A Word Of Caution On The Penn State Ruling

A rare double column day at Gen Y!  I’m overextending myself, obviously.  I promise not to write again for three weeks…

It’s hard not to be fascinated by what took place this very morning when NCAA president Mark Emmert took unprecedented measures against Penn State University. The school will be forced to pay $60 million to be given to child abuse causes, will be banned from bowls for four years, and will slowly vacate increasing numbers of football scholarships over that time period. Furthermore, the NCAA erased all of Joe Paterno’s wins from 1998 until 2011 meaning he will no longer go down in record books as the all-time winning-est coach in college football history.

I even dare to broach this subject in the first place because of the shocking reactions I’ve seen on both sides of the fence on this issue. You’re either really, really happy about what the NCAA did this morning or you’re really, really pissed off about it.

Admittedly I’m a weak person and can’t really decide what side I want to side with on this one.

I confess that I felt a sick sort of pleasure this morning knowing that all of the Penn Staters out there basically suffered the post-modern version of the NCAA death penalty. By all accounts, one could easily argue that what Emmert did was far worse than anything suffered by SMU back in the 80s. I smiled when he read his penalties out loud. I do believe that this was a problem with a college, a city, and an overall culture. Whatever side you agree with, you have to admit that the NCAA did make an attempt to punish that whole community with this ruling. I liked that, sadly.

On the flip side though, I can’t stand the idea of the NCAA as an entity in the first place. If you ask me, the whole notion of college athletics really is a modern day version of slavery. It’s a bunch of rich white dudes making vast amounts of cash for doing nothing whatsoever and not deserving any of the ridiculous amounts of money that they earn.

If you’re not familiar with the history of the NCAA, you may not know that they used to wield almost no power whatsoever. They only gained their modern day authority thanks to Walter Byers doing some savvy political moving back in the 1950s. It was then that the schools kind of agreed without knowing it to let the NCAA have authoritative powers.

For the first time since those early days when none of the schools actually paid attention to the NCAA, these last five years have seemed to finally show the general public that we need to get rid of the idea of amateurism and the NCAA once and for all. College sports, bowl games, all of it. Until the athletes are compensated there is simply no justification for its existence, no matter how enjoyable it is to root for your alma mater.

My fear is that what we just witnessed this morning is the second most important event in the history of the NCAA since Walter Byers was hired all the way back in the 1950s. I’m afraid that Mark Emmert just rebranded the NCAA as a moral authority in the eyes of the public and that they’ll use this new position to continue an unjustified existence. So long as they keep the blood-thirsty public satisfied, the public will drop this notion that the organization needs to be terminated.

The sad reality is that those saps at the NCAA don’t care about the victims at Penn State. The only thing they’ve proven to care about in their entire history is self preservation. As satisfying as it was this morning to see that program get what it deserved, there’s a danger in the amount of power the NCAA just attempted to demonstrate. So I urge you all caution.

Don’t be fooled by their sudden amount of empathy for the plights of the student athletes in letting all the kids transfer immediately and without penalty. Don’t be fooled by the NCAA using the fine money for charitable causes. And don’t be fooled by Mark freaking Emmert who once used his power as NCAA president to prevent a kid from playing at Kentucky, simply because the kid reneged on an offer to play at Washington while Emmert was the president there. He’s a petty sap who makes $1.6 million for the stupidest, most pointless job in the entire country.

This is the NCAA version 2.0 and they’re coming to a campus near you.


Good Morning Generation

I’m a huge sports fan.  I tune in for events that the average American would never waste their time on.  I enjoy strange sports action like Wednesday night MAC football, Carling Cup soccer action from England, hell, I’ve even been known to dabble in rugby and cricket, because why not?  I guess what I’m saying is that when I tell you I watch (and enjoy) far too much sports on television, I hope you believe me.  It’s with that thought in mind that I reveal this next information.  I turned off the national championship game last night.  It was unbearable; the single worst sporting event of the past twelve months, all apologies to the Butler-UConn national championship game.  With a whole fourth quarter to go I said to hell with it and played my new copy of NHL ’12, where I’m quite certain I racked up more goals than either of those two teams scored points.

Alabama is technically the national champion this morning.  They probably are the most dominant defense ever assembled on a college football field.  They definitely dictated the action last night.  But tell me why they deserve to win an undisputed claim at the national championship?  They played a cookie-cutter regular season schedule, boasting only two wins worth mentioning (Penn State and Arkansas).  And for those who are delusioned by the alleged “dominance” of the SEC, I would be willing to vehemently argue with you that they were maybe the the third best conference this season (the Big 12 was by far the best, with the Big Ten giving the SEC a run for second place).  Wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt don’t fool me.  Even Florida isn’t worth bringing up at this point.  And in the ultimate irony of all, Alabama actually lost to this same LSU squad just a couple of weeks ago.  On their home turf.  In the ugliest game of all time, at least until last night’s disaster.  But they’re definitely national champions now, this game being a total difference maker.


