Posted on: October 27, 2011 2:49 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 2:50 pm

Low APR scores will keep schools out of bowls

Posted by Tom Fornelli

For the longest time all any school needed to become bowl eligible in college football was to win six games in the season. The six wins weren't a guarantee of a postseason game, but if you were in the right conference, it was essentially an automatic.

Well, that's going to be changing in the next few years. While most attention will probably be paid to the NCAA's announcement that athletes will receive up to an additional $2,000, there was another announcement made today as well.

You no longer need only six wins to be eligible for the postseason, but you better graduate players as well.

Schools must have an average APR score of 930 over a four-year span to be eligible. The previous mark was 900, and 930 is roughly equal to a 50% graduation rate. The rule will not be implemented until the 2012-13 school year, and will go into effect gradually.

For the first two years schools must have a 900 multi-year APR score or an average of 930 over the last two years to participate. In the 2014-15 year it will rise to a 930 multi-year APR or an average of 940 over the last two school years. Then when the 2015-16 school year begins it'll be a 930 multi-year APR score of you're staying home during bowl season and there will be additional penalties.

So, in other words, victories on the football will not be the only ones that count toward bowl eligibility, but victories in the classroom as well.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 10:14 pm

Q&A with NCAA VP for Enforcement Julie Roe Lach

Posted by Bryan Fischer

NCAA Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach has been on the job nearly a year as the NCAA's top cop and made a number of changes to her department. She sat down with CBSSports.com to discuss several of the reforms that are currently making their way through the legislative process ahead of this week's meetings.

CBSSports.com: What are some of the ways you're looking to streamline the enforcement process?

"I think we're accomplishing what we set out to do in terms of focusing on the sports and issues that need a lot of attention; football, men's basketball and agents in both of those sports. The different approach to cases too, we've talked about surge, which is sending people out and sounds more dramatic than it is, but more people and hands on deck when needed. With some of our cases, we just have a lot of people working it with different roles. Multiple investigators are on a case but now we've got this information group. I was talking with a guy who heads up an investigative group somewhere else and he has a whole corps of what they call 'desktop investigators.' That's basically what our information group does, they are there to mine the internet for information and to help us when we go through thousands of phone records.

"That group is helping with some of the higher profile cases and that is starting to pay dividends by finding the information and connecting the dots."

It seems like there's an emphasis on compliance recently, what's the genesis of this new culture and all these new ideas?

"That was part of the vision coming out of the Presidential Retreat, the idea that we need some reform. It's under the auspices of the idea of risk-reward, both in terms of coaches and administrators, with people saying I'll take the risk because I'm not going to get caught and if I do, the penalty is not going to be that grave. The idea is how do we address that. The working group I have the privilege to work with, those presidents have said that we need to take a look at the violation structure because there's a pretty wide disparity between secondary and major. Those are two extremes, what about the stuff in the middle? Once we figure that out, what penalties need to be in place for each level. I think there will be some significant reform or change - it will be different."

Is there more of an emphasis on fixing your division?

"I've not spent a lot of time thinking about the other groups because I think we have a challenge from an enforcement perspective. Having said that, I know Kevin and his team are spending a lot of resources and time on looking at the rules, figuring out which rules make sense and which ones we need and which ones we do we not. That's a huge undertaking. Important but huge. I would not venture to say that we've got more work than somebody else, I know we've got our fair share."

Is there a new penalty structure forthcoming?

"I think it's too early to predict. Our group has met on the phone and they've rolled up their sleeves and done their homework. We're three meetings in and will continue that, including a lengthy in-person meeting in December. I think after that we'll have a better idea of where we'll end up."

We've seen some of the membership openly question some decisions, will this address some of the concerns from those at schools?

"I don't know if it's designed to address membership critique, I think that's healthy. But if there's a problem with the decision, that's what I've been asking in my travels and outreach. I'm asking what are we as an enforcement program doing well or not doing well. I prefer they tell me directly but they obviously can voice their opinions elsewhere and have the ability to do that. This reform isn't a knee-jerk reaction, it's more of a momentum from saying that we have a certain type of violation or mentality out there and what we need to do to address.

