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The Sweater Vest and His Trangressions

 

Though this is a topic most thought I would have commented on a long time ago since he is the namesake of my blog, I have been hesitant to comment because if I say anything short of “Tressel is a scumbag and should be fired immediately” I will be undoubtedly be labeled as a homer. After much consideration I have decided the topic is just too big to stay away from.

      By now everyone knows what Tressel did. He did not report information that was forwarded to him by a Columbus lawyer about Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey selling their game worn equipment and other items to an owner of a tattoo parlor who was busted in a drug sting. It turned out that 5 players were involved in the selling of equipment/awards. Four of them were found to have also received discounted tattoos from the same parlor.

      Tressel’s explanation for his behavior was he was told by the lawyer who forwarded him this information that this was to be kept in confidence. The problem with that is the email saying that came two weeks after the original emails came to Tressel. Tressel signed a letter that all coaches must sign before the football season saying that all of the players on the roster were in good standing eligibility wise. During the subsequent investigation that happened later in the football season, Tressel did not come forward with this information. It was uncovered during the review of Tressel’s emails on a separate investigation.

       Tressel not coming forward after he received the first email cannot be explained away and is definitely a violation. Tressel’s subsequent failure to come forward he attributes to the email that said keep this information in confidence.  If you are in the camp that buys that Cam Newton did not know that his dad was shopping him around the SEC for cash, then you probably excuse Tressel for not coming forward because of the email saying that the information was to be kept in confidence. I happen to believe that Cam new what his father was doing, and I also believe that Tressel used the email asking for the information to be kept in confidence as a convenient out to not come forward.

     No one is really debating that what Tressel did was wrong. The debate stems over what his punishment should be. I have heard everything from the two game suspension was enough; to he should be fired immediately. I personally think that the 5 game suspension that matches the players is about right. If the NCAA threw in that he could not coach spring practice I would understand. I have heard people say that the 5 game suspension is a slap on the wrist. I don’t see how missing almost 50% of the season is an insignificant punishment. If you suspended a college basketball coach for 16 games, I don’t think anyone would say that was a slap on the wrist. Make no mistake; Tressel is one of the best coaches at game management and making halftime game plan adjustments. If you wanted to go back and take away the wins from the 2010 season, I wouldn’t argue with that either.

   One of the more curious arguments that I have heard is that Tressel is at fault for the players that committed the violations playing in the sugar bowl. Neither Tressel nor tOSU had anything to do with the length of the player suspensions or when they were to be served. I don’t know of any football coach in America that would have sat down players that were found to be eligible to play by the NCAA.

    The final point I wanted to tackle on this topic was the comparisons that people are making between Tressel and Bruce Pearl. Tressel committed one violation. Pearl gave false information about a cookout that took place at his house with high school juniors, which is a violation. He then failed to notify Tennessee about another recruiting violation that took place 4 days after his tearful news conference about the cookout violation. On Sept. 14 he committed a violation on a recruiting trip to Georgia by speaking with a high school junior, a violation of what is called the “bump rule” by the NCAA.  A UT basketball player, Brian Williams, was in violation of the athletic department substance abuse policy, but Pearl attributed his two game absence to a bad back rather than a suspension. The latest violation involved a mix up with the player pass list for UT on March 6th, and while not a major violation, is made to look worse in concert with all the other violations. I think it is pretty easy to see the differences in Tressel’s behavior and Bruce Pearls, and that the same punishment would not fit both offenses.

Mock Draft 2.0 Post Combine

Here is a look at the NFl draft post combine. Let me know what you think!

