Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 3:32 pm

Les Miles does not answer The Question

ATLANTA -- Les Miles wouldn’t go there when The Question was asked.

It’s obvious that No. 1 LSU can afford to lose Saturday and still play for the national championship. That has led to the anti-climatic nature of the SEC title game here on Saturday. But LSU’s coach obviously didn’t want to consider the option of losing Friday when asked if a team that hasn’t won its conference should be allowed to play in the big game.

“I have a very strong opinion,” said Miles who then paused a few seconds. “It will be something I will share with you some other time in my life.”

Unspoken answer: You’re damn right we should be in the championship game. We’ve beaten seven ranked teams, three in the top three including Alabama.

The question was phrased another way during Friday’s pre-game press conferences: Should LSU be in the BCS title game win or lose?

“I have given little thought to that,” Miles said. “I do know that that is an issue out there for other folks. It’s not one for us. We’ve talked about it several times but not about the ‘What ifs.’ It’s about what we’ve accomplished at this point.”

Miles has an ally in Georgia coach Mark Richt. The Bulldogs were fourth going in the BCS going into the final weekend of the 2007 season behind Ohio State, West Virginia and Missouri. Missouri and West Virginia lost, leaving a bunch of two-loss teams (and one-loss Kansas which had completed its season) to compete for the other top-two spot.

LSU jumped Georgia that year, vaulting from No. 7 to No. 2 in the final BCS standings after winning the SEC title game over Tennessee. At that point Georgia was 10-2 having lost only to South Carolina and Tennessee. The Dawgs won their final seven regular-season games, finishing fifth in the BCS behind Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, LSU and Ohio State.

So much for a non-conference winner playing for it all. It has actually happened twice in BCS history -- Nebraska (2001) and Oklahoma (2003). Georgia did have a nice consolation prize that year, beating the snot out of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

“The bottom line is when you play a game or have a season or have a system there’s certain rules that you abide by,” Richt said. “If the rules say you must be conference champion then that’s the way it is. If the rules don’t say that then I don’t you have to be the conference championship to play in that [BCS title] game.

“ … Why should somebody go stumping and try to convince everybody that should be part of the criteria when it’s not?”

When told he had tap-danced nicely around the issue Friday, Miles told CBSSports.com, "Best I can do." 




Posted on: December 1, 2011 10:04 pm

A&M acts late on Sherman

Something happened with Mike Sherman.

A day ago he was talking about recruiting three stars and turning them into five stars. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why he was fired Thursday.

Targeting three stars is probably not the right philosophy going into the SEC.

Anyway, something happened to Sherman. Radically. A day ago it looked like the Aggies’ coach was safe. The athletic department owed a lot of money to a lot of people but … come to think to think of it, maybe that’s why he was fired Thursday.

Four years, .500 record. A&M had enough especially owing upwards of $50 million to various entities ($16 million loan to the university, $9 million to buyout Sherman, unknown exit fee to the Big 12).

Something happened to Mike Sherman and it likely has a brush mustache and is part of the Bowtie Revolution.

That would be president R. Bowen Loftin, the driving force behind the school’s move to the SEC. A little Bowen mind-reading here: Best to start with a clean slate with the competition about to be ratcheted up in the SEC.

Great idea except that Loftin is an academic making intrusions into a glorious, tradition-bound football program. That said, Sherman was a reach from the start. AD Bill Byrne handed a seven-year contract to the Houston Texans’ offensive coordinator. Who exactly was Byrne’s competition?

What he got in exchange was a 25-25 record and numerous blown second-half leads. The Aggies, in a word, were soft. At least this year. A 20-3 halftime lead at home melted away against Oklahoma State and its 107<sup>th</sup>-ranked pass defense. There was an 18-point halftime lead against Baylor that went pffft. The Aggies led mediocre Missouri 14-0 at home. And blew that one too.

