Daily Archives: June 22, 2021

Promises, promises

Guys, I’m surprised nobody in the media is discussing the fact that Clemson will have a new head coach for the opener.

I mean, this is the straight shootin’ Rev. Swinney we’re talking about here, right?  A man of his word, by Gawd…

23 Comments

Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant

NOW he tells us.

Shot.

University of Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick agreed Emmert’s agenda has worked against him.

“The more you do, the more you stake out the bold positions, the more you make a target out of yourself. Lying low is not leadership, and that’s never been [Emmert’s] style,” Swarbrick said.

Chaser.

I swear, I don’t know how these people keep a straight face sometimes.

14 Comments

Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, The NCAA

dolla, dolla, bill ya’ll

You know what they say about a dollar here and a dollar there

“We’re really recruiting players that are going to make between $250,000 and $3-4 million per year off the field while they’re still in college,” Everett said.

… An All-SEC linebacker could make $50,000 to $75,000, Everett said.

“Figure $30,000 a season for signing autographs through memorabilia dealers, $3,000 to $5,000 by hosting a football camp and sign an endorsement deal with an Athens or Atlanta based company for $5,000 to $10,000,” he said.

Everett is curious to see if trading card companies will enter the college space which would bring a possible another $75,000 a player for signing high-profile players.

And as for Mike Farrell’s concern about players getting fat and lazy…

“What kids can’t forget is what they do on the field is going to be what allows them to monetize it off the field,” Everett said. “The hype is only good for a couple of games.”

Every year becomes a contract year.

43 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

That cocky feeling after a 5-5 season

Dayum, Junior.

47 Comments

Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

Your post-Alston primer

I saw a lot of apprehension based on misconception in yesterday’s comment thread about the SCOTUS’ Alston decision, so I thought I’d devote a post to what the case means now and where it might lead to.

First, it’s important to note what the decision is exactly about.

The Supreme Court handed down a heavily caveated victory for elite college athletes on Monday. The immediate impact of the Court’s unanimous decision in National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston is that many elite student-athletes will receive additional education-related compensations, such as additional scholarship money.

To make it even more limited, that amount was capped by the trial judge at $5900 per athlete, per year.  To give you some perspective on the impact of that amount, try this.

Now, before you cry out “but what about the schools that can’t afford to pay that?”, keep in mind that this isn’t a mandate.  The relief sought by the plaintiffs was simply to prevent the NCAA from imposing limits on education-related benefits athletes can receive for playing college sports (and, as you can see, there is still a financial limit in play).  To put it in other words,

It’s a free market, competitive adjustment.  And it’s specifically tailored to education benefits.  That’s what Alston means in the immediate sense.

That being said, it’s also true there’s a bigger impact from it than just those particular benefits.  The NCAA got smacked in the face, hard, about its belief that it was immune from antitrust law.  As Gorsuch put it in the court’s unanimous ruling,

… to the extent that the NCAA “means to propose a sort of judicially ordained immunity from the terms of (antitrust law) for its restraints of trade—that we should overlook its restrictions because they happen to fall at the intersection of higher education, sports, and money—we cannot agree.”

In other words, the SCOTUS told the NCAA that if it and the schools want antitrust immunity, seek it from Congress, not the courts.  The NCAA’s problem is that right now, it’s naked.

Now, a lot of attention is being paid to Kavanaugh’s stinging concurrence.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote: ” … there are serious questions whether the NCAA’s remaining compensation rules can pass muster under ordinary” antitrust legal analysis. Kavanaugh added that the NCAA “must supply a legally valid” justification that “its remaining compensation rules” have sufficient value to promoting competitive balance and that the benefits outweigh the harm being done to the athletes.

“As I see it, however, the NCAA may lack such a justification,” Kavanaugh wrote.

The NCAA and its attorneys have tried yawning past that.

It’s like force of habit for them.  And, sure, it’s not like they have much else they could say, but while Kavanaugh’s opinion doesn’t have the weight of a full court ruling behind it, it’s certainly a warning about the road the NCAA takes from here.

The lower courts struck down the NCAA’s limits on education-related compensation for athletes, but left in place other limits on compensation — and the Supreme Court upheld this baby-splitting result in Alston.

