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Tag:Larry Scott
Posted on: August 15, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Texas A&M Regents authorize realignment action

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Monday was an eventful day for developments on Texas A&M's conference affiliation. The Aggies appear to be at least one step closer to joining the SEC, but Texas A&M's president didn't set a timetable on change, nor even confirmed that Texas A&M would be leaving the Big 12.

-- The Texas State House Committee on Higher Education canceled a hearing scheduled for Tuesday that would have involved officials from Texas A&M, the SEC, and the Big 12.

Committee chair Dan Branch had said that making any conference moves without meeting with his committee first would be "inappropriate," but according to Kirk Bohls, Branch postponed the meeting because Texas A&M had yet to "complete anything." Branch added that the hearing may re-convene at a later date.

-- As expected, the Texas A&M Board of Regents authorized Loftin to "take all actions relating to Texas A&M University's athletic conference alignment."

On Sunday, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met and announced that the conference was happy with its 12-team alignment for right now, and "took no action" in regards to unhappy Big 12 member Texas A&M. The underlying message from the SEC was clear: the ball is in your court, Texas A&M, not ours.

To that end, the Texas A&M Board of Regents met on Monday, and as expected whent the agenda was released, has authorized Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to leave the Big 12 or do whatever else he sees fit with the school's athletic conference alignment. Loftin is now expected to make an entreaty to the SEC.

Loftin told reporters after the meeting that the SEC has yet to invite Texas A&M, however, and when asked if there was a timetable, replied "Not for me." He also said that staying in the Big 12 still remained an option, and that any move to the SEC would be a "lengthy" process.

-- According to CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, NCAA president Mark Emmert contacted various conference CEO's to discuss the realignment situation.

Here's the statement issued by the office of Mark Emmert to CBSSports.com:

"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."

The NCAA did not elaborate on the discussions had between Emmert and the CEOs, nor did it specify which ones were contacted (though it's probably not hard to guess). The New York Times had a report about that call, however, in which Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, "I think people have asked him to make some phone calls. He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.”

The New York Times' report also cites a high-ranking official who alleges that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and SEC commissioner Mike Slive had a heated phone conversation on expansion talks last week, but Beebe told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News that "we have been very direct but have not had any conversations with Mike Slive I would describe as heated, ever." This appears to be more of a quibble over semantics than an outright rejection of the report.

Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Reasons Aggies want to move to the SEC runs deep

Posted by Bryan Fischer

There's no place in the country like Texas A&M.

If you haven't had a chance to go to Midnight Yell or be in the stands at Kyle Field when they sway back and forth when the War Hymn is played, you should quickly add it to your bucket list.

The Aggies, excuse me, the Fightin' Texas Aggies, are a different kind of fan too. Really a different kind of person. Tradition is about more than dunking your ring upon graduation or saying 'Howdy,' it's part of the fabric of A&M fans' everyday lives.

Growing up in Dallas, I went to plenty of A&M, Texas and Oklahoma games. As much as the fans of the other two teams liked their schools, they never loved their team like the Aggies. Through thick and thin they were still the Fighting Farmers.

The demographics and culture in College Station have shifted over the past few years. Fewer kids from the country and more from the cities. Less of a focus on the agricultural and mechanical and more of a focus on the business school. But no matter what, they all believe in the school the same.

Now Texas A&M fans are unsure of the future and they're upset. They're mad at Texas. They're mad at commissioner Dan Beebe. They're mad at the Big 12. Frankly, they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

The uneasy truce that was drawn up last summer after Larry Scott came looking to build his superconference is in shambles. The Longhorn Network is the straw that broke the camel's back but really it was the lack of stability in the Big 12 that is the driving force. Even if the NCAA denied the network of their ability to televise high school games, that wouldn't calm the uneasiness A&M has about Texas being in bed with ESPN and in a prime position to join the ranks of the independent.

The hard reality though, is that the University of Texas is the university of Texas. Texas A&M's entire athletic department budget in 2010 was $66.8 million. Texas' PROFIT from football alone was $68 million last year. The Aggies lost money in 2008 and 2009. The rumors of going to the SEC is not about high school games or money, it's about the gap between the two schools widening even further.

In the state of Texas - and in the eyes of most nationally - the Aggies are, and almost always have been, second class citizens in the state they love so dear. The move to the best conference in college football is their trump card. Their chance to shine and - at least in their minds - become peers and not Texas' little brother.