Will we see more financial penalties, taking away TV revenue from major rules violators?

"Financial penalties are on the menu of options the Committee on Infractions can impose. Even the enforcement staff can for secondaries infractions, obviously a lesser dollar value. In recent cases the committee had imposed financial penalties. There are two types of financial penalties, the flat-out fine and the requirement that schools receive from playing in - for instance - the tournament. I have a case in mind that the committee required that and the amount was well beyond $100,000. I don't foresee that penalty come off the table but I think we'll see a discussion as to when does that penalty, for corrective action, more appropriate. Does it make an impact or not? If it does, in what way? And who? That's what there's been a lot of talk about, what are effective penalties. Let's use the ones that work, if that means narrowing the list or you widen it, you do it. It's premature though to say what's in or what's out."

You have been looking to update the definition of the agent, will that close loopholes?

"We don't have jurisdiction over agents, that's the players associations and the states - according to laws and the (Uniform Athletes Agents Act).  It is the definition of the agent in the UAAA and the 42 states that have stepped up and adopted it. Does that capture more than just the typical sports agent? That's what many states are asking right now. We certainly think that definition from an NCAA standpoint, as far as student-athletes taking benefits from or not, should they not be entering into agreements verbally or in writing. That expanded definition is a reflection of what's going on in the world more than a typical, registered, sports agent. The former definition, it worked for the time when it was adopted, but times changes. We've got to figure out the rules change too."

The state of North Carolina is suing for access to records, is there a reason it's resulted to this?

"We have cooperated with them and have given them the information that we can give them under the law. We've shared insights of the investigations when we could share them, not just within the law but within our own procedures. Not just generally but this is specifically who we're looking into and what we've learned. It's one thing to say that - which we've done in conversations - it's another to give documentary evidence. You have federal law that says you can't give education records because those student-athletes signed the FERPA release. They don't provide those documents for us to then provide to the world. We can only do that if we get a valid subpoena and that's really where the lynchpin is right now, what's a valid subpoena and what's not. We're not trying to play games but we need to make sure that if we're going to provide records protected under law, we do so when however we're being asked is a viable legal request.

"Make no mistake, we want states to enforce the UAAA. The fact that we're being represented as standing in the way of that is just flat out wrong."

Will we see open COI hearings or a more transparent process in the future?

"Whether or not that can happen will be a membership decision. I don't see that happening anytime soon. I was talking with somebody the other day about this, I don't know of any other private association that opens up its disciplinary hearings."

Are you worried about Congress getting involved and looking at things?

"It's interesting because I've gone back and looked at the historical enforcement files. As early as the 1970's, was one of the first congressional reviews of just enforcement and there have been several since then. That includes one that led to the Rex-Lee Report. There have been other individuals from the Supreme Court who have been involved in our review and come out with constructive suggestions that have shaped the fair process we have today. Many of the changes that have occurred, especially over the last 20 years, have been a result of membership asking strong legal minds to review the process and how to make it fair. I don't think congressional interest is new when you look at history. I wouldn't say it's in the back of my mind it's just a recognition that there is an interest in how we operate. Time and time again when a person reviews the reports, they say what you have works and it's fair and here are some ideas to improve it some more. No one has said that you need to blow this thing up and start over."

The SEC meetings, do you regret the run-in with Gene Chizik?

"I have no regrets. I think a run-in is really a mischaracterization, it was a discussion."

To his point, what is being done about concluding speedier investigations?

"When I've asked people what are we doing well, what are we not doing well from an enforcement standpoint. A common thread was investigations take too long. It's not from a lack of effort or energy from out staff. I can tell you that, our people work nights, work the weekends and take the red eyes. It has been what resources are we getting and when? Are we getting the right records, are people talking to us? How many doors get slammed in our face and how many tries to take before we say this person just won't talk to us? That obviously carries from case to case. The things we can control we demand it - putting more people, having people focus on heavy evidence review. There are somethings within our control that we are really track and improve on and we need to acknowledge what's beyond our control and is there anyway we can exert more influence over that."

