"WIzard needs food . . . BADLY. Warrior is about to die . . . Elf shot the food."
I had maybe the opposite reaction when I was watching Smith's highlights — I was sitting there thinking, "Imagine if Brax had WRs like Ginn, Gonzalez, and Robo to throw to."
That's not knocking Troy, who is one of my all-time favorites and made huge leaps forward as a passer from '04 to '05 and from '05 to '06. Braxton has not developed to that extent. But if he had NFL-caliber receivers running routes, getting open, catching balls, and grabbing YACs, he'd look a lot better than he did this November.
The sense I have from articles and quotes I've read is that BOB doesn't especially enjoy the recruiting aspect of the gig. And that strikes me as a deal breaker, in the long run.
There's a well-managed perception right now that the Southeast is the center of the college football universe. The fact that Urban left Florida, recovered his health and reoriented his life, and landed at OSU did some work to undermine that perception. It suggested that Florida wasn't a "destination program" for an elite coach, in the same way that Ohio State is. But it only suggested that to be true, because Urban didn't outright ditch Florida for OSU.
If Nick Saban leaves what we all agree to be life tenure in Tuscaloosa, at the compensation he's getting, to go to Texas, the shock and bitterness in Alabama will be ten times what it was (still is) in Gainesville. Not only does the Tide come off its pedestal, not only are the program's short- and long-term prospects placed seriously into question -- this move would strike a seriously blow to the sense of entitlement, privilege, and elite status among Alabama fans and SEC fans more broadly. Because WE ALL GET TO SAY ALABAMA IS A STEPPING-STONE JOB FOR THE GOOD COACHES.
I can't get past the Schadenfreude to even think about the recruiting and on-field implications for Ohio State. THIS WOULD BE SO FUN TO WATCH.
Note the difference between leading the program "well into the future" and leading the program "well, into the future."
Oh, now see, and here I thought Arkie was doing helmet stickers, and it was just that nobody had earned one.
Braxton Miller is Red Five. I'm just sayin' . . .
Given these trends: (1) that more and more and more dollars are circling around college football programs, both sketchy and legit; (2) that we CFB fans of any one team just LOVE to lap up scandals about the other 115+ teams in the FBS; and (3) that the news media has suddenly discovered it can feed the (2) phenomenon by reporting about (1) . . .
I've been wondering for some time now when we'll get to the point where one team's fan blog sends an investigative reporter into a rival team's town -- Tuscaloosa seems like an obvious choice -- to follow its football players around, gather evidence on their violations of NCAA rules, as well as evidence of actual misconduct, and then try to start a fire.
Is that what we just saw from Evans here, but offered through a "respectable" national news outlet?
We all (well, most of us) reject the NCAA's amateur rule as quaint, laughable, exploitative, and hypocritical. But that rule isn't just a rule: it has normative power. If it didn't, we wouldn't think it was a victory to substitute the "$" for the "S" whenever possible in a rival team's name. If it didn't, these stories wouldn't have the kick that they do.
Like it or not, the constant judging and moralizing is a part of college football fandom. There are only so many days in the year when the sport is actually played. So what else do we talk about during the downtime? Recruiting, spring practice, and player and coach misconduct. I'm susceptible to it: I can accept straight-up that the SEC plays a better level of football, but that medicine goes down better if I flavor it with "yeah: because they oversign, they cheat, they pay players, and they prostitute their coeds to recruits."
Plus, there's no other sport where public opinion and public perception is as important to the determination of championships. The media affects the games through the polls, which frame postseason matchups, and through exposes and columns that either trigger NCAA enforcement or pressure coaches into self-imposing suspensions on their players, thereby impacting who takes the field on a given Saturday.
It's dog-eat-dog out there. It's not just the players and coaches in this. It's the conference officials, boosters, the hostesses, the national columnists, the Herbies, Musburgers, and Mays, and now Yahoo! Sports, SBNation, Deadspin, the fan blogs, and all of us. It's a frickin' war fought on the gridiron, in high schoolers' living rooms, in conference rooms in Bristol, in print, in the comment section on 11W. We're all throwing elbows, trying to get an edge.
I wish it was different, but it isn't. So let's take up a collection, hire some recent OSU grad from the School of Communication, wire him up and put him on the next plane to Alabama.
After further review, the ruling on the field is OVERTURNED. There is NO FOUL on the play. FIRST DOWN!
Interesting that ESPN writers are blunting this story's momentum, at least for the time being. Reason #112 Why Urban Is a Genius: actively cultivating a relationship with the Worldwide Leader.
Posted in the other thread, but maybe this is the better place: sending home Gardner opens up a scholarship for this year. Is Urban looking to bring in Rushel Shell, or has that ship sailed?
Has the door closed on a Rushel Shell transfer? I don't know what Tim Gardner did, but the fact that Urban outright sent him home suggests to me he's looking to bank a scholarship.
I'm happy with Rod Smith, Dunn, Ball, and E-Z-E. But there's a potential for depth issues at RB down the line.
