVA Compliance Office has been in communication with the NCAA and while neither the NCAA nor UVA desire to interrupt typical gift giving practices, we will attempt to ensure that student-athletes are not receiving benefits that would violate NCAA rules. We appreciate the NCAA staff and its prompt assistance in handling this matter.”

… Later on, the NCAA followed up with a statement.

“As NCAA President Mark Emmert stated in the Men’s Final Four press conference today, this is ‘simply an inaccurate story.’ Typical wedding gifts from family and friends are not violations,” the statement said.

The key word there is “typical.” If a few overzealous fans were buying the couple gifts, would that fall under the NCAA’s purview of a “typical” gift from “family and friends?”

The idea that schools are busy monitoring wedding registries is farcical.  But not unexpected.

Oh, that second thing?

Virginia’s compliance department made the decision to use an abundance of caution to ensure there would be no problem’s with Guy’s eligibility. With the basketball team playing in just its third Final Four in program history, it would be a crushing blow if one of the team’s best players was ruled ineligible.

Don’t forget that Virginia’s athletic director is a product of Butts-Mehre.  No doubt Greg McGarity is busting with pride over the lessons Carla Williams has taken with her from Athens.

2 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“Makes no sense.”

Man, and we thought SEC bag men were state of the art.

They’re probably taking notes, though.

10 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., It's Just Bidness

Those cupcakes are mighty tasty, podnah.

There’s a reason we keep seeing FCS games on the schedule.

In the 460 matchups between the Power 5 and the FCS since 2010, the FCS team has won just 21 games, or 4.6% of the time. In the past two years, there have been exactly two FCS upsets in 92 tries. Alabama vs. Mercer in 2017 (56–0), Auburn vs. Alabama State on 2018 (63–9) and Miami vs. Savannah State in 2018 (77–0) reflect more typical recent results.

Two P5 conferences have played well over half of those games.

According to STATS Inc., since 2010, the ACC has played 131 FCS opponents, the SEC 130. Meanwhile, Pac-12 teams have played 74 FCS teams, followed by the Big 12 with 69 and the Big Ten with 65.

They do, because they can get away with it.

The SEC and ACC’s defense of their built-in wins is simple: Even though they play one fewer conference game than the other leagues, their schedules are the toughest in the country. Per Sports-Reference.com, the SEC has had the strongest scheduling of any conference in three of the past five seasons and the toughest schedules on average over that time—even accounting for all those FCS bouts. Both the Big Ten and the Pac-12, which play nine conference games have a higher average strength of schedule than the ACC over the past five seasons, but multiple ACC teams have season-ending games against SEC opponents to plan around.

Well, the SEC does, anyway.

As the article notes, that’s a practice that won’t end unless there’s a price to pay with the selection committee and so far, that ain’t happening.  If anything, all of this makes me even more impressed with Georgia’s newfound effort to schedule home-and-homes with P5 powerhouse opponents.  Let’s hope the selection committee is equally impressed.

4 Comments

Filed under College Football