They better learn that they'll have to take their lumps with a move though. Prior to last season, the Aggies best record in the previous 11 years was 9-4. They were embarrassed by Oklahoma to the tune of 77-0 in 2003. Texas A&M has only won one bowl game since joining the Big 12 and has only one league title to their name.

Now they want tougher competition. By moving East they'll face conference opponents that have won 81 percent of their non-conference games of their games the past five years and, oh yeah, five straight national titles.

One fan tweeted me on Wednesday, "If you do understand than you would know this move is not for athletic success. Its bout the cash and the EQUALITY of the SEC."

First of all, if A&M goes to the SEC, they'll have to pay an exit fee of a good chunk of their television revenue in 2011 AND be phased into a full revenue share in their future league. Remember, this is an athletic department that was struggling to pay the bills (the school's endowment has plenty in the bank however). Second, you would not be equals in the mighty Southeastern Conference. You are the new kid on the block and you're closer to Ole Miss and Arkansas than Alabama and Florida. All conferences are not created equal.

Many will point to the fact that the program can get better recruits by selling the fact that they'll be able to play in the best conference. That will win over some.

"The conference really put them over the top," Van (Texas) linebacker Dalton Santos told Volquest.com as to why he picked Tennessee over Texas A&M. "Being able to do things in the SEC will show I can play anywhere."

What some fail to keep in mind however, is that the Longhorns will almost always have the pick of the litter in-state. Sure you can win over one or two elite players. Talent development is always been a strength in College Station and better players certainly never hurt but it's not going to shift the balance of power in the recruiting game as much as many think (or hope).

There is also the notion that grabbing Texas A&M is appealing to the SEC because it opens Texas to the league. That is obscuring the obvious: it's already open. Remember Alabama won a national championship with a quarterback from the Dallas area. When they failed to land the top in-state signal-caller Jameis Winston, they picked up a commitment from a Dallas area quarterback less than 48 hours later. If a head coach of an SEC school wants a player in Texas, they typically don't have many doors closed on them, if any.

It remains to be seen how it all will work but at the moment but it's clear there is mutual interest in making the move, should there be a shift in the college landscape. Beebe said he was taking the threat of the school leaving very seriously and Texas governor Rick Perry, an Aggie alum, confirmed to the Dallas Morning News that 'conversations are being had' on making the move.

“I’ll put it this way, I’m taking it very seriously," Beebe told The Austin-American Statesman. "I’ve been talking to a number of people. Obviously, there are a significant number of Aggie supporters who are interested in going in that (SEC) direction."

Sources told the Statesman and the Morning News that the Big 12 would continue to operate as a nine-team league if Texas A&M left. The school's offer to join the SEC has not been formally made however. As Mike Slive said at SEC Media Days a few weeks ago, he could expand the league to 16 teams "in 15 minutes." but it remains to be seen if he's willing to move on expansion at the moment. The league will add a member only if and when Slive and the SEC presidents want, the timetable is not up to the Aggies.

A source at Texas A&M said the school won't tap the breaks on the rumors until all options have been explored. The school is still mulling creating or partnering on their own network and it just so happens that the head of Fox Sports Southwest is an Aggie alum and booster. Yet many in the administration feel the stability the SEC offers is the biggest reason why the school is ultimately "forced" east.

Let's face it, it looks more likely to happen than not at this point. Culture-wise, they probably fit in well when you consider their other programs, such as baseball, and passionate fan base for all things Aggie.

When I called my father last night, an A&M alum himself, he was mostly upset over the Longhorn Network's unfair advantage. My mother, having lived through the Southwest Conference until the end, thought the whole move was a crazy reaction however.

"They're cutting off their nose to spite their face," she said.

Just like any motherly advice, she was right.

A&M thinks they've got a trump card for their rival. They better be careful what they're wishing for or the Aggies might be the ones being trumped.



Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Embree wants players rewarded for graduating

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Last week at Pac-12 Media Days, conference commissioner Larry Scott echoed the thoughts of many and said that college athletics was at a crossroads. The newest head coach in Scott's conference, Colorado's Jon Embree, agrees but he isn't just sitting back and lamenting at the state of the game, he's putting forward ideas.

For all the talk about paying players and full cost of attendance scholarships, Embree is advocating a different approach that takes elements from both. Instead of paying players directly, he argues, how about giving players $50,000 or so upon receiving a degree for them to either further their education or get started in life.

"I think they should be rewarded for graduating," Embree told CBSSports.com. "If we're going to use the term student-athlete, if we're going to be releasing graduation rates, if we're losing scholarships because of APR, then let's put our money where our mouth is. They don't do anything special for the kids when they win.

