Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sloppiness doesn't pay with the NCAA (until they let it)

We may have the biggest NCAA football scandal since SMU got the death penalty unfolding in Chapel Hill. Terrific work by Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports establishes that there were unquestionably links between not only Gary Wichard's agency and John Blake while Blake was coaching at UNC but also that Wichard's agency was involved in paying for Marvin Austin's trips to California. Blake supposedly had a credit card from Wichard's agency in his name. That's incomprehensible, and it's probably going to lead to penalties that make USC's look tame. The Trojans got slammed in large part because the NCAA concluded a coach knew Reggie Bush was ineligible and did nothing. Here the accusations are that a coach was personally involved with the agency that made one of the school's players ineligible two seasons ago. I don't see any way Butch Davis can survive this, even if he had no personal role in it. It will be quite a while before the NCAA tells us what they're going to do to UNC, but when they take action it will be devastating.

The past few days on the air here in Columbia have been interesting. There's a segment of the South Carolina fanbase that's already throwing the towel in on their season in the wake of their loss to Auburn last weekend. The idea that a 3-1 record (with the loss coming on the road at night against a team that's currently unbeaten and in the top ten) is a letdown seems silly to me, but there seems to be a race amongst the negative folks to see who can proclaim impending doom first. If the Gamecocks can take care of business on imminently winnable road trips to Vandy/Kentucky and home games with Tennessee/Troy, that alone would give them seven wins and a decent bowl trip. Get just one of the Bama/Ark home games or at UF/Clemson and it's progress, and two would be among the best seasons the school's ever had. I thought the bitter fans were being ridiculous until I saw Jeff Elliott's blog on the Florida Times-Union's website. According to Elliott, only Florida has not disappointed their fans so far the way the Jaguars/Noles/Bulldogs have. However, "Florida will need a win Saturday to avoid joining the other three in the disappointment category". Apparently, according to a "professional" sportswriter, anything short of being undefeated = disappointing team. UGA being 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since the 70s, and UF potentially dropping a road game to the reigning national champs who haven't lost in the regular season since 2007 - just a couple of disappointments alright. I know people care intensely about college football, but this is just absurd. Every team can't win every game - if losing on the road to high quality programs is just too much for you to bear, you need to reevluate what's reasonable to expect as a fan and try to learn how to have fun again.

I don't agree with coaches like Randy Shannon demanding their players not have Twitter or Facebook accounts. If these guys are supposed to be capable of handling college level academic work while playing football, how can you say they aren't mature enough to handle a Twitter page? The guys who are demanding their kids stay off social networks will point to Jaz Reynolds as an example of why they're right. The Oklahoma receiver got the brillliant idea to tweet that Austin's Longhorn fans should just kill themselves. It's a dreadful decision by him, with some of the resulting fallout entirely predictable. Reynolds has been suspended indefinitely by Bob Stoops for being a dumbass, which shouldn't be a factor in this weeekend's Texas game but still has the potential to be.

Somehow the NCAA is letting Dee Bost play basketball again this season for Mississippi State. Considering Bost stayed in the draft despite there being ample evidence he knew or should have known when the date to withdraw was, that's remarkable. The claim Bost wasn't aware of the deadline seems far fetched at best, but with the rule having recently changed the NCAA's giving Bost and others who may have screwed up a pass. I normally err on the side of giving kids more chances, but this ruling seems wrong to me. Bost had ample time to learn that going undrafted meant his college career was over. If, as he claims, he didn't then that means he made no effort to read anything about himself prior to the deadline. Does that sound legit? Didn't think so either.

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