Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Miami knows what's up

Remember when Miami went boom back in August? The current-player penalties turned out to be pretty insignificant, which was spectacular news for Al Golden but mostly meaningless for an institution in a lake-deep pile of potentially disastrous muck. One day in the (probably distant) future, the NCAA is gonna come back with a notice of allegations that's about 8,000 pages long and includes a bunch of awful things, and awful penalties will follow.

Miami's response:

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami is not going to a bowl this season, self-imposing a ban that school officials say was "necessary" in response to an ongoing NCAA investigation into the university's compliance practices.

Players were informed Sunday that Friday's game against Boston College will be the last this season, even though the Hurricanes have enough wins to qualify for a postseason appearance. By self-imposing a ban, Miami is trying to lessen the impact of whatever sanctions the NCAA hands down once its investigation ends.

I'm not sure there's ever been a self-imposed bowl ban before. Given the NCAA's typically glacial speed, it's pretty unlikely Miami would've been looking at any immediate punishment; there's a 90-day window after the notice of allegations (which is probably a ways off considering the depth of the story) before a hearing with the relevant people, and the penalties aren't finalized until some time after that. We're talking, like, April at the earliest. In other words, this year's Miami team had already dealt with all the NCAA penalties it was gonna get.

But here's the thing: Donna Shalala isn't an idiot. Taking a one-year ban up front is a token gesture for a 6-5 team that was headed to the Meaningless Bowl but also might make a two-year (or three-year or whatever) ban a little less likely, which is the ultimate goal when you've got a 15-foot-thick NCAA file that's gonna end up being categorized somewhere between "really bad" and "totally devastating." Miami's in damage-control mode and is sacrificing one meaningless game to try to save a a couple others that might actually mean something. It's a chess move with no real downside (although I'd feel terrible* for seniors like Jacory Harris and Sean Spence if they weren't directly involved).

I guess this is also a chess move:
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Tuesday that Ohio State would not penalize itself by keeping the football team from making a postseason trip as a way of mitigating potential NCAA sanctions.
Obvsly. Why worry about the NCAA when you can send your unwatchable 6-6 team to the the Motor City Bowl to play (insert MAC team here) in front of 27,000 people? W00t.

Ohio State and Miami are in remarkably similar situations right now; it's hilarious to watch one athletic department do things the logical way and the other do everything the stupidly defiant way. The big difference is that Miami knows what's up and is headed straight for damage control while Ohio State still refuses to believe that anything bad could possibly happen at Ohio State since Jim Tressel is practically Jesus and everybody gets a new car every three months and so on and so forth.

That's their story and they're sticking to it. Nothing changes. The consistency is both impressive and amusing given the unending flood of information for the last five months that finally resulted in a "failure to monitor" charge about two weeks ago. They did deviate just long enough after that letter to go "crap crap crap" and slash a few scholarships, but that was a strategic blip.

Everything is fine. The infidels will be defeated.

*I do actually feel sorry for Al Golden. He took a seemingly good job that looks a lot less good right now and can't really bail without looking like the East Coast version of Lane Kiffin.


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