Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Silas Redd makes it official

Silas Redd is headed to USC, according to Silas Redd and USC and every media source in existence:
Penn State junior tailback Silas Redd has confirmed he will transfer to USC, where he will be eligible immediately for the Trojans.

"We welcome Silas Redd to the Trojan family,'' Southern Cal’s athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "When the NCAA presented the option to transfer, Silas and his family put a lot of research into making this decision.
So that's that. I said yesterday that I'd Ctrl+C/Ctrl+P my already-written analysis and will do so now.

The standard "USC has 47 five-star running backs" argument doesn't apply anymore. The depth chart goes like this: senior Curtis McNeal (an average-ish starter), sophomore D.J. Morgan, nothing. Redd's probably better than either one of those guys -- he did put up 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last year behind Penn State's mediocre line -- and therefore would will probably get at least some regular carries immediately.

According to Pedro Moura of ESPN Los Angeles, Redd is coming in as the nominal backup:
Silas Redd will come in as Curtis McNeal’s backup. Expect them to split carries by midseason.
I'd agree with that. Redd put up 1,200 yards (at 5.09 a carry) and seven touchdowns last year for a team with a nonexistent passing game and a meh offensive line. McNeal is decent -- he had 1,005 yards on almost 100 fewer carries than Redd had -- but, IMO, largely benefited from (rather than significantly contributed to) USC's total awesomeness on offense. He's just a guy, whereas Redd was an All-Big Ten dude last year despite the aforementioned disadvantages. A cursory glance at the Pac-12 starters leads me to conclude that he's probably the best running back in the conference who doesn't play for Oregon (he's actually pretty comparable to Stepfan Taylor).

And whether or not McNeal is the nominal starter doesn't really matter; USC now has two solid-to-good running backs with varying skill sets to complement the best quarterback in the country and arguably the best receiver in the country. There's a reason this team is probably gonna be No. 1 when the (mostly meaningless) polls come out in a couple weeks.

BTW, Redd and McNeal are both juniors and therefore could end up essentially splitting carries for each of the next two years; Lane Kiffin would probably be on board with that given the likely playcalling shift that'll go along with the necessary indoctrination of a totally untested quarterback in 2013.

As for Penn State, there is no replacement since Stepfon Green shuffled off the eligibility coil via graduation. Curtis Drake had the most touches of anybody else last year but switched to cornerback in spring and then got kicked off the team back in June; nobody else on the roster had more than 13 carries last year, and those 13 carries belonged to converted quarterback/wideout Bill Belton, a pretty fast sophomore who was a somewhat highly touted recruit but is still a converted quarterback/wideout with 13 career carries. He will not be Silas Redd this year. Neither will true freshman Akeel Lynch (no matter what anybody on the Penn State-centric interwebs wants to believe). It will not matter.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Catching up now hates all running backs

That was quick (that's what she said): Michael Dyer's long and storied career at Arkansas State has come to a totally surprising end:
JONESBORO, Ark. -- Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer has been dismissed from the Arkansas State squad for violating team rules.

Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn announced the decision Saturday, saying: "I am truly
disappointed that it didn't work out here at ASU for Mike. I wish Mike nothing but the best in the future."
Guh. "Violation of team rules" apparently equals "having a gun and weed in his car while
going 96 mph." The back story: Dyer got pulled over back in March and ticketed for speeding
(96 in a 70). That stop was investigated by the Arkansas State Police, and the report released Monday included video of the cop doing a bunch of hilariously unethical things (like dumping the weed) to make sure none of the really bad stuff ended up going on record. Dyer was totally on board, obviously. Result: Dyer gone.

He'll always have that one play in that one kinda-important game:

AIRBHG has no mercy: Iowa running back etcetera etcetera insert malfeasance/injury/misfortune
here. This month's variation:
Johnson was pulled over for speeding on a motorcycle in Iowa City on Saturday night -- doing 60 in a 25 mph zone -- but did not immediately pull over for officers. Then, after being pulled over, he put the motorcycle in the grass behind another vehicle and told officers it belonged to a fictional "Jake," according to the complaint.

Eluding is a serious misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Two days earlier, Johnson was ticketed by Iowa City police for maintaining a disorderly house after neighbors complained of a loud party at his home.
Unsurprisingly, Johnson has been (temporarily) smoted from the roster via Kirk Ferentz, which leaves spring co-starter Damon Bullock and his 10 career carries as the only available back who has ever accumulated a statistic in a college game. There's also relatively highly touted freshman Greg Garmon, who was arrested last month on a misdemeanor marijuana charge but avoided a suspension.

Hilarious postscript: Johnson is the fifth (!!!) Iowa running back arrested/injured/dismissed this offseason. Hilarious postscript to the hilarious postscript:

More running back fun: Ohio State freshman Brionte Dunn, a big-time recruit and potential
starter given Jordan Hall's awful-sounding foot owie, was cited for stupidity Saturday
night for the second time in as many months:
Freshman Bri'onte Dunn was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop Saturday night in Alliance, Ohio. According to police, Dunn nearly hit a patrol car before he was pulled over. Officers allegedly found a pipe and small amounts of marijuana in the car.
Dunn also was involved in some shenanigans about a month ago, when he was arrested and charged with (or possibly just cited for, depending on your interpretation of the police report) failure to control.


BTW, if/when Dunn gets suspended, the depth chart will be severely lacking guys who aren't
wrecking-ball types; Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith were listed as Hall's backups in the spring
(Dunn was nominally behind them) and are both 230-plus pounds. Freshman Warren Ball is closer
to Dunn's size at around 200 pounds and will be presumably be in the mix, even if it's by

Obligatory legal advice:

Do that.

I am shocked and appalled: Rob Bolden has finally crossed the threshold:
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden visited LSU over the weekend, asource close to the Tigers confirmed Sunday.

A source confirmed Monday morning that Bolden hasn't been on Penn State's team for more than a week. He was technically off the team once he was released from his scholarship -- before the NCAA's sanctions against the university were handed down, the source said.

This is what I wrote when he almost transferred (for the third time) back in May:
I have no idea why he's still at Penn State; he probably won't be by August ... or maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, I have no idea what to make of the LSU thing; Zach Mettenberger will be the starter this year and next year barring something bad happening, which means Bolden would be transferring into a backup role 2,000 miles from home (he's from near Detroit) when there are presumably MAC and/or FCS schools that might actually give him the opportunity to, like, play (and probably complete more than 39.3 percent of his passes). Whateva.

Daily Silas Redd update: He's probably gone:
Penn State running back Silas Redd is strongly leaning toward transferring to USC, sources told ESPN's Joe Schad.

Redd left Los Angeles on Monday after spending lots of time with Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods over the weekend, according to the sources.

A source said Penn State's leading rusher from last season will arrive from California this evening, then plans to drive to State College tomorrow, presumably to visit with Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien.

Redd will sit down with his family Monday night to discuss a potential transfer and could announce his decision as early as Tuesday afternoon, two sources close to Redd told ESPN.com's Josh Moyer.
I will either Ctrl+C/Ctrl+P my previous analysis or be impressed by Bill O'Brien's recruiting skillz whenever Redd actually does something; sounds like it'll be tomorrow.

The Big East is talkin' about stuff: There is a plan. The plan includes a lockbox:
The Big East Conference has discussed starting a new bowl game for its champion, likely in Florida, starting with the 2014 season, according to sources at Big East Media Days in Newport, R.I.
Because there's definitely a need for another bowl game. I understand the reasoning (establishing something with an inherent Big East connection that has controllable TV rights) but don't see why that couldn't be negotiated within the confines of the gajillion current bowls, some of which would undoubtedly be willing to upgrade from a Mediocre School A-Mediocre School B matchup to one that includes the Big East champ.