But, as Gorsuch notes in his opinion, a major reason why the Supreme Court did not go further is that the plaintiffs did not ask them to do so. As he writes, “the student athletes [did] not renew their across-the-board challenge to the NCAA’s compensation restrictions” when their case reached the Supreme Court.

Although the full Court did not weigh in on whether elite student-athletes should be entitled to more compensation than the Alston opinion requires, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a separate concurring opinion where he argues that “the NCAA’s remaining compensation rules also raise serious questions under the antitrust laws.”

As Kavanaugh writes, “the NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.” Among other things, the NCAA “controls the market for college athletes;” it “concedes that its compensation rules set the price of student athlete labor at a below-market rate”; and it “recognizes that student athletes currently have no meaningful ability to negotiate with the NCAA over the compensation rules.”

That’s exactly the sort of iron grip over pricing that antitrust laws are supposed to prevent.

It remains to be seen whether Kavanaugh’s opinion will someday become the law, but it will likely signal to student-athletes that they should consider filing a new lawsuit challenging the NCAA’s remaining restrictions on compensation.

Given the NCAA’s track record in such litigation…

… you’d think that would freak the membership out.  It also presents an opportunity for them to get their heads out of their collective ass.  (History defying as that may be, I know.)

Will they take it?  College athletes’ NIL compensation presents an immediate test.  Early results are muddy.

… A group of six conference commissioners, three from the Power 5, are encouraging the DI Council to scrap its long-readied NIL proposal and instead adopt an alternative plan. Under the plan, the NCAA would exempt itself from NIL completely. Schools in states with an NIL law may follow that law without penalty, and schools located in states without a statute are granted permission to each create and administer their own NIL policy, as long as they use two guiding principles: no pay for play or recruiting inducements.

The latest revelation has further delayed the long-awaited NIL vote and hurtled high-level administrators into a space of disagreement during the 11th hour of a process that began two years ago.

“In hindsight, I’m saying ‘S—, why didn’t we act on this in January?’” says one NCAA decision-maker. “We’ve done it to ourselves. Everybody has their own agenda. If we come out of this without doing anything, we are dysfunctional.”

“What a mess,” says another, both granted anonymity to speak with SI. “That’s exactly the right term. It’s a mess. If it doesn’t pass, you’ve got chaos.”

To summarize,

“This decision not only puts at risk any new legislation that might be put forward on NIL, but it puts at risk all restrictions the NCAA has on athlete compensation,” says Gabe Feldman, a Tulane law professor and expert on NIL matters.

The NCAA’s long-constructed NIL legislative proposal is rife with athlete restrictions. Most notably, the proposal prohibits athletes from using school marks and logos in endorsements, outlaws them from using school facilities for NIL activities and bans them from using university-provided content in NIL ventures.

“I don’t know how you can read the Supreme Court decision and not be concerned about being overly restrictive,” says one member of the DI Council. “It should cause everybody to take a deep breath. The proposal establishes restrictions.”

Or, if you prefer the tl;dr version:

“It feels like the NCAA is between three rocks and four hard places,” Feldman says. “There are so many forces closing in on them.”

It’s a mess of their own making.  Alston took seven years to resolve!  Mark Emmert’s had plenty of time to settle for something the schools could have lived with and it likely would have been less than it’s going to take to settle now.  Congress may not be populated with a bunch of rocket scientists, but one thing you can say about most politicians is that they know how to leverage a favorable situation.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, as the chair of the Commerce Committee, the most powerful lawmaker in the NIL debate, says the court’s decision “gives new urgency” to negotiations. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, at the center of negotiations, told SI that the ruling is “a gigantic kick in the butt” for congressional talks and that it’s possible an agreement can be reached by the time lawmakers break for August recess.

“It clears away the myth of amateurism,” he says. “Unanimous Supreme Court decisions are rare, particularly for this court. There will be additional force as a result of this one. ‘Force’ meaning not only legal persuasiveness, but also practical support for athletes rights.”

The NCAA is going to have to sue for terms.  They’re likely to get some form of an antitrust exemption, but they’re going to have to give up quite a bit to get it.  What they’d best hope is that they’re not playing the role of Germany in the Versailles Treaty.

