Thursday, December 01, 2011

Catching up is skeptical of Topeka in general

It must be true if it's on Twitter: OMG Mack Brown is retiring! This is 100 percent certain since it's being reported by a Topeka (???) sports-talk host named Jake Lebahn:
According to a source Texas Longhorn head coach Mack Brown will retire this Saturday after the game against Baylor.
Kansas radio guy reporting a Texas football scoop while Kirk Bohls and Chip Brown have nothing other than denials? This registers a 78 (out of 10) on the skepticism meter. There's also this from Texas:
“You can say we said it doesn’t even warrant a response.”
That seems about right, although Burnt Orange Nation brings up a valid counterpoint:
Of course, even if there was truth to the rumor, Texas SID wouldn't admit it anyway, so the response means essentially nothing. ...

The best guess is still that Brown wants to see this team complete much more of the rebuilding process than has already been achieved, but it's also the case that Brown may not have anticipated the process to be this difficult. Especially in light of the still-unstable quarterback situation without a proven difference-maker on campus that could seriously delay any major progress.

So, in summary, there don't seem to be many reasons to believe the report based on where it came from, but there are also some reasons why it isn't completely outside the realm of possibility, either.

Translation: It's B.S. unless it isn't, which is unlikely but plausible.

What is Akron doing? Akron offered its head coaching job to Jim Tressel this week. Jim Tressel! He would be an unbelievably awesome hire if this were two years ago and he didn't have an NCAA show-cause penalty hanging over his head (he also wouldn't be a candidate for jobs like Akron). FYI, a show-cause penalty basically says any violations accrued at one school stick with the coach when he goes elsewhere unless it can be demonstrated that they shouldn't; that latter part is irrelevant for Tressel given the extent of what he knew and did/didn't do at Ohio State. So Akron would be voluntarily hitting itself with massive NCAA violations in exchange for hiring Jim Tressel. Maybe that'd be a fair trade-off for a school that's gone 2-22 the past two years? I dunno. It won't matter much since Tressel apparently wasn't interested:
“While Coach Tressel has shared with us that he is not interested in coaching at Akron, he has graciously volunteered to help his alma mater however he can during the search for our next football coach.”
BTW, Tressel is an Akron alum. The more I think about it, the more I can see some logic to giving the guy a call given (a) Akron's inability to win anything the past few years, (b) the guaranteed fan-support explosion and (c) the inevitable spike in regional and national recognition that comes with hiring the guy who was Ohio State's coach for the last decade.

Rich Rodriguez will give you access: Since Rich Rodriguez will let any credible person with a pen and paper follow him around and record every detail of his life, SI took advantage and put together a breakdown of the 48 hours surrounding his introduction at Arizona. It's interesting. Read it.

The part I found most fascinating was how a couple intelligent people in the AD's office sat him down and actually, like, told him about stuff. Important stuff. Excerpt:
In a meeting before Rodriguez's introductory press conference, LaRose and Francis ran down a list of what to mention and how to mention it. Items to mention:

- Winning the Pac-12 South and the Pac-12.
- Going to the Rose Bowl.
- Arizona's weather. ("We have a dry heat here," LaRose said.)
- The Territorial cup rivalry with Arizona State. (The Wildcats had just beaten the Sun Devils.)
- Bear Down, the school motto taken from the dying words of former Arizona football and baseball player John "Button" Salmon.

LaRose also added one more piece of advice. "Don't say you don't like spicy food," she said.
That sort of administrative support was nonexistent at Michigan and would've helped a LOT in terms of not violating all the the super-secret codes nobody every told him about and thus pissing off a bunch of crotchety former players.

I also enjoyed this part:
When his kids tossed out some pricier restaurant suggestions for Thanksgiving Eve dinner, he suggested IHOP.
Mmmmmm, IHOP. I knew I liked the guy for a reason.

Woo UCLA is goin' bowling: For some unknown reason, the NCAA approved a waiver Tuesday that will allow UCLA to go to a bowl game with a 6-7 record after getting obliterated by Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. That's probably a PR move since it'd be an embarrassment to have the Pac-12 title-game loser get left out of the postseason entirely while two of the Pac-12's bowl slots go unfilled, but ... I mean ... have some consistency. ASU got denied a bowl bid last year at 6-6 because two of the six wins were over FCS teams (and that issue was created by San Jose State pulling out of a game at the last minute and hanging ASU out to dry), and the NCAA has repeatedly ruled that teams playing 13 games have to win at least seven. Except this time. For no particular reason.

Florida Atlantic finds a coach: Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini (?!?) will reportedly be Howard Schnellenberger's replacement at FAU, which looked like an on-the-rise program three years ago but then went 4-8 last year and 1-10 (guh) this year.

Pelini's name briefly popped up in a few coaching searches last offseason but had seemingly dropped off the radar over the course of this season, partially because of Nebraska's defensive backslide and partially because guys like Gus Malzahn and Brent Venables simply became more attractive candidates. But Florida Atlantic being Florida Atlantic, Malzahn and Venables weren't realistic; that's both the downside of the job and the reason a second-tier candidate like Pelini ended up getting it. In that regard, it seems like a logical fit for both parties.

