Archive for February, 2010
The University of Michigan must fire Rich Rodriguez. NOW!
According to ESPN:
In its notice of allegations — which Michigan received Monday — the NCAA said Rodriguez “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program” and tracked neither what his staff was doing nor whether his players were following NCAA rules. It also said the athletics department failed to make sure its football program was complying with NCAA regulations.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that these are five major NCAA violations.
This isn’t just a case of an idiot assistant calling a player during a dead period. The NCAA might not have said it but I will – INSTITUTIONAL LACK OF CONTROL.
I don’t hate or love Michigan football. I admire the program largely because it’s taken good care of the occasional Western PA kid who has matriculated to Ann Arbor – Ty Law, Marlin Jackson and Steve Breaston come to mind – and because I hate Ohio State. But I also realize those guys played for Lloyd Carr, a true Michigan man.
Michigan tries to set itself up as a program of great integrity and character. A program that engenders great loyalty in its players. A program that tries to do right (though no program is perfect anymore, if ever). It’s an admirable goal whether you cheer for them or not.
I’ve been screaming for 2 years now that Rich Rodriguez, whether he would win or not, is not a Michigan Man. For all his real coaching talent, he is slime. He was slime at WVU (in contrast to Bill Stewart who seems to be a genuinely good man). He’s slime now.
Ultimately, a combination of not winning enough and NCAA violations will be his undoing. And deservedly so. He’s 8-16 in two years and the bar has been re-set so low that an 8-win season might be considered a success for the Wolverines. That is unacceptable. College football is better off when a program like Michigan is strong.
Go after Charlie Strong or Jim Harbaugh, Randy Edsall or Turner Gill. Get a man who can at least be mistaken for having a soul (unlike a guy such as Bobby Petrino) and get back to being the Victors of the West. And fraking beat Ohio State!!
As a sports fan, I don’t really care that Tiger Woods stepped out on his wife, however, I think he has all the over-attention and ridicule coming to him.
Athletes like Woods put themselves in position for huge endorsements not simply by excelling in their sport but also by creating a veneer of wholesomeness around them. Buick and Accenture wouldn’t have signed up with Woods if he was as outspoken as Charles Barkley or as colorful as Dennis Rodman. To paraphrase Michael Jordan, “Republicans buy Buicks too.”
So when the fall comes, as it inevitably will for many athletes, when we learn that Woods isn’t the paragon of virtue that he consciously modeled himself to be, it follows then that he does deserve public ridicule. It didn’t necessarily have to affect his performance on the greens. After all, Jordan’s gambling didn’t affect his performance on the court, though that admittedly was less public. Woods is taking time out of the game and so be it. Maybe he really is sorry for his actions. Or maybe he needs time away so that the faux-rage can pass.
This scandal won’t torpedo his career and it likely won’t prevent him from surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time Majors wins record. It will probably just delay the inevitable a little. Eventually this will all blow over (as past scandals have for the likes of Ray Ray Lewis and Kobe Bean Bryant). People will make jokes from time-to-time and those pre-disposed to disliking Woods will continue to dislike him and those predisposed to liking him will like him again. And some of us will yawn throughout.
Feel sorry for Elin and his kids. They deserve sympathy. But while the storm persists, let’s not get on our high horses about the attention paid to Woods’ affairs. He made our opinions of his image part of his business.
… or How to Silence Orrin Hatch
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the Big Ten will take Mizzou if they fail to land Texas. Mizzou isn’t a slam-dunk addition like Texas but it does meet the Big Ten’s academic requirements and it’s a large flagship school which brings the St. Louis and KC markets into the Big Ten footprint. The other major candidate, Pitt, clinches the rest of the Pittsburgh market and brings a decent added presence in the northeast but PSU already has strong market coverage in the northeast. Forget about Syracuse and Rutgers, which don’t guarantee NYC, which is a Pro town anyway. And Nebraska and OU don’t add enough market presence.
Let’s also think about the musical chairs in a collective sense. If the Big Ten took Pitt (or Syracuse or Rutgers), it could very well wreck the Big East as a football conference. What people fail to take into account when criticizing the Big East’s BCS status (which btw we’ve quite well enough to maintain our standing) is that it is to the BCS’ advantage to have the Big East included. Politically, you can’t shut out that many northeastern FBS schools, especially tradition-rich schools like Pitt, WVU and Syracuse as well as up-and-comers like Rutgers and UConn. You want a slight majority of FBS universities in the BCS; thus, the less likely it is to fall prey to anti-trust action. That’s not an argument for the BCS to expand by adding the MWC – that would be overkill. But just a few more teams will suffice.
Let’s follow the dominoes:
1) Big Ten takes Mizzou from the Big XII.
2) PAC-10 takes Colorado and Utah from the Big XII and MWC, respectively.
3) Big XII takes TCU and BYU from the MWC to fill the gaps left by Colorado’s & Mizzou’s departures.
Bam, there go the three strongest long-term football-playing institutions. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will shut up about a playoff once his state’s two biggest schools are part of the big dawg’s club. TCU is currently the strongest school in Texas that’s not in a BCS conference. The lone wolf left out in the cold is Boise State, which I’m convinced will fall into disrepair anyway in a few years once Chris Peterson leaves. In fact, I’d posit that Boise State not getting into a BCS conference will hasten his departure and Boise State’s demise. Plus, Idaho doesn’t have enough political clout to bring down the BCS; the Mormon state is the key because they have two strong FBS schools.
