Tag:NCAA
Posted on: April 12, 2011 10:52 am
 

FCS scheduling still on the rise

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It won't surprise anyone to learn that paycheck games pitting BCS conference teams against FCS patsies -- or non-patsies, as the occasional James Madison/Appalachian State case may be -- are becoming more and more frequent.

But it might surprise some just how rapidly they're increasing, particularly in the domain of the formerly FCS-light Pac-12. Research by the Oregonian shows that such games have increased by a factor of nearly six out West:
Games between FBS and FCS teams have spiked 70 percent since a 2005 NCAA rule change made the games more attractive, according to analysis by The Oregonian. The matchups have increased nearly 600 percent in the Pacific-10 Conference and 358 percent in the Big Ten, even adjusting for conference expansion.
Look at that again: 600 percent. Why? You get one guess:
Athletic director Rob Mullens of Oregon, which plays FCS team Missouri State next fall, said he schedules the games for two main reasons: to have an extra home game and to combat skyrocketing prices for FBS nonconference teams making onetime visits.

"They'll want $900,000 or a million," Mullens said. "And we pay in the $400,000 range for an FCS opponent. That's a big difference."
Thanks to that economic reality (and, more immediately, Washington scheduling defending FCS champion Eastern Washington), only three FBS teams have still never stooped to an FCS game: Notre Dame, USC, and UCLA.

Kudos to them. But with the exception of schools that have doubled up on their FCS snacky-cakes ration, it's tough to be too harsh on the rest of FBS; when Eastern Washington costs substantially less than Eastern Michigan and your fans can't tell the difference, it doesn't make any sense to schedule the latter. Until the NCAA adds some kind of disincentive for scheduling the first FCS game as well as the second (which doesn't count towards bowl eligibility), don't expect the trend line to head in the other direction any time soon.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 1:49 pm
 

NCAA classifies Rivals.com as recruiting service

Posted by Bryan Fischer 

News broke Friday morning that the NCAA issued a new staff interpretation that clarifies recent bylaw changes as they relate to a scouting/recruiting service. CBSSports.com has obtained two emails that were sent out on the issue, both of which point out that the NCAA has classified recruiting website Rivals.com as a scouting service. The emails obtained are below and this article provides a good explanation of the resulting changes to the actual NCAA bylaws. Stay tuned to CBSSports.com for more on this developing story. 

Email 1: 
Today I was contacted by a source that is involved with a college football team. 

He informed me of an issue that has popped up regarding coaches subscribing (either paid or comped) to Rivals.com. 

The short version is one team in the league was going to subscribe to Rivals.com and was told by its compliance office that it would be an NCAA violation. 

They requested assistance from the league office, who got clarification from the NCAA. 

Here's what the league coaches received today from an NCAA representative (the bold passage was highlighted in yellow): 

I am responding to your question. If a recruiting or scouting service, such as Rivals.com, provides nonscholastic video that is not available for free to the general public, then an institution may not subscribe to the service per Bylaw 13.14.3. All recruiting/scouting services are held to the same legislated standard and we consider Rivals.com to be a recruiting/scouting service. The staff has issued a staff interpretation (4/29/09) and two educational columns (3/10/2009 and 5/4/2010) that discuss this issue generally that I have included below. 

The league coaches were instructed to immediately cancel any subscriptions to Rivals.com and to report a secondary recruiting violation if they were or ever have been subscribed (paid or complimentary). 

As you can see by the bolded passage above, the issue is with non-scholastic video (camp/combine footage, etc) being behind a pay wall. 

I'm assuming there wouldn't be an issue if all that footage was free, but that's just a bit of a guess. 

I know I have comped some coaches in the past and have others subscribed to the site. Because I don't want my name in the news for that kind of thing I'm going to cancel all comps and notify the coaches that have subscribed that they should cancel or seek clarification from their compliance office. 

