Category Archives: College Football

Reaping what you sow, bowl games edition

Tell me, is there anything more adorable than a peeved Bill Hancock?

But the biggest shock wave to run through the system might have come last December, when standout running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey chose to sit out the Citrus Bowl and the Sun Bowl, respectively. Both players had been injured during the regular season. Both had the support of their coaches when they decided not to play, saying they were instead focusing on their professional future. On Thursday, both players were among the top eight picks in the NFL Draft.

Their decisions, while controversial at the time, sparked a phrase that causes those in the bowl industry to fume: Their defenders said McCaffrey and Fournette (and Baylor running back Shock Linwood, too) were skipping “meaningless bowls.”

“The term ticks me off,” says Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, “because those bowls are not meaningless for those players.”

Hell, no, they’re not!  They’re a last opportunity to get hurt before the draft.  (Hey, it’s not my fault Hancock blows his grammar when he gets ticked off.)

Honestly, the real issue here is, of course, the hypocrisy.  The CFP isn’t the only driver here, but you sure can’t argue it hasn’t played its part in making the bowls less important than they once were.  Don’t take my word for that, either.

“We kind of created this trend,” Alabama’s Nick Saban told ESPN in December. “I said as soon as we had a playoff, we were going to minimize the importance of all the other bowl games. I’m not saying whether it’s good or bad, it kind of is what it is.”

But the Playoff might not be all that’s ailing the other bowls.

“I do think there has been attention shifted to those semifinals and the championship,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey says. “That’s in a way undeniable. I don’t think that’s been the primary detraction from other postseason games.”

It’s just another consequence of the money chase.  The irony here is that what’s really brought things to crisis mode is that the players have figured out they can make the same kind of business decision the schools have been making for years.  There’s not much Bill Hancock or his clients can do about that, either.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

“When I heard about it, it had a chilling effect on me.”

A school suing its own boosters for something to which it turned a blind eye in the past?  Yeah, I can see how that could be awkward.

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment

Coaches crossfire

Point:

In addition, Smart reiterated his position against a rule the Division I Council approved that will prevent colleges from hiring anyone closely associated with a prospective student-athlete for a “two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school.”

Smart said this rule is a hindrance to good high school coaches who are trying to break in at the college level.

“It’s hard in the coaching profession to grow coaches and develop coaches like we do in the SEC without the ability to hire high school coaches,” Smart said. “And they still argue, ‘You can still hire them, you just can’t hire the ones with prospects.’ Well, when you sign 25 (players) a year it’s hard not to hire one who may interact with a prospect. It does limit those guys so that’s a disappointing part of that rule.”

Counterpoint:

“I think it’s a good idea,” new Western Kentucky head coach Mike Sanford told CoachingSearch. “That’s gotten out of control, it really has. If you really want to hire that coach and the value of getting the coach on the staff, then chose the coach over the recruit. If you do truly just want to get a recruit, then abide by that rule.”

Methinks Kirby doth protest too much, but I’m not the one with the big budget for analysts.

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Filed under College Football, Recruiting, The NCAA

“We understand the finances that are available through TV.”

Color me a little surprised by the next hill the American Football Coaches Association has decided to assault.

The American Football Coaches Association will begin to ask the NCAA to consider a process adjusting game times that better benefit athletes this week.

Time demands on players have become a top NCAA priority. Coaches and administrators have increasingly complained about teams getting back from road trips in the middle of the night — or early morning — after night games.

AFCA executive director Todd Berry told CBS Sports, “We feel like there are times when you’re traveling cross country or on a long bus ride. If someone is not getting back until 4 in the morning because of a start time, is this really fair to the student-athlete?”

The proposal is preliminary and will be made while Berry is in Indianapolis this week as an ex-officio member of the NCAA Oversight Committee. That committee would have to first consider the measure before it is passed up the chain to become formal legislation.

