Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Catching up is still engorged with holiday ham

So ... stuff happened and I felt zero need/desire to get off my couch long enough to write about it. Lo siento, happy holidays, etc. FYI, I'm avoiding actual game stuff (BAYLOR WASHINGTON WWWHHEEEEEE) and saving that for my post-bowl recap-type thing.

Justin Wilcox to Washington??? Wow. What's interesting here isn't so much Washington getting Justin Wilcox but Wilcox taking a lateral-at-best move just to escape the raging tire fire that is Tennessee. Everybody wants out: Four coaches have bailed in the past week, including Wilcox, whose defense was pretty much the one bright spot for UT last year. It's a disaster.

As for the Washington angle, Nick Holt got canned right after the Baylor hilarity and it took all of two days to bring in one of the most desirable D-coordinators in the country. Wilcox is good; he was being talked up as a candidate for the ASU head coaching job and some other lower-level ones but apparently didn't get a viable offer. He's also a Northwest guy: He came to Tennessee from Boise State and worked/played at Oregon before that, so Washington makes slightly more sense in terms of the "lateral move" thing. Steve Sarkisian is S-M-R-T.

Not so S-M-R-T: Derek Dooley. Between the DeAnthony Arnett debacle (more on that momentarily) and the pulling-scholarships-for-inexplicable-reasons thing ...
“After being committed for 11 months, the reason the recruiter Terry Joseph told Imani and then Derek Dooley told me was that they hired a new RB coach from South Carolina and don’t know if he’s a scat guy or spread guy, so they were re-evaluating backs and that Imani should look around at other schools.’"
... he's not making a lot of friends. He's also looking for a new D-coordinator, a new linebackers coach (Peter Sirmon is joining Wilcox at Washington), a new receivers coach (Charlie Baggett is "retiring") and a new special-teams coach (Eric Russell resigned to join Mike Leach at Washington State), and he's doing all that with basically zero job security following two craptacular seasons. Good luck with that.

DeAnthony Arnett headed in the general vicinity of home: DeAnthony Arnett was a relatively big-time recruit last year last year out of Michigan and ended up at Tennessee, in large part because his high school coach was Charlie Baggett (see above). He played up to his rankings as a freshman with 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns but now wants to transfer closer to home, although his reasoning isn't exactly the same as Wilcox's:
His father, who was sick during the recruitment process, worsened and has had two surgeries -- one for his heart and one to place a permanent stent in his arm for dialysis -- since Arnett returned to Saginaw for winter break. Also, his family's economic situation worsened with a reduction in monthly Social Security checks, according to a family member.
Yikes. He asked to transfer to Michigan or Michigan State, both of which are within about an hour of Saginaw. Derek Dooley's response:
Tennessee and head coach Derek Dooley have granted Arnett a release, but only to Mid-American Conference schools, citing a policy that did not allow transfers to schools Tennessee recruits against and plays against.

In the last 10 years, however, Tennessee has not scheduled a Big Ten team, but in three of the past four years, the Volunteers have played a MAC school.

Nice. That was both petty and unjustifiable and resulted in everybody everywhere skewering Dooley, at which point he backtracked and granted Arnett a full release. I'll give him a little credit but not much since I'm guessing that was largely a PR move and had nothing to do with Arnett going home. Regardless, Arnett's now free to transfer to either school* and will probably be granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA, meaning he should be available to play in the fall.

*UPDATE: He's headed to Michigan State.

Notre Dame doesn't really need an O-coordinator: Brian Kelly promoted defensive backs coach Chuck Martin to offensive coordinator (?!?) over the weekend to replace Charley Molnar, who recently accepted the head coaching job at UMass.

Allow me to explain why this isn't totally inexplicable. First, Kelly is the playcaller and de facto offensive coordinator, so regardless of what the actual coordinator's role is, it isn't nearly as relevant as it is at most schools. Second, Martin was Kelly's successor as head coach at Grand Valley State and was promoted from D-coordinator to head coach and offensive coordinator. That went OK: Martin finished 76-7 with two national championships at GVSU. There's presumably some value to having a defensive background since it gives you a sort of reverse-psychology idea about what works best offensively. Kelly would know since he took the exact same path Martin did (D-coordinator to head coach and O-coordinator) when he got the head job at Grand Valley back in 1991.