Back in 2002, Trev Alberts was sitting in Lou Holtz's seat, and I recall him being more knee-jerk critical of the Buckeyes than May. If anything, May was riding along in the sidecar. So not only does May fulfill the role of Buckeye-baiter lazily, without reference to facts or logical argument, and with a resoundingly tone-deaf delivery (i.e., he comes off as angry and mean, rather than earnest), but what's worse, he wasn't even the first to take up the gig. He just stepped into Alberts shoes after he left.
I, too, am in favor of ignoring the guy, but I realize it's so very hard to do. He's not a serious commentator -- at least not on this subject. He's doing a schtick. This much became apparent to me when Pryor completed something like 12 of 15 passes in the first half of a game freshman year (two of the INCs were drops), and I eagerly tuned in to the halftime show, expecting to see May grudgingly allow that it was a good performance, only to watch him single out the one legit bad pass and declare he "wasn't ready for the college game."
(Not that I'm particularly in love with Terrelle Pryor. I'm just citing it as evidence of May's disregard for evidence, on the subject of OSU.)
May epitomizes the problem with ESPN: its dual purposes of journalism and entertainment are often incompatible, and the Worldwide Leader's answer is simply to mash those two objects together so that we can't tell when it's trying to deliver one or the other. May's gig is twofold: to offer something in the nature of observational "expert" commentary on all but one of the teams in the FBS, and then to put on a crazy hat and rant unaccountably about Ohio State. Let's not kid ourselves: he gets paid for both of those deliverables. How he got there and why it's Ohio State, as opposed to any other big program that is loved by its massive fan base and detested by all others, is something we could explore, but why?
The point is, we should all know by know that when he has his crazy hat on and is ranting about Ohio State, he's not making serious arguments. It's criticism at the level of Pee Wee Herman's "I know you are but what am I?" -- and I don't see why we should concern ourselves with it. If it were artfully done, you could admire it. If it were based in sound argumentation or manifest football expertise, you could tip your hat and say, "that's your opinion, sir, and you articulated it well." But it is instead visceral and unsupported by logic or evidence. The best argument I've heard for Why We SHOULD Care About Mark May is that his opinions might shape media perception and indirectly harm the Buckeyes' bowl prospects (or for that matter OSU's compliance and enforcement profile). But do serious people really take him seriously? I know the Dennis Dodds of the world aren't much more thoughtful than May, but I am sure they do their lack of thinking all by themselves. I don't see May as much of an influence on national-level media thinking.
So we're left with the question of Why We DO Care About Mark May. I can only speak for myself, because, sadly, I do care. I DO find him unbearable, and try as I might, I can't avert my eyes from him. The best reason I can come up with for why is that even if we accept that he is required by personal grudge/ the wiring of his cerebral cortex/ his contract with ESPN to take shots at OSU at every turn, you wish he'd be good at it. I'll readily accept a national-media foil, if he/she brings something to the table. May just, doesn't. Any one of us could walk onto the ESPN set and verbally dismantle the Michigan or Alabama football programs in a more entertaining, substantive, and glib way than Mark May does for Ohio State. So why does he get to hold down this gig? Because he's built up his "brand" of lazy, one-sided commentary? Seriously: Baghdad Bob was a better entertainer.
I've tweeted at Staples a few times on matters relating to OSU, and I've found him to be pretty fair-minded and engaged (and for that matter, responsive). Contrast Dennis Dodd, who is thoughtless AND unaccountable.
Plus he's a columnist. Reporting isn't really his gig. He writes opinion pieces and does Power Rankings. You might not agree with a lot of what he writes, but I don't see him as an SEC shill. At least, not as against any other national writer.
As I understand the O'Bannon case, the former players are much better positioned than the current players are, because the current players sign a waiver of their rights of publicity, as a condition of playing. The former players didn't.
The effect of a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in O'Bannon wouldn't necessarily mean that the NCAA (and participating schools, both through their own licensing arrangements and through the NCAA) couldn't continue to exploit college players without cutting them a piece of the pie. They'd just have to rely on the waivers they're getting.
The waivers might be suspect, on a theory that college players have no other meaningful option to sign them. This is the antitrust theory. If you want to go to college and play football, you have to accept the terms of the NCAA-managed monopoly. I.e., you have to sign the waiver. But I don't see this argument as a winner. In fact, the NCAA has won a number of antitrust cases already, if not on this particular theory. You can play football in Canada, in the arena leagues, etc., and /or you can go to college.
So the sky-would-fall scenario that Delaney posits would only kick in if the court ruled broadly that the NCAA can't enforce these waivers. I'd be surprised if we ever got there.
More to the point, though, why is Delaney operating in this space, taking these positions? It might be that he simply wants to curry favor with the NCAA, which has hammered one of his marquee schools over extra benefits. Maybe he wants to keep the NCAA close, so they'll think of his conference as fully committed to NCAA-style extra-benefits tyranny?