Berry would not reveal any specifics, but he says there is a detailed plan regarding time zones and when schools return from road trips…

Don’t get me wrong.  This appears to be a legitimate “think of the children” concern and I applaud the coaches for going there.

But.  Still.

Inevitably, any such discussion about earlier game times will have to involve TV partners. Industry sources say such time adjustments are a long shot. The television rights held by the networks allow them to dictate starting times as a way to recoup the money paid to those conferences. The popularity of those games is reflected in ratings and ad revenue.

“These things are all governed by contracts and the quality of the game,” an industry source said. “The reason the game has become as popular as it has, they’re televised in the best possible time slot.”

Another industry source cited ESPN’s stance. The network has loads of programming to fit into a day. If it allowed outside influence to impact game times, the network “would be out of business.”

Yeah, Mickey might have a problem with that.  And since everybody in college football is sucking from that teat — including the coaches, when you get down to it — you’d have to think what’s the WWL’s problem is their problem, too.

In other words, don’t get your hopes up, kids.

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Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

“If it falls apart, watch out.”

The NCAA appears to have taken a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” approach to recruiting reform with its 2016-116 proposal scheduled to be voted on by the end of this week.

Will that work?

But finally, most everyone who matters seems to be on board at least for a mid-December early signing date that would coincide with the junior college period. Proposal No. 2016-116 took years to craft; experts warn it could be picked apart.

The bundled package resembles a Congressional bill with typical partisan elements built in. Within the legislation is a proposal for a 10th full-time assistant coach. Was that enough to get the coaches to support an early signing period?

Any attempt to undo the bundle and make the proposals ala carte could mean failure.

“There are people who like some parts of it, not all parts of it,” Bowlsby said of the overall proposals. “So there is a fair amount of horse trading to be done.”

I’ve already linked to the story about Gus Malzahn pitching a fit about restrictions on hiring high school coaches.  Nick Saban is irritated as only Saban can be about camp restrictions.  Both apparently have company on those issues.  As Dodd notes in his article, though, there are aspects of the proposal that many coaches like, such as adding the tenth staff member.

If the sweet parts aren’t enough to entice the coaches to hold their noses, what happens then?  Probably nothing good.

If major-college football chooses to adopt all these measures, one high-profile recruiting expert called it “revolutionary.”

If not, one high-ranked source in the process speculated the NCAA Board of Governors may take over reform themselves. No one wants that.

Watch the vote to see who has the leverage.

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Filed under College Football, The NCAA

Doing it for the high school coaches

Wow, Gus, this sounds dire.  Grave, even.

“This rule will in essence be a death sentence to any high school coach wanting to coach college (football),” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “It’s putting an end to it, and it’s not fair.”

What’s the rule?

The proposal, part of a comprehensive recruiting reform package to be considered this week by the NCAA’s Division I Council, is an attempt to prevent hires made in hopes of gaining an edge with recruits who are associated with the new employee. It applies to “individuals associated with a prospect” (IAWP); along with high school coaches, it would apply to junior college coaches, as well as others such as family members of recruits. It would mirror a rule already in place for NCAA basketball…

A college would be prevented from hiring a high school coach for a support role if it had recruited a player from his school in the previous two years and would be prohibited from recruiting players from that high school for two years after the hire.

Gosh, how inconvenient that must be for you.

The IAWP rule proposal does not prohibit hiring high school coaches for an on-field assistant coaching position — which was the path of Morris and Malzahn — or limit recruiting from the coach’s former high school in that instance. But such direct moves aren’t the norm…  [Emphasis added.]

Said Malzahn: “The goal is they learn college football for a year or two and then they get a job (as an on-field assistant).”

Well, the goal for everyone else, apparently.

Malzahn, who was a high school coach before moving into college coaching in 2006 as an assistant at Arkansas, has hired nine high school coaches, including Drinkwitz.