Much more was expected out of a team that was 9-4 in 2010 and returned 18 starters. Someone at A&M likely looked around and saw Arizona hire Rich Rodriguez and Washington State Mike Leach and asked, “Just what the hell are we doing about anything?”

That someone was probably Loftin. He conspicuously changed his tune on Sherman following the Thanksgiving night loss to Texas.

Before: “As far as I'm concerned, yes," he said Tuesday. "We don't want to make any hasty moves, and we look forward to him being our football coach in the future."

After:  "We're thinking hard about [the season and the future]."

A president is allowed to change his mind, but this president has his nose poked so far into athletics that, well, you get it. A&M most likely will pursue Kevin Sumlin, one of its former assistants. Sumlin is right down the road in Houston about to take the Cougars to a BCS bowl.

But A&M might be late. There was a report Thursday that Arizona State had already offered Sumlin. I’ve got a better idea. There’s a young guy up the road coordinating a salty defense. Had a great year. Name’s Manny Diaz. Works for Texas.

But that would be deal breaker for Bowtie Guy who just let century-old ties with the Longhorns to head South. His program may already be headed there. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 26, 2011 9:04 pm

Kansas' Turner Gill could be next to go

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 800-pound gorilla took on a different form Saturday night. Turner Gill’s job security was the $6 million buyout in the room Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Both were hard to ignore.

There is wide speculation that Gill, Kansas’ second-year coach, will be the next major-college coach fired following Missouri’s 24-10 win over the Jayhawks. The former Nebraska star is 5-19 in two seasons in Lawrence.

Gill may be next up on the chopping block in a coaching silly season that figures to pick up momentum this week. Arizona just filled its opening. Ole Miss and North Carolina remain open. But the jobs at Illinois, Tennessee, Memphis, Arizona State and Ohio State could soon come open as well. According to reports, Urban Meyer is expected to formally announced any day as the new Buckeyes’ coach.

Kansas, at times, has been laughably bad this season finishing 2-10 while threatening to set an NCAA record for average yards allowed (531.45, last in FBS). Six of the losses were by at least 30 points.

Names being tossed around already include Mike Leach, former South Florida coach Jim Leavitt and former Arizona coach Mike Stoops. Leach still is dealing with three active lawsuits following his December 2009 firing from Texas Tech. Leavitt left South Florida after being accused of laying hands on a player. Stoops’ sideline demeanor was an issue at Arizona but his team also slumped badly toward the end. He was 41-50 in eight seasons.

“I think a positive is that our guys stuck together as a team,” Gill said after his team blew a 10-0 lead. “They were truly a team inside and outside of the lockerroom. They played their hearts out.”

It may not be enough. Gill was hired by former AD Lew Perkins and handed a five-year, $10 million guaranteed contract starting in 2010. If he were fired, Gill would be owed every cent of the remaining three years ($6 million). Some KU booster(s) will have to dig deep if they want a change. But it may be worth it at Kansas which has been able to tolerate mediocre football as long as it doesn’t embarrass the basketball program.

It is embarrassing the basketball program, gaining national attention for all the wrong reasons.

“It’s hard to turn something in two [years],” Kansas offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. 

“We all understand three [years]. We all understand that [is a key time for a coach] … But we feel like 2012, 2013 could be good years for us.”

Long has been in this situation himself. The former Heisman runner-up was 9-27 in three years as head coach at San Diego State.

“If that [two years] was the case they probably would have fired me too,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “I wasn’t the most popular guy in my first four years here … He’s [Gill] a colleague and a friend. I don’t think there is any way you can  make a decision on a program in two seasons.”



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 17, 2011 10:37 am
Edited on: November 17, 2011 1:40 pm

Missouri's Pinkel reportedly gets DUI

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel reportedly got a DUI last night and it barely registers with me.

I barely care in these scandal-ridden days. There will be all kinds of questions raised about accountability and hypocrisy -- two of Pinkel's players were suspended for two games because of DUIs -- but I'm having a hard time being outraged. Sorry.