Are things changing to where you will see major violations, secondaries go down?

"I don't know. I don't think secondaries going down are necessarily a reflection of risk-reward. Some secondaries, the intentional ones, yes. Some secondaries, it's a good thing because that means our schools are watching and monitoring and reporting. I think you can interpret those numbers in several ways. Same thing with majors, it depends on which types of cases we're talking about. I think it's too early to predict what sort of changes will happen. You hear anecdotally from some people, we never saw you before and now there's an enforcement presence. Does that mean there's a change in behavior or is it just driving it outside where it used to be? It's a big early to predict the impact."

Posted on: October 26, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 2:58 pm

Q&A with NCAA VP Kevin Lennon

Posted by Bryan Fischer

NCAA Vice President of Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon has been with the association for nearly 25 years and oversees a wide-ranging department that includes student-athlete reinstatement, compliance and other issues. He sat down with CBSSports.com to discuss several of the reforms that are currently making their way through the legislative process ahead of this week's meetings.

CBSSports.com: How did you wind up at the NCAA?

"I went to Harvard as an undergrad and played some varsity and club sports there. Then I came to work at the NCAA then I went to the Southwest Conference. I was actually the first guy hired by the Southwest Conference after SMU had their death penalty. That was an interesting time to be down there and see a culture that was very different. Spent a couple of years there and have been back at the NCAA ever since. I've been the vice president for nearly 13 years."

Any interesting stories from your SWC days?

"When Fred Jacoby became commissioner of the SWC, in his first meeting the coaches had him leave the room - the commissioner - so that they could do their draft. They were buying all the same guys so they realized, let's just be more organized. 'You need these two defensive tackles, you take them, we'll take him.' They literally had a draft board. Poor Fred had come from the Mid-American Conference down to that environment.

"I'm reminded that in light of all the challenges we have now - which are significant - there was a period of time where it was just a different era."

What's been the biggest change at the NCAA during your time there?

"I think the whole development of the compliance efforts has been significant. My sense is that every time you have major cases that are processed, it does send some shock waves through the membership and then there's a response. It's a little bit reactive. Particularly among the FBS programs, we've seen more energy and more effort put into rules compliance. I think that's helped change the culture to some extent.

"At the same time, I think you've had that academic reform wave. We have more coaches that are talking about academic success and those types of things. Over the last decade, those are kind of the two things that I've seen that have changed clearly from earlier."

You work with over 1,000 schools in three division, what are the difficulties you see at each level?

"Division III has their challenges. We go through this financial audit program that says you can't offer any athletic aid or factor it in to your packages and sure enough, there's some outliers. That speaks to me just in general about the competitive nature of athletics. Even in a place where you're not offering athletic scholarships, people want to win and they sometime cut some corners.

"Division II, in terms of life in the balance, have really done a nice job of saying you can have a high quality athletics program and still be acclimated as part of the regular student body. In Division I, you see why you fly across the country for a football game. The public's interests, the pressures surrounding the competitions, the influences on the student-athletes themselves, commercial issues, create just an interesting mix from a regulatory perspective. It's just pretty darn complex. We probably spend 98% of our time on it."

The Board of Directors has several major changes they'll look at this week, is there more change this year than ever before?

"Yes. I don't think you can look at the action items that are going in front of the board and not say this is a big deal. There are some big ticket items as I would describe them. I think there was some significant issues brought up under President (Myles) Brand but I look at between now and April as very significant. There are major things with respect to access to championships that will really get people's attention. The two-year college transfer stuff will make sure that whole community is better prepared and have a significant ripple effect.

"I'm excited about the new rules group I'm working with. We have a great opportunity to get the board to just re-write that (manual). We really want to identify what do we care most about at the NCAA. It's kind of hard to tell right now. It's usually thrown together and you don't know what the priority is. To a large extent, we've always said if the membership adopts the rules, they're all of equal importance. How do you say that is more important than that? I think we finally have some courage at the presidential level to say, 'You know what? This is more important, this is a principal of what we do."