1 – CAR: Dareus, Marcell – DT – Alabama
Carolina needs a lot, but I think the look defense with the first pick with no QB worthy of the top spot. With Bowers hurt and not working out, Dareus took the opportunity to really impress scouts in Indy and many have hime as the #1 DT over Fairley.
2 – DEN: Bowers, Da’Quan – DE – Clemson
Denver’s defense is flat out awful. They desperately need an upgrade in their front 7. While I believe Peterson is the best player on the board, Fairley or Bowers would fill a bigger need. I have Denver choosing Bowers.
3 – BUF: Fairley, Nick – DT – Auburn
The best player available is probably Peterson, but I don’t think the Bills go there. QB is a position of need, but at this point Gabbert and Newton are reaches here.They need a big body for their defense and Fairley falls into their laps. They can value at QB at the top of round 2.
4 – CIN: Green, A.J. – WR – Georgia
think the Bengals have to chose between Peterson, who they could play at FS if they retain Jonathan Josepf or CB if they do not, and Green. I think Green is the best WR to come out since Calvin Johnson. He allows the Bengals to move on from Chad Johnson and gives the Bengals a potent group of young pass catchers along with Gresham, Shipley, Simpson, and Caldwell. Gabbert and Newton are possibilities, but I think the Bengals go QB in round 2
5 – ARI: Miller, Von – OLB – Texas A&M
The QB position is a mess in ‘zona, but I really think to keep Fitzgerald happy they go the free agent route. They have to choose between Peterson and Von Miller. Both are excellent athletes that make immediate impact. Miller was by many accounts the best player at the Senior Bowl. Shows great pass rush skills with the ability to cover in man-to-man as well as zone schemes.
6 – CLE: Quinn, Robert – DE – North Carolina
Quinn performed very well at the combine. He is biog enough at 270 lbs to hold up against the run and showed enough athletic ability to drop into zones. His pass rushing skills are unquestioned. Helps Cleveland transition to the 4/3 defense they will now play..
7 – SF: Peterson, Patrick – CB – LSU
Peterson is one of the three best players overall in the draft and is a steal here. Every team from #2 down had to at least think about picking him.
8 – TEN: Gabbert, Blaine – QB – Missouri
I think this is wear the first QB comes of the board. Gabbert did not throw at the combine, but tested well athletically and was impressive in interviews with his football knowledge.
9 – DAL: Amukamara, Prince – CB – Nebraska
This pick makes itself. The Cowboys desperately need secondary help and the #2 corner in the draft falls in their lap.
10 – WAS: Jones, Julio – WR – Alabama
To say Jones had a monster combine would be an understatement. a 4.39 forty along with great boad and long jumps, all with a broken foot, show what kind of a special athlete Jones is. If he puts injury concerns to bed, he is a lock to not get out of the top 10.
11 – HOU: Smith, Aldon – DE – Missouri
The Texans need as many play making defenders as they can find. Secondary help would be preferred, but no prospect in the secondary is worth this pick. Smith is a college DE who projects well at SLB. He has pass rush ability and can go sideline to sideline.
12 – MIN: Newton, Cam – QB – Auburn
The Vikes have major questions about the future of their QB position. Newton had a up and down combine. Great physical measurables, but struggled throwing the ball to unfamiliar receivers. His stock could go back up into top 10 after his pro day.
13 – DET: Jordan, Cameron – DE – California
The Lions really need a CB, but there is not one worthy of this pick. Jordan represents good value in this pick as well as adding another pass rusher to this DL group. Had a good senior bowl and combine.
14 – STL: Baldwin, Jon – WR – Pittsburgh
The Rams desperately need a true #1. Everyone forgot about Baldwin since he did not play this year. At 6’5 and 220lbs he ran a 4.5 at the combine. Those measurables and STL desperate need for a #1 make them reach a little for Baldwin, but not nearly as much of a reach as some think.
15 – MIA: Ingram, Mark – RB – Alabama