Pinkel has enough moral equity stored up at Missouri that he gets a pass from me on this. He's a good coach, a good guy and as far as I know a good father and husband. Mistakes are made. Let me qualify that: I do care in the sense that no one should get in a car and drive while impaired by alcohol. That's dangerous and thoughtless. Thank God he did no damage to property, himself or others.

If he is found guilty, Pinkel made a huge mistake. How, you might ask, does he discipline his players now that he has been cited? Good question, but he and the football program will figure it out. They will get over this. Pinkel will keep his job. He will be humbled. Life will go on at Missouri.

Once again, sorry. That's the way I feel. It's hard to have any sort of outrage left in the tank after what has gone on in college athletics this year. Maybe that's more sad, than wrong. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 5:31 pm

Emmert: Miami being "incredibly cooperative"

Miami has been “incredibly cooperative” in the Nevin Shapiro case, NCAA president Mark Emmert told CBSSports.com. But at the same time the NCAA’s highest-ranking official reiterated his view that the death penalty should be used as deterrent in certain cases.

Emmert was widely quoted after the Shapiro report broke in August saying, that, hypothetically, the death penalty was an option in the Miami case. He repeated that again recently without speaking specifically about Miami.

“My position hypothetically was, no, you can’t take that [death penalty] off the table,” Emmert told CBSSports.com in a one-on-one interview. “We’re going to need whatever penalty structure we need to get people to behave themselves. If that entails – in extraordinary situations – the death penalty, I’m not unwilling to put that on the table.”

When the depth of Shaprio’s influence was revealed, the scandal was called the worst in NCAA history. Since then, there has been competition for that label.

Emmert went out of his way to compliment Miami president Donna Shalala and her role in the ongoing investigation that the NCAA started in the spring. For a sitting NCAA CEO to comment on such a high-profile case as Miami’s is almost unprecedented. For him to drop in compliments in the middle of the case, well, it’s hard to remember if that has ever occurred.

“The reality is that Miami, the university, has been incredibly cooperative,” Emmert said. “[Miami] President Shalala is doing an incredible job of interacting with us. Donna is doing a great job. She is being very, very helpful.”

Emmert did not elaborate, only to say that the NCAA is determined to wipe out third-party influence in football. The Shapiro case is ongoing as is the one involving Houston mentor/talent broker Will Lyles.

Emmert also spoke on other issues:


Conference realignment: “We had a situation a few months ago where it felt like June 1914. Everybody had their hand on the trigger and waiting for somebody to flinch. People weren’t necessarily making rational choices for rational reasons. We watched friendships, collegiality and trust blown up. That’s not the way universities are supposed to handle themselves.”

Emmert was most likely talking about Texas A&M’s June-September fling that resulted in its move to the SEC.

“I’d love to see something like a waiting period almost. Kind of like what you had with the SEC – the Securities and Exchange Commission. If you buy a company you have to vet it out. We saw that with Missouri. ‘Yeah, we’re thinking about this.’ It was a pretty rational process.

“We don’t have a formal role in all that [conference realignment]. Universities have to be able to make those decisions. Nobody should tell a university who they’re going to be a conference affiliate with. What I want is a system or a process by which schools can make up their minds -- optimally, deliberately without any rancor and politics of it.”


Recent NCAA reforms: “This is really the first wave. I’m extremely pleased. It was heartening to see the kind of support a pretty big change in a short period of time garnered … We made a clear statement about where I’ll our values were. The next wave will be around the rulebook, be around the way we do enforcement and the way we insist on integrity.”

On some criticisms of those reforms: (Some critics have said the $2,000 stipend was instituted too soon and/or won’t make much of a difference.) “You know the history of the NCAA. In the past when we wanted to make some decisions we started down a good road but then you say, ‘There’s this wrinkle and that wrinkle.’ By the time you’re done, you’ve got mush. This time we’re saying this is where we want to be.”