There's also this:
As opposed to an East-West Divisional format, momentum in the Big East is for a "zipper concept" splitting natural rivals like Boise State and San Diego State and Houston and SMU, who would then play each year in a potential 6-1-1 format, sources said.
The goal: ensure maximum travel and 0 percent recognition of the divisions due to a complete lack of geographical coherency. This is what happens without a commissioner.

Just because: Watch this:

WATCH IT. I love that guy.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Big Ten scheduling argh

All that stuff I wrote about the Big Ten and the blessing-in-disguise-ness of the end of that Pac-12 scheduling dealie was rendered meaningless Thursday when Jim Delany said exactly the opposite of everything he'd previously said about going to a nine-game schedule.

Details from ESPN:
Don't expect to see a nine-game Big Ten schedule any time soon.

Commissioner Jim Delany said at Big Ten media days Thursday that league schools are "of a unanimous mind to stay at eight games" in the conference schedule. 
Ummm wut?

Flashback: The Big Ten voted to go to a nine-game schedule (starting in 2017) last year and then backtracked when the Pac-12 thing came up, at which point Delany said with no ambiguity whatsoever that the options were (a) playing nine conference games or (b) finalizing the deal with the Pac-12. Here's the exact quote:

"You know, if we hadn’t done the collaboration, we’d do nine," Delany said of the Big Ten's league slate. "If we do the collaboration, we’ll do eight. So, we’re able to attract a higher quality of game. We’re not expanding the number of games, we’ll still play 12.

"The question is, are you gonna play eight quality conference games and assure there’s a ninth quality game in the mix, one way or the other? ... The idea was to upgrade the quality of the schedules, either through nine or through the collaboration."

Why "if we hadn't done the collaboration, we'd do nine" became "a unanimous mind to stay at eight games" in a span of three months is unknown. Delany based his explanation on the implementation of the playoff-type thing and the need to "demonstrate strength relative to other conferences." There's some logic there if it actually happens -- the Michigan-Alabama game probably wouldn't have been scheduled if Michigan had another conference game to deal with and thus one fewer home game either this year or next year (nine conference games means a four home/five away conference schedule every other year) -- but there's a reason I have to include an "if it actually happens" qualifier. Wisconsin hasn't played a real nonconference road game since 2005 (!) and can't just schedule four MAC-rifices and call that "a demonstration of strength relative to other conferences." The MAC doesn't count.

In the puppy dogs/candy/fireworks world, everybody schedules a Game of the Century every year; in reality, about three teams do that and the other nine schedule de facto bye weeks to get the cash money from the extra home game. Money always wins.

And the three (or whatever) games of national interest that do get scheduled won't do anything about the inequality created via the current cross-divisional setup (example: Wisconsin playing Minnesota every year and Ohio State playing Michigan every year), which would be sooooo much better with just one more cross-divisional game, even if it's a rotational one. Forcing Wisconsin to play Nebraska/Michigan/Michigan State and giving Ohio State one of Minnesota/Northwestern/Iowa would kinda help mitigate that have-an-extra-win advantage. UNIMPORTANT. DOLLAR SIGNS WWWHHEEEEEEE!

BTW, the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC are all playing nine games already; only the SEC and Big Ten are holding out at this point. I dunno what that means but would be interested in some sort of collaboration-type thing with the SEC since it's gonna be pretty tough to find a lot of Pac-12/Big 12/ACC teams that are both (a) willing to set up a game and (b) worthy of putting on the schedule. Viva the Michigan-Notre Dame deal.

So ... yeah. All the benefits of a mandated ninth real game are going away in favor of the opportunity to play one more nationally relevant nonconference game that probably won't actually get scheduled in most cases. I'm optimistic that the schools that matter will do it (at least most years) to avoid getting laughed at come playoff time; I'm not that optimistic, though.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Catching up does stupid (and stripy!) things

This sounds painful and potentially significant: Devon Kennard might be out for the season:
USC defensive end Devon Kennard has suffered a tear of his pectoral muscle and is slated to undergo surgery next week, a source close to the player said Thursday night.

Kennard, a senior slated to be a starter, is expected to be out at least 2-3 months and could miss the entire 2012 season, depending on the severity of the tear, which will be determined next week.
That's bad-news bears for USC. Kennard was a mega recruit a few years ago who's had a bunch of minor injuries but got regular playing time last year as a nominal backup and situational pass rusher; he had a respectable two sacks, four tackles for loss and 29 tackles and was thus expected to step into the starting spot at defensive end that was vacated by early draft entry Nick Perry. It's worth noting that Kennard and other defensive end Wes Horton would've been the only guys on the D-line with any meaningful experience. Not so much anymore (at least not for the next two or three months).

The defense probably will still be better overall given that the back seven was hilariously young last year and returns intact other than at middle linebacker, where Chris Galippo's graduation has left somewhat of a hole, but whether "better overall" equals "national championship worthy" remains to be seen. USC gave up 35-plus points four times last year and was 64th in pass efficiency and 54th in yardage despite the presence of Perry and Kennard in most passing situations. There will be a must-score-40-points-to-win game at some point. In case you're wondering, the Oregon game is in L.A. on November 3.

Get a cab, man: Fitzgerald Toussaint. Argh:
Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has been suspended indefinitely from the team after being arrested Saturday evening on a DUI charge.

Saline (Mich.) Police Chief Larry Hrinik confirmed Toussaint's arrest. He said that at the time of the arrest, Toussaint's blood alcohol level was .12. Michigan's legal limit is .08.
Again: Argh. Toussaint finished with 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns last year despite splitting carries for about the first half of the year and then missing most of the Michigan State game with a relatively minor injury; he's legit and easily Michigan's best running back (unless you wanna count Denard, in which case OK).

The good news: He's never been in trouble before (he's a redshirt junior) and likely won't miss much time as long as he doesn't do anything stupid between now and the opener. The bad news: The opener is against Alabama. A suspension would be problematic. Vincent Smith is OK as a third-down type and Thomas Rawls is OK as a between-the-tackles guy; neither one is comparable at this point to Toussaint, although they'd probably be acceptable fill-ins against Air Force and UMass if whatever punishment ends up lasting for more than one week.

Brady Hoke coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak:
“I don't know yet. ... (He's) going to pay the price for poor judgments, which a lot of 18 to 23-year-old kids make, and then we'll make a decision down the road."
So we'll see. And on a related "decision down the road" note:
Michigan sophomore defensive end Frank Clark has been suspended from the football team after he was charged with second-degree home invasion, which is a felony.

Clark allegedly stole a MacBook Air laptop out of a Stockwell Hall dorm room. He has been arraigned and faces a preliminary exam on Aug. 2 in the 14th District Court.
Yeeeaaah that sounds pretty bad. Clark had one of those breakout-type things at the end of last year but was nominally backing up Brennan Beyer at weakside defensive end; his loss would be not totally insignificant but not exactly comparable to Toussaint's.

BTW, Michigan is now up to sixth in the Fulmer Cup standings (although Will Campbell's hilarious and relatively innocuous arrest counts for like half of the points). Gack.

More ANGAR: There's a uniform for the opener against 'Bama. Commence old-man-shaking-fist-at-cloud reaction:

/shakes fist at cloud.

