Category Archives: The Body Is A Temple

“We’re better off padding the goal posts.”

Mel Tucker learned right from the start that he wasn’t in Georgia anymore.

The University of Colorado hired a new football coach in December, and as coaches are wont to do, he talked tough.

“Our team, we will be physical,” Coach Mel Tucker said at his introductory news conference. “My dad always told me the name of the game is hit, hit, H-I-T. There is always a place on the field for someone who will hit.”

He was preaching that old-style pigskin religion. Unfortunately, Tucker, who came from the University of Georgia, runs a football program that has produced at least a half-dozen players — including several who played in the N.F.L. — who have killed themselves. Other former players are alive but afflicted by severe post-concussion problems.

Two university regents, dissenters from the Church of Hit, Hit and Hit, read Tucker’s remarks and shook their heads. A few days later, these heretics voted against his five-year, $14.75 million contract. They could not block the contract, but another cannon had been fired in the football concussion wars.

“I really thought at first that we could play football safely with better rules and better equipment; I drank the Kool-Aid,” she told me. “I can’t go there anymore. I don’t believe it can be played safely anymore. I want these young men to leave C.U. with minds that have been strengthened, not damaged.”

I wish I could say I have a good rebuttal for that, but I don’t.  In fact, I don’t think you’ll find a better summary of the dilemma college football faces in that regard than this quote:

“We should move in the direction of offering lifelong insurance and medical care for football players who become badly damaged,” said John Kroll, the other regent who voted against the coach’s contract. “But to do that is an implicit acknowledgment this game is incredibly dangerous to play.”

We love the sport and our passion fuels its success, but, man, the price some of these kids wind up paying for that.  I don’t know about you, but, yeah, I feel a little guilty.  In the meantime, as a minimum, make that lifelong insurance and medical care a reality, schools.  It really is the least you can do.

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Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

“What a strange few months it has been without football.”

Marshall Long announced his retirement from football yesterday.  That’s what three knee surgeries will do to someone.

Best of luck to him.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

Today, in doing it for the kids

I don’t know if you heard about Zion Williamson’s injury last night, caused by one of his shoes literally falling apart.  Shoe deals are one of college athletics’ abominations, purely for the financial benefit of schools and coaches, with the product forced on the student-athletes, regardless of quality.

Even if you’re a staunch defender of amateurism, I don’t see how you can begrudge this small gesture.

First, remember that, no matter what silliness you’re told, NCAA amateurism is not a purely ‘no-pay’ amateurism. The NCAA bylaws say that any player benefit, pay, or special arrangement is perfectly fine if “expressly authorized by NCAA legislation.” The NCAA can vote to provide all players with candelabras, or pickup trucks, if it wants.

Zion Williamson got hurt not just while wearing a shoe provided for the commercial profit others enjoyed: the cause of Williamson’s injury was the shoe. He provides the promotion, with no pay; he should not be required to assume all the cost of injury. NCAA legislation should be immediately passed to require that any D-1 school shoe or apparel contract include a provision mandating that the shoe or apparel provider fund loss-of-value insurance for any basketball or football player.

It’s not like the bastards can’t afford it.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

Amateur professionalism, or professional amateurism?

Here’s something strange.

The state of Florida’s exclusion of professional athletes from receiving workers compensation insurance coverage is forcing the Orlando Apollos to start practicing in Georgia at the beginning of March, Alliance of American Football officials told the Orlando Sentinel.

Although the situation admittedly isn’t ideal, league co-founder and CEO Charlie Ebersol said, “We really need to make sure we take the necessary steps to take care of our players. Our responsibility is always to do what we must do to make sure our players have the best available coverage.”

Starting sometime next week, the Apollos, according to team officials, will be housed in a hotel in Jacksonville for a little more than a month while busing 30 minutes over the border to practice at a high school in Kingsland, Ga. They will still play their home games in Orlando at UCF’s Spectrum Stadium.

AAF officials say the reason this is even an issue is because Florida, unlike many other states, will not cover professional athletes under its workers compensation laws. In Florida, professional athletes are not categorized as employees, which means state law prevents pro athletes from filing workers comp claims for injuries incurred while on the job.  [Emphasis added]

Hey, the NCAA business model!  Imagine that.  I guess that means if student-athletes ever leave to play for the AAF in Florida, they’ll feel right at home.

I admit the side bonus of Spurrier having to bring his team to Georgia to practice is amusing as hell, though.  Make yourself at home, Coach.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

Skin in the kickoff game

If you’ve watched any Alliance of American Football action (and before you ask, I haven’t), you may have noticed an absence of kickoffs.

The AAF debuted last weekend without toe meeting pigskin following scores. Offenses simply took over at the 25-yard line. No high-speed blocks, tackles or collisions. Definitely no injuries.

“It felt a little awkward,” said Atlanta Legends coach Kevin Coyle, a veteran of more than 40 college and pro seasons. “For me personally, it felt strange not to kickoff and cover the kick.”

Obviously no kickoffs = less injury chances, which has started another drum beat about what college football ought to do about that.

The thing is, the rule changes already enacted have had their desired effect.

