Posted on: July 14, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 3:50 pm
Good Lord, I think Ohio State might just skate after all.
Look what happened to Georgia Tech, for a similar scandal only with a much more nefarious undertone. While OSU coach Jim Tressel himself was the culprit in the ultimately unsuccessful Ohio State cover-up of violations, and that's awful, the Big Ten school as a whole acted in an upright manner afterward:
Tressel was forced out, albeit more slowly than I would have liked. The school vacated every victory from the 2010 season. The best player involved, Terrelle Pryor, is gone even though he has eligibility remaining.
Compare that to Georgia Tech, which -- like Ohio State -- was guilty of using star players even after learning those players could be ineligible. And then, apparently, the Jackets made it worse by failing to cooperate completely with the NCAA's investigation. Check out this ominous sentence from the Georgia Tech report by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions:
"This case provides a cautionary tale of the conduct that member institutions should avoid while under investigation for violations of NCAA rules."
And for all that -- for playing knowingly ineligible players, then for displaying conduct member institutions should avoid -- Georgia Tech had to vacate a bunch of wins (as Ohio State already has done), face some recruiting restrictions and a fine, and deal with four years of probation.
Four years probation, four million years -- that won't stop the Jackets from playing on TV this season. Or from playing in a bowl game, should they win enough games to get there.
Georgia Tech just made like Neo in The Matrix and dodged a bullet.
Ohio State's next.
As usual, BCS cheaters win. They damn sure don't lose -- not postseason eligibility or TV appearances, which is the only punishment that would leave an actual mark.
Way to be firm, NCAA. I've already noted the strongly worded sentence in the statement by the Committee on Infractions, but the follow-through was flaccid. As usual.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 1:20 pm
A young man died on its watch, and now Central Florida will appeal a jury's finding that the school was negligent and should pay the dead football player's parents $10 million.
Which tells me UCF has no shame.
Bickering with the parents of a dead kid over why he really died -- when the testimony was chilling, including teammates' assertions that Ereck Plancher was "woozy and staggering" during drills and that he was "cursed at and singled out by [coach George] O'Leary for lack of effort" and that O'Leary withheld water during the workout -- is monstrous.
The jury has decided. The punishment against UCF is harsh, but you know what?
UCF got off easy.
Imagine being the parents of Ereck Plancher.
Posted on: June 7, 2011 10:36 am
For Ohio State, the roadmap to redemption continues to unfold in Tennessee. And I assure you, the people at Ohio State are paying attention.
Because Tennessee and Ohio State are connected forever, connected by the cons of Bruce Pearl and Jim Tressel, joined at the same broken hip that must be replaced.
Tennessee is getting there. Ohio State is next. That's how this thing has been, every step of the way.
First Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl breaks one of the biggest rules possible. He lies to the NCAA about a violation (his own, in this case). Then Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel commits a similar violation, covering up a violation (albeit not his own) within the OSU football program.
Despite the outcry, Tennessee thinks a long suspension is enough -- and keeps Pearl. Despite the outcry, Ohio State thinks a long suspension is enough -- and keeps Tressel.
Tennessee finally wises up, pushes Pearl out. Ohio State finally wises up, pushes Tressel out.
Despite the outcry, Tennessee keeps athletics director Mike Hamilton. Despite the outcry, Ohio State keeps athletics director Gene Smith.
On Tuesday, Tennessee finally wised up and pushed Hamilton out.
Your move, Ohio State, but we already know how this story ends. Eventually you'll figure it out too. You always do.
With Tennessee's help.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:09 pm
The NCAA just hammered some schools from the SWAC and MEAC for low graduation rates, which I find ironic -- given that the NCAA shows absolutely no intelligence at all by delivering that punishment.
Of the 58 harshest penalties handed out by the NCAA for poor APR results, half of them went to schools in those two conferences, a lopsided amount given that historically black schools account for just 7 percent of NCAA's Division I.
This isn't a black thing or a white thing, of course. It's a money thing. And leagues like the SWAC and MEAC -- leagues without BCS football or high-major (or even mid-major) basketball -- have no money at all.
Schools such as UConn and Tennessee and Florida and UCLA have ample money to pay for incredible academic support services for athletes -- tutors, computers, advisors. Meanwhile, student-athletes in poorer leagues like the SWAC and MEAC make do with very little of that.
So my question to the NCAA would be this:
How can you possibly hold schools from the SWAC and MEAC to the same APR standards that you hold schools from the SEC and Big Ten?
What are you, NCAA ... stupid?
Posted on: May 4, 2011 5:58 pm
Ohio State employs a football coach who hid violations by his star player, violations that would have made that player ineligible -- an ineligibility that would have rendered Ohio State something short of the Big Ten champion it became.
The NCAA decided that Ohio State has institutional control.