"To me, that graduation piece is best because they're earning something: a degree. You're helping them setup themselves for the future. In the NFL, they might get one year, two years or none. But that degree will be with them. Then you'll have a decent amount of money to get a head start on life."

Embree likes tying money to graduation as a way of incentivizing education for coaches, players and schools. A former tight end at Colorado, he knows the challenges players face more than most and recognizes that a scholarship doesn't cover all of a student-athlete's living expenses. While he is receptive to full cost of attendance scholarships, Embree is very much against giving players "spending money" on a weekly basis.

"A scholarship only covers so much," he said. "I don't believe you can pay the student-athletes a monthly stipend and keep it fair across the board. You start doing that, then one guy things he should get $300, another guy thinks it should be $500."

The concept of giving players money upon graduation is not a new one. Many have advanced the idea that those players who's jersey is sold (i.e. the ones the school is really making money off of) would receive a cut of the money upon graduation or leaving for the NFL. The idea of tying the money to something like jersey sales is a no-go for Embree however.

"No because what will happen is that they'll start selling jerseys in the book store that isn't a guy that's playing," he said. "They'd get around that. There's no doubt that college athletics is at a cross roads. A lot of money is made off these kids, me included. I don't know what all the answers are but they need some kind of equity. Just something."

Some food for thought for NCAA president Mark Emmert and 50 college presidents when they meet for a retreat on athletics later this month.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 9:02 am
 

Podcast: Aizer, Fischer talk Pac-12 Media Days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Thursday, our Eye on Recruiting reporter Bryan Fischer wrapped up his visit to a highly eventful Pac-12 Media Days -- wherever Larry Scott appears, headlines are sure to follow -- and here sits down with CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer to review the highlights. (And yes, those highlights include Andrew Luck's famous beard.)



Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:17 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:21 pm
 

Media Day Tidbits: Pac-12 North

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LOS ANGELES -- Following a video production that would have made Steven Spielberg proud, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott kicked off the conference's inaugural Pac-12 Media Days from Los Angeles Tuesday morning. Though he didn't make bold proclamations about the state of NCAA affairs like some of his peers, Scott did extoll the virtues of the league on the heels of landing a big new media deal.

"The last 12 months have brought monumental change to the Pac 10 conference, now the Pac 12," Scott said. "The conference moniker, Conference of Champions, has been well earned and embraced over the years. And this past year was no exception.

"This is a new era for the conference as we embrace the future, and the addition of Colorado and Utah very much helped us secure a landmark media agreement that's going to provide for unprecedented exposure nationally for the conference.

Scott focused on the accomplishments of the conference both on and off the field, noting that two players were finalists for the William Campbell Trophy, the so-called "academic Heisman." Of course, he also mentioned the fact that the league put two teams in BCS bowls and is returning two returning Heisman finalists.

"The Pac 12 brand of football, if I can describe it that way, is as dynamic as any in college sports. Year after year we seem to produce the best quarterbacks and the most sophisticated offenses in the country," Scott said. "All five of the quarterbacks that are here with us today uphold the standard of play that legends before them set."

Plenty of coaches and players also talked about their teams heading into the league's first year, here's some highlights from Pac-12 North:

Cal:

- "This is always a favorite time of the year because the players have been working hard all summer long and now it's timed to get back to work," head coach Jeff Tedford said. "The chemistry, I'm really excited about this team with the leadership, the work ethic, the team chemistry. I'm really pleased with how they've come together and their work ethic. Very eager to compete."

- The Bears failed to go to a bowl last year but, according to Tedford, they were a handful of plays away.

"Last season we fell short of that, and we're not hiding from that," he said. "We understand that there is a very fine line between winning and losing, and we're six points away from being 8-4 last year."

- Tedford said he will be more involved with play calling this season as a result, hoping to improve a Cal offense that floundered down the stretch last season.

"Offensively we need to improve. We were not close to the consistency that we needed to compete at a high level," Tedford said. "Zach Maynard has been named the started and he earned it."

- With the departure of the team's leading rusher Shane Vereen, Tedford is counting on one of his incoming freshmen to compliment his inexperienced returnees at the tailback position.

"We recruited four tailbacks and I'm excited to see what they can do," he said. "I really think we'll have one back or two be solid contributors."

- Tedford said it would be a little bit different playing two Thursday games and one on Friday. The Bears are also playing the majority of their "home" games at AT&T Park due to construction on Memorial Stadium.