Full cost of attendance is being talked about a lot but the $2,000 figure thrown out seems a bit arbitrary.

"Out of the blocks, there is some thought that you can always go up. I think that's something the NCAA does a pretty good job of. We'll use data to figure out if there's a lot of unmet need that tells us we'll need to go to $3,000 or $4,000. I think people will be willing to do that. Keep in mind that most people will get their Pell Grant on top of that and we're going to open up other non-athletic aid that a student can receive that won't count against their total. Then there's the special assistance fund money, we give out $35 million a year. It will be fascinating to take a needy student with the two grand and the Pell Grant and the student assistance and see just how much they got at the end of the year. We're trying to meet the unmet need and I think $2,000 is a reasonable place to start. The Board could say it needs to be $3,000 to start, that will be determined by them."

One of the presidential working groups is looking at cutting scholarships in football and men's basketball, what's the reasoning behind that?

"There's a really interesting idea that's developed out of that rules group in terms of building in incentives to get yourself back to the full allotment. Like the access to championships, where you must have a certain score to be eligible, how about you have a high enough APR you can get yourself back to 13 in men's basketball. The baseline could be lower but you incentivize by academic performance teams having their full allotment of scholarships. I think it's a great idea.

"If we look at the rules, we don't have any incentives that say go above minimums and you receive benefits. I like the idea and it's one that we'll take up in earnest, that's a powerful piece. If you're a poor performing team, you may play with 11. If you're a high academic team, you'll get 13. It's some competitive advantage for a team that does well academically. I think there's a fundamental issue that our membership is walking into that says, you want to be a Division I member? There is a minimum expectation as to what you need to be providing."

Some have suggested that there be a another division for big time FBS schools.

"I think the thought is that the tent is big enough under Division I to allow for this diversity of mission. Having said that, within the regulatory structure, we need to redefine competitive equity. Up to this point, it's been whatever the last member, in terms of resources or commitment - we can't allow others to do things that would hurt them competitively. We are really getting away from that. You'll see, out of this rules group, a redefinition of what fairness means and what opportunity means.

"All that will allow conferences to have more say in how they regulate themselves versus some others. That's something that we're openly examining. Cost of attendance is a perfect example, not everyone will be able to do that. In the past we would have said you can't go to two grand because this school can't do it. Now we'll say if you can do it, do it. We're maturing to some extent and allowing enough within the tent to not
stand in their way of improving the student-athlete experience."

How big is the NCAA manual in a year or two?

"We're marking it up. My thinking right now? I think you blow the thing up. While we may have a copy somewhere in the vault, the approach should be if you had to start with a new day, what would it be. I think you'll see outcome based principles, we may end up having eight of them. You can't recruit using a third-party, you need to deal directly with the young man or woman and their family. That's a principle, you violate it and you'll face significant penalties. You may have some operating bylaws underneath that.

"I'll give you one example. One bylaw we have we've gone from 13 pages to four in the first cut. (The manual) will be significantly reduced."

Has there been a wake up call at the NCAA?

"It does seem like we had a lot of things happen this past year, there's no denying that. Malfeasance among parents, among students, there's been more of a spotlight on administrators. You could call it a perfect storm. There's been new leadership coming in and saying this doesn't feel right. To Mark (Emmert's) credit, he's been pretty aggressive in trying to figure out the systemic causes of why we're here.

"I thought the Presidential Retreat, and I've been here 25 years, was one of the most thoughtful, honest conversations about why we got where we are and what we can do about it."

Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:08 pm

SEC: We have three options for 13-team schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Missouri locked into the Big 12 for another year, the SEC is in turn all-but-locked into a 13-team schedule for the 2012 football season. But as the league is finding out, scheduling with unbalanced divisions is easier said than done.