So yeah ... Martin is basically gonna be the right-hand man on offense rather than having a relatively meaningless role on defense. Whether he'll actually have any effect on the playcalling or related results is tough to say; Grand Valley was definitely more run-oriented under Martin, FWIW. I'm pretty sure finding a competent quarterback is far more important than who gets the nominal title of offensive coordinator.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 are defining the distant future: I was slightly terrified when rumors started circulating the interwebz about some secretive Big Ten announcement. Possibilities: expansion, moving the Michigan-Ohio State game and moving the conference title game to Random City. That's pretty much an inclusive list of all Big Ten decisions worthy of a press conference.

The actual news:
The Pac-12 and Big Ten have agreed to a long-term interconference scheduling "collaboration" that, if successful, could have far-reaching ramifications for both of their memberships.
Intriguing. Upshot:
... by the 2017 season, the two conferences are expected to have a full, 12-game Pac-12/Big Ten schedule in place, meaning each Pac-12 team will play a separate Big Ten program on an annual basis.
There it is. Reaction: Ummm ... yay? I like the idea of forcing everybody in the conference to play an actual nonconference game against an actual team with some national appeal. I also like the idea of Michigan playing within driving distance. The downsides: This is actually in lieu of a ninth Big Ten game (the nine-game conference schedule was supposed to start in 2017), which would have helped balance some of the current scheduling oddities, and it pretty much eliminates the possibility of Michigan-Alabama or Ohio State-Texas or whatever. I probably won't see a regular-season game between a Big Ten team and an SEC team until Craig James is president, which will be never. But since those games are hardly happening anyway, I'm still giving whatever this deal is called a thumbs-up-ish. I'll also have forgotten about it by the time it starts.

On a semi-related note, Larry Scott wants a Pac-12 team playing in China. I'm not sure what to say about that.

What is Michael Dyer doing? As you may or may not recall, Auburn suspended Michael Dyer indefinitely about a month ago for a violation of team rules (what else?). Every Auburn message board immediately exploded on the assumption that Dyer would be transferring, which seemed plausible at first and much more likely when this stuff started coming out from Arkansas State players:
This status goes to my fellow Arkansas State guy Michael Dyer .. #WelcomeToThePack! #Winning!”

@RedWolforDie: Michael Dyer to ASU. Welcome to pack bro!!
Yeah, that's the same Arkansas State that hired Gus Malzahn two weeks ago. Bringing an elite-ish SEC running back into the Sun Belt doesn't even seem fair but would be swell for Malzahn if it actually happens. Whether it will is a matter of debate (this is from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette):
The rumors of Michael Dyer to ASU are false. He plans to meet with Chizik and remain at Auburn.
That's ... umm ... straightforward. We should know either way in the near future since he'll have to be enrolled somewhere for the spring semester to stay eligible.

Penn State is like coaching leprosy: There's a pretty good chance that Penn State will eventually hire a coach; I'm putting the odds at 99 percent. That coach will presumably be somebody from the NFL since all the publicly known (and legitimate) candidates are currently not working in college.

Titans coach Mike Munchak reportedly is at the top of the list but came out and said this ...
"I love my alma mater, but I have no interest in being the head coach at Penn State. I never want to leave Tennessee. I have a great deal of respect for Penn State, and I hope they find a great coach there."
... and then leaked this:
Mike Munchak has repeatedly stated he would remain at Tennessee, but a source close to him said Munchak is struggling with the concept that he can "fix and make right" his alma mater.

"He loves his school and his heart is torn," the source said Saturday. "He really fits what they want and need to a tee."
So yeah. The only kinda-for-sure thing is that Munchak can have the job if he wants it, which he might.

The other candidates (depending whom you believe) are Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and 49ers O-coordinator Greg Roman, who worked at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh until this year. Some credible people were saying late last week that O'Brien had moved to the top of the list and was actually negotiating a contract, but that seems doubtful now given the lack of actual news and the latest stuff about Munchak.

I'm curious whether any current and respectable college coaches were considered or if the job is just so horrifying right now that nobody was even interested in interviewing.

We can't afford to, like, spend money and stuff: The NCAA put together a decent plan over the summer to allow ("allow" being the key word) schools to provide $2,000 in annual stipend money to scholarship athletes and guarantee multiyear scholarships, which really should be a hard-and-fast rule and would help mitigate a lot of oversigning shenanigans.

