Monday, January 3, 2011

On to 2011…can 2010 be topped?; After Auburn and Ohio State cases, NCAA should just burn its rulebook; Friedgen for Edsall?

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in. Hectic holidays as they say. I hope everyone out there had good health and good times and did not become just a little bit worn out by family time.

So, it is on to 2011, although it will be hard-pressed to top 2010.

After all, on New Year’s Day 2010 how many of us predicted the following:

--Tiger Woods not winning a single golf tournament anywhere, anytime, anyplace all year.

--The Saints winning The Super Bowl; The Giants winning The World Series; Butler coming with an inch of winning The NCAA basketball championship and Graeme McDowell, Louis Ousthuizen and Martin Kaymer winning major titles.

--LeBron James making perhaps the worst marketing decision any athlete has made since Andre Agassi looked into a camera and said, ‘image is everything.’

--The New York Yankees targeting a big-money free agent and NOT getting him.

--The Detroit Lions finishing the season on a four-game WINNING streak.

--The Washington Redskins turning their season into a soap opera/circus.

Wait, I digress. The Redskins becoming a soap opera/circus is as predictable as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer winning major titles in tennis and The New York Islanders battling for the top draft pick.

So much has changed in sports through the years, so much has stayed the same. I tend to hang onto traditions, which is why I watch The Rose Bowl every New Year’s Day regardless of who is playing. This year’s game was great and seeing TCU hang on to win was gratifying to all of us who think the BCS Presidents should all be put to sea in a rowboat for the good of all mankind. Yes, that includes my new best friend Gordon Gee—even though he did tell Pete Thamel of The New York Times that he was planning to eat crow for dinner after TCU’s win in Pasadena. Of course he was eating it in a fancy New Orleans restaurant getting ready to watch Ohio State play Arkansas sometime in January—who among us knows when the college season actually ends these days. (Unrelated note: The college season is now so long that Pittsburgh will be playing under its third head coach since the end of the regular season when it finally plays whatever meaningless bowl it is playing in this coming weekend. Talk about a long season).

Back to Ohio State for a moment. I really think it is time for the NCAA to burn its rulebook. After all why bother having rules if you are going to make up different rules to suit yourself every time something happens involving a major (read moneymaking) school.

Look, we can debate the fairness of the rules forever. But here are the facts: Cam Newton WAS ineligible according to the rulebook. It says if you or any representative (that would include your own father) solicits money, you’re ineligible even if you never receive a dime. The NCAA says Cecil Newton solicited money from Mississippi State. That’s the end of the story. EXCEPT the NCAA says, no, even though it isn’t in the rules, since we believe the player knew nothing (just like Sargent Schultz knew nothing) he’s okay to play. I would ask Auburn fans one question—because I have nothing against you or Cam Newton or Gene Chizik and your former AD David Housel was one of my all-time favorite people in sports: Do you think for one second if your football team was 6-6 and playing in whatever bowl Kentucky is playing in that Cam Newton would have been eligible? If you say yes, PLEASE call me so I can sell you this beautiful plot of oceanfront land I own in Nebraska.

Now we have the case of The Ohio State Five, one of whom happens to be the team’s biggest star, quarterback Terrelle Pryor. They have been found guilty of selling memorabilia, getting discounts (at a tattoo parlor for crying out loud) and receiving ‘special treatment,’ a real NCAA no-no. Again, are the rules silly? Perhaps. But the NCAA says the violations are serious enough to merit a five game suspension.

Now, we can sit here most of the day and make the argument that what Newton went un-punished for is a lot more serious than what the Buckeye Five are being punished for but that’s not the point. The point is this: If they’re guilty, they’re guilty—they go to jail NOW not next September. Except the NCAA, apparently after being lobbied by The Sugar Bowl, says it is okay for them to play in The Sugar Bowl and THEN sit out the first five games of next season. Here are the five games: Akron and Toledo at home (I think they can get past those two); at Miami—coming off a 7-6 season with a new coach—Colorado (another new coach) and Michigan State—perhaps a tough game but a home game too. When do they become eligible again? For the game at Nebraska. What a shock.