Larry Templeton, chair of the conference's "transition committee" for Texas A&M's move to the SEC, told the Birmingham News Friday that the league is considering three "conceptual scheduling options" for a 13-team slate. The "least disruptive" plan would be the have the incoming Aggies play four teams from the West and four teams from the East.

The other options, Templeton said, are for the SEC to play the NCAA-mandated intra-division round-robins -- with West teams playing six divisional games and East teams five -- or to simply assign the Aggies eight games regardless of divisional affiliation.

There's a major issue with the divisional round-robin plan, though. "I'm not prepared to say we wouldn't do that," Templeton said. "But mathematically, I don't think it can be done." By which he means that it can't--in a 13-team conference, it's mathematically impossible for every team in a seven-team division to play all other divisional opponents in an eight-game schedule.

The 13-team MAC has worked around this problem by having some members of its seven-team division only play five divisional games, a move that has required an NCAA waiver from the bylaw demanding a round-robin.

Thanks to the math and the "least disruptive" nature of the 4-4 split for Texas A&M, the SEC will likely require that same waiver in the near future. Why would that split be so much less disruptive? Templeton declines to spell it out for the News, but as explained in this blog post at Vanderbilt blog Anchor of Gold, that's the plan which allows the SEC to complete all of the cross-divisional home-and-home rotations that began this year. 

For instance, this week Florida travels to Auburn and South Carolina visits Mississippi State. By assigning the Aggies four West games and four East games (and canceling the new cross-divisional rotations scheduled to start in 2012) the SEC would maintain enough flexibility to keep the return trips like Auburn's to Gainesville and Mississippi State's to Columbia intact.

Per Anchor of Gold, that plan would also necessitate A&M hosting all of their East games and going on the road for all of their West games. Assuming the SEC would limit their travel costs as much as possible (and not send them to Auburn or Alabama, the two most distant West campuses), A&M's initial SEC schedule would look something like: at Arkansas, at LSU, at Ole Miss, at Mississippi State, vs Georgia, vs. South Carolina, vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Florida.

That schedule would be so different from the rest of the West's, there's no question it would damage the division's competitive balance--and cause more than a few complaints if/when it affected which team won the division's eventual championship. But because of the importance of those cross-divisional return games (and the fairness of completing the rotations), it remains the "least disruptive" scheduling path for the SEC ... and the one it's most likely to pursue.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 3:59 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:21 am

NCAA exploring scholarship cut for several sports

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The NCAA is exploring a reduction in the number of scholarships programs can give out as part of a long-term look at reallocating various resources around the organization and at member schools.

The proposals are in a very early stage and stem from one of the four presidential working groups established by President Mark Emmert following his August Presidential Retreat. The groups are expected to recommend significant changes to the operation of Division I athletics to the NCAA Board of Directors to address the growing need for reform.

Following a six-hour meeting in late September, the Resource Allocation Working Group, chaired by Georgia President Michael Adams, agreed to consider a reduction in FBS football scholarships from the current number of 85 to 80 and a reduction in the number of FCS football scholarships from 63 to 60. The reductions would likely follow a move toward a full cost-of-attendance scholarship that is expected to be passed in early 2012. In addition to football, the group agreed to consider a reduction in the number of men's basketball scholarships from 13 to 12 and in women's basketball from 15 to 13.

The cuts are just a few of the controversal recommendations the working group is expected to pursue prior to their presentation to the Board of Directors at the NCAA Convention in January. According to a summary of the group's update, obtained by CBSSports.com, it was agreed upon to recommend eliminating all foreign travel, reduce mandatory out-of-season practice time and explore a reduction in competition (i.e. cutting the number of games for several sports).

Other presidential working groups are also examining financial costs, NCAA rules and student athlete-well being. The NCAA Legislative Council and Board of Directors will both meet next week in Indianapolis.

