Posted on: February 23, 2011 4:18 pm

Tennessee's problem starts at the top

The NCAA today called Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl a cheater, basically. And the NCAA today said former Vols football coach Lane Kiffin oversaw a cheating staff, basically.

Pearl's still there. Kiffin is gone to Southern California. So what's the link between Pearl, Kiffin and Tennessee?

The athletics director who hired both of them. Mike Hamilton is his name. And he's still at Tennessee -- directing athletics, hiring coaches, monitoring everyone in the department.

Why is Hamilton still there? No idea. None. He may well be a good man, as readers have e-mailed me over the years. But he's a lousy AD. Hires poorly. Doesn't make sure they act ethically. Doesn't do anything with teeth when they get busted acting unethically.

Hamilton is still the AD at Tennessee, I presume, because his boss can't be bothered. Someone wake up the Tennessee president and show that person what the NCAA said about the school's athletic department. And when the Tennessee president asks what idiot has been running the Volunteers' sports arm, tell the Prez the truth:

Some guy named Mike Hamilton. Still. And for far too long.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Tennessee
Posted on: January 29, 2011 9:33 am

Personal note, me to Iowa fans

This Iowa story is bothering me -- bothering me as a person, not as a sportswriter -- and I think this will help. It will help me, I mean. For writing it. And knowing some of you, whether you believe it or not, will be reading it.

Because lots of you -- and here I'm talking to Iowa fans, mainly -- have lots of questions for me. Questions, accusations, stories you want me to read that will enlighten me, etc.

This is my blog and not another column, so let me address this as a human being, not as a sportswriter: I have nothing personal against Iowa. I have no idea where that idea even comes from. If you told me I had something personal against Florida or Tennessee or Southern California or Oklahoma, I'd tell you that you're wrong ... but I'd understand why you thought so. I've gone after those four schools several times. If it is personal, it's personal only in that I've not liked the actions of a coach from one of those schools, or several coaches, and when they do objectionable things, I write it. But the schools themselves? I have nothing against those schools. Hell, I went to Florida. My parents went to Oklahoma. For me, it's never personal with a school. Ever.

And it's not personal with Iowa. Not even to the extent that I have a problem with a coach, because I don't have a problem with Kirk Ferentz. Or I haven't had one until this week, when he stayed on the road recruiting for two days while 13 of his players were in the hospital because of a team workout.

People are e-mailing me and Tweeting me accusations that I ripped Ferentz in 2004 for missing a press conference before a game against Penn State, when the backstory was that Ferentz's father had recently died. I was a college basketball writer exclusively in 2004, so I'm pretty sure I didn't write that in 2004. I don't even know what you folks are talking about. Literally, no clue about that story. If someone in the vast Internet universe wrote it, fine. But that someone wasn't me.

I yawned at Iowa's hiring of Todd Lickliter in 2007 -- about the only thing I got right in that column -- and I've written before that Iowa's football team was overrated, two or three years ago. I remember writing that, but I can't find it now. Wish I would, just to show that I'm not ducking the idea that I've been harsh to Iowa in the past. Hey, I'm harsh to most schools. It's what I do.

But it's not personal. Over the years Iowa football has had major issues off the field, like other programs, including Florida. If I had it in for Iowa, or Kirk Ferentz, you'd have ample evidence of my byline on multiple, or even one, story declaring that "Iowa is out of control." There aren't any. I've never written one. Because I don't have it out for Iowa, or for Ferentz.

Those Iowa fans among you who are furious with me -- and it's not all of you; thank you to those who have written to remind me that -- I don't expect you to like me now. But it's not personal.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Iowa
Posted on: January 12, 2011 3:02 pm

I'm tired of awful BCS title games

The right team won the BCS title game. Make no mistake about that. Auburn was, in my opinion anyway, the better team and the title game ended with Auburn ahead of Oregon. So the right team won.

And the game was close. The fourth quarter was exciting. The Oregon touchdown and two-point conversion, Michael Dyer's rolling run, the replay review of the touchdown that wasn't, then the field goal on the last play? Beautiful. Thrilling.

So the right team won a game that was close. And still I'm complaining about the 2011 BCS title game?

You damn right. Because that wasn't Auburn. And that wasn't Oregon. Likewise, that wasn't Cam Newton, and it wasn't even Darron Thomas. Not the Newton and Thomas we saw all year, leading their teams to perfect seasons with near-perfect play at quarterback.

Cam Newton and Darron Thomas were decent Monday night. That's all. Decent. They were hit-or-miss. And so were their teams. They were decent. Hit-or-miss.

They were rusty, is what they were. Rusty, not sharp, whatever euphemism you prefer to describe a couple of teams that basically played every week for three months ... and then took off five weeks before playing the biggest game of the season.