Another pick that takes the team no time to turn in. They add the best back in the draft as Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams move on.
16 – JAX: Clayborn, Adrian – DE – Iowa
The Jaguars have been trying to upgrade their pass rush for years. Clayborn is a beast that can rush the passer as well as stand up against the run. Shows great leadership skills as well.
17 – NE: Kerrigan, Ryan – DE – Purdue
The Patriots can go a lot of different directions here. Kerrigan is a smart, high motor guy with a great ability to rush the QB. Dispelled worries he was not athletic enough to drop into coverage with a 4.71 40 and good all around combine workout.
18 – SD: Heyward, Cameron – DE – Ohio State
San Diego gets a chance to draft a player perfect for their 3/4. He provides good pash rush as a 3/4 end and is stout enough to hold up versus the run.
19 – NYG: Solder, Nate – OT – Colorado
The G-Men look to upgrade the offensive line. In a weak class for OT(the best one in the class is usually gone long before now) they take the opportunity to add Solder. Stock has slipped a bit after not a great combine.
20 – TB: Watt, J.J. – DE – Wisconsin
The mammoth DE had a good showing in Indy and is climbing boards because of his scheme versatility and great athleticism at his size. Tampa needs an impact edge pass rusher
21 – KC: Smith, Tyron – OT – USC
The Cheifs won last year on the strenght of their ground game, and they need to make sure that continues. Smith’s stock has dropped after a so so combine, but is still a good value here.
22 – IND: Carimi, Gabe – OT – Wisconsin
The Colts need and influx of talent on the offensive line. Carimi is the best O lineman on the board. Has a nasty streak in the run game that Indy desperately needs.
23 – PHI: Castonzo, Anthony – OT – Boston College
The Eagles O line needs upgrades in talent. Castonzo is a strong young OT that will help solidify their line.
24 – NO: Wilkerson, Muhammad – DT – Temple
Wilkerson is a small school prospect that has climbed boards after workouts. He is stout against the run as well as showing good interior pass rushing skills
25 – SEA: Pouncey, Mike – OG – Florida
The Hawks face a difficult choice here. Do they draft a QB since Whitehurst appears not be the heir apparent to Hasslebeck? I think most are coming to the realization that Mallett and Lockear are not 1st round QB’s. OG and OT are their next biggest needs. Pouncey is a nice fit for them.
26 – BAL: Harris, Brandon – CB – Miami
The Ravens have got to find some capable corners to hold up in their heavy pressure scheme. Harris is a nice value here for the Ravens. Concerns over Jimmy Smiths off the field issues also help make Harris the pick.
27 – ATL: Houston, Justin – DE – Georgia
Houston is a local product and a popular pick for ATL. He is an explosive athlete that can play LB and DE and can eventually replace Abraham when he retires.
28 – NE: LeShoure, Mikel – RB – Illinois
With Mankins franchised and Kerrigan secured with their earlier first round pick, the Pats can focus on either a RB, OT, or possibly a WR. I think LeShoure is the best player available at those positions.
29 – CHI: Sherrod, Derek – OT – Mississippi St.
Its no secret that although they did get better as the season went along, the Bears O line needs upgrades in talent. Sherrod falls into the laps of the Bears, who could not be happier.
30 – NYJ: Ayers, Akeem – OLB – UCLA
The Jets are said to be focusing on resigning Holmes and Edwards, so I think they look defense. Ayers is a pass rushing OLB that had a tough combine, but still should go in the first round.
31 – PIT: Williams, Aaron – CB – Texas
t is no secret that the Steelers need help at OT, but all that are left would be a major reach here, and Pittsburg doesn’t do that. I think their next biggest need is CB and Williams is a nice fit for them. Again, off the field issues keep Jimmy Smith from being the pick.
32 – GB: Liuget, Corey – DT – Illinois
The Packers could face losing two DE’s to free agency and need to add some depth there. Liuget is a prospect who is climbing boards during workouts. High motor guy that can play 3/4 end.
Here is a link to my combine at fftoolbox.com. If you have a minute, check it out and give it a vote.