Personally, if I was Pryor, all pledges to come back aside, I’d bolt for the NFL as soon as The Sugar Bowl is finally over. This isn’t new stuff for the NCAA by the way: back in 1991, it declared Nevada-Las Vegas ineligible only to move the penalty back a year because, um, UNLV was the defending NCAA champion and had everyone back and CBS really needed The Rebels eligible for ratings.

This is what the NCAA does and then it sits back and claims it has never, ever done anything wrong or done anything with the bottom line in mind. Oh please.

Meanwhile, on more pleasant topics: It was wonderful to see Air Force and (especially) Army win their bowl games although disappointing to see Navy lose. Still, all three had great seasons, combining for a record of 25-14. If you don’t think that’s a remarkable feat at military academies in times like these, you aren’t paying attention.

Maryland also won its bowl game—the Terrapins earning the right to travel 10 miles to downtown DC to play in frigid RFK Stadium in return for their 8-4 bounce-back season. The game was the last for Coach Ralph Friedgen, who was un-ceremoniously fired 10 days before the game by new Athletic Director Kevin Anderson. Basically Friedgen, who was 75-50 in ten seasons at Maryland, was fired for not selling enough tickets. Gee, what a surprise that Maryland people don’t get all that excited about ACC football.

Anderson had a plan though that seemed to make some sense: Bring in Mike Leach with his scorch-the-earth offense and mouth. Controversial, sure, everyone knows what happened at Texas Tech but if Leach won and threw for 500 yards a game no one at Maryland would care. If nothing else he would bring national attention to the school.

But Anderson was apparently overruled by the academic side of the school. Leach, they decided, carried too much baggage. And so, to replace Ralph Friedgen, Maryland hired…wait for it…Randy Edsall, who has done a fine job at Connecticut the last 12 years—just as Friedgen did a fine job at Maryland for the last ten.

Wow. The wolves are already at Anderson’s door and he’s been at Maryland for four months. I guess in the end, 2011 isn't going to be all that different than 2010.


omnivore said...

As a UConn fan it's nice to be first. I wish Coach Edsell no ill will but I'm not sure what he's doing here. It doesn't seem like a promotion to me, and it was handled very Irsay like.

It was even reported that he made Jordan Todman, the junior running back and nation's second leading rusher, announce to his team in the locker room his intentions to enter the draft, but never said a word to the team about his own intentions.

Tim said...

I agree...the NCAA has jumped the shark. They might as well give up, or acknowledge that money is the most important aspect, rules be damned. Its amazing how much credibility the organization has lost in about 6 months, after they seemed to make a point in dropping the hammer on USC. If I'm them, I'm furious and would go back and play nice with Bush and get him to finally cooperate, only in saying 'I didn't know what my parents were doing, or that it was against any rule!!'

Anonymous said...

To second omnivore's thoughts, and issues brought up by writers, is Maryland the best job Edsall could get? I know it seems he's been in the mix with every job and that could be the schools, or his agents, leaks, but come on. Maryland?

Anonymous said...

You all are missing the big story here; Danny Snyder somehow convinced the state of Maryland to sell the University's football program! Look at the luster, the zing, and the buzz he's been able to bring to the program since the sale was effective immediately after the end of the Military Bowl.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Edsall is leaving my Huskies for an ACC team. It's basically a lateral promotion. If he went to the Big 10, Pac 10 or SEC, that's a step up, not Maryland.

Paul said...