Standard disclaimer: Michigan's road unis change all the time and are nowhere near as sacred as the home unis, which DO NOT TOUCH. And the changes above are relatively minor: (a) The typical maize piping around the numbers is missing and (b) the shoulders have a weird maize-stripe-and-block-M combo going on. The latter is a common theme with all the various alternate-ish jerseys that have been rolled out over the past year; Dave Brandon hates plain shoulders or something. I hate anything but plain shoulders. This is a war I'm not winning.

And one more Michigan-related item: Darryl Stonum is headed to Baylor:
Former Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum is transferring to Baylor for his final year of eligibility, according to AnnArbor.com.
A reminder from January, when Stonum got booted:
Stonum missed the entire season while on suspension because of a drunken-driving arrest (his second) but was expected back next year, when he would have nominally filled Junior Hemingway's spot as the bombs-away receiver. He was also a very good kick returner who was never adequately replaced. Sadly, he won't be back at all because he's apparently incapable of following simple directions like "show up to probation meetings" and "don't drive after losing your license."
Before he was doing a lot of inadvisable things, Stonum was a starting-caliber wideout with the talent to be something more; his production was always a little lacking because he didn't have that thing -- it'd probably be best described as ball-in-the-air body-adjustment ability -- that Braylon Edwards and David Terrell and all the other unstoppable guys before him did. But he's fast and tall and presumably still talented and will be eligible immediately as a grad-student transfer, which is swell for Baylor even if Terrance Williams (957 yards and 11 touchdowns) and Tevin Reese (877 yards and seven touchdowns) are back. Stonum will most likely take Kendall Wright's spot on the outside, allowing Reese to stay in the slot and Art Briles to put three All-Big-12-ish receivers on the field at the same time.

It should be noted that former Oregon uber recruit Lache Seastrunk is expected to start at running back after transferring last year; in other words, the offense should still be pretty ridiculous as long as RGIII replacement Nick Florence is anything other than bad.

It could have been worse: Penn States's alternative to getting reamed by the NCAA was getting eliminated by the NCAA:
If Penn State had not accepted the package of NCAA sanctions announced Monday, the Nittany Lions faced a historic death penalty of four years, university president Rodney Erickson told "Outside the Lines" on Wednesday afternoon.

In a separate interview, NCAA president Mark Emmert confirmed that a core group of NCAA school presidents had agreed early last week that an appropriate punishment was no Penn State football for four years.
Great googly moogly. A four-year death sentence would've been a literal, not-survivable death sentence; I was among the OUTRAGED and thought a year would've been sufficient. I'm undecided whether I'm more amazed that the actual punishment now looks not so bad or that Rodney Erickson got to choose his own death rather than having it piled on top of him.

Daily Silas Redd update: Silas Redd met with USC on Thursday but apparently has not yet made a decision on whether/where he'll be transferring. His next step: goin' places.
Penn State running back Silas Redd met with USC coach Lane Kiffin for three hours Thursday in Connecticut, and a source said "it went really well."

Redd will travel to California for a visit Saturday, a source said, and may decide on whether he will leave Penn State by Monday.

Redd, Penn State's leading rusher last season, is intrigued by the chance to compete for a national championship and that could overwhelm the emotional part of him wanting to stay for his teammates, the source said.
The standard "USC has 47 five-star running backs" argument doesn't apply anymore. The depth chart goes like this: senior Curtis McNeal (an average-ish starter), sophomore D.J. Morgan, nothing. Redd's probably better than either one of those guys -- he did put up 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last year behind Penn State's mediocre line -- and therefore would probably get at least some regular carries immediately.

FYI, USC is at its scholarship limit (and the Penn State waivers don't apply to schools that have their own restrictions) but will likely have a spot open by the time the season rolls around due to academics/malfeasance/whatever. Redd would undoubtedly be worth finding a spot for since (a) he's got two years of eligibility left and (b) there's a lack of both talent and depth at running back. And as a reminder:
The NCAA has said players can transfer from Penn State and be eligible immediately.
BTW, Redd was supposed to be part of the (incredibly uncomfortable) Penn State delegation at Big Ten media days but bailed at the last minute; I wouldn't expect him back.

Tommy Rees gets his sentence: What the headline-type thing says:
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees will perform 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to misdemeanor counts of resisting law enforcement and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor in connection with his arrest outside a party in South Bend, Ind.

Rees, 20, received a 30-day suspended jail sentence and 11 months of probation, and he must write a letter of apology to the officers involved in his May 3 arrest.
Upshot: No jail time (assuming no additional screwups). The suspended-sentence ruling was a fortunate one since 30 days in jail at this point would have completely removed him from fall camp and made him a non-option, which would have decreased the likelihood of seeing this on September 1:


Woo bowl names: Scratch that stuff about the Valley of the Sun Bowl:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Insight Bowl has become the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl under a new sponsorship agreement.

The change was announced Monday by the Valley of the Sun Bowl Foundation, which operates the postseason contest played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
The BCA's official list of approved bowls came out a couple weeks ago and recognized this year's game as the sponsor-less Valley of the Sun Bowl, which didn't seem to bode particularly well for its future. Having a sponsor is ... ummm ... better.

Insert joke here about controllable sprinkler heads and overtime and whatnot.

WTF is up with the stripe? Northwestern has new uniforms (wear-them-all-the-time uniforms and not alternates). They are purply and stripy:

Reaction: Meh. Northwestern has had a whole bunch of weird purple-and-black combos and would have to do something totally insane to get me shaking my old-man fist, and the stripe that at first appeared totally insane in fact has some historical relevance:
Under Armour included the design element as an homage to the "Northwestern stripe," the school's signature thin-thick-thin striping pattern that it pioneered in 1928, paving the way for it to spread throughout the world of sports.
Interesting. Photo evidence:


Elite 11 weirdness: Didn't the Elite 11 used to, like, have some meaning? Maybe I'm remembering wrong; I dunno. The 25 (!!!) participants threw 32 passes each (???) over a span of four days last week before some of them were officially recognized by the guys who run the camp (and by "the guys who run the camp" I mostly mean "Trent Dilfer"). The results were as ambiguous as expected.

Here's a list (put together by somebody with more time on his hands than I do) of the official "Elite 11" juxtaposed with the scouting services' rankings of the dudes' respective performances:
1. Asiantti Woulard (USF) / Rivals (1), Scout (3)
2. Max Browne (USC) / Rivals (3), Scout (4)
3. Christian Hackenberg (PSU) / Rivals (2), Scout (10)
4. Kevin Olsen (Miami) / Rivals (6), Scout (2)
5. Joshua Dobbs (ASU) / Rivals (13), Scout  (9)
6. Johnny Stanton (NEB) / Rivals (22), Scout (bottom five)
7. Malik Zaire (ND) / Rivals (7) , Scout (12)
8. Shane Cockerville (MD) / Rivals (12), Scout (16)
9. Jared Goff (CAL) / Rivals (9) , Scout (5)
10. Luke Del Rio (OKST) / Rivals (17), Scout (18)
11. Zack Greenlee (none) / Rivals (24), Scout (bottom five)
So Johnny Stanton and Zack Greenlee were either really good or among the worst quarterbacks there. And five-star Michigan commit Shane Morris was ranked No. 1 by Scout (woo) and No. 4 by Rivals but was apparently not in the official top 11. That's a massive discrepancy; explain, please.

The rankings are super subjective anyway (duh) but would be a little less so if the format were less ridiculous. I mean, one game's worth of throws spread out over four days while rotating with 24 other guys? Ridiculous ridiculousness. Take all assessments with a lick of salt.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Penn State football nominally still exists

So ... that happened. You already know the details since they came out like 36 hours ago: They're bad. They're not "death penalty" bad but approach "total decimation" bad.