What disappoints me the most is that I know for a fact Oklahoma State, Stanford, and maybe even those Boise State Broncos could have given Alabama a better game last night than LSU.  Football is first and foremost about personnel.  Coaching can go a long way, as Saban demonstrates on a yearly basis with his defenses, but the most important thing is always the athletes on the field.  Oklahoma State might have just an average defense, but their offense contained one of the most athletic receiving corps in the history of college football.  When you throw in that their spread offense was born to temper and pick apart the blitz-happy offenses of an Alabama, there’s simply no way you could convince me they couldn’t have hung at least a couple touchdowns on the Tide.  Brandon Weeden would have sat back with one and three-step drops all day, dinking and dunking an overwhelmed Alabama defense that surely never faced an offense anywhere close to as talented as the Cowboys. 

Stanford definitely would have given them a run for their money.  Apparently the SEC has made an executive decision that quarterbacks are not a necessity.  Cam Newton literally won a national championship and SEC title by himself last year, just because the conference was so completely shocked by the notion of a great quarterback.  Are you telling me Andrew Luck couldn’t have thrown at least a pair of touchdowns against the Tide?  Most especially with those tight end-heavy formations the Cardinal have become so famous for in these last couple years?  Throw in that Stanford’s ultra-talented offensive line easily would have handled that ‘Bama front four, and well, you see why I have serious questions about the legitimacy of their national title claim.

College football has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks and this game was complete evidence of that fact.  What’s sad is they’ll make only minor changes and call the system 100% fixed.  But it’s not.  So, you say you want a four-team playoff?  How does an annual contest between two SEC teams, a Pac-12, and a Big Ten team sound?!  That’s how it’s going to be.  The three most powerful (and intelligent) men in college football are the respective commissioners of those conferences.  It’s no coincidence that they’re also the wealthiest and the only ones never mentioned in possible realignments that could  break up their respective conferences.  And there’s no way they’re  just going to cede that position of power. There will be no sudden, world-altering breakthrough whereby the Boise States of the world suddenly get a chance to show they can hang with the big boys.  It’s going to be the same story, the same discrimination, the same joke.  College football has always been built on self-preservation.  The puppet masters are merely going to disguise the controlling mechanism.

I guess I just simply don’t understand it.  And I’m sure any SEC fan out there would be the first to bring up this point.  I’ll argue it anyway.  Tell me how a sport that touts the sacred nature of the regular season is willing to hand its national title to a team that couldn’t even win its conference?   Tell me how a team that couldn’t even beat a divisional rival in the regular season suddenly has the right to claim a national championship after one measly “title” game?  You can’t.  It’s impossible. 

There is no way to solve the hypocrisies and discrepancies of college footballand in the most infuriating aspect of all, that’s exactly the way the people in power want it.

Generation Y, where I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually looking forward to a week of Tebow hype after that game last night.  NFL is king!


TCU Set To Receive (And Accept) Invitation From Big 12

Finally!!!!!!!!!!! From Austin American Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls:

Big 12 presidents and chancellors have voted to invite TCU to join the league, should be finalized over next several days.

And here’s the official story from the Statesman’s website:

Big 12 presidents and chancellors voted Thursday morning to invite TCU as the league’s 10th member, two sources close to Texas told the American-Statesman. The deal should be finalized in the next few days.

Here’s additional confirmation from CBS Sports, which says TCU will accept the offer:

TCU has been invited to join the Big 12 Conference and is expected to accept the offer for the 2012-13 school year, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.

TCU was scheduled to join the Big East on July 1, 2012, but instead will join the Big 12. By leaving the Big East before it officially became a member, the Horned Frogs will have to pay a $5 million exit fee but is not bound by the Big East’s 27 month requirement for notification.

The addition of TCU replaces Texas A&M, which is headed to the SEC. If Missouri remains in the league, sources said the Big 12 is expected to remain at 10 schools.

We’ll continue following this as it develops.

[Twitter via Kirk Bohnls, Austin American Statesman]


Good Morning Generation

The NCAA is a mess.  I don’t pretend to know how it’s all going to play out, but let’s see if we can’t make a couple of reasonable predictions based on how all of this is going down.  The “dream scenario” everyone always seems to bring up would involve four sixteen-team super conferences.  I’m having a ton of trouble envisioning this scenario mostly because it would screw over a number of historic Big East and Big 12 schools, as well as creating incredibly asinine partnerships with schools that have no clear geographic relationships. However, let’s take a look at what that would probably end up looking like:

Pac-16: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.