On pending legislation to address the Cecil Newton situation: (There is pending legislation that would label a parent a booster/agent if that parent solicited money from a school for the child’s services.) “We’ll see it coming out of this current task force on enforcement and infractions -- language that defines third parties to include family members, guardians, etc. That will have a very, very positive impact … That will be an integral part of the wave of reform around those issues. As you know, the intrusion of third parties…is ubiquitous and can be extremely pernicious. We’ve got to get our arms around it.”

The NCAA’s role in football’s postseason: “We have to be involved all the way along. Even though we don’t govern [FBS] postseason football, we certainly have rules about it. We’re debating right now the length of the season. How long the bowl season should be. Everybody wants to shrink it a bit. As we’re doing that, we have to then work with the conferences to say, ‘All right, what are you thinking about with the BCS?’ “


His hiring of Nick Saban at LSU in 2000: (Emmert was then LSU’s president.) “His record at Michigan State was very impressive in that he had taken a team that was floundering and having a lot of NCAA problems. By the time he’d spent five years there they were ranked eighth or ninth in the country. They beat Michigan once in a while. That’s a tough place to win at, Michigan State.

“I didn’t know him I hadn’t met him but when I sat with him his football mentality, his analytical nature, the clear game plan for what you needed to do at LSU were just pretty stunning. It was a very, very easy choice.”

Posted on: November 5, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 6:48 pm

Missouri to the SEC next week

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Missouri will formally join the SEC early next week according to The Sporting News. CBSSports.com was able to confirm the Saturday afternoon report.

After a drawn-out process the began months ago Missouri will leave the Big 12 and an affiliation with some teams in that league that go back to 1907. Missouri will become the SEC's 14th team and join the East Division. It wasn't immediately clear but the school is expected to begin play in 2012.

That will end the SEC’s expansion for now, a process that intensified in early June when Texas A&M began a process to leave the Big 12. Missouri has long been concerned about the stability of the Big 12. Twice within 16 months, Texas and Oklahoma – and others in the Big 12 -- came close to joining the Pac-12.  

NCAA president Mark Emmert addressed conference realignment Saturday before the LSU-Alabama game.

“I’d love to see something like a waiting period, almost,” he said. “Kind of kike the SEC, the Security and Exchange Commission. You’re going to buy a company, you have to vet it out …

“We saw that sometimes. Missouri just announced. Missouri said, ‘Yeah, we’re thinking about this.’ They spent a fair amount of time thinking about it. It was a pretty rational process.” 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Missouri, SEC
Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 2:27 pm

Missouri takes the next step toward SEC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton was granted sole authority to negotiate contracts "regarding conference realignment" by the school's board of curators Friday afternoon.

The move seems to be the next incremental step in Missouri removing itself from the Big 12 to go to the SEC. On Oct. 4, the board gave Deaton similar, but narrower authority in seeking a new conference. For the first time on Friday, Deaton did acknowledge communication between Missouri and the SEC. 

Deaton would not put a time frame on Missouri's decision saying only, "we're not putting any immediate timeline on ourselves ... We're not looking at a long time frame."

Meanwhile, a large portion of college football continues to wait on Missouri. The Big East can't move on reconstituting its league until it knows what Missouri is going to do. If Missouri leaves, the Big East may be impacted. Louisville and West Virginia have been mentioned frequently as possible Big 12 replacements. The Big East is also reportedly targeting some Conference USA schools as well.

"The next step will be resolution of the question, final resolution of the question," said curators chair Warren Erdman. "The chancellor has the authority to take all actions necessary to resolve the question."

The board also announced the school would pursue establishing an invitational basketball tournament in Kansas City as well as an annual football game in the city against "a traditional regional rival." The move seems to address concerns over the loss of the Kansas rivalry if Missouri goes to the SEC. Missouri and Kansas have played in football for 119 years and annually at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium since 2007. 

The bitter rivals also participate annually in the Big 12 basketball tournament.