The question that has to be asked (as with a lot of coordinator-turned-head-coach hires): How much of Nebraska's recent (except for this year) defensive success was because of him and how much was because of his brother? Nebraska fans don't seem totally convinced that he's anything more than a glorified defensive assistant, which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. And offense might be an issue considering his thoroughly one-sided resume. Whether all that stuff is relevant is pretty much unknowable until he has his own program (which he apparently will) and either succeeds or fails. He's not exactly a "safe" hire, but there are no safe hires when you're Florida Atlantic.

Little Pelini (who's actually the slightly older Pelini at age 46) also has a fantastic temper that complements Bo's perfectly but represents the polar opposite of the Schnellenberger-in-suits era. Commence the Boca Raton media tongue-clucking.

The Big Ten does or does not have an attendance problem: So an ad popped up on Craiglist earlier this week offering $75 to anybody who would show up at Lucas Oil Stadium in red (for Wisconsin) or green (for Michigan State) to fill a seat for the Big Ten title game. This seemed odd but not totally ridiculous since tickets are available everywhere for as little as $10, a disgustingly low amount for a conference championship game. If the secondary-market cost is $10, there's no way anybody's paying face-value prices at the ticket office. But it turned out to be a hoax:
The author of the Craigslist ad offering $75 to anyone willing to don red or dark green clothing and fill empty seats at Lucas Oil Stadium came clean to the website, explaining that he was miffed at the massive collapse in value of the tickets he purchased long ago with the intent of scalping them.
Nice. I'd feel a little bad for the guy if he weren't a scalping whore. BTW, the game is actually shockingly close to a sellout; there are about 2,000 tickets left from Wisconsin's allotment. There are also about 10,000 tickets available on StubHub, so it's only a sellout in the most technical sense possible.

The Urban Meyer recruiting question: Lost amid the Urban Meyer media lovefest is a little bit of an interwebs-centered debate about whether the guy is actually a good recruiter. This seems ridiculous on the surface and is definitely a nitpick but has its basis in this: Meyer was at Bowling Green for two years, Utah for two years and Florida for six, and Florida hasn't exactly been unbeatable for the last two years.

There are basically two not-really-exclusive sides to the argument: the "look at the rankings" side and the "look at the post-Meyer plunge" side. The rankings have been ridiculous: His five classes at Florida were ranked second, 11th, third, first and second by Rivals. Those also mean very little if there's any truth to the rumor that he recruits based on the Rivals/Scout/ESPN rankings and not scouting; getting the highest-ranked players doesn't necessarily mean getting the right players. The post-Meyer plunge has been obvious everywhere (although Utah has been OK) but also might be due to, like, not having Urban Meyer anymore. It's hard to say if that's a talent issue or a coaching issue.

Here's the thing: There's no way to know which side is right (or which side is more right). His recruiting won't even matter until three or four years in, and a guy who's winning nine or 10 games a year is gonna attract enough talent solely through winning to continue winning with some regularity. I also feel comfortable saying he can coach up lesser talent since I doubt Utah and Bowling Green were stacked with elite players just waiting to be guided to 10-win seasons.

If Meyer's still alive and coaching in six or seven years and is going through a Florida-style blah stretch at OSU, there'll be enough data for a hypothesis. As of now, it's just an interesting question. And if I'm an Ohio fan, I'm waaaay more worried about the short-term NCAA damage than the long-term anything.

A timely decision: The NCAA decided Wednesday that the stats from the Michigan-Western Michigan game (the season opener) will in fact be considered official even though the game ended with about a minute left in the third quarter because of lightning. Michigan and the Big Ten were already recognizing the stats; the NCAA was counting the game as official but the stats as nonexistent, which made no sense whatsoever and therefore was exactly what I expected from the NCAA.

The undoubtedly useful NCAA Statistics and Records Advisory Board apparently changed that ruling last month:
The advisory board unanimously voted during a conference call in early November to change the rule, determining that if the win-loss record from a game counts, so should the statistics.
Hey, that actually makes sense! Amazing.

Upshot: Fitzgerald Toussaint is now officially credited with 1,011 yards this season by the NCAA. Brandon Herron also now has two career touchdowns instead of zero (he's a linebacker, so duh).

Holy pants: Denard Robinson's pants from the Notre Dame game this year went up for sale this week on Michigan's official website. I'm not Stephen Ross and therefore couldn't afford them; they ended up selling for $1,310.00.

The reason I'm posting this: Why doesn't Denard Robinson get some/most of that money? There are infinite reasons pay-for-play won't work (not in any useful form, anyway), but there's no good reason a player isn't allowed to make money off his personal game-used stuff that the school can turn around and sell it on its official website for gajillions of dollars. I don't think a free-market system would be viable -- shenanigans would be an issue since you know Bobby Lowder would voluntarily buy every game-used Auburn jersey for like $10,000 each -- but game-used stuff is valuable almost entirely because of some immeasurable sentimental attachment to the player who wore it, so that player should really get some kind of kickback from the school's regulated sales of said stuff. IMO, game-used equipment/apparel has to be viewed differently from a standard replica jersey in that regard.

Counterargument: Slippery slope etcetera etcetera.


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