  • For the first time since the NCAA began tracking such numbers, less than half of all kickoffs — only 42 percent — were returned last season.
  • For at least the fifth straight year, touchbacks are up. The 2018 total of 4,273 was up almost 28 percent since 2013.
  • The total number of kickoffs returned for touchdowns is down almost half from 72 in 2012 to 38 in 2018.
  • Kickoff return yards are down 42.2 percent since 2011. That was the last season before the kickoff was moved from the 30 to the 35-yard line.

Still, that’s probably not satisfying for the all or nothing crowd.  So what’s an NCAA rules committee to do?  Well, if you’re Steve Shaw, you raise an interesting defense of the status quo.

“Imagine Georgia-Florida and the place is up for grabs and we just jog out and put it on the ground,” he said. “I think we want to do everything we can do to protect the play.”

That’s the most empowered I’ve ever felt about an NCAA rule change.

By the way, thanks for getting the name of the game right, Steve.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

Body blows

You would think this would be an obvious slam dunk to correct.

Whenever an Oregon football player struggled, vomited or fainted during a strenuous January 2017 workout, two lawsuits allege, their teammates would be punished with additional repetitions. Three Ducks players were hospitalized following the session and diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, an overexertion-induced syndrome that damages muscle fibers and releases their contents into the bloodstream.

In charge of the training? Strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde, whose sole credential was a 21-hour strength training course offered by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, which he reportedly attained while at South Florida in 2016. Oderinde received a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from Western Kentucky and master’s degree in sport management from Kentucky, though neither of those would certify him to be a strength and conditioning coach…

Under NCAA Bylaw 11, strength and conditioning coaches are required only to take a “nationally accredited strength and conditioning certification program,” a broad spectrum that includes Oderinde’s 21-hour course. And there is no language that prevents strength and conditioning coaches from reporting directly to head coaches.

Brian Hainline, chief medical officer of the NCAA’s Sports Science Institute, told Sporting News the NCAA was looking at bolstering accreditation standards for strength and conditioning coaches “in the next year or two,” though no formal measures have yet been introduced or reviewed.

But you, my friend, aren’t the NCAA.

In 2015, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) — considered industry leaders in strength and conditioning accreditation — asked the NCAA for “higher professional guidelines” for strength and conditioning coaches to become credentialed, according to CBS. Since then, the NSCA and CSCCa have grown frustrated at the lack of NCAA action, sending a follow-up letter that reiterated their policy recommendations in March 2017.

NSCA board president Dr. Travis Triplett told SN that the politics of the NCAA — namely, how conferences and individual athletic programs oppose what they perceive as meddling — has made progress toward improved certification standards slow. Her view is reminiscent of medical experts’ frustration with the NCAA’s approach to preventing non-traumatic injury and death.

“I don’t know if they received enough pressure to back off and they just feel like they can’t really enforce it, I just don’t really know what their thinking is,” Triplett said. “We feel like … we’ve got that credibility that (the NCAA) should say, ‘Yes, you need one of these two certifications (from either the NSCA or the CSCCa). You can have the other ones as support ones.’”

Whatever could be the problem?  It’s the NCAA, so that means one thing.

… William Brooks — who has litigated issues of sports compliance and NCAA rules infractions for Alabama-based law firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White — believes it’s not yet determined whether the NCAA has a legal duty to protect student-athletes. That said, he believes if the NCAA made rules on issues such as strength and conditioning coach certification, it could essentially give the organization a caretaking role in the eyes of courts.

Brooks said he expects the Oregon case — like similar cases before it — will be settled before trial. Still, he is curious how it will shape a continuously evolving dialogue about the NCAA’s role in protecting its student-athletes.

“If they were to enact specific rules or requirements, those likely would be subject to an attack in a particular case if they weren’t good enough and the NCAA had undertaken a duty of protecting student-athletes,” Brooks said. “It wouldn’t be hard to imagine an instance where some kind of injury occurred and a player were to argue that the NCAA’s rules, if they had enacted some, were insufficient and the NCAA was negligent.”

Gee, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say there’s something that trumps doing it for the kids in the NCAA’s playbook.

By the way, Oderinde is the head strength and conditioning coach at Florida State now.

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Filed under See You In Court, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

“Oh yeah, I mean, there’s a chance that it could come from anything.”

Well ain’t this a kick in the pants:

Clemson officials still don’t know or aren’t saying how three football players tested positive for an illegal performance-enhancing drug prior to the Dec. 29 Cotton Bowl. But as the program continues to appeal the suspensions, head coach Dabo Swinney acknowledged it could have come from within — mistakenly.

Swinney told The Post and Courier that the process is out of his hands and that the university’s legal team is still looking into all possibilities, which includes the chance that Clemson gave the players something the athletic department thought was cleared by the NCAA.

Dabo’s not saying that because it’s some random thought that just popped into his head.  He’s clearing the stage for what’s to come.  Hey, Clemson won the national championship, so it’s not like there are going to be repercussions he can’t handle, but if you’re one of the three kids who were banned from playing in the CFP, that’s small comfort.

That being said, if the program were giving players PEDs inadvertantly or not, Dabo’s lucky only three tested positive.

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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA