NCAA investigations may linger but 2010 season looms; more mail
The college football world is abuzz with headlines about agents and NCAA investigations, which are indisputably newsworthy but pretty darn inconvenient, too. With fall camp just a couple of weeks away, these unanticipated developments are disrupting SI.com's season preview planning and coordinated effort among our reporters.
Therefore, we are
More practically, I will be sprinkling a few of your agent-related questions throughout this week's Mailbag but will begin with a more traditional, season-preview query.
A little context: Georgia went 10-3 in '08, Ole Miss 9-4 in '09, and both played in semi-major bowls (Georgia beat Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, Ole Miss beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.) However, because the Dawgs had been touted as a preseason No. 1 team and Ole Miss as high as fifth, their seasons were considered letdowns. Yet, in neither case were people all that "surprised" by their "downfall" because most considered them "overrated" to begin with.
The one common thread you'll find in both cases (as with so many other preseason "flops") is that prognosticators got caught up in their impressive bowl performances the prior year (Georgia's Sugar Bowl demolition of Hawaii, Ole Miss' Cotton Bowl upset of 11-1 Texas Tech). Granted, it's much easier to reach that conclusion with the benefit of hindsight, but I can think of at least one soon-to-be preseason top 10 pick coming off what was, at the time, a very uncharacteristic bowl performance: Nebraska.
Last we saw the Huskers, they were dismantling Arizona, 33-0, in the Holiday Bowl, to cement their first 10-win season in six years. Heisman finalist
The 2010 Huskers are undeniably talented. Receiver
Nebraska's defense will still be very good, but not as relentlessly devastating as the unit that nearly beheaded
Or they could win the national championship, and 500,000 Husker fans will rub this column in my face. But hey, that's the risk you take when trying to predict ahead of time whether a prediction might not come true.
AgentGate may lack mystical numbers or Dharma jumpsuits, but much like the former ABC series, Eric, and I mourn, it has generated a lot of good discussion and opinions on the issue -- and some pretty zaney ones as well. I also sense a lot of confusion, so let's start by clarifying a major point.
When you read that NCAA investigators are coming to a campus (North Carolina, Georgia, etc.) to interview players about their dealings with agents, that doesn't necessarily mean the school itself is in trouble. As was described to me by an NCAA official, the investigators looking into current players' eligibility act separately from the larger enforcement division, which would only open an investigation into the program itself (like it did at USC) if there were issues of "institutional culpability." There is no indication as of yet that the NCAA is looking to "penalize" any of the schools you've read about in recent headlines.
The reason USC is currently on probation, banned from bowls, etc., isn't because
Personally, I agree with Andy that coaches are largely powerless to prevent the underground interactions between players and agents/runners, and perhaps Saban and Slive were playing a bit of preemptive defense with their comments, knowing the hard-line stance the NCAA took in the USC case. But as long as the current programs involved are acting on the info they receive and dealing with the accused players accordingly, they should be OK -- unless, of course, investigators uncover that coaches or school officials were complicit in any players' arrangements.
Saban is hardly alone in the area of oversigning (as
Say what you want about Saban, the one accusation you can't possibly make is that he runs a loose ship. On the contrary, his reputation as an extreme control freak is well-documented, and his attention to the tiniest details when it comes to motivating and preparing players is often seen as the key to his success. So when Captain Control Freak comes out and says there's an issue even
As a friendly reminder, Suh in 2009 had a team-high 85 tackles, 12 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, 26 quarterback hurries, 10 pass break-ups and three blocked kicks. And he was an
Much like Suh, Clayborn showed last season he can do far more than just get to the quarterback (though he did have 11.5 sacks). He had 70 tackles, including nine solos in the Orange Bowl, 20 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. Arguably his most important play of the season was his blocked punt and touchdown return that broke open a defensive stalemate at Penn State. And in the Orange Bowl he had so many plays where he just walled off the right side of the field any time Georgia Tech tried to run the option that way.
But it's also important to note that Clayborn didn't do it alone. Just like Suh had Jared Crick and
If "fast and explosive" was the most important part of the quarterback's job description, than Thomas would win, hands down. But as fun as it is to watch a QB like Dixon fake a handoff and take off 60 yards, it's just as important in
Ultimately, Oregon will probably be at its "best" with a reliable Thomas, because we've seen just how explosive Kelly's offense can be with a fast quarterback. But I also don't think he needs to risk things if Costa is the "safer" choice. Oregon will have two track-star ball-handlers in its backfield (
I do. What's in it for the NFL? All it would be doing is possibly hurting its own business by banishing potential future stars. The NFL needs to regulate its agents, but the players are the NCAA's problem.
Thank you, Benjamin. I will also be printing out and reading it to my fiancée any time she needs a reminder on a Thursday night why it really
I'm not worried about Gilbert. He's got the tools, and, just as importantly, he's got a position coach,
I am, however, a tad concerned about the players Gilbert will be throwing and handing off to. McCoy was so inordinately dependent on
To me, the most intriguing part of the Georgia State's upcoming first season is that Curry, the former Alabama coach who had a brick thrown through his office window, is bringing his start-up team to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 18. We're talking about not just an FCS team, but a team that's yet to play an official game, facing the defending national champions. The carnage could be grotesque. And yet at the same time it's a fantastic p.r. move by Curry, whose team won't likely garner much coverage once its first game passes but will get a burst the week of that game.
As for his program's long-term potential, one need only look at some of the upstart Florida schools for a model. I don't know that Georgia State will be playing in a BCS conference within nine years of
Some people think college athletes should be paid; others think they should be thrown in the slammer for taking a cut. Like I said, this issue has raised some very "interesting" discussions.