Here's some detailed information from the league's office regarding this issue: 

Staff Interpretation 

Video of Nonscholastic Activities through a Subscription to a Recruiting or Scouting Service (I) 

Date Issued: April 29, 2009 Date Published: April 29, 2009 Item Ref: a 

Interpretation: 

The academic and membership affairs staff determined that it is not permissible for an institution to obtain video (e.g., live streaming video, recorded video) of any nonscholastic activities, including regular game and all-star competition, or any summer camp or clinic competition, through a subscription fee or other associated fee paid to a recruiting or scouting service. Further, it is not permissible to obtain any nonscholastic video that is available only to a select group of individuals (e.g., coaches), even if there is no charge associated with such individuals accessing the video. 

[References: NCAA Bylaws 12.3.3 (athletics scholarship agent) and 13.14.3.2 (video services), official interpretation (4/2/87, Item No. 6), staff interpretations (4/25/88, item d and 2/25/09, Item No. 1) which have been archived.] 

Educational Column 

Videos of Prospective Student-Athletes Participating in Nonscholastic Activities (I) 

Date Issued: March 10, 2009 Date Published: March 10, 2009 Item Ref: 1 

Educational Column: 

NCAA Division I institutions should note that in accordance with NCAA Bylaw 13.14.3.1, an institution may subscribe to a regularly published recruiting or scouting service involving prospective student-athletes, provided this service is made available to all institutions and at the same subscription rate for all subscribers. Additionally, in accordance with Bylaw 13.14.3.2, member institutions are permitted to use video services, provided only regularly scheduled (regular season) high school or two-year college contests are involved. Institutions may not contract with the recruiting or scouting service in advance to have a particular contest recorded or provided, and the video service must be available to all institutions at the same cost. Accordingly, it is not permissible for an institution to obtain video (e.g., live streaming video, recorded video) of any nonscholastic activities, including regular game and all-star competition, any summer camp or clinic competition or specially arranged activities (e.g., lifting weights, agility drills), through a subscription to a recruiting or scouting service. However, it is permissible for an institution to observe prospective student-athletes participating in nonscholastic activities via video (e.g., live streaming video, recorded video) that is available to the general public, provided there is no subscription fee or other associated fee required to observe the video. Finally, off-campus observation of a prospective student-athlete via video made available by a recruiting or scouting service is considered an evaluation activity and is subject to all applicable evaluation regulations. 

The following scenarios will assist member institutions in applying the provisions of Bylaw 13.14.3.2 regarding coaches' use of video services provided by a recruiting or scouting service: 

Scenario No. 1: A recruiting or scouting service posts videos of prospective student-athletes participating in nonscholastic activities on its Web site for the general public to view. There is no cost (e.g., subscription fee) associated with viewing the video. 

Question: Is it permissible for a coach to observe the video posted on the recruiting service's Web site? 

Answer: Yes, it is permissible for a coach to observe such video at any time provided there is no fee required and the video is available to the general public. In addition, observation of this type of video would not count as an evaluation. 

Scenario No. 2: A recruiting or scouting service provides a free video service of prospective student-athletes participating in nonscholastic activities that is available only to collegiate coaches. 

Question: Is it permissible for a coach to subscribe to this type of video service? 

Answer: No, it is not permissible for a coach to observe a video of prospective student-athletes participating in nonscholastic activities that is available only to a select group of individuals (e.g., coaches), even if there is no charge associated with accessing the video. In this case, the recruiting or scouting service is limiting access to the video to a specific group of individuals; therefore, observation of the video would be equivalent to subscribing to the video service. 

Scenario No. 3: A recruiting or scouting service charges a subscription fee for a service that publishes written information (e.g., player profiles, rosters) regarding the athletics ability of prospective student-athletes. By subscribing to the published, written materials an individual is also provided, at no additional charge, access to video of prospective student-athletes participating in nonscholastic activities. 

Question: Is it permissible for a coach to access videos under such an arrangement? 

Answer: No, it is not permissible for a coach to access videos of prospective student-athletes participating in nonscholastic activities under an arrangement that requires a subscription to other information (e.g., player profiles, rosters). In this situation, access to the video of nonscholastic activities is contingent on the purchase of or subscription to other information (e.g., player profiles, rosters) and, for the purposes of NCAA recruiting rules, both services would be considered part of a full subscription package. In order for a coach to observe video of nonscholastic activities, the other information (e.g., written information) and the video access cannot be marketed as a package and there cannot be any requirement, direct or implied, that a coach must purchase the other information (e.g., written information) in order to access the video. Further, the video must be made available to the general public at no charge. 

