Category Archives: The NCAA

Not for love or money

Chip Towers tells a heartwarming story about Trent Thompson’s recruitment.

As recruits go, they don’t come any more highly recommended than Trent Thompson.

Not only did he come to Georgia rated as a consensus five-star prospect, but he also achieved the No. 1 overall spot in 247Sports.com’s composite rankings, which take into account the evaluations of all the major recruiting outlets.

All this kind of slipped up on Bridgette Flewellen, Thompson’s mother. Obviously she knew her middle child was big and good in football. But she didn’t really understand the depth and scope of it until they were in the full throes of the recruiting frenzy.

“I came home and started seeing stacks of mail,” Flewellen said. “The next day, another stack of mail. I’m like, ‘this is getting serious!’ All the sudden I’ve got five or six bags full of mail. Then they started calling, wanting him to come look at this school and that one.’

“I was like, ‘my baby?’ All I could do was look up and say ‘thank you, Lord.’ This is my baby!”

The interesting part of it is that it mostly was for naught. Thompson’s recruitment really was over before it started.

Thompson secretly accepted the first offer he got. It was from Georgia, and it came during their junior day during 2014.

“It was my first offer, the first school I visited, the first coach that came down to meet me and tell me they wanted me at Georgia,” Thompson said. “So I made my mind up I was going there.”

Not that he was going to let that get in the way of this impending adventure. Neither Thompson nor anyone in his family had ever been very far away from Albany. So Thompson readily accepted invitations for official visits to Auburn, Florida, Florida State and USC.

He also went to San Antonio, Texas, for the U.S. Army All-American Game. For that one, his mom went along. It happened to be the first plane flight of her life.

“She was squeezing my leg the whole time,” Thompson tattled.

Flewellen laughed. “I was talking real loud when I got off. I couldn’t hear anything!”

Like I said, that’s sweet.  You can’t help but share in Flewellen’s excitement there… until you step back and reflect on the NCAA’s position that a kid who’s never really been far from home with a mom who’s never flown on an airplane before are perfectly capable all on their lonesome of weighing the ins and outs of a national letter of intent.

If Trent Thompson were as skilled at playing baseball as he is at football, we wouldn’t be hearing this charming tale, or at least that wouldn’t be the entire story.  Because in preparing for the MLB draft, he would have hired someone to explain the consequences of the most important decision of his young life to him.  And nobody would find that inappropriate.

That the NCAA thinks that and, more importantly, is willing to punish a kid who might think about hiring someone to help him with understanding a contract is sad.  Honestly, given that Thompson has a learning disability that makes reading difficult, it borders on the outrageous.

But at least they love Mark Richt.  That makes it all right.

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“It’s officially in the system.”

And so, one more step on the road to marginalizing the regular season is taken.

A formal proposal for the deregulation of conference championship games, which would allow the Big 12 to have a championship game as early as 2016, was advanced to the NCAA Council this week and is expected to be approved in January, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN.com.

Before you chide me for having a case of the vapors about it, consider this:  the Big 12, a ten-school conference which plays a round robin conference schedule – the best way to decide a conference champion, in my humble opinion – is going to tack on a conference championship game.  Why?

One day, guys like Bowlsby are going to wake up and wonder where all the interest in the college football regular season went.  And then they’ll go out and add another round to the national playoffs.  More brackets!

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UPDATE:  If you’re having trouble answering my question – and I’m not sure why you would – let Oklahoma President David Boren fill in the blanks for you.

“…When we look at football playoffs and our conference is bumping up against conferences with 12 or 14 members, I believe that we are psychologically disadvantaged because we are a smaller conference.”  [Emphasis added.]

“Psychologically disadvantaged”.  Jeebus, these guys are too much.

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The Ohio State Way

In the wake of Tattoogate, the NCAA came down on Terrell Pryor.