Obligatory summary:
  • $60 million fine
  • Vacation of wins from 1998-2011 (112 wins)
  • Four-year postseason ban
  • Four-year scholarship reduction (10 in initial recruiting class; 20 each year thereafter)
  • Players may transfer and play immediately at other schools
Yeah. Bad.

I was gonna start with the worst part but don't even know which part that is and therefore will just start at the top. The money thing is money (money!). A lot of money. An amount of money that's supposedly comparable to the football program's annual revenue but is actually closer to its double its recent profits and must be paid in full within five years. Translation: About 40 percent of Penn State's football-generated profit for the next five years will go not to the athletic department but directly into a fund for child abuse awareness.

The immediate reaction from the outragees was "THINK OF THE NONREVENUE CHILDREN"; the NCAA took care of that by specifying that the budgets for other sports (most of which are funded by football, obviously) cannot be reduced/eliminated in order to generate said $60 million. That money's coming straight out of either (a) athletic department profits or (b) the school's general fund, which will be in awesome shape after the armored trucks show up to enforce the inevitable lawsuit damages. I have no idea whether the NCAA really has the authority to reallocate football revenue but, if so, should definitely do so more often. Win. And the Big Ten added to the awesomeness by eliminating Penn State's distribution of bowl payouts (about $3 million a year) during the postseason ban; the TV revenue payout of about $22 million won't be affected.

The money won't destroy the endowment the way the on-field-related stuff will destroy the on-field-related product, though. A little detail on the scholarship situation:
Penn State can offer only 15 scholarships per year, 10 fewer than the maximum allowed, beginning with the 2013 recruiting class and continuing through the 2014, 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes. The team can resume offering 25 scholarships per year with the 2017 class. The scholarship reductions don’t impact the 19-man recruiting class Penn State signed in February.

Penn State will have to play with just 65 scholarship players, 20 fewer than the maximum allowed for FBS programs, beginning with the 2014 season and also in the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons.
Note the bolded section: Welcome to the FCS. The per-year recruiting-class limits are the same as USC's but are more devastating because of the accompanying overall cap, which lags a year behind. And the actual number won't even be 65 for most of that four-year period; once they get to 65 (which will be soon given the impending transfers and the 2013 class limit), they'll be graduating 20-ish guys a year and replacing them with 15-dude freshman classes for three years, which means they'll really be at about 60 scholarships in 2014 and 55 in 2015 and 50 in 2016 before they get to replenish with a full recruiting class in 2017 to get back to around 60 -- and that doesn't even account for typical non-graduation-related attrition that'll likely knock the number down to about 40 (!!!) by the end of 2016. That's half a team.

And it's reasonable to assume that the quality of the recruits during that time will be slightly lower than usual and thus a couple levels down from the Michigan/Ohio State tier; exactly how much lower depends on Bill O'Brien's recruiting ability and Penn State's ability to stay reasonably relevant/competitive over the next few years. I'm not gonna bother with a guesstimate on the former but have pretty low expectations regarding the latter.

The Whatever Division writers' poll from Big Ten media day* on Tuesday:
1. Wisconsin (19)
2. Ohio State (5)
3. Purdue
4. Illinois
5. Penn State
6. Indiana
The good news: There's nobody on the current roster who's definitely out the door (yet; I'll be surprised if a couple freshman-y types like Anthony Zettel and Ryan Nowicki don't end up elsewhere given that they have four years of eligibility left and zero chance of ever playing in a meaningful game if they stick it out at Penn State). The bad news: The team probably won't be very good this year anyway with a mediocre-at-best quarterback, no particularly great players other than maybe Silas Redd and/or Gerald Hodges and wholesale systematic changes on both sides of the ball. Any short-term improvement will be heavily dependent on the young guys (pretty much all of them) panning out since there will be almost no depth/alternatives in a couple years. Since that odds of that happening are pretty much nil unless said guys are all five-stars like at USC, the odds of Penn State (which hasn't recruited at a USC level since recruiting sites came into existence) being competitive at its traditional level are also pretty much nil. And it won't matter if they are in the short term since the Big Ten title game and meaningful bowls and whatnot aren't in play; by the time they are in play, the team will be so devoid of meaningful talent and depth that ... I mean ... yeah. See ya in 2018.

But that's kinda the point. I made my stance pretty clear about a week ago: The death penalty would have been totally appropriate for a mind-blowing lack of institutional control related to a competitive-advantage-type coverup of horrifying criminal activity. The lack of NCAA-specific violations was irrelevant; the reason for having penalties is to maintain a level playing field via the deterrent of competitive-advantage-related things that shouldn't be allowed to happen.

The things that did get handed down obviously weren't the death penalty but were pretty close in terms of overall devastation. Six years of mandated irrelevance (and limited revenue for the next five years) ≈ one year of nonexistence. The difference is the lack of the cultural reset/reprioritization I hoped would be implemented via the loss of The Most Important Thing at Penn State. Maybe a decade of crappiness will do something similar; probably not but maybe.

Speaking of which, the vacating of wins is a largely meaningless revisional-history gesture in all cases except this one. Joe Paterno spent his last seven years (after being asked to resign in '04) as a figurehead doing almost nothing other than allowing children to be raped in order to literally outlast Bobby Bowden and put one more block in the JoePa facade. That facade was totally destroyed by the Freeh bomb but now officially never existed; there's something moderately satisfying about that given the previous sentence.

I don't have much else to say/write here that hasn't been said/written in the past day and a half and don't have much interest in all the jurisdictional/precedence-related rabble; IMO, anything that allows the NCAA to implement meaningful penalties is a good thing. Victims, big picture, etc. I guess I just felt obligated to right something about the unequivocal reality that Penn State is no longer PENN STATE but is something closer to Indiana with way fewer scholarships, way better uniforms and a bigger stadium. Again: See ya in 2018.

*The Leaders Division (argh) will have only one relevant team this year and only two relevant teams going forward unless Purdue or Illinois gets way better in the next three-ish years. The balance of power has shifted pretty significantly to the Other Division, which has Michigan, Nebraska, Michigan State and a typically respectable Iowa. I don't know if a realignment is necessary but could see it being a consideration if Wisconsin goes back to being pre-Barry Alvarez Wisconsin and Ohio State wins eleventy billion straight division titles.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Penn State and the ambiguity of 'unprecedented'

The NCAA will be announcing something Monday that I will not be readily available to react to. That something will not include the death penalty for Penn State:
NCAA president Mark Emmert has decided to punish Penn State with severe penalties likely to include a significant loss of scholarships and loss of multiple bowls, a source close to the decision told ESPN's Joe Schad.

But Penn State will not receive the so-called "death penalty" that would have suspended the program for at least one year, the source said.
So that's that. Insert SMU-comparative complaint here; everything else is just scholarships and (relatively meaningless) postseason bans and media rabble. Everything else with precedent, anyway:
CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd has reported Penn State will face "significant penalties that could severely damage the football program's ability to compete" when the NCAA announces sanctions against the football program at a 9 a.m. news conference Monday.

A source told CBS News correspondent Armen Keteyian that Penn State will suffer "unprecedented" punishment.