Then along comes Boise State. That school saw 79 student-athletes in several sports receive excessive lodging, travel and meals worth $5,652 over four years. That might sound like a lot, but it's not. It's an average cost of $71 in excess items per player. That's one lunch here, one cab ride there. That's nothing, in the grand scheme of things -- and it's certainly nothing nefarious.
The NCAA decided Boise State lacks institutional control.
This, NCAA, is why so many people think you're so full of crap. Because you think Ohio State is on top of things. And you think Boise State isn't.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 4:01 pm
No idea if he can run an entire team, but Will Muschamp makes me a lot happier than the last guy who coached the Florida Gators.
The last guy, Urban Something-or-Other, allowed his team to be overrun by cretins. Why, Urban one time had a player -- get this -- who texted a woman that it was "time to die" ... and Urban let that misogynist punk play that same season.
Not Will Muschamp. Not even close. Muschamp just booted a kid who had two marijuana arrests in the last two months. And this wasn't any ordinary player. It was star cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Now, you could argue that being kicked off the team for two non-violent, misdemeanor-level arrests is a harsh fate. And it is. Most schools, I'd listen to the argument that a kid like Janoris Jenkins deserved a third chance.
Florida is not most schools. Florida was a haven for miscreants under Urban, and if Muschamp wanted to change the culture, he had to send a strong message immediately. Pity for him that his first chance to send that message came courtesy of his All-SEC cornerback.
Bully for him that he sent the message anyway.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 8:35 pm
First Bruce Pearl. Now Jim Tressel.
Used to be, when a coach was caught red-handed -- caught cheating and then lying, as Pearl was; or caught knowing about potential violations and sitting on that knowledge, as Jim Tressel did -- the coach was fired.
Now, though, a suspension is the flavor of the day. If the coach is good enough, that is.
Pearl? He's good. So he was suspended eight games. Tressel? He's sensational. So he was suspended two.
Weak. Soft. Transparent.
Bruce Pearl wasn't fired, and you know why? Because he makes money for Tennessee. Jim Tressel wasn't fired, and you do know why: Because he makes a lot of money for Ohio State.
Believe anything else, and you're every bit as stupid as those schools think all of us are.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 8:58 am
The recent recruiting controversy at Oregon tells me two things: The Ducks didn't break a rule. But they did cheat.
Don't look at me like that, Oregon fans. I'm not saying your football program should be punished for putting almost $25,000 into the hands of a man with influence on recruits who chose -- gasp! -- Oregon. The school found a legal way to pay off a guy connected to All-American running back LaMichael James and his eventual replacement, Lache Seastrunk.
See, there's a difference between breaking a rule -- or not breaking a rule, in Oregon's case -- and cheating. One is black-and-white. The NCAA has a massive rulebook, and if the rulebook allows for schools to subscribe to a recruiting service, then a school that subscribes to a recruiting service has broken no rules. That's Oregon.
But cheating isn't as easily defined. It resides in the gray area where the best coaches make their hay. They find a way to exploit an unwritten rule, or even a written rule in the NCAA's massive rulebook, and they use what they've discovered to gain an unethical advantage on other schools.
For instance, by giving $25,000 to a man connected to All-American running back LaMichael James and his eventual replacement, Lache Seastrunk.
That's dirty as hell, yet it's clean. I'm not calling for Oregon's head on a platter. I'm calling for the NCAA to add a single sentence to its rulebook, somewhere. Something about "the spirit of the rules" that would apply to situations like this one, situations I've written about for years. The NCAA would have the freedom to punish creative schools that find a legal way to cheat. It would be controversial, but it would be controversial in an effort to clean up a dirty business.
Schools have been subscribing for years to bogus recruiting services -- run by a guy who coaches an AAU basketball program, for example -- just to get their hands on that guy's best player. It's legal, but it's cheating. And it's done by scores of schools, even schools (and coaches) we all consider to be clean.
Package deals? Hiring a recruit's high school coach or brother or father, giving that guy a $100,000 job just to get his son's signature on a scholarship? Dirty as hell. It's cheating. But it's legal, because the NCAA doesn't have a specific rule against it, and even coaches I know and like have done it.
There's also the speaking engagements a college coach will pay -- to an AAU coach or to some other recruiting power broker -- or the bogus "elite" summer camps that are offered to exactly two or three campers. Who happen to be the top two or three recruiting targets of a school.
Those things happen every year, all over the place. So do things like this Oregon story, where the football program found a legal way to get money into the hands of a recruit's mentor. It's legal but unethical. Right, but wrong.
Everyone knows it. Everyone except the school in question, the school and its fans, who would be screaming bloody murder if this happened at, say, Oregon State.
Cheated. That's what you did, Oregon. But you found a way to do it legally. It doesn't make you smarter than anyone else. Just dirtier -- until another school does something legally worse.