I also think the five game suspension next year for the Ohio State five is a joke. However, I'm amazed that hardly anyone in the media is attacking Mark May for his comments about how the Big Ten and the PAC-10 get preferential treatment while conferences like the SEC would have faced suspensions right away that would have affected their bowl game. WHAT?????? Is it possible that even though he is part of a three person panel show about COLLEGE FOOTBALL, he's not heard of Cam Newton? May's assertion that "conferences like the SEC" (BTW what does that mean? Are conferences like the SEC different than the Big Ten and PAC-10? Are they underprivileged in some way we don't know about?)don't get the preferential treatment the Big Ten and PAC-10 receives means ESPN should fire him because with statements like that he's either:

1)Overtly biased against certain teams and certain conferences


2) he's high on drugs

He seems to be coherent when he makes stupid statements like he does, so I'm going with number 1. Hey I understand everyone has a bias, but May's is prevalent and about as subtle as Dick Vitale after seeing a windmill dunk. It makes him into a joke and a disgrace. (Oh I forgot he works for ESPN so I guess that's OK then.) Where was the media on this one? Although I don't read every media outlet, someone besides those in Columbus should have bashed him heavily for his statements. Or is he so insignificant that the media doesn't waste their time with him? When I hear his name or see his face now, all I can think of is "the poor, abused, mistreated SEC." HA!

John, you're absolutely right: when you win, the NCAA will give you all of the excuses and protection it can. When you don't win, well you have to face the music and the sooner the better. It's as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

You were on the right track concerning the Cam Newton case- -he was and always will be ineligible. . . at Miss State. What the NCAA couldn't find was proof that his dad solicited from Auburn, or that Auburn (or anyone else) actually paid money to Mr. Newton. Think of the ramifications if your quick summation were actually true. What is to stop powerful boosters at a rival school from claiming that your school's suddenly sensational RB's distant aunt three times removed asked for $$$ to come to their school during his recruitment- -thereby making him ineligible at ALL D1 schools?

So, to recap- -if the student himself solicits, ineligible (for some time, likely not forever) at all schools. If someone solicits on their behalf and no proof that the student knew- -ineligible at place where solicitation made- -but free to go elsewhere- provide there is no further solicitation at the new place. If $$ changes hands, then ineligible everywhere (again, for some period of time). None of this is contradictory, you just have to take a few minutes to look back at previous cases (Albert Means, etc.) and understand all the facts. Oh, and it'd be really nice too if the media would actually check facts and have named sources, instead of just publishing what will get hits on their websites (looking at you Pat Forde, Joe Schad, Thayer Evans, Pete Thamel).

Tommy said...

Way to go in mentioning Tiger Woods in the first post of 2011....I would bet all the money I have he doesn't go winless this year.

As far as the NCAA and Maryland go, they can all go hide in a corner with ESPN as far as I'm concerned. I bet after the first 2 BCS games viewership declined by 15% (and no, I don't care that ESPN is cable vs broadcast being the reason) the NCAA is happy they didnt go with the network for the Road to the Final Four.

Anonymous said...

Sargent Shultz Blast! Of all the great points made here that alone would have been worth the read!

Anonymous said...

John: How about Jim Delany, who urged the NCAA to take a stand and rule Newton ineligible but proceeded to lobby for the eligibility of the Buckeye Five?

Momus said...

Randy Edsall moving from Connecticut to Maryland is not a lateral move, but rather part of his master plan to move up in the word of college football:

UCONN -- basketball school in the worst BCS AQ football conference, overshadowed by two legendary basketball coaches (Calhoun and Auriama).

Maryland -- basketball school in the 2nd worst BCS AQ football conference, overshadowed by only one legendary basketball coach (Williams).

Indiana -- basketball school in the 3rd worst BCS AQ football conference, overshadowed only by the fading memory of a legendary basketball coach (Knight).

Makes perfect sense to me....

omnivore said...

It turns out Maryland was Edsall's "dream job" his having grown up seventy miles from there. Hard to argue with that even though it looks like a lateral move.

I still wish the way he'd gone about it was more above board, but I can see that he didn't feel he had much choice. He coached UConn through the bowl game, then went to Maryland to interview Sunday. He couldn't announce anything to the team Saturday night not having the job.

case said...

have you asked your new best bud gordy what he thinks of the ncaa ruling on the ohio state 5 ?

shad said...

For the Terp Folks on the firing/hiring process:

Interviews and tours.
Before the body was cold.

Shad from DC

Anonymous said...

John, was it REALLY necessary for you to put up this Billboard?

(See espn story at