"Wherever those lines are, that's what were going to focus on," he said.

- The 10th year head coach was also asked about Will Lyles since the program purchased a scouting package from the now infamous high school scout.

"I'm not concerned one bit," Tedford said. "I wouldn't know Will Lyles if he were in this room."

Oregon

- Ducks head coach Chip Kelly knew right away the questions about the program's NCAA investigation were coming early and coming often.

"I know the one everybody is waiting to have answered but we sent out a release earlier," Kelly opened his remarks to the media with. "We've cooperated fully with (the NCAA) and will continue to cooperate them."

For more on Chip Kelly's comments on the Lyles situation, click here.

- Kelly's appearance wasn't completely about the cloud hanging over his program. Fresh off a BCS National Championship game appearance, the Ducks head coach is experiencing quite the roster turnover and focused on other issues.

"I looked at our roster coming in here and I think we have 11 or 12 seniors, and we'll have 47 either freshmen or red shirted freshmen," he said. "It's a good time for us. We're excited. We start on August 8, and we have an interesting game to start the season on September 3rd that has every one of our players attention, and we'll work as hard as we can to prepare for that game on September 3rd against a really, really good LSU team."

- Luckily for Oregon's explosive offense, the Ducks aren't hurting for talent despite being young.

"LaMichael (James) is the returning Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's number one running back," Kelly said. "I've always believed that to win football games you have to be able to run the football. And we've led the Pac-10 in rushing in the last four years. Total offense the last four years, scoring offense the last four years, and LaMichael's a huge part of that."

- Kelly said he hasn't made any decisions on suspended players Kiko Alonso and Cliff Harris. Both players are working out with the team but their status for opener and beyond is still up in the air.

- Incoming recruit D'Anthony Thomas, "Can flat out run," according to Kelly and the coaching staff will figure out a way to incorporate him into the offense. Lache Seastrunk is one of the players that's a possibility to be the third string running back behind James and Kenjon Barner but nothing is set in stone because no one grabbed hold of the position in spring practice.

Oregon State

- "We're excited to be here at the dawning of the Pac-12 conference," veteran coach Mike Riley said. "But we're going to really, really have to grow a lot through fall camp and through our season. We had five guys that had off-season surgeries and missed spring practice. So as we get back into this thing, we'll have to grow a lot and be ready to compete all the way down the stretch, get better every day."

- As someone who has just about seen it all over the years, the new format with two divisions and not playing everybody every year will take a bit of getting used to for Riley but he was excited about the changes.

"I've been in the conference a long time now, 11 years, and I've seen the competition rise to where every week is like the Super Bowl," he said. "So I think it's going to be really, really competitive."

- The Pac-12 put on a seminar with their head of officiating on Monday in order to better educate the media about some of the new rules going into effect in 2011. The one rule that has drawn the most criticism is the new celebration rule, which Riley says is just something the players will have to adjust to.

"It's going to be an emphasis for the officials early," he said. "Whether or not you agree with the rules, this is what it is. I think it's going to be to a point where you're going to have to be really careful."

"You've got to deal with it," senior safety Lance Mitchell said. "When it affects the team, it's just bad all around and you have to keep it under control."

- One of the key players for the Beavers is all-everything athlete James Rodgers, who is coming off his second knee surgery but should be able to contribute this season.

"The one thing you can never do with James is count him out," Riley said. "He's been deemed ahead of schedule but I'm going to play this conservatively."

- Rodgers' brother, Jacquizz, was the team's leading rusher for the past few years but left early for the NFL, a decision Riley said was a good one despite the criticism "Quizz" took. Though there's some talent at the position to replace him in the offense, it will be a wait and see approach until one player separates from the pack.

"We don't have a number one back that can replace Quizz today," he said "I think if we look at that group it will probably be running back by committee."

- Riley expects the team to be very solid on defense and expects Jordan Poyer and Michael Doctor to be key contributors among others.
He also said key contributor Joe Halahuni will be ready going into the fall camp after having surgery in April.

Stanford:

- So what's David Shaw's deal? Apparently, it's much like Jim Harbaugh's, the man he replaced in Palo Alto.

"The differences are minimal because our biggest differences are we have different personalities," Shaw said. "We have the same goals and same competitive drive. We like to teach. I see myself as a teacher and that's the environment we've created down there."

- For Shaw's Heisman Trophy front-running quarterback Andrew Luck, not having much a transition between the two head coaches has been invaluable.