Posted on: October 8, 2011 12:20 am
Edited on: October 8, 2011 12:26 am

QUICK HITS: Boise State 57, Fresno State 7

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BOISE STATE WON. Fresno State has been known to give teams a fight no matter what caliber they are but Boise State just blew them off the field Friday night. Quarterback Kellen Moore was precise throughout, with 243 yards and three touchdowns at halftime. He was pulled early in the third quarter despite some need to pad his stats for Heisman consideration and finished 23 for 31 and 253 yards. Despite the offense's trigger-man on the sidelines early, the team still rolled up 440 yards of offense and over five yards per play.

HOW BOISE STATE WON: Thanks to their play in the trenches, the Broncos came into the San Joaquin Valley and simply blew away their opponents. Moore was rarely pressured and even when he was, such as in the picture to the right, he still found an open receiver who often took it in for a touchdown. Newly reinstated wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn dropped an easy catch early in the game but made up for it by catching three passes, two of which were for a touchdown. The defense was aggressive and forced three turnovers before putting in the backups in the second half.

WHEN BOISE STATE WON: With over five minutes left in the first and already holding a lead, the Broncos defense forced a three and out with the Bulldogs deep in their own territory. After they got the ball back in Fresno territory, Boise State converted a key third down and ended the drive with a field goal that luckily clanked off the uprights and in. On the next series, Devon Wylie fumbled the ball and Boise recovered. The next play was a 25 yard touchdown off a reverse to make it 16-0 Broncos and the game was a blow out in the making at that point.

WHAT BOISE STATE WON: Style points. Chris Petersen's squad won in impressive fashion early in the game and steamrolled Fresno State on national television. The Broncos dropped a spot in the AP Poll before the week but this game should give voters pause if they're thinking of dropping them a spot or two this week. As impressive as Moore and company were on offense, this game also showcased the excellent defense. Keep in mind that Fresno State went on the road and gave Nebraska a game earlier in the year. Also, the 'Milk Can Trophy' will stay another year in the great state of Idaho.

WHAT FRESNO STATE LOST: At the very least, they didn't get shut out thanks to a 79 yard D.J. Harper kick return. With the two teams in separate conference this year - and only this year it looks like - this game doesn't hurt Pat Hill's chance of winning a WAC title but does drop his team to 2-4 on the year with a home game against Utah State next week. There were no significant injuries for the Bulldogs but no doubt they're a little black and blue after getting beat up at home.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Kellen Moore earned his 43rd win all-time with the program, passing Georgia's David Greene on the NCAA career wins list. He's just two games behind Texas' Colt McCoy for the all-time mark. Moore has just two losses in 45 games (96%) and figures to keep on winning with a marginal schedule left this year.

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:20 pm

SEC RapidReport Roundup: It's all on Lattimore

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).

SOUTH CAROLINA. It doesn't seem possible that Marcus Lattimore could take on even more of a burden for the Gamecock offense, but that's how things look as his team prepares for Saturday's visit from Auburn. Lattimore's top two backups are both doubtful for the game with injuries; Kenny Miles is struggling with a sprained wrist, third-stringer Eric Baker might miss the game as well, and freshman Shon Carson tore his ACL in mid-September. Freshman Brandon Wilds could be the only scholarship running back available for Steve Spurrier other than Lattimore, but even if Baker is healthy, the junior has just five carries combined the previous three seasons.

Lattimore already leads the nation in rushing attempts with a whopping 26.75 per game. But given the problems Carolina must deal with when either anyone other then Lattimore rushes the ball or Stephen Garcia drops back to pass, that workload doesn't seem likely at all to decrease this week.

In other Gamecock news, true freshman receiver Damiere Byrd will make his long-awaited debut this week after all. His four-game NCAA suspension has been served, but in midweek Spurrier said he hadn't been "cleared" just yet. Now he has.

AUBURN. If the Gamecocks start to feel sorry for themselves, though, all they'll have to do is look to the opposite sideline this week. After already losing receiver Trovon Reed to a shoulder injury for this week and possibly longer, the Tigers also confirmed this week that defensive end Dee Ford will miss the remainder of the season with a herniated disk. Though technically a backup, Ford was the only junior in the entire Tiger defensive line's two-deep; his spot in the rotation will be filled by two players with a combined 23 career snaps.