Way too early 2011 NFL Mock draft

I started to do a post on the impending labor issues the NFL is facing, but I got depressed and did a mock draft instead. Of course, this will change after next week’s scouting combine. Let’s me know what you think of your teams pick! I will revist the labor post soon.
1 – CAR: Bowers, Da’Quan – DE – Clemson
Carolina needs a lot, but I think they look defense with the first pick as no QB is worthy of the top spot. Bowers is the best pass rusher in the draft, and I think enough questions about Fairley arise to keep him out of the top spot.
2 – DEN: Fairley, Nick – DT – Auburn
Denver’s defense is flat out awful. They desperately need an upgrade in their front 7. While I believe Peterson is the best player on the board, Fairley fills a bigger need.
3 – BUF: Newton, Cam – QB – Auburn
The best player available is probably Peterson, but I don’t think the Bills go there. I think by the time it’s all said and done Cam Newton goes here. It reminds me a lot of the Vince Young draft scenario. Newton has all the physical tools. If his background checks out, I think he comes of the board here. He can sit behind Fitzpatrick for this year.
4 – CIN: Green, A.J. – WR – Georgia
I think the Bengals have to chose between Peterson, who they could play at FS if they retain Jonathan Joseph or CB if they do not, and Green. I think Green is the best WR to come out since Calvin Johnson. He allows the Bengals to move on from Chad Johnson and gives the Bengals a potent group of young pass catchers along with Gresham, Shipley, Simpson, and Caldwell
5 – ARI: Miller, Von – OLB – Texas A
The QB position is a mess in ‘zona, but I really think to keep Fitzgerald happy they go the free agent route. They have to choose between Peterson and Von Miller. Both are excellent athletes that make immediate impact. Miller was by many accounts the best player at the Senior Bowl. Shows great pass rush skills with the ability to cover in man-to-man as well as zone schemes.
6 – CLE: Dareus, Marcell – DT – Alabama
With Dareus on the board this is a hard choice for the Browns. They could go with Julio Jones, but he may not be the pure speed guy they need. 3/4 DE are at a premium and the Browns can’t pass on Dareus who can rush the passer and be stout against the run.
7 – SF: Peterson, Patrick – CB – LSU
Peterson is probably on of the three best players overall in the draft and is a steal here. Every team from #2 down had to at least think about picking him.
8 – TEN: Amukamara, Prince – CB – Nebraska
The Titans obviously need a QB, but I think they wait to se who is available in the 2nd or 3rd round. Amukamara is a great corner who is good value at this spot.
9 – DAL: Jordan, Cameron – DE – California
The Cowboys need a new DE in their 3/4 with the probable departure of Marcus Spears. Jordan had a great senior bowl and can impact right away for them.
10 – WAS: Gabbert, Blaine – QB – Missouri
Gabbert comes of the board to the Shanahans. He has a high football IQ and a great release.
11 – HOU: Smith, Aldon – DE – Missouri
The Texans need as many play making defenders as they can find. Secondary help would be preferred, but no prospect in the secondary is worth this pick. Smith is a college DE who projects well at SLB. He has pass rush ability and can go sideline to sideline.
12 – MIN: Solder, Nate – OT – Colorado
The Vikes need a QB, but they don’t reach for players normally. Solder went to the senior bowl and left as the highest rated OT in the draft. The Vikes need to get their running game going again.
13 – DET: Quinn, Robert – DE – North Carolina
The Lions really need a CB, but there is not one worthy of this pick. Quinn represents good value in this pick as well as adding another pass rusher to this DL group.
14 – STL: Jones, Julio – WR – Alabama
The Rams desperately need a true #1 and can’t make this selection quickly enough. While he may lack elite top end speed, he has everything else you want in a #1 WR.
15 – MIA: Ingram, Mark – RB – Alabama
Another pick that takes the team no time to turn in. They add the best back in the draft as Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams most likely move on.
16 – JAX: Clayborn, Adrian – DE – Iowa
The Jaguars have been trying to upgrade their pass rush for years. Clayborn is a beast that can rush the passer as well as stand up against the run. Shows great leadership skills as well.
17 – NE: Ayers, Akeem - OLB – UCLA
The Patriots can go a lot of different directions here. I think they go with Ayers and upgrade their rush from the outside.
18 – SD: Heyward, Cameron – DE – Ohio State
San Diego gets a chance to draft a player perfect for their 3/4. He provides good pass rush as a 3/4 end and is stout enough to hold up versus the run.
19 – NYG: Smith, Tyron – OT – USC
The G-Men look to upgrade the offensive line. They have to decide between the 2nd best tackle in the draft or the best guard.  Smith is an athletic OT that some say may go higher once the evaluation process is complete.
20 – TB: Kerrigan, Ryan – DE – Purdue
After doing well in getting some young skill position talent in the last couple drafts, the Bucs look to upgrade the defense. Kerrigan is a high motor guy who is at his best with his hand on the ground rushing the QB.
21 – KC: Carimi, Gabe – OT – Wisconsin
The Chiefs won last year on the strength of their ground game, and they need to make sure that continues. Carimi is a devastating run blocker and is more than adequate in pass protection.
22 – IND: Castonzo, Anthony – OT – Boston College
The Colts need and influx of talent on the offensive line. Castonzo is the best O lineman on the board.
23 – PHI: Sherrod, Derek – OT – Mississippi St.
The Eagles O line needs upgrades in talent. Sherrod is a strong young OT that help solidify their line.
24 – NO: Watt, J.J. – DE – Wisconsin
Watt falls into the laps of the Saints. He is a mammoth end that still rushes the passer very well and is stout against the run.  Bookends nicely with Will Smith.
25 – SEA: Pouncey, Mike – OG – Florida
The Hawks face a difficult choice here. Do they draft a QB since Whitehurst appears not be the heir apparent to Hasslebeck? I think most are coming to the realization that Mallett and Lockear are not 1st round QB’s. OG and OT are their next biggest needs. Pouncey is a nice fit for them.
26 – BAL: Harris, Brandon – CB – Miami
The Ravens have got to find some capable corners to hold up in their heavy pressure scheme. Harris is a nice value here for the Ravens
27 – ATL: Houston, Justin – DE – Georgia
Houston is a local product and a popular pick for ATL. He is an explosive athlete that can play LB and DE and can eventually replace Abraham when he retires.
28 – NE: LeShoure, Mikel – RB – Illinois
With Mankins franchised and Ayers secured with their earlier first round pick, the Pats can focus on either a RB, OT, or possibly a WR. I think LeShoure is the best player available at those positions.
29 – CHI: Wisniewski, Stefen – C – Penn State
Its no secret that although they did get better as the season went along, the Bears O line needs upgrades in talent. After the run on OT in picks in picks 19-23, they have to look interior lineman. Wizniewski is the best pure center in the draft. Provides insurance if Kruetz does not return and can play some guard if Kruetz stays another year or two. Jonathan Baldwin at WR is a possibility, but is not really a Mike Martz type WR.
30 – NYJ: Paea, Stephen – DT – Oregon St.
The Jets are said to be focusing on resigning Holmes and Edwards, so I think they look defense. Paea offers versatility on the D line. He can play both NT and DE in their 3/4 front. WR Baldwin could go here if the lose Edwards.
31 – PIT: Williams, Aaron – CB – Texas
It is no secret that the Steelers need help at OT, but all that are left would be a major reach here and Pittsburg doesn’t do that. I think their next biggest need is CB and Williams is a nice fit for them.
32 – GB: Wilkerson, Muhammad – DT – Temple
The Packers could face losing two DE’s to free agency and need to add some depth there. Wilkerson is a small school 3/4 end prospect who is climbing boards. Shows good athleticism and pass rush ability.