The stipend thing got overturned a couple weeks ago because of objections from 125 schools, most of which were lower-level ones that couldn't afford it and whined about the "competitive advantage" it would provide the schools that could. Response: duh. The point is that the schools that can do it should do it, because there's no reason the athletic departments and Texas and Ohio State and Alabama need to have a $40 million profit margin while the athletes are getting none of that. If you can't do it, don't. The idea that Eastern Michigan is on a level playing field with Michigan is laughable to begin with; that shouldn't stop the adoption of rules that benefit as many people as possible, which is more important than allowing Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky and the like to continue pretending to be D-I teams.

And now there's this:
More than 75 schools are asking to override a plan approved in October to allow multiyear athletic scholarships rather than the one-year renewable awards schools currently provide. That's the minimum number of dissenters needed for reconsideration by the Division I Board of Directors when it meets next month in Indianapolis at the annual NCAA convention. The NCAA announced the change the Friday before Christmas.
Argh. Multiyear scholarships aren't even a competitive issue; everyone has the same number of scholarships each year, so it's just a matter of making sure they're used correctly and not available for reallocated on an annual basis a la Nick Saban. Here's a quote that could come from any SEC school (or Houston Nutt's agent) but actually comes from Indiana State:
"Problem is, many coaches, especially at the (Football Championship Subdivision) level, in all sports, are usually not around for five years and when the coach leaves, the new coach and institution may be `stuck' with a student-athlete they no longer want (conduct issues, grades, etc.) or the new coach may have a completely different style of offense/defense that the student-athlete no longer fits into. Yet, the institution is 'locked in' to a five-year contract potentially with someone that is of no athletic usefulness to the program."
Nice. It'd be a real tragedy if a kid who's of no "athletic usefulness" after a few years got a chance to finish his degree via the scholarship the school offered him out of high school. Boise State's objection is also pathetic:
... a "recruiting disaster" that would encourage a "culture of brokering" and pit wealthy schools with larger recruiting budgets against their less-well-heeled brethren.
That's already exactly what happens. Making scholarships a two-way deal (players currently can't get out without losing eligibility, but the school can stop renewing a scholarship and start using it again immediately) only makes things fair for the student-athletes.

The good news: Those objections probably won't matter, as the override can apparently be overriden with a five-eighths vote by athletic directors next month. Fancily titled NCAA vice president of governance David Berst said this:
"The overriding concern had to do with the time to prepare and plan (for a change) rather than objecting to the concept," he said. "I'm anticipating the rule will still be in effect (after the next board meeting)."
Hopefully he's right.

Independence Bowl trophy derp: There's something wrong with your lovely crystal football:

Nice. Blame Truman the Tiger, BTW. Blame him for everything.

Why are you doing that? The joke of a game that featured a meh Illinois team and a worse-than-meh UCLA team began with the ref flipping an Oreo instead of a coin. I don't know or care why; I just wanted to point out that it was an appropriately inexplicable start to a game between two teams that had no business playing in a bowl.

Jordan Jefferson is a walking pity party: Hey, remember how Jordan Jefferson got arrested after that bar fight and charged with a bunch of awful-sounding crimes? Here's what he learned:
“Whenever I was going through that, I was questioning why it had to be me to go through this. ...

"It’s a terrible situation for anybody to go through. I was mainly focused on getting the position back and finding ways to contribute to this team to help to get victories instead of answering questions about that situation."

“I’m back with my team, back with the coaches I love, playing the game I love, so there’s really no bitterness. We’re playing in the national championship game, so it’s all good.”
I really have nothing to add, but The Daily has a pretty good piece that spends about 1,500 words justifiably destroying his entitlement and lack of remorse. It's worth a read.

RGIII is probably gonzo: Unsurprising (there's no possible way his stock can go any higher) but still depressing. Also gone: Justin Blackmon, Vontaze Burfict, Jonathan Martin, David DeCastro, Riley Reiff, Whitney Mercilus and Mohammed Sanu.

I wasn't saying boo-urns.

I love the Iowa State Hawkbucks: Joe Arpaio's unwavering desire to annoy people doesn't stop at law enforcement:

What's the difference?

Gratuitous picture: I have no reason for posting this other than the obvious one:



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