Needless to say, this still has a long way to go from here.

34 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, See You In Court, The NCAA

Is a 12-team playoff good for Dan Mullen?

Clear-eyed Gator fan David Wunderlich thinks it’s a mixed bag.

In some ways, the new format will be good for Mullen. As long as Nick Saban stays on at Alabama and Kirby Smart keeps recruiting at the level he does now, it’s going to be difficult for Mullen to start winning SEC titles regularly unless the new facilities will make as big a difference to recruiting as he seems to think they will. Despite hand wringing from some corners, winning conference championships still has a lot of currency. Winning divisions, not so much — just ask Jim McElwain — but conference titles never stopped mattering so much with possible exceptions for juggernauts that expect to compete for national titles annually like Alabama and Ohio State.

It will be easier to compete for a spot in the expanded playoff, though it’ll still be a notable feat to get in. Indeed, Florida is one of only a handful of schools that would’ve made the 12-team format every year since 2018, and the list doesn’t even include Saban’s Crimson Tide. Routinely making the latter half of the top ten sounds more appealing when it gets you into the playoff instead of those somewhat devalued New Year’s 6 games.

At first making the 12-team playoff will carry meaning enough, but that too will lose a little luster over time just as the major bowls did going from the BCS to New Year’s 6…

It’s easy then to see where this might go in five years if Mullen continues to put most of his teams in the bottom half of the top ten. If he can get into the 6-8 slots regularly, he’ll been seen positively for delivering home playoff games and not leaving it up to chance whether the Gators will have to play snow games. If he’s more often below the 8 spot, then it’ll be seen as like going to a non-semifinal Peach or Cotton Bowl now: better than the alternative, but not a big boasting point.

It’s going to be a boost for the best SEC team that misses the championship game.  In some years, that will be Florida, but at least as things look now, more often it’ll probably be a program from the West.  That being said, if he’s around long enough for the next round of expansion, Mullen’s probably home free as a playoff coach.  I hope Florida fans are as happy with that as we’ll probably be.

11 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

O brave new world, that has such conferences in it.

You, a passionate college football fan:  what’s great about the proposed 12-team playoff is that it will encourage teams to beef up their schedules!  A real win-win for the fans!

The Pac-12, a P5 conference that sees the dollar signs on the horizon:  hold our beer.

Pac-12 athletic directors and incoming commissioner George Kliavkoff have engaged in preliminary discussions about significant changes to the structure of the football season as expansion of the College Football Playoff appears inevitable.

… However, a source indicated the 10 commissioners of Football Bowl Subdivision conferences strongly favor the format outlined in the current proposal: Automatic bids for the six highest-ranked conference champions, with six more slots allocated to at-large teams.

If adopted, the format would dramatically increase the likelihood of the Pac-12 participating in the sport’s showcase event but stop short of assuring a berth.

That detail likely will weigh heavily on the athletic directors and Kliavkoff as they evaluate options for the conference schedule and the future of the division format.

Scrap the divisions, and the first-place team would meet the second-place team for the championship.

A single 12-team league would eliminate the nightmare scenario in which, for example, a four-loss division winner with no hope for making the playoff upsets a two-loss division winner that would have qualified.

The lack of a guaranteed berth would also have repercussions for the regular-season schedule: Combine the nine-game league slate with at least one high-level non-conference game, and Pac-12 teams have a treacherous path to compiling the record necessary to qualify for the CFP.

“All the issues have pros and cons,” Knowlton said, “but they aren’t made in a vacuum. What does a 12-team playoff mean for playing eight vs. playing nine?”

Hey, he’s just asking.

10 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Pac-12 Football

Five summer questions

From Jake Rowe:

  • Has JT Daniels taken that next step?
  • What will Georgia’s offense look like in year two under Todd Monken?
  • Who’ll step up at key positions on offense?
  • Who will speak up on the defensive side of the ball?
  • Did the Bulldogs do enough to bolster the secondary?

The only one of those questions that raises any serious concerns for me here in mid-June is how the offensive line is gonna shake out and that’s really only because the o-line is going to get a big test right out of the gate against Clemson’s defensive front.