That seems pretty short-sighted, and to my mind inconsistent with where he was heading when he announced that the B1G would pay kids a stipend. To be sure, a uniform stipend for all players on top of the scholarship is well short of the bidding war for players that Delaney says he fears is coming. But I saw the conference starting to acknowledge how unfairly the athletes are treated (at least financially), and now it looks like he's backtracking.
My dream has been that we have outright Conference Armageddon, and the surviving major conferences, led by Delaney, simply opt out of the NCAA, which has no leverage over them other than that they organize the various non-football postseasons. Thing is, if a critical mass of conferences leave the NCAA behind, they'll be content hosting a March Madness of their own. Every big-time football school has to look at the recent infractions cases and think, "there but for the grace of God go I." Why do they want this grief? Why do they need these soul-sucking regulators telling them whether or not they can offer bagels AND cream cheese to recruits? They have to be wondering if there's a reason to subject themselves to a whimsical, inconsistent, arbitrary governor, when they could push the NCAA aside, establish their own rules, and govern themselves.
To be sure, that's what the NCAA once was: a membership organization designed to manage shared interests, including the establishment and enforcement of common rules of competition. Over time, though, it's become a bungling, ham-handed, self-interested organization. I saw the PSU sanctions as a last-ditch bid to establish NCAA legitimacy: they took the one case in which they could swing their biggest hammer and not be criticized for it, and they swung the hammer. At this point everybody loved that they had the hammer, and if anything, many of us wanted to hand them a bigger hammer. This was a big victory for them, and it bought them, I dunno, a couple more years of life.
If in the end Delaney, Slive, and the rest of the gang break off from the NCAA and establish their own arms-length governance organization -- and maybe that's what Delaney wants to preserve here, with his affidavit and supporting interview: the ability to do just that -- let's hope they build in sufficient league oversight to keep that organization from morphing into NCAA 2.0.
If you cultivate relationships with sportswriters and sports media, if you give them good quotes, if you give them access, you will get favorable coverage. If not, well, ask Albert Belle, who never got his due for his accomplishments on the field.
Two years ago ESPN Outside the Lines had a Green Zone set up in Columbus, and the network was litigating OSU to the state Supreme Court over redactions to documents it had requested under the public records law.
Would they have been there if Tressel had been a committed and consistent "Friend of the Network?" I don't know. But we know that quite a few simmering scandals at other schools have gone largely unexplored by The Worldwide Leader, and Urban must know that, too. By building this bridge and allowing free, profitable traffic over it, he gives ESPN every reason in the world not to burn it.
The ESPN conflict of interest — acting as journalists to cover sporting events that they pay for and profit from televising — has burned us in the past. Big props to Coach Meyer for turning it (potentially) in our favor. Maybe next time some kid takes a $500 handshake (and it will happen), ESPN won't spend the ensuing eight months torching the countryside in Central Ohio.
Someone invites you on an expenses-paid trip to Florida in January? You go.
I wish the Hollywood-types I've written to had been even that constructive.
It might be, if I'd ever heard of Blue Mountain State.
If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 59. (Totally ripped off Ecclesiastes, by the way.)
I've got a book all right, but there's nothing in it about the Buckeyes. Thinking maybe your idea has more legs . . .
Yeah -- my fault. Correction made. Can I blame Apple Maps?
It's all speculation, but one has to wonder whether frustration with PSU may have boiled over behind the scenes in the B1G. Gigantic moral failure that casts a shadow over everyone in contact with the program — including the conference. Plus one of the league's 4 signature football programs goes over the top and Scarfaces itself.
I would think that at any recent meeting of the conference Presidents or ADs, the knives were out, and nobody had Penn State's back. And rightly so.
Maybe it got ugly and PSU started to look around. Can't imagine it would have had much leverage, other than in, say, the Big East. You'd have to be some kind of albatross salesman to pitch Mt. Nittany to any conference right now. But it could have happened, and maybe Delany had to fight a rearguard action.
All that sounds a bit implausible to me. If you eat a bad taco, you don't send two sardines after it to keep it down. But you never know.
Or maybe Uncle Alvarez just sees things a certain way.
Arkansas is a second-tier power in the SEC. The notion that Bielema would bolt a second-tier B1G program, in a city with something of a cultural and intellectual character to it, to take a gig in Arkansas . . . well, it's another slap in the face to the Big Ten's standing in the conference pecking order.
Wait: who am I kidding? The cultural and intellectual character of Madison vs. the prospect of tooling around town on a Harley with a winsome blonde Athletic Department page wrapped around your back? We all know Bielema's choice here. (I'm guessing this subject was covered in the preceding 167 comments: if that's right, I apologize. If I'm wrong: shame on you all.)
It's true Wisky has thrived in recent years without the benefit of any significant recruiting classes. It will be interesting to see where Bielema's teams go from here.
I'm wondering that, too. The problem is that we're doing this by picking off the schools that have average football programs, at best. By the time the ACC breaks, we'll have eaten our fill of dreck — unless we're not planning to stop at 16.
But if we don't stop at 16, then scheduling becomes a mess, or at least the B1G becomes less of a conference than a loose affiliation of schools that play one another in football every 8-10 years (other than in-division).