"It's definitely nice not to have to learn a new scheme, a new offense," Luck said. "Coach Shaw recruited me. He's been instrumental in my growth as a football player and ever since I've been on campus.  So continuity was definitely something that a lot of the players were hoping for when the coaching change was being made. It's definitely been easier for me, I think.

- Luck was sporting a rather large beard for his media day appearance and according to him, the first time he's grown one. Though he's not sure if he's keeping it, the humble star did make news by announcing that he would indeed be leaving Stanford after this season.

"I'm viewing this as my last college football season and approaching it as such," he said.

- On the opposite side of the ball for The Cardinal, Shaw will be using to co-coordinators on defense with Derek Mason and Jason Tarver.

"We do have co-coordiators," Shaw said. "The mix of those two guys are phenomenal. They're like an old married couple, they finish each others' sentences."

- Wide receiver and ace return man Chris Owusu missed six games due to injury last year and will be a key part of the offense this year with an inexperienced group of receivers - if he can stay healthy.

"I haven't said anything to Chris except play every game," Shaw said. "We need Chris Owusu to play every game. We've got a talented but inexperienced receiving core around Andrew."

Washington

- If there was one person in the room who was really excited to be a part of the inaugural Pac-12 Media Day, it was Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.

"Being a Southern California guy and being raised in this thing when it went from Pac-8 to Pac-10, to Pac-12, it's just exciting," Sarkisian said. "I think for us as the University of Washington and our program as we're growing, we couldn't be in a better conference at you a better time for the exposure needed for us and for this conference."

- Sarkisian talked at length about the Huskies' brand of football as the team moves on from the Jake Locker era.

"I think we've got a football team that you saw at the end of last season starting to play a brand of football that we believe in, that is one that is physical that believes in running the football and playing sound defense," Sarkisian said. "We're fortunate to have veteran leadership as we grow but we're still a very young football team. We've played 16 true freshmen last fall. And we've got veteran leaders."

- There's not much that can get a head coach going than talking about his quarterback and the former signal-caller-turned-coach had no problems praising starter Keith Price but cautioning that they would take it slow in his first year as the starter.

"He's a kid that comes to work with a smile on his face," Sarkisian said. "But the reality of it is we're not going to be able to rely on that quarterback position like we were able to with Jake for two years. It's going to be more on relying on Chris (Polk), and Jesse Callier of running the ball, then utilizing the one-on-one matchups on the outside with the Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, Kevin Smith, and maybe the emergence of a newcomer in Kasen Williams.

- With someone new behind center, many expect Polk to carry the offense on his back, something he accepts but realizes he can't really do if the team is to be successful.

"It's not necessarily on my back, because the game of football is not based off individual performances," Polk said. "So if our O-line's not working and the running game's not working and the passing game's not working."

- A few players, such as Semisi Tokolahi and Sione Potaoa'e, might be limited once the Huskies break for fall camp but the team should be close to full strength once the pad comes on.

"For the most part we're healthy," Sarkisian said. "We look good. Our guys are transforming their bodies and look great."

Washington State

- Washington State was picked last in the North Division but if there is one encouraging sign for the Cougars, it's on defense with some players who are young but have starting experience.

"There's a good chance that we'll start just one or two seniors on defense," head coach Paul Wulff said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to take a big step on defense."

- Wulff signaled out running back Rickey Galvin, wide receiver Kristoff Williams and linebackers Sekope Kaufusi and Alex Hoffman-Ellis as players who he expects to make the leap to key contributors.

- Despite being at the bottom of the conference standings for awhile, Jared Karstetter said that the Cougars are being taken more serious by other Pac-12 programs.

"Yeah, I think we were more competitive especially the end of last year," he said. "Any sort of lack of respect that we feel as a team, I think that we just use that as motivation to go out there on game day and compete and prove ourselves.

- Wulff talked at length about the type of player he recruits and specifically said the staff is looking for players with their head on straight.

"We've gone about our business to recruit the right type of person," Wulff said. "Great football players that can help you build a team. We go after guys that fit our profile."

- With a good quarterback with plenty of experience behind center in Jeff Tuel and an improved defense, Wulff thinks the team can build on last season and move up in the pecking order.

"I know through spring football, we were executing things we'd never done," he said.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:18 pm
 

Emmert's chance to shine doused by Ohio St. case

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Mark Emmert, you have lost our confidence in your ability to do the job.

The next time you speak, we won't be able to take you seriously thanks to news that Ohio State would not face additional charges of failure to monitor or lack of institutional control in the school's infraction case.

