Who you gonna believe, me or those lying documents?

I’m not sure what I like best about this AP story on the UAB memos, that the university president thinks the old story line still works despite printed evidence to the contrary, or that the state legislator who’s calling for his head runs a Rivals Web site dedicated to UAB sports.

Either way, it’s quintessential Alabama.

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Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, Political Wankery, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Tuesday morning buffet

Chock full of goodies for your reading pleasure.

  • According to Khari Harding’s dad, local media sussed on to the problem with the new NCAA transfer rule before Tulsa did.  Ugh.
  • Five reasons why Tennessee will win the SEC East in 2015… and five reasons UT won’t.
  • Here’s Athlon’s Georgia spring preview.  Nothing particularly revelatory.
  • The NCAA is okay with a crowdfunding project for student-athletes?  Count me skeptical; it’s probably more like the NCAA hasn’t figured out a way to shut it down yet.
  • Auburn’s home/road splits over the last ten years are rather eye-opening.
  • Hoo, boy“Senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said he thought there was an underlying issue in the team’s setbacks, though. The players who served as leaders weren’t very good, in his opinion.”
  • And this is why they pay Cam Cameron the big bucks, I guess.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

“Deregulating the feeding of the student-athletes”

I thought the dumbest thing about the NCAA’s arcane food rules was the bagel topping nonsense.

It’s the NCAA; I should have known better.

“Not many kids growing up in Texas eat a bagel in the morning with nothing on it,” said University of Texas sports dietician Amy Culp.

It wasn’t that three meals wasn’t enough. It was that the athletes’ packed schedules often had them missing one or several of the dining hall time frames each day. The NCAA allowed one “training table” — a meal specifically geared for athletes — per day, but if a player had a class then he missed that window for the biggest meal of the day. When players missed their meals, they had to use money from their living stipend to find something on their own, which often resulted in bad decisions like fast food or pizza, like any college student would do.

The more often players had to use their own money, the less they had to do other things.

Stupid me, thinking the NCAA was aware student-athletes have to go to class.  D’oh!

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Filed under The NCAA

The NCAA and the “VP of Common Sense”

Andy Staples has a piece up today about amending the NCAA transfer rules.  I’m not saying I agree with everything he pushes in it, but this part made me think he’s definitely on to something:

The athletic director at the previous school signs a form allowing the transferring player to play immediately.

That’s it. If the coach and athletic director at the previous school don’t care if the player contributes to his/her new team right away, why should anyone else?

If this rule was in place now, there would be no confusion about Harding’s situation. Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs and coach Gus Malzahn are human beings with functioning hearts, and neither would object to letting Harding play in 2015.

Had this rule been in place in 2012, receiver Justin McCay would have been allowed to play immediately after transferring from Oklahoma to Kansas. The NCAA denied McCay’s request for a waiver even though Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione went to bat for McCay and requested that he be able to play immediately…

All of which makes me wonder exactly why the NCAA is in the transfer rules business in the first place.  I mean, if transfers are a matter of competitive balance, or however else you want to describe putting the brakes on kids jumping from one program to another, then in the case of a specific student-athlete, why should it be a matter of concern for the NCAA to be involved?  Doesn’t Staples’ hypothetical example make more sense?

If a hypothetical Georgia football player wants to transfer, he would request a release from his scholarship. If he decided to go to Maryland, the Terrapins could offer him a scholarship if they had one available. If the player wanted to transfer for dubious reasons, Bulldogs AD Greg McGarity could do nothing and the player would sit a year. There would be no appeal process because the only “penalty” is an extra year of free school. If the player wanted to transfer for a good reason, McGarity could waive the year-in-residence requirement and the player could suit up immediately.

That’s not exactly a rhetorical question.  I don’t know the origins of the NCAA rule, but I suspect nowadays it’s a handy place for a weaseling AD or head coach to hide instead of coming out directly to validate a decision blocking a student-athlete’s departure.  That’s hardly justification for screwing over Khari Harding’s family.

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Filed under The NCAA

At UAB, the fix was already in.