Texas, ESPN, and the future of the Big 12

   By now most of you have heard of the mega deal struck between ESPN and the University of Texas. Basically, it stipulates that ESPN will produce the Longhorn network and provide the infrastructure for an all-Texas, all the time sports channel. ESPN will pay Texas $15,000,000 a year for the next 20 years, for a total of $300,000,000. For Texas, this is a no-brainer. They will still receive money from the Big12 conference’s TV deal, which they get a majority of because the Big12 has an uneven money distribution with the more powerful schools receiving more money than the lesser schools. This is a big reason why Nebraska left the Big12; they did not feel like they should play second fiddle to Texas in terms of money paid out by the conference. Also, it has been joked that the Big12 conference’s head offices(which are housed in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area)should be located in Austin, TX. This is because since Texas agreed to join the Big12 in 1994, what Texas wants, Texas gets. One example (besides the disparity in monies paid out) is that when the conference was formed, all of the schools, with the exception of Texas, wanted to allow partial qualifiers to be signed to scholarships. For those unfamiliar with the term, a partial qualifier is a student-athlete who does not meet all the academic standards of a university, but is admitted and allowed to practice with the team their freshman year and must meet minimum academic requirements to become a full qualifier and play his remaining 3 years. Because Texas did not want partial qualifiers, they were not allowed in the Big12.