"I've never seen anything like it," the source told Keteyian, indicating that both the football program and the school itself would face sanctions.
"Unprecedented" is a relatively unambiguous term by definition but is a totally ambiguous term within the context of this report. Translation: I have no idea what's gonna happen to Penn State. This anonymous comment implies something devastating:
Penn State, the source said, may prefer the death penalty.
That's pretty much incomprehensible to me based on the established NCAA scale that ranges from "probation" on one end to "death penalty" on the other. I started plugging numbers into an "X lost scholarships + Y-year bowl ban > death penalty" equation and couldn't come up with a definitive answer. Would a 40-scholarship reduction spread over four years and a 10-year bowl ban be worse than total short-term decimation? What about a mandated charitable donation (if possible) of all football revenue for those same 10 years? I dunno. That's a subjective determination but, IMO, enters the realm of "reasonably comparable" since money is money is money.

The relevant people at Penn State presumably know the specifics and are reacting exactly as expected:
"Unbelievable," said a Penn State trustee informed of the NCAA statement, speaking to ESPN.com senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. "Unbelievable, unbelievable."
Malkovich Malkovich.
"Emmert has been given full reign by the pansy presidents (at other universities) to make his own decision," said the trustee, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He has been given the authority to impose these unprecedented sanctions. It's horrible."
+1,000,000 for the use of "pansy" in a unofficially official statement. -1,000,000 for the use of "horrible" to describe the punishment necessitated by literally horrible things.

The predictable OUTRAGE emanating from the OUTRAGED OUTRAGEES apparently doesn't mean a whole lot anyway:
David Jones of the Patriot-News reported that regardless of the severity of the sanctions, "they will not be appealed or substantively challenged." According to Jones, the university is "desirous of a positive relationship with the NCAA in the future" and won't jeopardize that relationship with an appeal. 
An appeal would actually be uber interesting (woo legal arguments) but probably not a wise investment given the ... ummm ... other things Penn State is dealing with right now. There also wouldn't be a lot of administrative support; Emmert only had the authority to implement whatever is being implemented because the 21-president Division I Board of Directors gave it to him in order to avoid a superfluous investigation and a reeeaaalllyyy awkward season (as opposed to just a really awkward season). That vote is what renders all the jurisdictional arguments irrelevant.

There's also this:
Emmert's discussion of defending the NCAA’s constitution is expected to focus at least in part on Article 2.4 of the NCAA’s constitution, which Emmert excerpted in his letter to Penn State on Nov. 17, 2011. In that letter, Emmert cited the passage that "for intercollegiate athletics to promote the character development of participants, to enhance the integrity of higher education and to promote civility in society, student-athletes, coaches, and all others associated with these athletics programs and events should adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. These values should not only be manifest in athletics participation, but also in the broad spectrum of activities affecting the athletics program."
Slippery slope yadda yadda yadda. I'm with Emmert on this one: It was "a football scandal ... but much more" at a place that's made it blatantly obviously that a cultural reprioritization is a necessity. The death penalty would've provided said reprioritization via brute force; the about-to-be-implemented penalties probably won't but probably will make the program a lot less relevant (in an on-field sense) for a while. Exactly how less relevant will be determined by exactly what "unprecedented" translates to in NCAA terminology; I guess we'll find out in about 12 hours.

There's nothing left of JoePa

In a-picture-says-1,000-words form:

The end.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Al Golden has the utmost respect for the NCAA

I'm tired of writing about NCAA violations, etc., and therefore won't spend very much time on this right now. But ... I mean ... WHAAAAA???
Less than one week after the University of Miami hired Al Golden as coach, members of Golden's coaching staff began using Sean "Pee Wee" Allen – a then-equipment manager and onetime right-hand man of convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro – to circumvent NCAA rules in the recruiting of multiple Miami-area players, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Golden, hired by Miami in mid-December 2010, had direct knowledge of Allen's improper involvement with Miami recruits, according to a former Hurricanes athletic department staffer and federal testimony given by Allen in Shapiro's bankruptcy case.

There is evidence. A lot of it. Most of it consists of phone records between Allen and various recruits and/or Miami assistants; the rest is federal testimony from the Nevin Shapiro thing. Al Golden rejects this reality and substitutes his own ...
"I have been a college football coach for more than 18 years and I am proud of -- and I stand by -- my record of compliance over that span," Golden said in a statement. "As my colleagues and players on all of my teams can attest, I believe strongly in doing things the right way with the best of intentions. ...

"The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false."
.... probably because the idea of stepping into an epic violations-fest and continuing said violations-fest is pretty much incomprehensible. Y U DO THAT?

The best-case scenario here is that this is Butch Davis-type stuff, by which I mean Golden was unaware that a couple of his assistant coaches were living totally outside the realm of the NCAA and using a recently fired guy as an "off-the-books recruiter" for eight months at the exact same time as a related investigation into one of the most ridiculously massive extra-benefits scandals in the history of ever. The worst-case scenario here is that this is SMU without the cash but with some benefits of various degrees. "Major violations? Meh. Continue."

Hey, remember when "death-penalty-worthy stuff" was descriptive of things like program-approved benefits/violations layered on top of previous benefits/violations rather than, like, child rape? Good times.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jim Delany gets ALL OF THE POWER (not really)

This is the headline on every story about the Big Ten's allegedly insane rules proposals:
Big Ten Commissioner Wants To Have Power To Fire Coaches
This is accurate only in the most general sense, and by "accurate only in the most general sense" I mean "not very accurate." The proposal itself is hidden behind a Chronicle of Higher Education paywall (and thus totally hidden) but is summarized on the organization's website as follows:
The idea comes from an 18-page proposal being circulated among Big Ten leaders on the heels of the Penn State scandal. The proposal, which has not been approved by the league, would give the commissioner and a group of powerful presidents the authority to penalize, suspend, or terminate the employment of coaches whose behavior damages the league’s reputation.
Note the first eight words of the bolded-for-emphasis portion: "the commissioner and a group of powerful presidents." The formation of a God-like committee that includes Jim Delany is not the same as "DELANY WANTS TO BE GOD."

And my understanding -- based on the various quotes circulating from Big Ten athletic directors -- is that the commissioner/committee wouldn't have unilateral firing power but would have some sort of disciplinary power that would resemble the NCAA's (the NCAA's version of employment authority: a show-cause that doesn't technically represent a termination but makes the employee in question all but unemployable). Said quotes (or summaries of said quotes):
Minnesota President Eric Kaler said he doubts that individual schools would be willing to give up control to the conference on such an issue of firing a coach.

"A lot of things have been discussed, but I have not been party to any conversation that would suggest the commissioner would have unilateral power to fire coaches," (Michigan athletic director Dave) Brandon told the AP. "That's kind of out of left field, and I don't think the commissioner would want that kind of power."

Illini athletic director Mike Thomas called the proposal "a work in progress." Thomas wasn't prepared to endorse the idea of coaches or other officials potentially being fired by the commissioner.
So yeah. The plan/intent is not to make Jim Delany omnipotent.

That said, there is/was a potentially horrifying subsection ...
In the event of a major incident that "significantly harmed the reputation of the league," the commissioner would be able to take matters into his own hands. ...
In certain circumstances requiring "immediate and decisive action," the commissioner would have unilateral authority to "take any and all actions" in the best interest of the Big Ten.
... that (a) the Big Ten has already publicly backed away from and (b) would be totally unnecessary anyway. As far as I can tell, there's never been an event in Big Ten history that would've warranted the implementation of martial commissioner-al law; nobody knew about the Penn State thing until everybody knew, at which point everybody involved was fired immediately and whatever power had been granted to the almighty overseer would've been rendered irrelevant. The only power that would be relevant here would be the power to remove/suspend Penn State from the conference entirely, which currently requires eight votes, but I can't imagine a scenario in which half (or more) of the conference presidents would veto something massive like that and Delany would approve it anyway (keep in mind that his employment status is determined by the presidents as a collective).