[References: Bylaws 13.14.3.1 (published recruiting services) and 13.14.3.2 (video services), official interpretation (4/2/87, Item No. 6) and staff interpretations (2/25/09, Item No. 1 and 4/25/88, Item Ref. d, which has been archived)] 

Educational Column 

Recruiting -- Use of Recruiting Funds -- Recruiting or Scouting Services -- Criteria for Subscription (I) 

Date Issued: May 4, 2010 Date Published: May 4, 2010 Item Ref: 1 

Educational Column: 

NCAA Division I Proposal No. 2009-56 was adopted in January 2010 with an immediate effective date. This legislation establishes additional criteria that must be satisfied in order for an institution to subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service involving prospective student-athletes. Pursuant to this legislation, an institution may subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service involving prospective student-athletes, provided the institution does not purchase more than one annual subscription to a particular service, and the service: 

1. Is made available to all institutions desiring to subscribe and at the same fee rate for all subscribers; 

2. Publicly identifies all applicable rates; 

3. Disseminates information (e.g., reports, profiles) about prospective student-athletes at least four times per calendar year; 

4. Publicly identifies the geographical scope of the service (e.g., local, regional, national) and reflects broad-based coverage of the geographical area in the information it disseminates; 

5. Provides individual analysis beyond demographic information or rankings for each prospective student-athlete in the information it disseminates; 

6. Provides access to samples or previews of the information it disseminates prior to purchase of a subscription; and 

7. Provides video that is restricted to regularly scheduled (regular season) high school, preparatory school or two-year college contests and for which the institution made no prior arrangements for recording. (Note: This provision is applicable only if the subscription includes video services.) 

The following questions and answers are designed to assist the Division I membership in applying this legislation. 

Question No. 1: Who is responsible for ensuring that a particular service is in compliance with the legislation? 

Answer: Each institution is responsible for ensuring each service for which it maintains a subscription is in compliance with the legislation. 

Question No. 2: Is it permissible for an institution to subscribe to more than one recruiting or scouting service? 

Answer: Yes. Provided each service meets the legislated criteria, and the institution maintains only one subscription to each service. 

Question No. 3: If a service separates its information by gender, may an institution maintain separate subscriptions for each gender? 

Answer: Yes, provided the service requires a separate registration fee for access to information for each gender. 

Question No. 4: If a service provides information on prospective student-athletes for multiple sports, can an institution maintain more than one subscription to that service? 

Answer: No, an institution may not maintain more than one subscription to the same service unless there is a separate registration fee for access to prospective student-athletes and reports in different sports. 

Question No. 5: If a service does not meet the legislated criteria, is an institution required to cancel that subscription? 

Answer: An institution must cancel a service that is no longer permissible at its earliest opportunity. Any remaining terms/years on a multiyear subscription purchased prior to January 16, 2010, must be cancelled if the recruiting service is not in compliance with the legislation as of the date payment is due for renewing a single-year subscription. If a subscription to a service that does not meet the legislated criteria was purchased on or after January 16, 2010, an institution is required to cancel the subscription immediately and would be in violation of the legislation. 

Question No. 6: May an institution subscribe to a service that offers a discounted subscription? 

Answer: Yes, as long as the service offers the discount to all institutions desiring to subscribe, the service is considered to be offered at the same fee rate for all subscribers. However, if a discount requires registration/payment with a separate organization, then an institution is prohibited from subscribing to that service because the discounted subscription rate may not be available to all subscribers. 

For example, would the following pricing structure satisfy the requirement that the service is made available to all institutions desiring to subscribe and at the same fee rate for all subscribers? 

a. Base price (single program): $300; 

b. Renewal discount: $25; 

c. International Tennis Association (ITA) member discount: $25; and 

d. Multiuser discount (both men and women): $50. 

The renewal discount is permissible, specifically because it is available to any institution that continues a subscription beyond one year. The discount for ITA members and multiuser discount is not because all institutions may not qualify for the discounts. 