   While it is obvious to me why Texas would take this deal, I am still trying to figure out why ESPN would go for this. They are only going to be able to show 1 to 2 football games a year(and those will most likely be against FCS opponents), 8 basketball games, and Olympic sports. The rest of the time they will show academically themed content, like debates, and culturally themed content, like plays and orchestra concerts. The only reason I can come up with is that ESPN thinks that in the near future Texas will go independent and ESPN will be in position to have an NBC/Notre Dame type deal. My question to ESPN would be, why would Texas go independent? Now they will not only get around $14,000,000 from the Big12, they will get another $15,000,000 from ESPN. Plus, the Big12 conference gives Texas whatever it wants. They would also have to find a home for all of their olympic sports.  In addition, the Big12 is still an automatic qualifying conference in terms of the BCS. If  Texas was to go independent, they don’t have a clause like Notre Dame that allows for their automatic inclusion in the BCS with a certain number of wins. That automatic qualification in the BCS by winning the Big12 would be no more. The only way I see Texas becoming independent is if the other schools in the Big12 get tired of the uneven playing field and start to seek out better deals elsewhere. I would think a school like Oklahoma would look to follow Nebraska’s lead and find a better situation for themselves. That could trigger a domino effect that would spell the end of the Big12. The other challenge that ESPN will face will be selling the network to the various cable/satellite companies that will have to include the channel in the packages. While the Texas brand is very strong, it will not draw nearly as many potential households as the Big10 network does. The Big10 had a hard time at first getting its network picked up in the beginning, but now has deals with over 300 carriers and reaches 74,000,000 homes in the US and Canada. I can’t imagine in their wildest dreams that ESPN thinks that a network featuring only one university will be appealing to enough carriers that ESPN will make a profit on running the network.

       The SEC and the Big10 have been the most financially successful conferences with their TV deals. The Big 10 partnered with Fox to produce an individual network, while the SEC struck a deal with ESPN to carry SEC games within the ESPN family of networks. SEC schools take home around $18,000,000 a piece in TV revenue, while the Big10 schools take home about $20,000,000 apiece. These leagues are so solid in no small part because schools like Ohio St., Michigan, Alabama, and Florida have agreed to share equally with Indiana, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss.  Texas’s inability to check their ego at the door creates a unlevel playing field for the rest of the teams in the conference. I look for Oklahoma to make a move to find a better situation for itself, most likely in the SEC or PAC 12 that will eventually spell the end of the Big12 as we know it.

Michigan taps Hoke to resurrect the program

       Michigan has landed on Brady Hoke to be their head football coach. They were turned down by Jim Harbaugh, which is not a slap in the face to Michigan at all since he took what turns out to be a great opportunity to coach the 49ers, he can stay in the house he lives in now and coach at the NFL level for $5,000,000 a year. On Monday Michigan AD David Brandon met with Les Miles. Depending on what media outlet you listen too, it is up in the air as to whether or not the job was offered to Miles. The Detroit Free Press and the LSU’s sports website Tigerbait.com are reporting Miles did indeed turn down an offer, but I can’t find the source for their information. Naturally LSU’s sports information department would report an offer was made, it makes them look good to report that their head coach turned down overtures to return to his alma mater.  However it came to pass, Michigan’s apparent first two choices turned them down. That may not turn out to be a bad thing in the long run. 

      The real question of whether or not Brady Hoke is the man to lead Michigan back to national prominence lies in a couple of key areas. First and foremost, he will need to be able to recruit on the highest level. Make no mistake, the Michigan fan base will not be happy with 9-3, 10-2 seasons. Consistently beating Ohio State, winning Big10 championships, and winning BCS bowls/championships is the stated goal. To do that, he is going to need top 10 recruiting classes, and fast. While the recruiting ranking system is pretty flawed(probably a good topic for another post!), there is no doubt a correlation between recruiting class rankings and teams success. The BCS teams with the most wins since 2005 are Ohio St, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and LSU. From 2003-2008(the years the recruits would be juniors starting in 2005)their average finish in national recruiting rankings(which I got from combining the rankings from Rivals.com and Scout.com)are:

Ohio St 12

Florida 5

Texas 10

Oklahoma 11

LSU 7

  As I stated earlier, recruiting rankings are skewed by biases of the entities that put them together, but if you are in the top 10 area, you are getting NFL type talent. The key to a successful program is how you develop your 3 star players and recruiting players that fit your system, not necessarily how many 4/5 star players you get, but as you can see the teams that are winning the most are also getting the best talent. Can Hoke recruit with the other big time coaches? 