'It's all about what the NCAA can prove, not what we've read' is the company line. Well, you had a chance to prove things but you said you weren't going to try.

CBSSports.com took a thorough look at cheating in college football, spending nine days chronicling just how rampant the rule breaking has been over the years. The purpose was the examine the subject with an eye towards where the sport was headed in the near future.

Senior writer Dennis Dodd ended the series saying Ohio State would be a landmark case going forward.

"This is what NCAA president Mark Emmert has been advocating, a way to make the cheaters and liars think twice about cheating and lying," Dodd wrote.

The president failed, however, to send that message Friday. Emmert has called for tougher enforcement numerous times since taking office and here, in front of a primetime audience, was his Howard Beale moment.

He could have sent a message that he was mad as hell and wasn't going to take it anymore. Instead, he lost what little confidence we had in "fixing" college athletics.

Dennis Thomas, the chairman of the Committee on Infractions, said on a conference call earlier this month that the committee "was not in the business of sending messages."

Sorry to say it, but the NCAA's enforcement staff and the Committee on Infractions are in the business of sending messages.

They sent one loud and clear: It's ok to cheat. Blame it on the coach if you get caught. No need to monitor emails either.

But you better check on that house 100 miles away.

Emmert has talked about openness and a better understanding. The organization invited several members of the national media to Indianapolis for what they called the "Enforcement Experience."

The aim of it, as Vice President for Enforcement Julie Roe Lach explained to compliance officers from across the country, was for a good number of positive pieces and to remind everybody that the NCAA and the Committee on Infractions are separate.

Last I checked though, the enforcement staff reports to the president. If Emmert wanted to push for a message, a simple walk down the hall could have resulted in serious charges against Ohio State.

According to interview transcripts, Jim Tressel mentioned an email tip to school compliance officers but failed to mention what was actually in the emails. The compliance office - or anyone else for that matter - failed to follow up on this. Yet the NCAA enforcement staff said the school "followed up on tips it received."

The school said they only found out about the emails in January "due to an unrelated legal matter." Ask Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany though and he'll tell you it was due to a FOIA request.

Appears no one, not even one of the most powerful people in the country, could get an accurate answer from the Buckeyes.

At one point in an interview, Tressel told the NCAA that Ohio State told him to get rid of documents so they wouldn't become public record.

The folks at Enron are very impressed.

If the committee can nail USC based on a two minute, thirty-two second phone call, they surely could nail Ohio State with all that.

Ohio State was lauded by many as having a large and well respected compliance office. Yet both the NCAA and Ohio State agreed in December that their education efforts were inadequate. That was the basis for allowing the so-called "Buckeye Five" to play in the Sugar Bowl.

So Ohio State didn't do a good job at rules education in December but by July, according to the case summary, the institution "provided education to football student-athletes and staff regarding extra benefits and preferential treatment."

That statement was contradicted by the enforcement staff five paragraphs later by the way.

"The institution took monitoring efforts designed to identify the sale or distribution of institutionally issued athletics awards, apparel apparel and equipment," but somehow didn't know Terrele Pryor was taking "whatever" he wanted out of the equipment room.

And let's not forget the school's treatment of their beloved "Senator."

"This is an individual that I have tremendous respect for," University president E. Gordon Gee said of Tressel on March 8. "He's had great success in working with young people and we applaud that. But I think equally importantly, he's had great success in building the character and reputation for this university, which I'm entirely grateful for. He's done so by example."

A few months later in the Buckeyes' self-report: "The institution is embarrassed by the actions of Tressel."

At least the flip-flopping when they're backed into a corner is consistent.

There's still one more chance for the organization to say enough is enough. The committee could add a failure to monitor charge or lack of institutional control charge following Ohio State's August 12th meeting with them. The committee did it with Indiana in the Kelvin Sampson case but has rarely done so. It can also choose to punish the school harshly despite the two serious charges, as it did with Alabama several years ago in the Albert Means case. They can also cite the enforcement staff for doing a bad job, which they have also done on occasion.

"I fully expect that every NCAA member institution be held to the same high standards," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said after USC's appeal was denied.

But based on everything that's happened so far with Ohio State, does anyone expect them to? Athletic director Gene Smith was the recent chairman of the NCAA Men's Basketball committee. Gee was Emmert's boss years ago at Colorado.

And even if the committee did hold them to those same high standards set in the USC case?

"I'll be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive, Smith told The Columbus Dispatch. "If I don't agree, we'll do everything we can to battle it and go through the appeals process."