And this happens almost every year.

Sometimes, both teams are rusty and out of whack. That was the case Monday, and also two years ago when loaded Florida and loaded Oklahoma played an utterly forgettable game, stylistically. Sometimes, even worse, only one of the teams is rusty and out of whack. That has produced scores like USC 55, Oklahoma 19 in 2005; and Florida 41, Ohio State 14 in 2007.

It keeps happening, dream games being turned into stylistic nightmares, and it's fixable. That's the most frustrating part about this. It's fixable, and not with something as drastic as a playoff (which is the ultimate goal, of course).

It's fixable with a tweak to the schedule.

Start the college football season a month later, in late September -- which is when some schools actually begin fall classes, if you didn't know -- instead of late August.

Or, since we all want our football in late August, here's a better idea: Give teams more off weeks. Instead of one Saturday off all season, give them one off week a month. That would stretch the season to mid-December, and better yet it would keep teams healthier, which would improve the product. Let the teams play until about Dec. 20, and then schedule the bowls two weeks later.

Television would hate it, but screw that. The tail has wagged the dog long enough. Pipe down, TV. You're not the dog, you're the tail. Sit there and shut up.

A two-week window between the regular season and the bowls would allow fans to purchase airfare with a week or even 14-day window, which is required to save money.

You: But final exams are mid-December! The players can't play football then!

Me: Don't be naïve. You sound silly. Anyway, look over there! There's some pie in the sky! Go eat some!

As for the BCS title game, something has to be done. When that game suffers, college football suffers. And we, the fans, suffer. This could be fixed, and if ESPN and the other networks kick and scream, the heck with 'em. Drag them kicking and screaming into the future. College football doesn't serve them. It should be the other way around.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: BCS
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:50 pm

We need some new experts has five experts picking the BCS national title game between Auburn and Oregon, and none of those experts is named "Gregg Doyel."

Strike one.

Four of those five experts are picking Oregon.

Strike two.

What's strike three? There is no strike three, other than that 80-percent prediction rate for Oregon over Auburn. That's strike two and three. We're out. The only one of us who picked Auburn to win was Dennis Dodd, but he's our college football columnist. He's our most expert expert, at least since I'm not on that panel, and he picked Auburn to win 41-31. Because he's smart like that.

Picking Auburn is a no-brainer. The Tigers played a brutal schedule, navigated most of it with ease, and they'll have the best player on the field. Think back to the 2006 Rose Bowl, Texas vs. Southern Cal. While it's true that USC had two players in that game who did or would win the Heisman Trophy -- Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart -- Texas quarterback Vince Young was the best player on the field. And that's why his team won in an offensive shootout.

Five years later, the same thing will happen. Cam Newton is the best player on the field. His team will win the offensive shootout.

I'm as sure of this as I was of the last BCS title game I picked, between Florida and Oklahoma in 2009. Don't click that link.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: BCS
Posted on: January 4, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 2:13 pm

If I'm Michigan, I'm keeping Rich Rod

I'm keeping Rich Rodriguez for several reasons, but only one that matters:

Because Jim Harbaugh, apparently, has said no.

If Harbaugh would say yes, Michigan hires Harbaugh. No-brainer. I mean, duh. Harbaugh would be the home run hire for any football program now, college or pro or in the English Premier League. He's that good.

But if the whispers are correct and Michigan can't get Harbaugh -- and in that story we linked to, it looks to me like the source was Harbaugh's father or wife -- Rich Rodriguez should stay.

Seriously, sans Harbaugh, that would be the best option for Michigan for the 2011 season, and possibly for the next 2-3 years. Half of the Michigan roster -- the half that plays offense -- was picked, and prepared, to run the RichRod spread offense. That includes dynamic quarterback Denard Robinson, a legit Heisman candidate in 2011 and 2012. Unless Michigan can hire a gifted spread-offense guy in the next few weeks like Urban Meyer the entire program would be set back several years.

Rodriguez returns, his awful defensive coordinator goes, and Michigan has a chance in 2011 and 2012. But if Rodriguez goes, Michigan is a loser in 2011 for sure and possibly in 2012 unless the new coach, whoever he is, signs a hotshot quarterback next spring and can win seven or eight games with him as a true freshman in 2012. Unlikely.

Rodriguez stays in 2011, if I'm calling the shots, because Harbaugh was Plan A and there is no better Plan B. Brady Hoke? Please.

However, this wouldn't be a lifetime appointment, or even a guarantee of a job in 2012, for Rodriguez. He gives Michigan its best shot, sans Harbaugh, in 2011 ... but if Michigan is again mediocre in 2011 and someone better is out there (Urban Meyer), make the change after next season.