  The next thing that will be crucial to Hoke’s success is out of his control. Will the alumni/administration give him the time necessary to turn the program around. Is Michigan AD Brandon realistic about where his program is now and how long it will take to get it to where they want to be? There is speculation that he has an unrealistic perception about how long a turnaround should take and that is what scared of Miles.  In the cases of Auburn with Gene Chizik and Jim Tressel with Ohio St, their predecessors(Tommy Tuberville and John Cooper)left them a good deal of talent to work with. The cupboard is pretty bare in Ann Arbor. Jonas Mouton is the highest rated Michigan draft prospect, and he is likely a third rounder. Will the Michigan faithful give Hoke 4 years to get them where they want to be? I think the hope is that Hoke being a “Michigan Man” will buy him more time with he alumni.  Michigan will be undergoing not only a change in staff, but a change in philosophy. They will be moving back to the pro set offense Michigan was known for before Rodriguez, and they will also be moving away from that ridiculous 3-3-5 defense and back to more pro based schemes. This will take time. Add in that Michigan screwed themselves royally by waiting until a month before national signing day for high school recruits to change coaches, meaning the will lose most of the top players from their recruiting class, and this transition could be even rougher.  Will Michigan give him the time needed? Is he up to the challenge? Time will tell.

The identity crisis that is Maryland football

 

Happy New Years all! I am back from a wonderful week in Jamaica, but now time to get back on the grind. I am intrigued by the whole University of Maryland football coaching situation. Living in the Baltimore area and having a wife that is a state of Maryland employee, this story interests me more than I would usually care about Maryland football. How does a program like Maryland justify firing the standing ACC coach of the year? Maryland finished 10-4 and has averaged 7.5 wins over the last 9 seasons and is 5-1 in bowl games over the same time.

   It is important to keep in mind that the Maryland football program generated $2,260,000 in the 2008-2009 season. The university will pay Ralph Friedgen approximately $2,500,00 to not coach this year,  pay Randy Edsall another $2,000,000, and also pay the $400,000 buyout owed to UCONN for letting Edsall go. For those of you that don’t know, Maryland, as a state economy,  is broke. The state’s budget has been horribly mismanaged with all kinds of problems, including but not limited to not even being able to collect proper taxes from the airport that total some $41,000,000.  State employees have been forced to take anywhere from 1 to 13 furlough days based on their salaries. They also had a salary reduction last year and have not had a cost of living or merritt based increase in the last 3 years, but somehow this state can find the money to put $5,000,000 into a head coach of a football program that generates around $2,500,000 while the rest of the state employees move backward in terms of the compensation. 

At the root of this problem, at least in my opinion, is the identity crisis of the Maryland football program and its fans.  A few weeks ago on ESPN radio on the SVP show, Van Pelt did what I thought was an interesting take on a few college programs. He looks at how the fans and alumin of various teams percieve themselves, versus what the programs identity really is.  For example, he took Clemson, whose fans and program see themselves as a perennial top 10 team with national title hopes every year and compared their internal perception to Florida, a team with the resources to actually be a top 10 team every year with national title hopes every year. He then said that the reality of Clemson’s situation is that they are more like South Carolina, a 4 loss a year team that every now and then will jump up and have a great season, but is not a perennial national/ ACC championship contender.

I think that Maryland’s internal perception of itself is Penn St. They feel that they should be a 10 win program every year and be able to be a major recruiting player in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Maryland really believes it is one of the top 3 programs in the ACC and should have BCS aspirations every year. Only a team that sees themselves in this light would fire the reigning ACC coach of the year. The Penn St football program generates $42,360,000 compared to Maryland’s $2,600,000.

I think Maryland’s reality is more like the University of Pittsburg, an 8 win program in an average/below average conference. Pitt is sandwiched between Penn St and Ohio St when it comes to recruiting, has a tough time keeping their best players home, and must often settle for players those two teams don’t want. Maryland has good in-state high school football players , but like Pitt,  sees most of the best ones go to two established football powers they are sandwiched between,  Penn St or Virginia Tech. Like Pitt, Maryland should expect to compete for conference championships every few years, with a BCS appearance once every 8-10 years or so.  Pitt generated $5,570,000, twice as much as Maryland.

When a school like Maryland forces out a good coach, you always have to wonder what their end game is. Do they really see themselves as a 10 win program? They don’t generate the kind of revenue that Texas, Ohio St, Florida and the like do, so it’s hard for me to see their justification for putting $5,000,000 into head coach salary this year. That’s an RTI(return on investment) of over 2 years, and that investment does not include paying out the contracts of assistant coaches that will not be retained as well as paying the incoming staff.