Pryor was hit with a five-year ban from all Ohio State athletic facilities when he discontinued cooperation with the NCAA during its probe of the football program in 2011. That investigation ultimately led to a bowl ban, reduction of scholarships for three years, forced resignation of coach Jim Tressel and the vacating of wins from the 2010 season. There is still a year left on the penalty to Pryor, who left school in spring 2011 and was taken by Oakland in a supplemental NFL draft.

Pryor is now a proud member of the Cleveland Browns, a team that is preparing to hold an August scrimmage in Ohio Stadium, presumably with Ohio State’s former favorite son in tow.  Problem?

Nah.  Gene Smith picked up the phone and explained the situation to the NCAA.  And the NCAA doesn’t care.

But OSU athletic director Gene Smith said on Tuesday it was his understanding that the ban would not be in force for the scrimmage since Pryor would be taking part in an activity of the Cleveland Browns, who will be renting the stadium that afternoon. The NCAA agreed.

“He should be allowed to participate as a member of the Cleveland Browns when they are on campus at Ohio State in August, if he is a member of the team,” the NCAA statement said. “His participation should be identical to that of all team members, with no special accommodations provided to him due to his Ohio State affiliation.”

If Pryor had played for Georgia and this situation were to occur in Athens, McGarity would ban Pryor from setting foot on campus and turn Georgia in to the NCAA for a rules violation.  And then probably petition the SEC for a conference rule on it.

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Amateurism: the end is near?

“This is a positive development for student-athletes exploring their professional dreams,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president of men’s basketball. “This would give prospects and their families more appropriate time and unbiased info from the NBA to make important decisions. And it would probably lead some to go back to school.”

“This” being a proposal under consideration by the NCAA men’s basketball oversight committee to allow college underclassmen to return to school even after declaring for the NBA draft,

Yeah, me neither.  Makes way too much sense.

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UPDATE:  I figured the SEC would be all over this for football.

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Somebody needs to clue Chris Simms in on the First Rule of Holes.

Chris, buddy, I don’t think this is helping.

“It was unbelievable [my comments] gained that much steam,” he said. “To clarify it, it’s pretty simple. Yes, did I receive a $100 handshake when I was at Texas? Yes, I did. Not once, but twice, to be honest with you.

“It was not prearranged like, ‘Hey, can you come here and sign some autographs for me and I’ll give you money?’ No, this was outside of the University of Texas campus. This was not on campus.

“The city of Austin is full of Texas alumni. Guys I would see around, at a restaurant or whatever it would be, this just happened to be, yes, a Texas alumni at a restaurant, had a few jerseys. ‘Hey Chris, can you come over and sign a few jerseys for me?’ I had met him and his son before.

“And of course, yeah, I signed the jerseys — not even worried about being paid — and then I got a $100 handshake, and I thought it was really cool.

“But to imply that Texas had anything to do with this, that’s so crazy.”

He then goes on to reassure everyone that this was nothing like Todd Gurley’s situation. I, uh… wait a minute… you’ll have to excuse me until I finish laughing uncontrollably.

I await the clarification to the clarification.

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“… but if you give me a few extra $100 as a college kid, that’s great.”

I’d say it’s amazing it’s only Georgia that gets slapped for this kind of stuff, but at this point I’m just resigned to it.

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This time they really mean it.

Andy Staples has a good read on the NCAA’s response to the North Carolina academic debacle and how that relates to the “integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model”, whatever the hell that is.

The saddest thing here – and everything involving NCAA enforcement seems to share this – is that the hard part isn’t figuring out that something egregiously wrong happened; it’s figuring out what the NCAA will do in response.

Andy’s money (literally) shot:

It’s a safe bet that neither the men’s basketball nor football program will get the death penalty or anything of that ilk, because canceled seasons mean the ACC can’t fulfill the terms of its media rights agreement, which will bring in an average of $260 million a year to the league’s schools through the 2026-27 school year.

Too big to fail, college athletics edition.

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