It's those kinds of defensive issues that have forced Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn to slow down Malzahn's preferred up-tempo style during his Auburn tenure; the Tigers have averaged only one more play per-game under Malzahn than they did in the 12 seasons before his arrival.

OLE MISS. Things in Oxford are ugly off the field, with the Ole Miss chancellor himself writing open letters in response to anonymous "threats" and the Rebel community seemingly divided over the status of athletic director Pete Boone and coach Houston Nutt. But they might be even uglier on it right now, which is why Randall Mackey seems set to become the Rebels' third starter under center in five games as the Rebels travel to take on Fresno State.

And speaking of ugly, more than a few wags on Twitter had something to say about Nutt's decision to wear a flat-brimmed blue baseball cap during his team's loss to Georgia. He explained himself in straightforward fashion this week: he wanted to protect his face from the sun, and he couldn't wear both his preferred straw hat and a headset at the same time. Works for us.

ARKANSAS. Even after losing Tenarius Wright for 4-to-6 weeks, there is some good news for the Hogs on the injury front. Senior corner Isaac Madison is expected to play against Texas A&M after leaving the Alabama game with an injury, and running back Broderick Green has made startling progress from the ACL tear suffered during spring practice--so much progress that Green is already practicing and is now expected before the season's end, possibly as soon as this week.

On the downside, defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is less-than-thrilled with the performance of senior safety Tramain Thomas at the moment. "I'm not going to sit down there and allow what was going on during the course of the game to continue, so I made a switch there," Robinson said of pulling Thomas against Alabama. "This week he knows he's under fire, and he'd better give us better effort."

ELSEWHERE: Nick Saban said five-star running back recruit Dee Hart has made substantial progress since preseason ACL surgery, but remains highly likely to redshirt ... Vanderbilt starting linebacker Tristan Strong will miss the rest of the 2011 season after tearing an ACL against South Carolina. He was third on the team in tackles ...

linebacker Christian Robinson is expecting to play "15-20 plays" in his return from injury. His partner in rehab? None other than Barbara Dooley, who Robinson promised he'd wear Derek Dooley-style orange pants if his Dawgs beat Derek's Vols later this season ... After initially asking to leave the team, Bulldog backup running back Ken Malcome changed his mind and rejoined the squad on Thursday ...

Tennessee freshman running back and returner Devrin Young is set to make his season debut after missing the Volunteers' first three games with a broken collarbone ... Fans at the Vols' game against Buffalo will be able to wave pink shakers in exhcnage for a donation to breast cancer research ... Mississippi State isn't unhappy with defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd, but would like to see more production from them all the same ... Why, yes, Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is "frustrated" with his team's offensive struggles. We doubt you're surprised.

Posted on: September 26, 2011 5:09 pm

Emmert takes ADs to task on realignment

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NCAA president Mark Emmert isn't exactly pleased with the way college sports have looked in recent weeks thanks to all the talk of conference realignment, and on Monday he let a lot of schools know about it. Athletic directors from all across the country were in Grapevine, Texas -- just outside of Dallas -- on Monday for their annual meetings, and while Emmert was speaking to them, he let them all know he found the way the schools have handled themselves to be troubling.

“People today have greater doubt, greater concern about what we stand for and why we do what we do," said Emmert. "And that is a huge problem for us."

“The specter of the past couple weeks of conference realignment has not been a healthy thing. The world’s convinced that’s all we care about…that all this is about money. I didn’t read many of us stepping up and saying that this will work really well for student-athletes because we’ll do X, we’ll do Y, it will create more resources, it will help us stabilize our programs.

"It was all about the deal."

Emmert then went on to outline some of the changes that the Division I Board of Directors will consider for its meetings next month, and said that this is the perfect time for for change. Emmert said that the schools should be embarrassed by their recent behavior and now have a chance to show the world "what we really care about."

Which I believe is making money. No, wait, no, it's the student-athletes. My bad.
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