“Not one time did I recruit any of their players,” he said. “I’m trying to put good high school coaches and people into college football. We’re not hiring them to get players here. If that rule passes, it’s gonna hurt. Every one of those (nine coaches), I wouldn’t have been able to hire.”

If you weren’t recruiting their players, why couldn’t you have hired them?  And if you’re not hiring them to get their players, how is the rule going to hurt?

It’s tough being a control freak, I guess.  The only thing missing from his whine is a half-assed insistence that the rule is somehow going to hurt the players, too.

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Filed under College Football, The NCAA

Getting together for a little spring ball

At the start of Chip Towers’ piece about how he’s looking forward to watching the quarterback battle on G-Day — hey, at least he didn’t mention QBRs — he also says this:

Generally, I’m not a big fan of spring games. I’ve always thought it’d be great if they did like the NFL in preseason camps and allowed regional teams that don’t play each other in the regular season to get together for a “friendly” in April. How awesome would a little spring tilt between Clemson and Georgia be? Coaches could have an agreement about how much they play the first, second and third units; schools could sell tickets and concessions and donate proceeds to worthy charities; and fans would flock to watch.

But that’s La-La Land. Not going to happen.

Yes, it would be awesome.  The weird thing is that it turns out not to be as uncommon as you might think.

I’ve been reading Bill Connelly’s excellent book, The 50 Best* College Football Teams of All-Time.  In the chapter about the 1970 Dartmouth team (you’ll have to trust Bill on this), he mentions that Dartmouth played a preseason warmup game/scrimmage against Boston College, almost as an aside.  I was intrigued about that, to say the least, so I started doing a little digging and found this:

This team’s potential was revealed in a preseason scrimmage with Boston College. Rated New England’s top team, the Eagles were stunned, 42-6, unveiling a combination of explosive offensive and grudging defense that Blackman conceded, “… was beyond my wildest expectations.”

So, apparently, preseason scrimmages between D-1 programs were once a real thing.  Which led to my next question: what happened?

That’s been a lot harder to determine, but I did find this AP article from several years ago that added some more background.

NCAA rules allow Division I college football teams to play 12 contests, including scrimmages against other teams. Since no school is about to give up a regular-season game to play a game that doesn’t count, the first step would be a rule change.

NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in an e-mail that “there have not been any proposals from member schools or conferences to change the rule on scrimmages or exhibition football games.”

But maybe one might be coming.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is a proponent of playing a preseason tuneup and apparently he’s turned his new boss, athletic director David Brandon, on to the idea.

“Our coaches and I believe this is something worth considering,” Brandon said. “We need to look at all of the issues carefully, and get input from other coaches and programs. However, it could be beneficial to provide a scrimmage opportunity versus another team during the preseason practice period to better prepare the team for competition. This would be for the same reasons that basketball, hockey, and other sports do the same thing.”

At the lower levels of college football, it’s not uncommon for teams to work in preseason intersquad scrimmages.

“We’re probably one of the only levels of football that doesn’t have preseason games,” said Rodriguez, whose first college head coaching job was at Division II Glenville State.

Indiana coach Bill Lynch also coached in Division II.

“We’d find another school that was close, so it was relatively inexpensive and I thought it was really good. We used to really kind of make a day of it and it was really a practice against each other broken down into individual drills as well as 11 on 11.

“Whether that would work at this level, I’m not sure. I’m sure there would be finances that would get involved and probably try to make it a money maker. But in terms of getting your team ready, it would be great.”

At some point, then, even D-1 squads arranged preseason football scrimmages, but the practice came to a halt because of an NCAA regulation that isn’t even applied to lower levels of the sport.  What the impetus for that regulation was, I haven’t been able to determine, but before you go with increased injury threat, remember that yesterday I linked to a brutal targeting hit that ended Mississippi State’s spring game prematurely.  Shit happens, even on an intrasquad basis.

Does anyone out there have any information that would shed some more light on the relevant history here?  Inquiring minds (well, at least my mind) want to know.

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Filed under College Football, The NCAA