As for the committee's usefulness, I also can't really envision a scenario in which a show-cause-type penalty for a still-employed coach would be necessary since the coaches who "damage the league's reputation" to the extent that devastating penalties are appropriate just don't survive. Evidence: Joe Paterno got fired. No other evidence necessary.

In summary, something something barn door something horses. I think the idea here is to feel warm and fuzzy about an adequate contingency plan that probably will never be needed except maybe in the event of that one thing that already happened and kinda necessitated said contingency plan. My level of concern about a potential abuse of power in the event of something totally horrifying: close to zero. It's so close to zero that I can't believe I just wrote/typed 700 words about it, thus limiting the time I'll have this evening to question Al Golden's sanity.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Catching up plays in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Obligatory Penn State mention: Mark Emmert is saying ominous things about (insert team here) Penn State that kinda/sorta give the impression that (a) he gets it and (b) hoo boy this could be really bad for Penn State:
The president of the NCAA says he isn't ruling out the possibility of shutting down the Penn State football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

In a PBS interview Monday night, NCAA President Mark Emmert said he doesn't want to "take anything off the table" if the NCAA determines penalties against Penn State are warranted.

Emmert said he's "never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university. ...

"This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like (what) happened at SMU, or anything else we've dealt with. This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem."
And the nut graf (in quote form):
"There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal. Well, it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it's really an unprecedented problem."
The bolded-for-emphasis comments there indicate a pretty obvious stance on jurisdiction ("a football scandal ... but much more") and a pretty obvious stance on the irrelevance of precedence from one of the few guys whose stances on said things actually matter. I still don't think the death penalty (the freakin' death penalty!) is likely but can't totally dismiss it at this point.

BTW, Penn State president Rodney Erickson said Tuesday that he's "already started the process of starting to compose that response" now that he's consulted with a team of 873 lawyers and will have a response finished "over the course of the next few days." Whether that response will include any proposed penalties is unknown. Also unknown: What the NCAA's timeline will look like with an investigation already having been done for them. I'm no Michael Buckner but have to believe that the scenario in which Penn State doesn't field a team this year (or doesn't get to play nonconference games or whatever) is a pretty unlikely one considering that the season starts in, like, a month.

And one more: The important people in important positions within the Big Ten are considering this-is-serious-stuff-guys consequences:
The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting Big Ten leaders are weighing a series of proposals in an 18-page plan prompted by the current situation at Penn State. Among the ideas being thrown around include removing the university from the conference.

The Big Ten handbook requires at least a 60 percent vote from the league's Council of Presidents and Chancellors to expel a member, although a Big Ten spokesperson told the Chronicle that number will rise to 70 percent for 2012-13.
Add this to the "unlikely but can't be totally dismissed" category.

We must protect this house: The likelihood of the bowl-eligibility threshold shifting from six wins to seven has gone from "high-ish" to "basically zero." This is from Jim Delany ...
"I thought there was an emerging situation among all the conferences to move it to 7-5. And what I've learned in the last 30-60 days is that a number of the major conferences are wanting to keep it at six. If that's the case, that's probably where it'll stay. It's the major conferences that will be losing slots as a result of going to seven. It's status quo, 6-6, unless there's a compromise." 
... and this is from Football Bowl Association director Wright Waters ...
Waters said that several conferences, after consulting with their ADs and presidents late this spring, didn't want to reduce the pool of bowl teams by increasing the demands to get there. Major conferences that have recently expanded, such as the SEC and Big 12, have reservations about changing a rule that would send fewer of its teams bowling.
Of course they do; it's sooooo important that Missouri be eligible for the Craptacular City Bowl after inevitably going 3-6 in SEC play (insert "Texas Tech" in place of "Missouri" and "Big 12" in place of "SEC" if west of the Mississippi).

Horrifying tidbit from CBS Sports: 19.2 percent of all bowl teams the last two years went 6-6. That's almost 20 percent!!! UGHGHGH. The bottom 10 or so bowls are leeching off the relevant-but-thoroughly-mediocre teams in order to sustain their collective existence; that's lame but won't stop as long as the relevant-but-thoroughly-mediocre support said existence in order to sell some crappy t-shirts, create a witty hashtag and claim "SEASON: SUCCESS."

Possible mitigating factor: The conferences' takeover of some bowl TV rights and (in the case of the Champions Bowl) ticket guarantees might eventually extend to the bottom-of-the-barrel bowls, at which point the leeching will no longer be an issue. The only issue at that point will be an ROI one: It'll be up to the conferences to decide whether it's worth the cost to put on a game featuring one 6-6 team playing another 6-6 team in front of 23,000 people in Albuquerque.

Bye bye, Ray-Ray: The spectacularly named and always entertaining Ray-Ray Armstrong is done at Miami:
The controversial career of Ray-Ray Armstrong is officially over at the University of Miami.

The school announced the star safety's dismissal from the football program in a news release Wednesday morning. The statement said Armstrong had the option to remain at the university under scholarship or transfer with a full release of his scholarship. UM gave no specific reason for the dismissal.
Armstrong was one of the Nevin Shapiro dudes and thus was suspended for four games at the start of last year; he also sat out the Florida State game after a dinner-paid-for-by-a-friendly-agent thing. In between, he was pretty good: He was nominally a backup but had 34 tackles and a pick after racking up 79 and three as a sophomore starter. And he would've started again this year with JoJo Nicolas gone; talent was never an issue.

The issue: He's only got a year of eligibility left and can't stop doing stupid things. If you're thinking "Alabama State," I'm thinking "you're right."

As for Miami, there will be a drop-off (of some degree) at strong safety; seniors with legit NFL talent and a year and a half of starting(-ish) experience aren't entirely replaceable. A.J. Highsmith is a junior who arrived with some recruiting hype, has accumulated a whopping 12 tackles in two years and probably will take over the starting job by default. Good news: The secondary as a whole will probably be fine with Vaughn Telemaque being Vaughn Telemaque and Brandon McGee holding down one of the corner spots. It's also worth noting that Miami won't be winning anything of significance this year, which makes trying to determine an exact WAR-type value for a now-departed senior a relatively pointless endeavor.

Going to class is necessary (even at Alabama): Duron Carter -- probably better known as the son of Cris Carter -- left Alabama this week for reasons unknown. An amazing and academically blissful history: Carter went to Ohio State as a relatively big-time recruit in  '09, had 13 catches as a true freshman, flunked out, went to Coffeyville Community College for a year, transferred to Alabama, was academically ineligible last year and might have been academically ineligible for the fall (Alabama's not saying and never will now that he's gone).

He reportedly wants to transfer to Florida Atlantic and get a waiver to play immediately, which ... ummm ... good luck with that (barring some unknown family crisis, which is basically what's required for most waiver approvals). And a waiver wouldn't be relevant if he's academically ineligible; that's an NCAA guideline that applies everywhere. Maybe there's more to the story; we'll presumably find out.

FYI, he has two years of eligibility left (but no redshirts if he can't play this year).

The Big East has money but no (relevant) teams: WOO BIG EAST LAW-TALKIN' GUYS. First was this ...
The Big East reached an agreement Monday with Syracuse University, allowing the Orange to leave the league a year early for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Syracuse announced last fall its intention to join the ACC, but under Big East bylaws the school needed to serve a 27-month exit period. Instead, the Orange will now be allowed to leave on July 1, 2013 and will have to pay a fee of $7.5 million to depart. That's $2.5 million more than specified in the conference bylaws.
... and then this ...
Pittsburgh's bitter breakup with the Big East finally has an official separation date.

