Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You reap what you sow

Things are getting extremely interesting in Knoxville, as the New York Times breaks the news that the NCAA is engaged in a major investigation of Tennessee's recruiting tactics. Lane Kiffin's already lost two staff members, and may well have two more of his "super recruiters" go soon. This should make things very interesting as he looks to land replacements. As for the allegations about the UT recruiting hostesses coming to Brynes High School in South Carolina, the Gamecock coaching staff was tipped off about that as soon as it happened. It was not a spontaneous choice by the girls to show up at that game - whether that can be proven by the NCAA investigators remains to be seen, because being a whistleblower can put people in a very difficult spot.

One of those Tennessee staffers who hasn't left, LB coach Lance Thompson, may be joining Charlie Strong's staff at Louisville as his defensive coordinator. UF will need to fill Strong's shoes, as he's scheduled to be announced as the new Cardinals head man this afternoon. This means he won't be eligible next year for the Broyles Award as top assistant coach, which he lost to Alabama's Kirby Smart Tuesday, but I'm guessing he's okay with that. We'll see how many, if any, coaches leave Florida's staff along with Strong. I anticipate a promotion from within for the DC spot, and there's really no reason for Strong to stick around for the Sugar Bowl with UF not playing for a championship. It's great to see this finally happen for Strong - he's waited a long time and appears to have found a good situation.

The idea being discussed by the NCAA to expand the NCAA Basketball Tournament to 96 teams as a way to generate extra TV revenue is unbelievably stupid. If someone wanted to concoct a plan to ruin the entire sport of college basketball, this would be a blueprint. The idea would basically turn week one of the tournament into the 9-16 seeds in a current bracket battling for their spots with the NIT field. The 1-8 seeds would have the week off. The effect would be that every team in a major conference with anything resembling a pulse would make the tournament. The February bubble games that are mandatory watching now for hoop fans? Meaningless. Conference tournaments, where a Mississippi State or Georgia from 08 can battle their way to a season saving bid? A waste of time - everyone's already in. Epic first round upsets that built the interest in the tournament like 15 seed Richmond over 2 seed Syracuse? Gone in favor of them beating the sixth team in the Big Ten instead. This is a disastrously bad idea - anyone with the slightest love of college basketball should raise hell if it ever sees the light of day.

Peter Gammons leaving ESPN for the MLB Network will have a huge impact on their coverage. Buster Olney and Jayson Stark are both solid info guys, but neither has the built up role as Mr. Baseball that Gammons does. Losing Steve Phillips was nothing big, but Gammons going means ESPN has to find someone to fill those shoes. Looking around, it's hard to see who that person would be. I honestly have no idea if my cable company even offers the MLB Network. This is significant enough that I'm going to find out.

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