Question No. 7: May an institution subscribe to a service that provides access to nonscholastic video if the service does not shoot, produce or edit the video, and access to the video is free and available to the general public? 

Answer: Yes, if the service is only providing a link to video that is otherwise free and available to the general public. 

Question No. 8: What is the minimum analysis that may be provided in order to comply with the requirement that the service provides analysis in the information it disseminates beyond demographic information or rankings of prospective student-athletes? 

Answer: The information disseminated must include an analysis of each prospect included in the information. A general statement about the college level at which the player may be best suited and a ranking is not sufficient; there must be individual analysis on each prospective student-athlete's skills. 

During its April 2010 meeting, the NCAA Division I Legislative Council clarified that individual analysis beyond demographic information or rankings for each prospective student-athlete for whom information is disseminated, must be provided by a recruiting or scouting service in order for an institution to subscribe to such a service. 

Question No. 9: Does the provision of event packets at athletics contests or tournaments subject the event to the legislated requirements for recruiting and scouting services? 

Answer: Event packets with statistical information regarding prospective student-athletes participating in a specific contest or tournament is not subject to the application of the recruiting or scouting services legislation for institutional coaches in attendance at the event. However, for those institutional coaches not in attendance at such an event, purchasing such information would be subject to the recruiting and scouting services legislation. 

[References: NCAA Division I Bylaw 13.14.3 (recruiting or scouting services) and staff interpretation (4/29/09, Item No. a)]

Email 2: 

Just curious if anyone has dealt with this before, one of our coaches received an open ended email from the local rivals.com rep this morning with the following content. Supposedly this message went out to rivals.com reps throughout the country in the last few days. 

"Here's what the league coaches received today from an NCAA representative (the bold passage was highlighted in yellow): I am responding to your question. If a recruiting or scouting service, such as Rivals.com, provides nonscholastic video that is not available for free to the general public, then an institution may not subscribe to the service per Bylaw 13.14.3. All recruiting/scouting services are held to the same legislated standard and we consider Rivals.com to be a recruiting/scouting service. The staff has issued a staff interpretation (4/29/09) and two educational columns (3/10/2009 and 5/4/2010) that discuss this issue generally that I have included below. 

The league coaches were instructed to immediately cancel any subscriptions to Rivals.com and to report a secondary recruiting violation if they were or ever have been subscribed (paid or complimentary). 

As you can see by the bolded passage above, the issue is with non-scholastic video (camp/combine footage, etc) being behind a pay wall. 

Lindsey K. Babcock Assistant Commissioner, Compliance & Governance Atlantic Coast Conference
Posted on: April 5, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Fiesta Bowl has a date with the NCAA

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Oh the things we've learned about the Fiesta Bowl and its former CEO John Junker in recent weeks. I mean, how the hell do you spend $33,000 on a birthday party and only $1,200 during a trip to a strip club? What kind of sense does that make? Of course, while I'd like an answer to those questions, there are other questions the NCAA would like answered about the Fiesta Bowl's hedonistic habits, and it'll have its chance to find out on April 28th.

That's when the NCAA subcommitee in charge of licensing bowl games will be meeting with Fiesta Bowl officials in New Orleans, and the meeting could result in some strong consequences for the bowl game.
Dennis Poppe, NCAA vice president of baseball and football, told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday that the Fiesta Bowl had been invited to meet with the 11-member group.
He told the newspaper the Fiesta could potentially have its four-year license revoked, though in the past licenses had only been revoked because of financial or attendance problems.
The meeting is in response to a report commissioned by the Arizona-based game that led to the firing of its longtime president for alleged misuse of funds.
The Fiesta Bowl also released a statement in response to the meeting.

"We look forward to meeting with the NCAA to answer any questions about the Special Committee report, and to discuss the new bylaws, policies and controls that the board of directors has put in place to prevent the activities described in the report from occurring again."

I'm not sure why the Fiesta Bowl would be looking forward to this meeting seeing what the consequences could be, but what has the Fiesta Bowl done lately to prove to any of us it knows what it's doing? Though, admittedly, I don't think there's any chance that the Fiesta Bowl will have it's license revoked. Odds are that if there is any real punishment, it would end up being something like a one-year probation, which would mean a season without the Fiesta Bowl. 

According to NCAA bylaw 18.7.2.6: "The Football Issues Committee shall prepare licensing documents that require the management of each postseason bowl game to enter into a contractual agreement through the NCAA licensing program. This agreement stipulates that the bowl management agrees to comply with the NCAA's principles for the conduct of intercollegiate athletics, as set forth in Constitution 2 and relevant bylaws and interpretations, and with the restrictions on game negotiations in Bylaw 18.7 in consideration for receiving licensing of its postseason bowl game."

The NCAA could also decide to let the game be played and take 50% of the gate (pages 16-17 here). If the NCAA did decide to put the game on probation, then it would also be possible that the BCS would go ahead and replace the Fiesta Bowl with the Cotton Bowl, as some have speculated.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 12:16 pm
 

Rebels' Lockett granted sixth year of eligibility

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As we wrote in our Spring Practice Primer earlier this week, the biggest question facing the Ole Miss Rebels this spring -- despite having a new face at quarterback -- is how well Houston Nutt and defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix can rebuild a defense that was shredded for much of 2010 and loses most of what experience it had.

But thanks to an NCAA ruling announced yesterday, the Rebels won't lose quite as much as they might have thought; potential All-SEC defensive end Kentrell Lockett has been granted a sixth year of eligibility after his 2010 season was cut short by a knee injury after just four games. 

Lockett responded with typically charismatic glee for a player whose (since discontinued) Twitter feed earned its own cult following :
“I finally can go to sleep now, man,” Lockett said. “It’s been since September, you know, didn’t know what was going to happen. Just the uncertainty of it all was killing me, man. I cried many a night. I’ve been crying all day, I’m happy.”
Lockett's return mean the Rebels will return a player who racked up double-digit tackles-for-loss in his last full season and whose five sacks placed him second on the team in 2009. Though defensive end is one of the few places where Ole Miss would have had some measure of depth regardless (thanks to players like senior JUCO transfer Wayne Dorsey and junior Gerald Rivers), Lockett automatically becomes their best, most experienced player at the position.

So it's no surprise Nutt reacted to the news in the most Houston Nutt fashion possible:
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt opened his post-practice visit to reporters by smiling and rubbing his hands together.
Never change, Coach.

Posted on: March 31, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Oregon St. president: Tressel 'beyond the pale'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Oregon State president Ed Ray is in something of a unique position when it comes to the Jim Tressel brouhaha at Ohio State. As a former vice president and provost in Columbus, Ray was one of the Buckeye officials who hired Tressel away from Youngstown State and knows Tressel personally. But as the current president of the NCAA's Executive Committee (the committee which oversees changes to NCAA's byzantine rulebook and bylaws), he's also heavily invested in seeing the NCAA's standards and rules upheld.

So it carries more than the usual weight when Ray opens both barrels on Tressel in an interview today with the Oregonian:
"I just thought the world of him ... " Ray said. "I would assume he's certainly been a very positive influence on many of the players that he had. But this whole episode to me is beyond the pale. It's totally unacceptable ..."

The NCAA has not yet ruled on Tressel's transgression, and Ray emphasized that he was speaking for himself only. But on how NCAA enforcement officials might view Tressel's case, Ray said, "If I were in their position, I'd be a hanging judge."

He continued: "I think there are lines you don't cross in your own life.... I'm not a big mercy guy. I'm not a big understander of extenuating circumstances. We all sort of engage in thinking about situational ethics. But I'm kinda old-school. And I think you're either ethical or you're not ethical."
As Ray himself points out, his opinion is not necessarily an opinion shared by the NCAA colleagues who will ultimately decide Tressel's punishment fate. And Ray's personal disappointment with a man he clearly respected a great deal is also likely coloring his remarks.

With that said, Ray also remains representative of the type of academically-focused officials who populate the NCAA and will be on the committee reviewing the Tressel case. If his response to Tressel's transgressions are even remotely similar to those shared across the NCAA, that five-game suspension could be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Posted on: March 28, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 5:35 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Oregon

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football   we  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Oregon , which starts spring practice on Tuesday.

Spring Practice Question: Can Oregon find replacements on both lines and keep the momentum from last season going?

As disappointing as last season's narrow (and by narrow, we mean just four points) championship game loss was, it also marked an unprecedented level of success for a program that won a conference title for just the eighth time in school history. Now comes the hard part, retooling and reloading for another run at the national championship and the inaugural Pac-12 title.

At the same time he's trying to find answers on the field this spring, head coach Chip Kelly will also have to deal with an ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting services used by the school. It's not often people enjoy watching the big bodies in the trenches work but that might be where you'll find Kelly when he's not putting Lee Corso on a poster board.

Both lines have to replace three starters and it's an even tougher task when you consider who has moved on. Defensive end Kenny Rowe , the Ducks' sack leader, and both defensive tackles are gone, leaving Terrell Turner to lead a group that should feature multiple underclassmen on the two deep. Turner had 32 tackles and two sacks last season but needs to take his game to the next level after showing flashes at times last year. Senior Brandon Hanna should fill the other end spot but junior Dion Jordan could push him for playing time after getting a taste of the position last year after starting his career on offense.

There are several sophomores in the running for the two defensive tackle spots, led by Ricky Heimuli and Taylor Hart . Both turned in very solid debut seasons as freshmen and Oregon coaches are hoping they can go from contributors in a rotation to full-time starters. Sophomore Wade Keliikipi will also make a push but is coming off a year in which he rehabbed a shoulder surgery.

Even of that group, there's no sure-fire starter penciled in at the start of spring drills and part of the reason why everyone has a chance to crack the two-deep. Junior college transfers Isaac Remington (who redshirted last season) and Jared Ebert should be solid contributors in the rotation at tackle but the Ducks will hope they can wrestle one of the starting spots away from the younger players. Highly regarded line coach Jerry Azzinaro will have his hands full this spring but he's excelled with undersized linemen in the past and is finally starting to work with some big bodies thanks to better recruiting so it will be interesting to see what this unit looks like next month.

On the other side of the ball, it might be even more important to sort things out on the offensive line with the season opener against LSU and some mighty SEC defensive tackles looming. Guard Carson York and tackle Mark Asper will be the foundation of the unit and bring much-needed experience to the group with over 20 starts under their belts. Gone is one of the better interior lineman the Ducks have had in center Jordan Holmes , who was a first team All-Pac-10 player last year. Sophomore Karrington Armstrong will likely get first crack at the position and don't be surprised if the former wrestler ends up holding onto the starting spot for several years. Redshirt freshman Hroniss Grasu will compete against Armstrong.

Spring Practice Primers
Darrion Weems will be the left tackle barring injury after starting seven games last year, including the championship game against Auburn . Ramsen Golpashin, Mana Greig and Ryan Clanton will all get a look at right guard with Golpashin likely getting the nod after playing a lot last season. Don't be surprised if the coaches try and set the two-deep for next year during the spring so they can redshirt talented offensive line recruits Andre Yruretagoyena, Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone .

Luckily for all of the starters, they won't have to hold their blocks for long. Quarterback Darron Thomas turned in a fantastic debut season and is one of the best run-pass threats in the country. It wasn't too hard to notice Heisman finalist LaMichael James either, as the speedy running back led the nation in rushing. Backups Kenjon Barner and redshirt freshman Lache Seastrunk are just as quick (if not quicker) than James and figure to be a nice change of pace from fast to faster.

There's plenty of talent on the roster this spring as Oregon looks to figure out the winning combination on both lines to go for an unprecedented third consecutive conference title. If they can plug some holes here and there, the skill position talent should allow the Ducks to aim well beyond another conference title and look to return to the national championship game. Hopefully, Turner and Hanna establish themselves early on and allowing all of the attention to be on the youngsters on the interior defensive line. Three offensive line positions are pretty much set so it's up to a solid group of guys to fill in at guard and tackle this spring. 

Either way you look at it, it's a long road to New Orleans for a trip back to the title game. The first step for Kelly and the Ducks is Tuesday and they'll likely spend it in the trenches.


Posted on: March 23, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 2:44 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: USC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at USC, who started spring practice last Friday.


Spring Practice Question: Is there depth on both sides of the ball in year two of the Lane Kiffin era?

At a time when most college students were just waking up for their first class of the day, quarterback Matt Barkley lofted a beautiful deep ball to wide receiver Robert Woods to wrap up USC's first spring practice. The perfectly thrown post route was one of the few things the Trojans looked sharp at during their first early morning workout, which began at 7:30 a.m.

"Kiffin always wants to end on a bang," Barkley said. "We're just getting used to it. There should be better tempo in the days to come."

Many USC players arrive at the football facilities at 5 a.m. to stretch and get taped before heading to meetings at 6 a.m. The practices are similar to how Pac-10 rival Oregon operates but Kiffin's idea switch to the early practices was not a result of what the Ducks have been doing.

"It's actually something, over the last couple of years, that I wanted to do," Kiffin said. "Because of class schedules you have to do it a year in advance because of registration and to block these hours. At Tennessee we wanted to do it but we weren't there for a full year before spring. It's something I want to look at in the spring and could be a possibility for the fall."

Although Kiffin hasn't made up his mind on the practice schedule this fall, he is hoping several of his players are able to get some playing time in before the spring ends. After battling a general lack of numbers and several injuries throughout last season, the Trojans will limit full contact drills and do more 7-on-7 in place of full team periods.

“The scary thing is, we’re 19 short and we just started," Kiffin said. "Usually you’re short at the end of spring. Hopefully we don’t add to that list, and possibly get some guys back.”

A 20th player, tailback Marc Tyler is likely to be added to the list after aggravating his hamstring muscle while stretching out for a pass on the first day. One young player who could use the opening to get into the mix at running back is redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan. Fully recovered from knee surgery his senior year in high school, Morgan is reportedly the fastest player on the team and could be a nice change of pace back to pair with a bruiser like Tyler. Also in the mix is Dillon Baxter, who hopes to rebound from a disappointing freshman campaign and translate some of the talent that made him a YouTube sensation in his first season.

Paving the way for the backfield is a talented but limited group of offensive lineman. Starting left tackle Matt Kalil is healthy and is looking to build on a very solid debut season protecting Barkley's blind side. Returning starter Khaled Holmes will receive snaps at both guard and center but will be limited the first few weeks with a neck stinger. Center Abe Markowitz and guard/tackle Kevin Graf will sit out some or all of spring practice due to injuries. Some reinforcements have arrived in junior college transfers David Garness and Jeremy Galten. The two should provide added depth but they must quickly get up to speed with the offensive terminology.

Things aren't much better, depth-wise, across the trenches on the defensive line. Tackle Christian Tupou will be limited while recovering from a knee surgery last season and defensive end Wes Horton will also miss part of spring practice with a foot injury. Defensive end Armond Armstead is being held out after being hospitalized for a heart condition and hopes to be cleared by doctors by the end of the month. Position coach Ed Orgeron is looking to get the most out of the group that is practicing, including talented defensive end Nick Perry and defensive tackle DaJohn "Juicy" Harris.

Linebackers Chris Galippo, Devon Kennard and Shane Horton will also watch most of spring practice from the sideline. Though all three are expected to start in the fall, their vacant positions will allow many of the younger players to receive extra repetitions and build a bit of depth at a position that has had it lacking for several years. Marquis Simmons, Hayes Pullard and safety-turned-linebacker Dion Bailey are three of the players the coaching staff has high hopes for and expects to get better with the added practice time.

"Even though it's a bummer that those guys missed, it's kind of a blessing in disguise that we can get the young guys a bunch of work," linebackers coach Joe Barry said. "At linebacker, it's all about reps and seeing things 1,000 times. The only way you can see things 1,000 times is if you get snaps. The young guys are getting a bunch of work so it's actually good for us."

The secondary is probably the healthiest of any of the position groups and has several players who should compete for playing time. Safeties Marshall Jones, T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Demetrius Wright are a talented, physical group that gives defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin a lot of flexibility on the back end. Though senior starter Shareece Wright is off to the NFL, Nickell Robey, Tony Burnett and Brian Baucham all have experience at cornerback and redshirt freshman Anthony Brown has looked good in practice as well.

The defensive backs usually has their hands full going against a fast group of wide receivers every day. A freshman All-American, Woods has easily become the number one option on offense and is - quite simply - a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Brandon Carswell, De'Von Flournoy and Markeith Ambles should all contribute for new receivers coach Ted Gilmore but red zone target Kyle Prater will be sidelined with a foot injury. Senior tight end Rhett Ellison will be an integral part of the offense and don't be surprised to see youngsters Christian Thomas, Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer involved in two tight end sets.

With a deep group of weapons on offense, USC is looking to experiment with more of a spread-based attack this spring. The coaching staff is hoping that Barkley's third year of spring practice and an offense that relies the quarterback making plays translates into an even better season this fall.

"He needs to take the next step from being a really good quarterback to a great quarterback," Kiffin said. "Last year he improved a lot on his decision making and you saw his touchdown to interception ratio increase dramatically. Now he needs to do that again and take a leadership role and put everything on his back. He did that at times last year but now he just needs to be more consistent with that."

Spring Practice Primers
While Kiffin is looking for Barkley to take his game to the next level, he also has to worry about who is backing him following the departure of senior Mitch Mustain. Two early enrollees, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, and redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins will battle things out for the number two quarterback spot. Barkley has taken on the role of mentor to the young players, helping them with their playbook and giving lessons from when he was a freshman going through spring drills for the first time.

Left somewhat unsaid by the coaches and the players however, is the status of USC's NCAA infractions appeal. The Trojans are hoping to play in a bowl game this upcoming season and have asked for several scholarships back from their original penalties stemming from the Reggie Bush case. It has been nine weeks since USC argued their case in front of the Infractions Appeals Committee and it's very likely that the team will have to deal with a decision coming in the middle of spring practice.

"I haven't thought about it in awhile," Barkley said. "It's not affecting how I'm playing right now. We're obviously hoping for the best in whatever comes out of that situation but it's not affecting how we're getting ready for the season."

In the mean time, the work in and around Heritage Hall continues. There's no new system to learn on either side of the ball and the coaching staff returns mostly intact so the Trojans' focus this spring is mostly on themselves. Kiffin hopes to find some depth in his second year as head coach and there's certainly some talent on the roster. 

Despite being down in numbers, there's some depth this season for USC. Only time will tell how much there really is though.

Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Tressel in trouble? Bylaw history says yes

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This morning's latest story on the Jim Tressel brouhaha from the Columbus Dispatch answers a few pressing questions, such as: who was the infamous lawyer whose name was redacted in the publicly-released e-mails that Tressel elected not to forward to Buckeye compliance officials? Christopher T. Cicero , a former Buckeye walk-on who had formerly represented the tattoo parlor owner (Edward Rife) whose memorabilia purchases from (and tattoo discounts for) current Ohio State players kickstarted the entire mess.

The story also quotes an attorney with an NCAA- familiar law firm who answers the "could Tressel get tagged with a much longer suspension?" question with a hearty affirmative ("In those periods when he had an opportunity and a duty to disclose, he failed to do so," he said. "I think the NCAA could also come back and add failure to monitor or failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.") But the most chilling answer for Tressel supporters and Buckeye fans is what the Dispatch found in regards to past violators of NCAA bylaw 10.1, which prohibits coaches from withholding knowledge potential violations from the appropriate authorities (emphasis added):
Since 2006, the NCAA has sanctioned 27 schools for violating bylaw 10.1 ... Of the 12 coaches involved, only one kept his job . The others either resigned or were fired by their schools.

Former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien , one of his assistant coaches and former football running back Maurice Clarett each faced unethical-conduct charges by the NCAA. It cost all of them their careers at Ohio State.

Of course, most of those coaches didn't have their university presidents joking at press conferences that the coach had the power to fire him, as Gordon Gee did Tuesday. But all joking aside, that so few coaches have crossed the 10.1 line and lived to tell about it (even at OSU) illustrates why Tressel's future in Columbus is no laughing matter.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com