Don't worry Gene, you've already won. Sorry Mark, you didn't.

After all, actions, Mr. Emmert, speak louder than words.

Posted on: July 20, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Can the SEC renegotiate its TV contract or not?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC's feeling pretty good about itself these days, and you don't even need to see the league's impressively unsubtle media guide cover (or equally to-the-point Media Days T-shirt) to know it. When you're in the middle of a streak of five-straight national titles, distributing record amounts of revenue to your member schools, watching your most prominent critic scramble in the wake of the Ohio State scandal, and just generally becoming more and more college football's resident 500-pound gorilla, a little bit of chest-puffing is going to come naturally.

In fact (assuming the continuing NCAA investigation into Cam Newton's eligibilty doesn't gain any more traction), there's really only one black lining to the SEC's giant silver cloud: its television contracts.

Yes, the same contracts primarily responsible for all that record-breaking revenue. The money they're generating today isn't a problem; it's the money they'll generate in the year 2023 that might be, when the 15-year deals the SEC signed with CBS and ESPN in 2009 will still be in effect.

As the even-more-lucrative deal signed by the Pac-12 this year illustrates -- a deal that still allows Larry Scott's league the right to start its own network, an option the ESPN-locked SEC doesn't have -- by the time 2015 or 2016 rolls around, the SEC will be being paid far less than market value for its product ... to say nothing of the start of the next decade. That the Big Ten's and Pac-12's conference networks promise to produce exponentially increasing revenue during the life of the SEC's (finanically static) contract must make the situation even more uncomfortable for Mike Slive.

Which is why he addressed the topic head-on in yesterday's chat with the Associated Press, promising that his conference would not be simply twiddling its televised thumbs for 13 more years (emphasis added):
"Obviously when we did our deal we set the pace, and in our contract we have a concept called look-ins," Slive said. "At periodic points during the life of the contract, we can sit down with ESPN and take a look-in and look at the status of television, technology, all aspects of television, and at that point make adjustments that the parties agree are appropriate to make sure that everything that we intended to achieve with the contracts would in fact be available to us."
Are we wrong in thinking this is Slive's veiled attempt at asserting that, yes, they will be asking ESPN for more money? That once that "status of television" has changed, the "look-in" will give him the opportunity to renegotiate the deal?

We don't think so. And if that's Slive's intent, it could make for some very interesting discussion at these "look-ins." Because when asked to comment on the SEC's contract in June, ESPN official Burke Magnus didn't sound particularly open to altering the basic terms of the contract (emphasis added):
"We knew when we made a 15-year deal that time was not going to stand still so we purposely built in these look-ins," Magnus said. "They don't reopen the deal. There's no outs. It's an opportunity for both of us to really take stock of where we are and see what we could be doing better."
There's a lot of wiggle room in both of these statements, of course, even before we account for the possible game-changer that would be SEC expansion. Slive could simply be referring to digital distribution or kickoff times on ESPN2 or any of a dozen other things. Magnus could simply be indicating that the SEC won't be jumping to another network, not ruling out his network giving the SEC a raise. But the plainest reading, we think, is that Slive is going to want some fundamental monetary change to the contract ... and that ESPN may dig in its heels against "reopening the deal."

As SEC Media Days begins today, Slive will have plenty to celebrate. But until he secures the same financial footing for his league that the Big Ten and Pac-12 enjoy -- not just today, but for the future -- he'll still have one major question hanging over his tenure. Here's to hoping SEC Media Days gives us something approximating an answer to it.


Posted on: July 4, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Happy Independence Day everyone. It's been a remarkable 235 years but America is still going strong despite plenty of ups and downs. On the gridiron, it seems like Notre Dame, Navy and others have been independent of conference overlords for just as long. With BYU joining their ranks last week and in honor of the holiday, it's a perfect time to look at what programs could follow their lead and go out on their own.

While it's doubtful that any of these programs will actually pursue going independence in the near future, perhaps they could/would/should on second thought. Feel free to bring up some other programs that could go out on their own in the comments below.

Boise State

The Broncos have made quite the run the past few years, winning two BCS bowls and posting a remarkable three undefeated seasons. Boise State was originally a junior college who has, rather quickly, risen in the ranks from an independent in Division II to their current place in the Mountain West. Their wide-open style of play and ability to beat more talented teams has certainly earned them a national reputation and with that comes eyeballs. For example, last season's game against Virginia Tech earned a 6.8 overnight rating, making it the highest rated Labor Day night game since 1990.