The paths of BCS teams leaving one conference or another is irrelevant. Texas to the Big Ten or PAC-10 – Texas A&M following big-brother Texas or not – Colorado leaving for the PAC-10 – Mizzou going to the Big Ten – all that matters is to make just enough room for BYU, Utah and TCU to move up. (Personally, I feel that Houston is a stronger long-term prospect than TCU because of enrollment and potential market size but they’re only just starting their revival under Kevin Sumlin, who may leave soon anyway. But I digress…)
The end result is that the gravy train is expanded just a smidge to include a couple relatively deserving FBS schools (as compared to the likes of Wazzu & Miss St, at least) and the BCS rolls on, still scorned but stronger than ever. A plus-one/four-team playoff may eventually happen but it’ll never get larger than that.
Shellfishly, us old-time northeasterners want the Keystone State rivalry to be renewed, which drives a lot of people around here who want Pitt in the Big Ten. Fair enough, but if FSU/UF and UGA/GT can play OOC every year, the same can happen for Pitt/Pennstate. We just need some time for JoePa to finally retire and then a couple years afterwards for scheduling to get worked out. It will happen by the latter half of the decade. Patience, my friends, patience.
In the meantime, remember that moreso than cultural or historical fit, conference expansion is about market size, market size, market size.
So we’re all reading tons and tons about the Big Ten candidacies of Pitt, RU, Syracuse, Mizzou, Nebraska, Texas and its little lonestar sisters. And then there’s the PAC-10 possibly poaching from a list that includes Texas, Colorado or Utah. And then the Big XII turning around and choosing from a list that includes Utah, BYU, TCU and Houston. And the Big East fighting for survival with a list that includes UCF, Memphis & Temple or dream-gets like UMD or BC.
That’s five of the six BcS conferences looking to shake up the college sports landscape with resultant repercussions for Conference USA, the WAC and MWC.
In all this discussion, why do we not mention the reigning behemoth – the SEC? What’s to prevent the SEC from going after … TEXAS? And why not? 12 is only the minimum for a conf title game. Adding Texas and either OU, Texas A&M or Texas Tech would be beyond blockbuster. It would shatter everything in college sports.
I recognize that the Big Ten makes more money than even the SEC and the SEC is probably pretty content at 12 teams, which makes the Big Ten and PAC-10 far more likely moves for the Longhorns. Still, it’s worth pondering though in the final analysis, I can’t see Texas moving; the Texas legislature just wouldn’t allow a move that could harm its Lonestar little sisters.
Photo Credit: burntorangenation.com
In honor of NLI Day, let us speculate.
In the fall of 2010, sophomore Kevin Newsome and mega-recruit Paul Jones will lose the PSU starting QB competition to true freshman Robert Bolden. Not willing to ride the pine for three years, Jones transfers to Pitt and Newsome follows in the footsteps of Jeff Hostetler by transferring to WVU. Three years later, Paul Jones starts for Pitt at Panther Hollow Field as they welcome Pennstate back to their eastern roots as a member of the re-formed Eastern Elite Conference (along with new/old members BC, ND, UVA, VT & UMD) in Greg Schiano’s first year at the helm of the State Penn. Mr. Schiano leads Pennstate out of the tunnel in true Jersey fashion – doing the fist pump.
Former PSU coach Joe Paterno is given a rousing chorus of “@$$h0le” by the Pitt faithful. Pennstaters at the game respond by throwing their beverages high up in the air but are surprised when said concoctions come straight down and hit them in the head. Former DC Tom Bradley weeps in a corner, alone and forgotten.
Schiano’s personal guests include the newly elected Governor of New Jersey, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and first lady Snooki. Inspired by Schiano’s Jersey pride, The Situation subsequently passes a bill requiring all New Jersey/Staten Island/guido athletes to do the Fist Pump during pre-game ceremonies and changes the state song to Kernkfraft 400′s Zombie Nation. Mr. Schiano’s controversial replacement of White with Orange as PSU’s secondary color to more closely mirror the color of all his NJ players’ skin pays huge dividends as Pennstate’s new Orange-Glo Nights (sponsored by Fanta) will come to be devastating to opponents who can’t handle the burst of color from the students’ section. (Incidentally, PSU loses its first Orange-Glo against Mr. Schiano’s old team Rutgers because the PSU players can’t pick out the Rutgers’ players amidst the sea of orange).
Pitt avenges the memories of 48-14 by blasting Bolden into the ground in Dave Wannstedt’s swan song as Pitt coach before turning over the reins to OC Frankie Cignetti. Wannstedt’s first act as new Athletic Director is to bring back the script PITT as a third jersey. On the Pitt sideline that day are former greats Mike DITKA, who commands that all Pitt men must grow mustaches, goatees or beards, POTUS Larry Fitzgerald, Governor of Florida Danny Marino and the man responsible for finally destroying the BCS and instituting a college football playoff, NCAA Commissioner Tony Dorsett (pronounced DOR-sett, not dor-SETT).
Pitt Defensive Coordinator Tony Siragusa, one of the holdovers from Wannstedt’s staff, threatens to eat anyone who goes against DITKA’s commandment or doesn’t believe that Larry would’ve have caught that. Mr. Siragusa does end up eating Bob Nutting on orders from Pirates, Penguins and city of Pittsburgh owner/Wizard of Oz Mario Lemieux. Mr. Lemieux’s Man-Behind-The-Curtains, Ron Burkle slides into the all-concealing shadow as he seeks to find the Jade Monkey, road maps and ice scraper before the next full moon.
From up on high, the Four Horsemen of Pittsburgh Football – Art Rooney Sr, Pop Warner, Jock Sutherland and Myron Cope look down on all that they have wrought and smile. For behold, it is very good.
Photo Credits: Joe Hermitt/The Patriot News, Matt Freed/Post-Gazette