You will be shocked, shocked to learn that the decision to kill the UAB football program was made before the release of the report the school had hired a consulting firm to furnish.  Hell, it may have been made before the start of the 2014 season.

… according to documents obtained by AL.com, the decision to kill football and the other two programs may have been made prior to the start of the football season.

The documents show that public relations firm Sard Verbinnen & Co. prepared detailed plans for UAB to announce last September that it would eliminate the three programs, months before the school made the actual announcement.

The documents also show the school pushed back the announcement date until the conclusion of the football team’s regular season on the advice of both Sard Verbinnen and CarrSports.

The documents indicate that Watts misled his student-athletes, coaches, supporters, faculty members and others on at least three separate occasions in November and December when he said the decision to kill the three sports wasn’t made until November.

As appalling as flat-out lying may seem – really, when will bureaucrats ever learn the coverup is usually worse than the original story? – it’s the rationale expressed for delaying the decision until after the football season ended that’s really shameless.

That memo offers “our basis for opposing a mid-season announcement.” It suggests the potential for “a critical mass of immediate transfer requests … where students refuse to finish out the season” or “a full team boycott.”

“If not effectively managed,” the memo says, “it is conceivable that UAB would not be able to field a competitive team – or any team.”

The memo also suggests the possibility that UAB football players “may react very badly if an announcement is made during the season.”

In other words, don’t do it for the kids.

And this is just as bad.

Sard Verbinnen, the New York PR firm, advised UAB in September to “allow other tough decisions to set the stage” to announce the review’s results. For instance, the university announced last June that UAB Medicine Employees would not receive annual merit raises based on “profound shifts in healthcare.”

Sard Verbinnen advised UAB that “further isolating the athletic department’s results from others announced earlier in the season will also lessen the chances that the UAB lumps all ‘tough decisions’ together and concludes that the university is in financial duress.”

It just goes to show you can never have enough bad news to prime the pump.

So why go to all the trouble to mislead almost everyone with an interest in UAB athletics?  It can’t be political, can it?  Nah… just ask the PR folks.

Also, Sard Verbinnen advised to wait until after the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees meeting in November to help mitigate “unwarranted speculation” that the decision was driven by the board. Many UAB supporters believe several powerful trustees with Crimson Tide ties, including Paul Bryant Jr., got football killed. The board oversees UAB.

“The strategic review required time and careful deliberation by the department and the community’s perception of it should not be compromised by the negative optics that could result if it were communicated in parallel with a Board of Trustee meeting,” Sard Verbinnen wrote.

Good to see that’s been avoided.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, Whoa, oh, Alabama

“We are not where we need to be.”

After a spring game which included seven sacks and five interceptions, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason shows off a firm grasp of the obvious about his offense.

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Filed under SEC Football

From Garner to Rocker

This isn’t one of those get in the weeds recruiting posts – you know me better than that, right? – but I thought it was interesting listening to what’s on the mind of a big defensive tackle in the 2016 recruiting class.

Julian Rochester is one of the top defensive tackle recruits in the country. Out of Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern, Rochester is a five-star recruit on the 247Sports Composite. At 6’6 and 325 pounds, he has great length and holds offers from more than 30 schools.

Rochester was widely perceived as being a strong Auburn lean, but evidently that’s changed recently, as he’s now expressed a big interest in Georgia.

In the video above, Rochester discusses how difficult it is to find Jordans in a size 16 and that he is hoping to get some good gear at The Opening if he eventually gets invited (Rochester was not invited Sunday but could be asked later). He also dishes on his recent visit to see Georgia  — one he didn’t even want to take at first, and what made it so good that the Bulldogs pulled even with Auburn, his former No. 1 school.

He’s really taken with the position coaches at both schools.  Say what you will about Rodney Garner, one of his strengths has always been his ability to connect with kids on the recruiting trail.  If Georgia’s matched that ability with Tracy Rocker, to go along with what I would argue are better coaching skills at the position, that’s not bad.  At all.

Of course, Rochester ought to realize if he comes to Athens, it ain’t all about being cuddly.

(Photo by John Kelley/UGA Sports Communications)

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UPDATE: You’ll get a kick out of this header.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting