Although almost the entirety of my Friday radio show on Sporting News Radio was spent talking about the punishments handed down to USC Thursday, I haven’t had a chance to write about them here at LBS. There are so many different directions to go — arrogance, invincibility, money, greed, lying, denials, Heismans, Carroll getting off, Kiffin Karma — but now’s not the time for all of that. Instead, I’d like to focus on one aspect of the saga I missed this weekend. In one of the most ironic twists I’ve read about, USC — the same school whose coaches completely disregarded the advice and warnings of its compliance directors — has turned in opposing schools to their compliance officers! Here’s the scoop:
One of the biggest gripes amongst those dissatisfied with the shifting landscape in college football conferences is that it’s nothing but a cash grab. While these conferences are looking to add teams to boost their overall revenue, I believe the money made from TV deals will be put to good use by the schools. For instance, the extra revenue could help balance the budgets of the various athletic departments by paying the bills of the other athletic teams. Additionally, the money could go to the university’s general fund to support institutional research and help keep tuition fees down. In stark contrast is what’s going on with Memphis. According to Gary Parrish at CBS Sports, the CEO at FedEX, Fred Smith, is willing to offer a BCS conference $10 million per year to let Memphis in as a member. If any of the six eligible conferences comply, it would be a signal of the ultimate cash grab.
The shift we’re seeing across the conferences centers around one issue: football. The football programs are the ones bringing in the money and funding the rest of the athletic teams at most schools. The football programs are generating the big bucks for the conferences. The football programs are the reason Texas A&M is negotiating with two major conferences while Kansas and its historic basketball program has become a neglected child. Great, now that we’ve established that the changes are all about football, we have the answer to why Memphis has no place in a BCS conference.
Although Memphis had good seasons in 2003 and 2004 under Tommy West and they’ve had two fine players in DeAngelo Williams and Isaac Bruce, they have no history as a program. What notable accomplishment has Memphis’ football program ever achieved? What fan base do they have? What, besides $10 million a year, could Memphis’ football team possibly offer a BCS conference? Absolutely nothing, and that’s why it would be nothing other than a straight up money grab for a conference to accept them.
FedEx CEO could provide millions if BCS-affiliated league takes Memphis [Gary Parrish/CBS Sports]
With the news running rampant that Nebraska is going to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten, the first so-called domino in the world of college football has fallen. A man who has been out in front of all the reports and stories is Chip Brown of orangebloods.com, and he’s saying the move by Nebraska means the other major schools in the Big 12 will move to the Pac-10. Joining SportsCenter on ESPN, Brown said what many people figured about Nebraska’s plan to leave: it means the Big 12 is essentially dead.
Brown also said that the Texas president and athletic director met with the Texas football coaches to tell them that they did everything possible to keep the Big 12 together but they were unsuccessful. Feeling that the Big 12 is done means that Texas, along with Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado will all move to the Pac-10 to begin play in 2012, according to Brown. One minor item of concern is that Texas A&M has been talking to the SEC, but Brown is saying that the Texas governor wants to keep A&M and Texas together in the same conference.
It’s been over three months since the NCAA Infractions Committee met with USC officials for a hearing. The typical lapse between an infractions hearing and the sanctions handed down by the NCAA is six to 10 weeks, but this case has taken much longer. The LA Times suggests the long wait is due to logistics and there’s no question the NCAA wants to get it right. Why might they be taking extra time to ensure their sanctions are well reasoned? They could be facing an unprecedented legal response from USC in appeals if the penalties are too harsh.
Even though the Trojans are optimistic as they await word from the NCAA, I’m told they have a backup plan in case things don’t work out as well as hoped. Sources close to the USC athletic program and familiar with the legal proceedings say the school’s attorneys are planning to challenge the NCAA’s ability to sanction them. The source noted that USC has the legal and financial resources to put up this type of “groundbreaking” effort.
The obvious question at this point is: under what grounds could USC possibly challenge the NCAA’s sovereignty in the matter? It’s possible that USC would file their appeal under the umbrella of the public policy doctrine, if not something else. Should USC appeal the sanctions handed down by the NCAA under these grounds, they wouldn’t be the only ones challenging the NCAA’s power; Ed O’Bannon is leading a class-action suit against the NCAA regarding the use of former athletes images and likenesses for profit.
This is truly one of the coolest stories I’ve heard about recently. Listening to Clemson fan David Stein’s show on Sporting News Radio Sunday evening, I learned that Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker is also a baseball player. There have been plenty of football-baseball crossover athletes in the past but not many are as accomplished as Parker in both sports. Parker enrolled at Clemson in January of 2008 to get a head start on the football season. That also meant that Parker played for Clemson’s baseball team in the same Spring he was supposed to be a high school senior. He still dominated competition by clubbing 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. Parker later red-shirted during the fall of 2008 for the football team.
In 2009, Parker had a slight dropoff from his freshman year stats in baseball as he hit 12 home runs and drove in 52 runs with his OPS falling from .959 to .794. Later that fall (this past college football season), Parker became the starting quarterback for the Clemson football team. Parker led the Tigers to a 9-5 season in which he threw for 2,526 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He was named the first-team freshman All-ACC quarterback by Sporting News.
It looks as if the Mountain West Conference will become the seventh conference to receive an automatic BCS bid two years from now. Amidst a four-year evaluation process that began in 2008 and 2009, the MWC is the leading candidate to receive the seventh spot due in large part to Utah qualifying for a BCS game in 2008 and TCU following suit last season. Like almost everything that has to do with BCS rankings, it remains unknown what exactly all of the criteria are that the Mountain West Conference needs to fulfill over the next two years in order to secure the bid.
While I agree with the notion that some teams in the MWC have been very, very good over the last couple years, (Utah and TCU were undefeated in 2008 and 2009, respectively) the rest of the conference is weak. Utah, TCU, and BYU will probably be competitive year after year, but beyond that teams like Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado State and San Diego State make the MWC one of the more top-heavy conferences in the country. I’ll admit if there has to be a seventh team added that will receive an automatic bid, the MWC is probably as good an option as any conference, but is it really necessary to create a situation in which seven out of ten BCS bids are automatic?
It’s no secret that the computer system that is the BCS standings is flawed. In fact, that’s one of the furthest things from a secret in all of sports. Leaving only three spots open for all of the other teams in college football to grab in order to gain a BCS berth is asking for trouble. Some of the conferences (Big East) have a hard enough time fielding a team that’s worthy of their BCS bid some years. Yes, Utah beat perennial powerhouse Alabama in 2008 to finish the season ranked No. 2 in the country, but don’t expect teams from the MWC to be that stellar every year. The way the automatic bids are designed now, with six conferences receiving a bid and the other four spots up for grabs, leaves a good amount of flexibility for “Cinderella” stories and teams from small conferences to climb to the top. The NCAA should leave it that way.
Two years into evaluation, MWC in good spot [ESPN College FB Nation Blog]
Three years ago in Nick Saban’s first season as head coach at Alabama, 92,000 fans showed up at Bryant-Denny for the annual Spring Game known as A-Day. I took a lot of heat from Tide fans after criticizing them for packing the house for a meaningless intrasquad scrimmage. They must have taken my words to heart because attendance slipped to 78,000 for the ’08 Spring Game. Well now that they’ve been to back-to-back title games and won a national championship, attendance for the Spring Game is back up. I’m just disappointed that Alabama couldn’t pack the house this year.
An announced crowd of 91,312 people were on hand to witness the Bama scrimmage. That’s impressive and all, but I think the biggest question here has to be what happened to the other 800 fans? Three years ago they had to turn fans away from the gate. Now they’re winning national championships and not even filling the house to capacity. Have Bama fans gone soft? Are they just taking their success for granted? Come on, Tide fans, I expect better from you.