by | Columnist

Friday Follies: Slive to crack down on SEC oversigning


Happy Memorial Day weekend, folks. It's time once more for the Friday Follies. Five things nobody asked me but:

No. 1: Tuesday's meeting between SEC commissioner Mike Slive and his football coaches is going to be a lot of fun.

The SEC's annual spring meetings will begin Tuesday in Destin, Fla. The regularly scheduled football coaches meeting will start an hour earlier than normal. Slive has a few things he wants to discuss.

Details are starting to leak out about Slive's proposals that deal with oversigning, grayshirting, and host of other "roster management" issues that will be voted on by the league's presidents Friday. As we told you earlier, a majority of coaches in the league don't appear to be in favor of changing the status quo. The status quo, after all, has resulted in five consecutive BCS national championships.

The commissioner, however, does want to make some changes for the reputation of the conference.

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Don't let Slive's mild-mannered demeanor fool you. He's a pretty good arm-twister, and when he's not happy about something, he makes a pretty forceful case. Back in 2008, when Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer were having a very public spat, Slive went into that same coaches meeting in Destin and read all 12 of them the riot act. He is a long-time attorney and former judge.

No. 2: The folks who run college athletics need to listen to Spencer Tillman's "Legacy Program." While Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany have floated the idea of expanding the value of an athletics scholarship, the former Oklahoma star (and my broadcast partner on CBS) has an idea that could be more life-changing than a few thousand dollars per year.

For years Tillman has advocated a "Legacy Program" to incentivize college athletes to the idea of staying in college and earning a degree. Simply put, if a college athlete stays in school and earns his degree, his children (if they qualify academically) would be guaranteed a free education at his alma mater.

"It gives the student-athlete a real reason to invest in his education," said Tillman. "What better way to advance the next generation? What better way to keep the athlete involved in the school after his playing are over? There is a lot of human capital out there that college athletics needs to take advantage of."

No. 3: Mark Richt deserves kudos. A lot of people talk about wanting to do more to change the world. The Georgia football coach and his wife, Katharyn, have decided to back up their feelings with action. I met with Richt on Wednesday in Athens, Ga., and he shared the details about why he was in the process of selling his $2 million getaway home at Lake Hartwell, which is on the Georgia-South Carolina border. Richt told me he was moved by the book The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, U.S. World Vision is an organization that combats poverty on a global scale. The book says 40 percent of the world lives on less than $2 a day and that more than a billion people live on less than $1. People in the United States, the book says, live on an average of $105 per day.

"If these poor people were your neighbors, would you do something to help them? Of course you would," said Richt. "I love that house. It is full of great memories with our children. But we don't need it."

Of course some believe that Richt's sale of the house has something to do with the fact that this is a very big year for him at Georgia after going 6-7 last season. But it doesn't.

Look, Richt knows it's a big year for him. Everybody knows it is a big year at Georgia. It's football and it's the SEC. You gotta at least compete for the championship. But you have to admire the man, regardless of how many football games he wins.

No. 4: If I'm Tressel, Gordon Gee or Gene Smith, I'm a little nervous right now. The NCAA basically threw down the gauntlet on Thursday when it denied USC an appeal of its sanctions. All of those who believed that USC would eventually catch a break because of its status as one of the "sacred cows" of college football were proven wrong. So now the question becomes: Will the NCAA put forth a consistent, stern message when it addresses the case at Ohio State later this year? The school and its coach, Jim Tressel, go before the Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12.

The facts in this case are pretty clear. Tressel did nothing when he learned that rules may have been broken. In fact, he covered it up and lied to the NCAA. It's hard to believe the NCAA won't come down hard to send a message (a la Dez Bryant).

Two more factors: Yet another Ohio State player came forth this week and threw out the everybody-was-doing-it card when it comes to Buckeye players selling their stuff.

And you have to wonder at what point Gee, the president, and Smith, the athletics director, become vulnerable in this process?

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who wasn't particularly pleased with the USC ruling, basically made it clear that he'll be watching the Ohio State case and expecting consistency in punishment for obvious major rules violations.

This ain't gonna be a fun summer in Columbus, Ohio.

No. 5: I hope the Dana Holgerson stuff isn't a sign of things to come: Holgerson is the former Houston and Oklahoma State offensive guru imported by West Virginia to eventually become head coach in 2012. But this year Holgerson will serve as the offensive coordinator while current coach Bill Stewart does his farewell tour. It is a tense situation as both men stake out their turf. Those who are loyal to Stewart are not going to have their guy pushed out the door prematurely. Those invested in Holgerson want to start laying the foundation for the future.

Decisions have to be made now that don't involve Stewart. That's just the way it is. I saw the same stresses at Florida State, where Jimbo Fisher was the coach-in-waiting to Bobby Bowden for three years.

Word got out this week that Holgerson had to be escorted from a casino at 3 a.m. Athletics director Oliver Luck called the incident "inappropriate." Hmmm ...

Keep an eye on the situation at West Virginia this season. It has the chance to be a real train wreck.

Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.

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