For me the economics don’t make sense, and we won’t even get into how awfully the situation was handled by Maryland. The way they treated a good coach and loyal alumnus was inexcusable.

The hypocrisy of the NCAA

It seems only fitting that my first post would be about the recently suspended Ohio State football players and the NCAA yet again making a huge mess out of things. First, here is the background information about what each player did:

Terrelle Pryor-sold his 2008 gold pants(Ohio St players get a gold pendant every time they beat Michigan), his 2008 conference championship ring, and his 2009 Sportsmanship Award from the Fiesta Bowl. Total $2,500.00

Mike Adams- sold his 2008 conference championship ring. Total $1,000.00

Daniel Herron- selling his football jersey, pants, and shoes and getting a discount of $150.00 on a tattoo. Total $1,150.00

DeVier Posey- selling his 2008 conference championship and accepting a discount of $50.00 on a tattoo. Total $1,250.00

Solomon Thomas- selling his 2008 gold pants, his conference championship ring, and accepting a discount of $155.00 on a tattoo. Total $1,505.00

Jordan Whiting- accepting a discounted tattoo. Total $150.00

     The first 5 players have been suspended for 5 games, Whiting was suspended for one game. All players must repay the monies received as well as the estimated cost of the discounted tattoo.

      The NCAA ruled that the players “were not aware that they were committing violations”. Ohio State’s internal investigation has uncovered that most of the money received, especially by Pryor and Posey went to their families. No one can argue that getting a discounted tattoo helps your family in any way, and as big of a Ohio St fan as I am, even I think the players knew that receiving discounted tattoos broke the rules, but I can definitely see how a player would think they could sell their own property. I think a suspension for the players that received discounted tattoos of 1 game, the Sugar Bowl, would be adequate, along with all players paying the monies back they received for selling their items, especially since the NCAA ruled the players did not knowingly break a rule.

      The NCAA seems very conflicted in their handling of this issue on its own and in comparison to other cases. On one hand, they ruled that the players did not know that they were breaking a rule, but on the other that their actions were so egregious that they should be suspended for half a season. But they also concluded that the players would be eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl. It seems to me like it should be one or the other, either the conduct warrants immediate suspension, or the 5 game suspension is to harsh, especially for players who did not know they were breaking a rule.  The NCAA has found that the players were wrong for selling their own property for profit. I will skip the whole rant on how much the NCAA and its universities make off the athletes and how unfair it is the athletes don’t get a piece of the pie. I do not believe student-athletes should be paid. The free education that they receive should not be overlooked. But to put things in perspective, Forbes magazine puts a value of $85,000,000 on Ohio States football team and the revenue they generated at $68,000,000 in 2009. That is big time business with a basically free labor source.

   The fact that the players are eligible for the Sugar Bowl is probably the biggest sticking point I have with the NCAA. If what the players did deserves a 5 game penalty, why should the suspensions not start immediately? The NCAA says that it is delaying the suspensions because they found that the players “had not been properly educated” on the rules they were breaking. Does the NCAA really think we are that gullible? They did not delay the suspensions because they felt sorry for the players or the University. The suspensions were delayed because the CEO of the Sugar Bowl asked the NCAA to do so because he did not want the potential revenue the Sugar Bowl generates to be compromised by some of the best players on Ohio State not being in the game.  So the NCAA, in the interest of protecting one of their business partners, delayed the suspensions.

   Then there is the whole Cam Newton debacle. Are we really suppose to believe that he had no knowledge of his father shopping him around for $180,000? It’s next to impossible to prove that he did, but it is beyond naive to think that he did not.  Yet, the NCAA who usually errors on the side of being heavy-handed, took no action against Cam Newton. I would think that your pops shopping you for 180 grand would be a much more serious offense than getting $505.00 worth of discounts on tattoos and selling your own personal property. ESPN’s Micheal Smith had a great quote on the whole situation, “I guess Terrelle Pryor should have just given the stuff to his mother to sell.”

  The inconsistency of the handling of these eligibility issues makes the NCAA look at best like idiots, and at worst, an agency with an agenda when it comes down to doling out punishment.

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