That's my advice. Feel free to ignore it, Michigan. I know, I know -- maybe you should hire another coach from West Virginia. Does Bob Huggins run the spread offense?

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Michigan
Posted on: January 2, 2011 11:19 am

Terrelle Pryor thinks you're stupid

Full disclosure: I want to believe in Ohio State. I live in Ohio, my two kids will attend college most likely in Ohio, and my goal is that they attend Ohio State.

So this question is not coming from a Buckeyes basher when I ask the following:

How stupid does Terrelle Pryor think we are?

The memorabilia he sold, against NCAA rules, basically got a free pass from me. Seriously, check out my reaction to the story that Pryor and four teammates would be suspended next season, but be allowed to play Tuesday night in the Sugar Bowl. I loved that reaction from the NCAA. If my reaction was pro-Ohio State, so be it. I'm an Ohio guy, and my initial thoughts were of other Ohio residents.

But this story ...

This car story ...

Complete garbage. Everything about it stinks, from the alleged NCAA crime to the announced excuse. All of it. Garbage.

In a nutshell, Pryor has a habit of getting his hands on cars -- nice cars -- from Columbus-area dealerships, and then getting caught speeding in them. Someone smarter than me, please figure out the odds on that:

Pryor has these cars -- nice cars -- for a day or two, and without fail, he gets caught speeding. In that tiny, day-or-two window of time.

Every time.


I don't believe it. Sorry, I don't. I don't believe Pryor had those cars for only a day or two. I don't believe the car dealer. I don't believe Ohio State. I don't believe any of you.

I still want my kids to go to Ohio State. But at the moment, I want Terrelle Pryor to turn pro after the Sugar Bowl. Don't come back next season. I can live with you avoiding punishment for your memorabilia "ignorance."

But I'm not sure I can stomach the sight of you in an OSU uniform in 2011. That'll be my kids' school, you know. And Terrelle Pryor is starting to make me sick.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Ohio State
Posted on: December 23, 2010 4:44 pm

Loving the NCAA's decision on Ohio State

Bowl games are for fans. That's all they are -- they're games for fans. That's why bowl invitations are awarded in conjunction with tickets, tens of thousands of tickets in the case of a bowl game as big as the Sugar Bowl.

This is why the NCAA made the right call, the Solomon-esque call, on Terrelle Pryor and four of his teammates. More than 10,000 OSU fans already have bought tickets to that game, which includes for many airfare, rental car (or other ground transportation) and hotel. Plus food for the duration of the trip.

Imagine being those fans, showing up in New Orleans, and watching the Buckeyes' backup quarterback. Whoever he is. And watching the Buckeyes' backups at receiver and running back. And watching the Buckeyes score three points.

T-shirt idea: I spent a week, and $3,500, in New Orleans -- and all I got was this lousy 21-3 loss .

Nonsense. The NCAA wasn't protecting the Buckeyes. The NCAA was protecting fans -- it was protecting you, if you want to know the truth. If you're not an OSU fan, embrace this anyway because the precedent is set. This could be your team in a year or two.

Pryor could turn pro after this season and therefore evade the punishment. That would be a shame, but what do you want the NCAA to do -- predict the future? More nonsense.

Stop complaining, just because you can. Stop complaining, and be pleased that the NCAA did something with us in mind.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Ohio State
Posted on: December 22, 2010 6:22 pm

Steve Addazio, Temple? Really??!

In one fell swoop, Temple football is back to being Temple football. Which is to say, Temple football returned to irrelevance today by hiring a man who did the impossible: failing to score points with Urban Meyer's offense and Florida's recruits.

His name is Steve Addazio, and apparently he's the new coach at Temple. To date, he was known best for being the worst offensive coordinator, pound-for-pound, in all of football. To fail to gain yards and score points at Florida, well, that ain't easy.

Good ol' Addazio found a way to get it done, though. Hell, Addazio was so bad this year that Urban Meyer quit! Well, not really. But not for a second would you convince me that Meyer was going to retire had his team gone, say, 10-2. Addazio is one of the biggest reasons the team didn't go 10-2. So, there you go. Addazio did chase Meyer out the door.

And now Addazio is going to Temple, which has recruited well only when it had the energetic charisma of Al Golden recruiting for it. I can do the math: Addazio's skill plus typical Temple athletes = a slew of 2-10 seasons. No idea who Temple will beat to get those two wins, either.

Temple football, which was so lousy it was kicked out of the Big East -- the Big East, for god's sake -- is about to go downhill. Has the MAC ever kicked out a school for being lousy at football?

We'll see in about three years.

Category: NCAAF
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or