Big Ten/Sixteen: Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State, Penn State, Northwestern, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, and Notre Dame.

SEC: Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Clemson, and Miami.

ACC: Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati, UConn, and USF.

Teams left out: Boise State, TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, BYU, SMU, Houston, among others.  This doesn’t even begin to include all of the teams with basketball affiliations to other conferences such as the Georgetowns and Marquettes of the world.  In the age of super conferences it will be impossible to exist as an independent which is why you’re suddenly seeing Texas knocked off their high horse and why Notre Dame suddenly has to make a big decision.  The reason is that with 16-team conferences it will be impossible for the indie schools to schedule games, most especially late in the year when most teams are wrapped up in their conference schedule.

Let’s say though that the remaining teams come together to form a final sixteen team super conference though in the Mountain West.  That conference would look like this: UNLV, San Diego State, Nevada, Fresno State, Baylor, Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, Wyoming, Kansas State, SMU, Houston, Rice, BYU, TCU, and Boise State.  Let’s then imagine you split that conference into a west division of SDSU, UNLV, Fresno, BYU, Nevada, CSU, Wyoming, Boise and an east division of New Mexico, Air Force, KSU, SMU, Houston, Rice, Baylor, TCU.  I’m buying that conference as having a right to a BCS AQ every year.  Among the ten open spots to play in BCS games, you give five every year to the winners of the conference titles with the other five being “at large” spots that have some special clauses and qualifier rules to protect the smaller schools from being pushed out by the bigger ones.  So instead of 64-schools having the monopoly on the BCS you open it up to the 80 schools that actually deserve it.  Problem solved.

I personally hate the idea of the pod system whereby the conferences adopt mini divisions of four teams and have the pods rotate who they play every two years.  This really depends on a conference by conference basis as many schools rely heavily on getting exposure in the key high school football recruiting zones like Texas, California, Florida, Ohio, etc.  Let’s not make any rash decisions either way at this point and see what works out best. 

What sucks about these 16-team leagues most of all is that it’s going make the scheduling process really confusing.  Without question the ideal number of teams to have in a conference is 12.  It allows it to be split into two divisons, with each school playing every team in its division every year(five games) and lets them play rotating schedules against half of the teams in the other division (three games) for a total of eight conference games.  Add that to a four game non-conference schedule and you have your standard 12-game schedule.  It also allows a conference championship game to be held at the end between the two division winners for the much-desired additional revenue opportunity.

In these new conferences it’s going to be a god damn mess.  Say you adopt my two division system from the MWC.  That means each team has to play at least its seven division foes, and then….what do you do?  Should they try to only play one team in the other division to keep it at eight conference games?  Should they try to play half of the other division which would make it 11 conference games?  There’s not really a good way to work it all out because what’s the point of putting TCU, Boise, and BYU in the same conference if they’re likely to never face each other? And do we really want to see the end of exciting non-conference games early in the year like Oregon-LSU or Oklahoma-Florida State this year?  You run into the same problem with the four pod system most especially because all of the schools are going to complain about not playing the LA schools on a regular basis.  How do you make it fair?

I don’t want to make any bold predictions, but I personally don’t see this era of the super conferences lasting very long for all of the above reasons.  The first issue is the incredible travel expenses these conferences are about to take on in the formation.  This issue also goes along with the issue of placing an incredible burden on student-athletes, which the NCAA still claims they are looking out for.  Yeah it might be cool to see Texas play Oregon but do each of the schools really want all of their athletes making that return flight on a Wednesday night before class the next day?  How is that fair to the student?  It’s clearly a case of favoring athletics over scholarship.  Also, do those schools really want to justify chartering planes to fly their volleyball teams halfway across the country for a two-hour contest?  The second issue is that schools not in huge cities rely every year on getting exposure in those big markets.  Arizona and ASU are the best examples.  All they’re going to do if their conference decides to go to 16 teams is complain about how unfair it is.  And eventually they’ll be right and their standard of competition will so diminish that the conference will become a laughing stock.

I talked about this yesterday.  We have a historical precedent for a super conference with the WAC.  The lessons from that colossal failure are not even being mentioned in any of these conversations about the future of college athletics when they very much should be.  All of the same issues came up in the WAC as are about to come up in these new conferences.  And how did that end?  A number of schools ended up splitting away to form their own conference called the Mountain West which is now on the cusp of being a super power in football. 

My guess is that just as soon as the conferences form, you’ll see them end.  Schools will wise up and break off to form newer conferences and the vicious cycle of realignment will continue.

That is unless they all break away from the NCAA and realize they should be paying their athletes. 

Now THAT would be progress.

Generation Y, where I can relate to Tony Romo powering through a fractured rib and punctured lung to lead his team to victory.  I got a paper cut yesterday but still managed to push through to get my work done on time.