Rowe worries that Georgia needs to find another defensive back and who knows, maybe that’s valid, but from where I sit, that boils down to having enough depth to rotate seven players in the secondary to counter the spread passing attacks that exposed that vulnerability last season.

Y’all got questions?  Lay ’em on us in the comments.

28 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

I could have played quarterback at the University of Tennessee…

but then I got high.  Again.

The updated tally for Kaidon Salter as a University of Tennessee quarterback is two marijuana-related incidents and zero practice snaps.

Salter, a four-star early enrollee from Dallas who was suspended for all of spring practice following a Stokely Hall confrontation in early March, was pulled over early Saturday morning in Knoxville along with three-star offensive tackle signee Amari McNeill. According to university police, Salter and McNeill were stopped for not having their tail lights on, and they admitted to having about four grams of marijuana.

Kid might as well enter the portal and transfer to Colorado.

11 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Crime and Punishment

Why I radicalized.

Once upon a time, I was an amateurism romantic, like some of y’all still are.  If you want to know what changed for me, just read Seth Emerson’s excellent piece on Green and Gurley ($$).

A.J. Green sitting at the head of a small table, fielding questions about a bank statement. A check deposit of $1,000, where did that come from? An investigator for the NCAA wanted to know. Green admitting that it was for selling his Georgia jersey from the Independence Bowl.

Todd Gurley, wearing street clothes, watching his Georgia teammates practice, while he prepared for his own interview with the NCAA, where he would explain how he sold autographs for more than $3,200 in cash. A few days after his teammates flashed three fingers — Gurley wore No. 3 — to honor their teammate, suspended for violating NCAA rules that few agreed with anyway, and are now on their way out.

It all seems so quaint, looking back now. Or is quaint the wrong word? Georgia fans may choose others: Maddening. Outrageous. Unlucky.

Looking back, I think I’ll settle for “wrong”.  What made it especially so was how small the stakes were in each case — a $1000 for Green’s jersey; $3000 for Gurley’s autograph.

“I think when everybody was going through that, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player at the time who faulted those guys,” said Hutson Mason, a quarterback on both the 2010 and 2014 Georgia teams. “Even though it’s against the rules, and some would say ‘it’s a selfish decision’, if that’s someone’s opinion, whatever that’s fine. But I don’t think people can relate to that temptation. Because people don’t come from the socio-economic upbringing, or at the time when you’re a college kid and you’re broke and someone puts an offer of $3,000 or $5,000 in your face, it’s a lot harder to turn that down.”

What made me white hot about the callousness of it all was how feckless McGarity was in the Gurley situation.

… But Gurley’s suspension also may have cost the team an SEC East title: The Bulldogs won their first two games without him, at Missouri and Arkansas, but three days after the NCAA affirmed Gurley’s suspension was two more games — when many thought he would play against Florida — the Bulldogs looked demoralized when they were shellacked by the Gators.

“The psychological impact more than anything affected us,” Mason said. “The hardest part, from a player’s standpoint, was we were going from ‘are we going to have him or are we not going to have him? Are we going to get him back on Thursday?’ It was constantly wondering whether Todd was part of the gameplan.”

There were even hypothetical scenarios within the gameplan, according to Mason. Coaches were in the dark as much as anybody on what was going on.

Yes, there were certain extenuating circumstances at the time and McGarity never was particularly aggressive about defending the program to the NCAA and the SEC, but he had no problem throwing Gurley under the bus, despite what fans, teammates and coaches wanted, because he was an avid defender of the status quo when it came to player compensation.  When you’re willing to let amateurism rule over what’s best for your own program — and, yes, I get “rules are the rules” bullshit rationalizing, but that hardly stopped other programs from exploring gray areas when it suited their needs — there’s something seriously wrong with the way college athletics are structured.

That’s when I stopped caring about amateurism.  Alston isn’t going to get those suspended games back for me or Georgia, but at least it’s going to force the NCAA and the McGaritys of the college sports world to be a little less hypocritical.  I’ll take my victories where I can get them, cheap or otherwise.  Fuck ’em, in other words.

34 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The NCAA