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Friday Follies: We should have seen Miami storm coming

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You know, someday we will look back on this as college football's Roseanne Roseannadanna summer. It was always something.

We should have known. When Jim Tressel, The Senator, The Icon, The Leader of Men, The Inspector of Tattoos, resigned his Ohio State job on May 30, we should have known.

When Bill Stewart resigned as West Virginia's coach on June 10 because he was trying to dig up dirt on Dana Holgorsen, the head coach in waiting, we should have known.

When Butch Davis showed up at ACC media days and said, like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, "Do not panic! All is Well," we should have known. North Carolina fired Davis 48 hours later.

When Texas A&M put out the word that they would rather be a mediocre team in the SEC than live with "By God Texas" one more day, we certainly should have known.

But this summer of our discontent simply would not have been complete without the perfect conclusion brought to us this week by "The U." (Cue the Miami Vice music here.) Hot damn! We get to go on national TV and talk about the death penalty.

And on that happy note we will begin The Friday Follies:

1. When you strip all of this mess down to the bare bones, NCAA president Mark Emmert really only has two choices: Fast-track some significant reforms or just watch the big schools get picked off one by one. I'm sure there were worse things that could have happened after Emmert's presidential summit where about 50 CEO's promised -- and they really meant it this time -- to get serious about people cheating.

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First, some of the adults decided they could not get along in the sand box and talked about a conference realignment that had the potential to put a conference or more out of business. And Emmert was powerless to intervene. It's not his fault. That's the system.

Then came the ugly report on Yahoo! Sports about Miami that touched all the hot spots that alumni love: Pimps, prostitutes, cash, yachts, and yes, even an alleged abortion for an alleged woman impregnated by an alleged student-athlete. That makes you feel real great about the old diploma hanging on the wall.

I had two college presidents tell me this week that real change is coming. I will believe it when I see it. If real change doesn't come, then what we've seen this summer will be a way of life from now on. One by one the big boys of college football will be exposed and taken out. Thanks to new technology and the innate desire of one school to snitch on another, it's becoming quite easy.

2. If Dan Beebe is really mad, he needs to be mad at the Texas A&M president. First of all, reports that the Big 12 commissioner made an angry phone call to SEC commish Mike Slive are not accurate. What happened is that A&M president R. Bowen Loftin reached out to Slive because the two had developed a good relationship a year ago when expansion was on the table but did not happen in the SEC. Remember that Slive actually made a trip to College Station to do his homework last summer.

So when Loftin makes that call, Slive is going to accept it because of that prior relationship. Then Slive picked up the phone and called Beebe. Beebe certainly didn't want to get that call but the call was not heated, as reports have suggested.

I'll say this again. If Texas A&M is not happy in the Big 12, regardless of the reasons, the president has every right and every obligation to find his school a new home. Every school has the right to self-determination.

3. The SEC presidents put a "speed bump" in the expansion process. I talked to Dr. Bernie Machen, the president at Florida. He was in charge of the SEC presidents meeting that took place last Sunday in Atlanta where conference expansion was discussed. There are two reasons why the SEC presidents took no action and announced that they were satisfied with their current status as a 12-team conference -- for now.

 Thanks to Twitter and the 24-hour news cycle, the process was accelerated well past the comfort level of the SEC. Texas A&M obviously wanted to get the deal done as soon as possible in order to limit the political fallout. It was suggested to Dr. Machen that Texas A&M was going 80 in a 35 mph zone. "That's a good way to put it," said Machen. "We just decided to put a speed bump in the road to slow things down."

Notice he didn't say "roadblock."

 I asked Dr. Machen why, if no action was going to be taken, the presidents felt it necessary to meet at all. He said that when Governor Rick Perry of the great state of Texas (a former Texas A&M yell leader) went to Birmingham and started talking Aggies and SEC, the presidents felt compelled to address the issue. Perry is running for the Republican nomination for president.

4. I guess you could say that the ACC is in the football business now: Remember that back in 2003 when the nine-member ACC was debating expansion, there were several members of the conference who didn't think it was a good idea at all. Duke and North Carolina HATED the concept because they thought it would water down their beloved regular-season double-round robin basketball package and their equally valued ACC basketball tournament.

But I was hearing from the football forces in the ACC who kept telling me: "We have to do this to let everybody know we are serious about football. This train is leaving the track with us or without us."

The ACC expanded to include Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami. Now Miami has been embarrassed by what could eventually go down as one of the biggest scandals in NCAA history. North Carolina decided to fire its coach, Butch Davis, nine days before practice started and 48 hours after he appeared at ACC media days. Academic fraud was a big part of that case.

ACC regular-season basketball is still popular, especially when Duke and North Carolina are playing. But the ACC tournament, which used to be among the toughest tickets in sports, is now just another four-day, 12-team tournament. If Duke and Carolina play in the final, people watch.

5. Wright Waters has an interesting idea: The commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference has always thought outside the box. He has asked the NCAA to ponder this idea:

The five FBS conferences that have less than 12 members (Big East, Big 12, WAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West) cannot hold a conference championship game. That means that when it comes to calculating the final BCS standings their champions have played only 12 games while the other six conference champs (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Conference USA, MAC) have played 13.

His idea: Allow each of the champions of those five conferences, if they choose, to play a 13th "invitation game" against one of the other conference champs.

Example: Suppose the champs of the Sun Belt invited the Mountain West or the Big East champ to meet on championship Saturday? If TCU was a 12-0 champion of the Big East next season, could a 13th win be the difference in the Horned Frogs getting into the Big Game or not? Could a 13th win help TCU jump over a 12-1 team from the Pac-12? Could it help a 12-0 Big 12 team jump over a 13-0 Big Ten team into the big game?

"I'm not sure I'm even for this idea but it's something I'd like for us to talk about," Waters said. "This gives those champions a 13th game and lessens the pressure for conferences to go to 12 teams before they are ready."

The Tony Barnhart Show returns on Aug. 31 on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. 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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