Pitt and the conference announced Wednesday that the school will pay $7.5 million to join Syracuse in leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1, 2013.
... and then this:
The Big East dropped its lawsuit against TCU on Wednesday and will receive the $5 million it was seeking from the school after it bailed out on a commitment to join the conference, according to a report by The Associated Press.
Upshot: Pitt, Syracuse and TCU have their freedom and the Big East has (or will have) $20 million. I'll tell ya what I'd do with $20 million, man:

I'd do nothing. Obvsly.

Onside kicks not so much: The rule change of interest back in February was the kickoff-related one (kickoffs are moving to the 35 and touchbacks are moving to the 25, which will seem totally insane for about six weeks). This change generated zero publicity at the time but is ... ummm ... interesting:
After a kickoff hits the ground — specifically on a one-hop onside kick — the receiving team gets an opportunity to fair catch that ball. "A lot of our coaches," Shaw said, "have said that will almost take that one-hop (onside) kick out of the game."
Whaaaaa? That Shaw guy (SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw) is right: That will almost take the onside kick out of the game. The "almost" qualifier is only necessary in that it might be tough to make a fair-catch signal on an unexpected onside kick that's gonna go from foot to an unsuspecting player in the span of about a second. But the expected onside kicks will now rest entirely on the hopes of a crazy bounce off a receiving-team player, something that does happen occassionaly but will probably happen with less frequency given the option of zero kicking-team interference. Perfect assessment:
Eliminating onside kicks, which happen maybe once a game, is sacrificing that small element of "what if" that goes through your head and sometimes comes to spectacular fruition so that a maximum of twelve plays a year are marginally less dangerous.
Yup. Boo-urns.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A totally accurate summary of SEC media days

There are media days. Ohhhhhh there are media days; so many media days. They really serve no purpose other than to provide the requisite quotes for the fluff-tastic previews that will fill the ether between now and six weeks from now (!!!) and thus must be taken very seriously.

This is exactly what happened today (in my mind):

Kevin Sumlin: "Coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak. Exciting coachspeak. Up-tempo coachspeak. Coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak coachspeak."

Les Miles: "Gox in socks. Pancakes. Roller derby. Gunner Kiel rabble rabble. HAHAHA! Any questions?"

John L. Smith:

Nick Saban: /holds mind-blowingly smug smirk for 12 consecutive minutes without blinking or breathing or showing any visible signs of human life.

James Franklin: "I just saw Erin Andrews. Nice."

Steve Spurrier: "Ole Miss blows." /outsmirks Nick Saban

Mark Richt: "I'm not Mitt Romney and strongly resent your implications otherwise."

Gene Chizik: /drops Bobby Lowder's checkbook
/picks up checkbook
/runs from dais


Derek Dooley: /fired

Gary Pinkel: "Tee hee hee." /passes out

Hugh Freeze: "Aaaand YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer and YOU get an offer."

Dan Mullen: "Thank the Lord I didn't take that Penn State job, amirite?"

Joker Phillips: "..."

Moderator: "Thank y'all for coming. Enjoy Hoover (pffffft)."

Probably the greatest EDSBS post ever

Todd Graham. NCAA '13. EDSBS. There's really nothing more to be said.
We attempted to simulate being current Arizona State coach and former Pitt, Tulsa, and Rice coach Todd Graham. The rules were simple: we would make every promise to every recruit possible. In these promises, we would lean on "coaching stability" and "coaching prestige" even when it made absolutely no sense to do so. Finally, at the end of the season, we would openly lobby for other jobs whenever possible, and then take the first job we could take no matter the terms or situation.
Perfect. This goes exactly as awesomely as expected ...
As you can see, NCAA 2013 knows exactly what's up with Todd Graham and ASU's rep. Still ...
... you haters will never know until you try, and that's why you're haters. BELIEVE! 
... and ends almost as awesomely as possible (no spoiler alert necessary):
Amazingly, the expectations were so low going into the season that Graham rides high at a 63% security ranking, just behind Lane Kiffin and ahead of almost every other coach in the conference.

With job security like this, and the Todd Graham Protocol engaged, it can be time for only one thing. 
Click here. DO IT.

Monday, July 16, 2012

You stay humble, Charlie Weis

Just Weis bein' Weis:
"Brady (Quinn) could have been a starting quarterback for me in the NFL," Weis told Rustin Dodd. "Go back and look at those numbers for the two years he played for me. He was great. He wasn't good. And I know if I had him as a quarterback, I would have felt very comfortable that I could have won no matter where we were."
Obviously. Strategic advantage and all that. To recap:
“They’re going to have to learn about us, OK? Let them try to stop a pro-style offense, which has multiple personnel groups and multiple formations. Let’s see how they are going to do. They’ve had their advantage because I’ve come into recruiting late. Well, now it’s X’s and O’s time. Let’s see who has the advantage now.”

"So let me just say people better enjoy it now, have their fun now.”

“Every game, you will have a decided schematic advantage.”

“No one will want a piece of us in 2009.”

“I’ve never lost to Pete Carroll and I’m not gonna start now.”
Charlie Weis: So much humility in such a hilariously ginormous package.

The Big Ten will just play by itself then

A moderately interesting and sad-face-inducing news-type thing came out Friday and thus was overlooked amid the PENN STATE OUTRAGE: The Big Ten-Pac-12 scheduling dealie that was supposed to start in 2017 will instead start never.

Details from ESPN:
The scheduling partnership between the Pac-12 and Big Ten won't happen after all.

The conferences said Friday that their agreement, announced in December and set to begin in 2017, has been called off because of football scheduling issues involving several Pac-12 schools. A round-robin football schedule, featuring 12 games per year between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, had been the cornerstone of the pact, though it also included elements involving other sports and the two leagues' television networks.
Reaction: Lame. And I can't even blame Jim Delany since it was the Pac-12 that apparently didn't vest this thing and then had to back out after a bunch of members (and by "a bunch of members" I mostly mean "USC and Stanford and possibly Utah") bitched about it:
ESPN.com has learned that the Pac-12 approached the Big Ten in March and said several of its members had reservations about a mandatory scheduling agreement. The main problem: The Pac-12 currently plays nine league games per season, while the Big Ten plays only eight. Pac-12 members such as USC and Stanford, who both also have annual games against Notre Dame, would have added a Big Ten opponent to an already taxing slate.

The leagues worked on several models, including an initial agreement featuring 10 or 11 games a year in 2017-20 with the idea eventually to reach 12. ... All Big Ten schools were on board with the collaboration.

At least four Pac-12 schools ultimately decided they would not accept mandatory scheduling, ESPN.com has learned. One proposal called for eight matchups per year, featuring the willing Pac-12 schools, but the Big Ten wanted a complete collaboration or none at all.
Argh. The nine-game thing is a legitimate hindrance but probably not as much of one as the desire to be uber picky in nonconference play; USC used to have a big-time-ish nonconference opponent on the schedule every year but has scaled back to play Minnesota and the like for the past couple years, and Stanford's nonconference schedules of late have been Wisconsin-esque (Sacramento State, San Jose State, Wake Forest and Duke just rotate between the three sacrificial-lamb spots). The story also mentions Utah's deal with BYU, which would be of note if it didn't end after 2016 and become totally irrelevant (pending an unlikely renewal) to the Big Ten proposal.