The announcement can be interpreted as Missouri throwing Kansas City a bone as it heads out the door. This city will be particularly impacted by Missouri's departure. The Big 12 basketball tournament has been played here, with few exceptions, back to when the conference was formed in 1996. The annual event has a multi-million dollar impact on the city. Missouri's tournament basketball ties with the city go back to the 1970s when the old Big Eight Holiday Tournament was established.

Missouri is considering severing conference ties that go back to 1907 when it joined the old Missouri Valley Conference. That league eventually morphed into the Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12. It has been in the current Big 12 since the conference formed in 1996.

It is known that certain Missouri officials -- and alums and fans -- are tired of the Big 12's instability. Missouri would be the fourth Big 12 school to leave since June 2010. Each had essentially the same reason: Uncertainty about the future. Nebraska was spooked by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s Dec. 2009 comments about the school’s similarities with Big Ten institutions. Colorado AD Mike Bohn said publicly that Missouri’s apparent desire to the be in the Big Ten had caused his school to find a resting place in the Pac-10.

In September, A&M finally ended a contentious relationship with Texas that goes back decades. The flash point was Texas’ launch of the Longhorn Network. But that was merely a symptom, not a cause. If it hadn’t been the LHN, it would have been something else for the Aggies.

The A&M coaches and AD Bill Byrne weren’t necessarily in favor of the move but president R. Bowen Loftin pushed for the migration to the SEC. The SEC wasn’t necessarily looking for expand according to sources but when A&M came calling it was difficult to turn down a brand name in Texas. 

In this case, any negotiation of contracts by Deaton would be subject to review by university counsel. 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12, Missouri, SEC
Posted on: October 20, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 7:05 pm

Kansas' Self not worried about losing Missouri

Kansas coach Bill Self expanded on his feelings about Missouri possibly leaving the conference for the SEC. Self spoke to reporters Thursday during Big 12 basketball media day.

The coach came closer than ever Thursday to saying, “Who needs ‘em?” if Missouri leaves. He even suggested that Kansas would lose money if it played a non-conference game against its biggest rival.

“If they leave, they leave. Big deal,” Self told reporters. “You know, we don't want 'em to but if they choose to do that, they do it.

“So from our standpoint, I don't think we're going to say, ‘Aw, geez, we've got to hurry up and schedule them. I don't think anybody would feel that way. I know I wouldn't and I don't think any of our fans would.”

“I’m not saying we will [play them]. I'm not saying we won’t. I'm just saying I'm not going to make a decision on that now. I may feel that we need to continue playing them, I may feel that we don't need to continue playing them.

“I know one thing. Texas made a pretty bold statement to A&M [about the continuation of that series]. I don't know if we're in the exact same boat as that, but I really believe that what we do will not be based on what other people want us to do. It will be based on basically what's best for our program.”

I then asked Self if he had to wet his finger and check which way the wind was blowing. In other words, was this a political decision?

Self basically said KU could conceivably lose money if it played Missouri in a non-conference game at the Sprint Center, home of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.

“Here's the thing about that,” he said. “You play in the Sprint Center, you play Missouri. Great game. Now let's say you net $600,000 after you pay expenses to play that game. They take $300,000, we take $300,000.

“We make $500,000 playing a home game, so we just lost money. There would be a lot of different ways you could look at it

So getting $1 million total for a Missouri-Kansas game at the Sprint Center would be a “push” monetarily for Kansas?

“Maybe, yeah, yeah, maybe,” Self said.

“I want to make sure that I'm clear. I want Missouri to stay. It's best for our league if they stay. It's best for Kansas. It's best for other teams in our league if they stay.”

What about playing the conference tournament in Missouri with no team in the conference from Missouri?

“See, I think that’s also overrated on which side of the river ... I think it's Kansas City, you know, Kansas City ... I don't see that being a huge deal, where the building is located.”

Missouri's board of curators took no action Thursday during a regularly scheduled meeting on the Missouri-Kansas City campus. The school's next likely move would be to announce a formal withdrawl from the Big 12.  

Category: NCAAB
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