From the Blue Turf to the trick plays, a lot of what has made Boise State football a national brand is due to the exposure they get on ESPN. For years they had several featured games on the network and, even if they were on late at night on the East Coast, people were at least able to see the games. Boise State is losing a lot of that exposure with the move to the Mountain West (with games on The Mtn. and Versus) in exchange for an increase in television revenue, which is expected to be around $800,000 a year based on the current conference agreements. If Boise State gets unhappy with the arrangement and decides to go independent, they could follow the lead of BYU. The Cougars recently signed a deal with ESPN to televise several football games with estimates putting the value of the deal at between $800,000 and $1.2 million per home game. As a program with a love-them-or-hate-them reputation that causes people to tune in, going independent might make sense down the road.

Florida State

If there's one team on this list that is actually familiar with football independence, it's Florida State. The Seminoles were conference-less from 1951-1991 prior to joining the ACC. In a curious twist of fate, the school was invited by the ACC to join their conference but were rejected by the SEC. Regardless, Florida State is aware of what it takes to be an independent and what challenges and benefits come with it. While most believe their relationship with the ACC is a good one, one never knows what will happen if another wave of conference realignment hits. The ACC is, mostly, a basketball-centric league and as winners of two somewhat recent national titles, Florida State is much more of a football school than the conference's other members.

Scheduling always gets tricky but Florida State has a long history of playing both Miami and Florida. Both games are usually big ratings winners so, like Boise State, the program would likely do well financially getting a majority of the television money versus splitting it with fellow conference members. Throw in nearby UCF and USF and the Seminoles could have nearly half a schedule from in-state programs alone. Add in a big name program, such as the one against Oklahoma this year, and Florida State could get back to being a much bigger draw nationally like they were in the 1990's. Of course, as with most Florida teams, they'd also have to win to stay relevant.

Oregon

The way things are going with the NCAA investigation into Oregon's football and basketball programs, it's likely more than a few Ducks fans have thought about leaving the NCAA altogether, much less the Pac-12. While the program itself hasn't seen much success on the gridiron outside of the past decade, there's one thing that lands Oregon on this list: Nike. The Beaverton, Ore., based company has already made the Ducks their featured program by ensuring they have the latest Nike gear and well over 160 uniform combinations (feel free to mix and match your own Duck uniform here).

The school already has an affiliate network of television and radio stations and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they teamed with Nike to get an actual cable channel going. Given what Nike has already done in the marketing sphere, the idea of "their" team crisscrossing the country might raise as many eyebrows in Indianapolis as it does in Eugene. At the same time, it's hard not to see the idea floated in Phil Knight's office at some point, is it?

Texas

Go ahead and insert your own Big 12-Texas joke here. If there was one lesson to be learned from last summer's realignment saga, it was that Texas is the major player in college athletics - and for good reason. The football program brought in the most revenue in the country last year with a staggering $94 million take and a nearly $69 million profit. If there's any program that could afford any initial financial hit from going independent, it's the Longhorns.

The program is also uniquely positioned (perhaps more so than anybody on this list) to head out on their own. The Longhorn Network will launch in late August and, with ESPN's backing, figures to expand the Texas brand into households across the country. Like BYU with BYUtv, having their own network already up and running would be a huge advantage over others that would be pondering a similar move. Schedule-wise, they would have no problem scheduling games based on the teams nearby and their draw nationally. Add in the fact that Texas is a large public school with plenty of alumni and fans across the country, and it's possible that football independence actually makes a lot of sense if administrators don't find the arrangement with the Big 12 to be working out.

USC

If you're making a list of things that a school should have if they're considering going independent, USC would have a lot of check marks next to their name. Lots of alumni all over the country? Check. Nationally recognized brand? Check. Traditional college football power? Check. Given the school's connections to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, it wouldn't be all that surprising if they were able to quickly move onto some unique and intriguing media options if they decided to pursue football independence.

The recent NCAA sanctions have certainly hurt the reputation of the school and the football program which might actually be one reason why the school decides to make the jump from the Pac-12 to join the ranks of rival Notre Dame as an independent. Plenty of alumni are not happy with the Pac-10's lack of support in their infractions case (unlike, say the Big Ten with Ohio State) and that cuts into some of the good will Larry Scott has brought with a new media rights package. The Trojans have plenty of history of going around the country and playing teams, why not a little more of that as an independent? The Pac-10 was known as USC and nine others during the run under Pete Carroll, so maybe the idea of separating from the bunch isn't too far-fetched.



 
 
 
 
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