So yeah ... playing Notre Dame/BYU, Cupcake State and Cupcake Tech apparently is preferable to playing just one school from the Cupcake system and one Big Ten school of a variable difficulty level. Insert standard complaint here about scheduling/money. Fans rabble rabble money rabble. At least they've got the nine-game-schedule thing goin' on.

Related good news (!) ahoy:
If the agreement moves from "suspended" to "scrapped" -- and that seems likely, considering the reason this thing is off the table is the Pac-12's desire to maintain a nine-game season -- then it's possible the Big Ten will add a game to its current eight-game league season.

Keep in mind the league already agreed to expand to a nine-game conference schedule by 2017 in August, although the plan was tabled after the Pac-12 agreement surfaced in December.

Delany said in May he would still favor adding a ninth Big Ten game if it weren't for that agreement.

"You know, if we hadn’t done the collaboration, we’d do nine," Delany said of the Big Ten's league slate. "If we do the collaboration, we’ll do eight. So, we’re able to attract a higher quality of game. We’re not expanding the number of games, we’ll still play 12.

"The question is, are you gonna play eight quality conference games and assure there’s a ninth quality game in the mix, one way or the other? ... The idea was to upgrade the quality of the schedules, either through nine or through the collaboration.”
That last sentence is the whole thing summarized in a ... umm ... sentence. I'd prefer the variety and national interest generated by a Pac-12 rotation/assortment but would be fine with an expanded Big Ten schedule that would allow more games with Penn State (assuming Penn State still exists) and Wisconsin and the like. Most of the Big Ten presumably feels the same way; there are only so many MAC-rifices you can put on the schedule before people stop shelling out a bajillion dollars for season tickets. I mean ...

Sat, Sept. 1 vs. Northern Illinois*
Sat, Sept. 8 vs. Iowa State
Sat, Sept. 15 vs. Northern Iowa
Sat, Sept. 22 vs. Central Michigan
... yeah. Two MAC schools + one FCS school + one nominal BCS-conference rival that might go .500 =/= TICKETS PLZ.

A little more on that from MGoBlog:
I'm guessing everyone outside of the Purdue/Northwestern/Other Teams For Whom Bowl Eligibility Is A Big Deal athletic departments is in favor of expanding the conference schedule again, and even teams who frequently find themselves on the bowl eligibility bubble seem to be less desperate for their minor prestige these days. Unfortunately, I can't find it anymore but there was an article in which Northwestern said they were in favor of moving the bowl eligibility line to 7-5.

If you don't care about getting to your very-likely-unprofitable bowl game when you''re not that good, then it's just a matter of figuring out what's more likely to sell tickets: a Big Ten game or the #3 nonconference game you can scrounge up.
Yup. Hooray for real* (read: competitive) games that mean something.

*The added benefit of having more relevant games: The divisional races will be WAY more balanced. The current arrangement, with one locked-in cross-divisional game each year, has Michigan playing Ohio State every year and Michigan State playing Indiana every year. Advantage much? The same goes for Wisconsin (in whatever the division is that includes Ohio State) getting Minnesota. Adding one more cross-divisional game to the schedule across the board will mitigate a lot of that inequality.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A few last words (for now) on Penn State

I'm gonna be honest: I don't really care about the Joe Paterno statue. It's a weird, uncomfortable thing that I'd prefer not to look at as a attendee (even a neutral one) but could justifiably* be left up since the guy coached there for 50 years and basically built the thing that is Penn State football.

The "justifiably" qualifier in the previous sentence does not cover this:
The embattled members of Penn State's Board of Trustees quietly have decided to leave Joe Paterno's statue standing, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of the trustees' private discussions this week.

The trustees' reluctance to remove the statue is motivated, in part, by a desire not to offend alumni and students who adore the late coach despite the damning findings of his role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse cover-up detailed in the Freeh report, the sources said. ...

"The statue represents the good that Joe did," a trustee said. "It doesn't represent the bad that he did."
As for the second bolded portion: Oh, that's how it works? Gotcha.

As for the first bolded portion: The implication that the "desire not to offend alumni and students who adore the late coach" is more important than the desire not to offend, ya know, the victims of a child molester is an implication that nobody has learned anything. Penn State football is still PENN STATE FOOTBALL and thus more important than doing things that make any sense within the general construct of society. And that's why Penn State football needs to cease existing for a little while.

I said "I just don't know, man" a couple days ago but now know because of the quote provided by the above-cited anonymous trustee. This excerpt from a death-penalty debate in The Atlantic pretty aptly summarizes the cultural thing in a way I've been unable to:
Some observers think the NCAA should punish the university's football program for a lack of institutional control, perhaps levying the seldom-used "death penalty." Right idea. Wrong executioner. I say leave NCAA sanctions -- lost scholarships, television bans, blah blah blah -- out of it, and just shut down the team altogether. Permanently. The lesson of the Freeh report isn't just that Paterno and others didn't do enough; it's that everyone else loved Penn State football too much. Loved it so much it became a totem, an identity, an entire culture. Not just a game. Not just a silly diversion. Something people were far too afraid to cross. Something people remain far too afraid to lose.

In his Thursday press conference, Freeh mentioned Penn State janitors who saw Sandusky molesting a boy in the shower. One, a Korean War veteran, called the scene "the worst thing I ever saw." Nevertheless, he and the other janitors decided not to report it. They didn't want to get fired. "If that's the culture on the bottom," Freeh said, "God help the culture on the top." Yes. A thousand times yes.
I disagree about the "permanently" part (I rarely advocate for permanent anything) but agree with everything else. It was always about football; that won't/can't change as long as Penn State has a football program since said program will always be The Most Important Thing. I know it will always be The Most Important Thing because the trustees are responding to something that's making everybody with a conscience question the existence of ivory-tower morality by saying, "yeah but JoePa!" No.

I could link to/opine on literally 100 well-thought-out pieces here or turn this into a thread that would generate an unending string of back-and-forth responses about the devastation of the death penalty and whether it hurts the wrong people and whether it would destroy Penn State's nonrevenue programs and what would happen to the Big Ten and yadda yadda yadda. But here's the thing: I don't wanna spend the foreseeable future writing/reading/hearing about Penn State and The Stuff. I don't. The applicable lessons should be obvious and the punishment should be sufficient that the people who still don't get it will get it via forceful reprioritization (be it at Penn State or anywhere else with a similarly skewed structure and thus the potential for similarly horrifying complicity). And that should be it; everything thereafter should be an Iraq-style** cultural rebuilding in a way that doesn't allow (to whatever extent possible) either The Stuff or the incomprehensible responses necessitated by the current culture/structure.

The end. Everything else is just reflection/inflection/judgment-tion that I really don't have the desire or level of willpower to continue participating in (yet can't avoid due to pure volume).

Caveat: It won't happen. The NCAA doesn't have the authority (the death penalty is only applicable to a program that's tagged as a repeat offender) and Penn State doesn't have the ... ummm ... anything; the program is the statue to the nth degree. So whether it will go away and whether it should go away (at least temporarily) are two different things. There will be games and there will be all the things that accompany games and there will be a lot of awkwardness/discomfort both during and in between those things that must be overlooked so as not to offend alumni and students who adore the late coach the program. Priorities and all that.

*The not-totally-insane justification would be the one at the end of my lede: The guy had 40-ish years of (presumably) laudable program-establishing success prior to the awfulness. I wouldn't really agree with that justification but would at least be able to recognize the logic that produced it.

**No political-policy support/dissent intended.

Powered by Blogger.