So ... anything interesting going on this week?
First off, you have to take into account what the NCAA considers to be its "burden of proof" in an enforcement case. Not to keep harping on it, but take USC/Reggie Bush as an example. Nearly all of the key testimony was provided by an ex-convict (Lloyd Lake) with an axe to grind -- just as the Miami case will be based primarily on the testimony of a current convict (Nevin Shapiro). The two key pieces of evidence used to determine that running backs coach Todd McNair knew of Bush's relationship with Lake, therefore resulting in a Lack of Institutional Control charge, were a picture of McNair and Lake together at a party and phone records confirming contact between the two. That's pretty much it.
Compare that with the
It really doesn't matter if investigators get to speak with Willis McGahee, Kellen Winslow or any of the other long-gone 'Canes. I'm not sure those allegations even matter in the grand scheme of things, other than to establish how Shapiro originally got involved with Miami players. The three key factors that will determine whether this thing reaches SMU proportions are: 1) Whether the NCAA can prove administrators knew what Shapiro was doing; 2) Whether Shapiro in fact induced players to sign with the sports agency he co-owned; and 3) whether the assistant coaches mentioned in the allegations did in fact steer recruits to Shapiro. The first one will be the toughest and may well be false. The second is pretty clearly established in the article. And because the active coaches are required to cooperate with investigators, they'll either confirm or deny the third part, but they risk a career-ending unethical conduct charge if they aren't truthful.
No one can predict how an NCAA case will play out and whether or not it will ultimately result in "insane sanctions." I do know that with all the criticism the NCAA is facing right now, and considering all the tough talk in recent weeks
Houston is my clubhouse leader. I know there's been more national sentiment toward BYU, but that might not make sense for either party. Considering Texas' TV network helped create this whole hubabaloo in the first place, it might not be in the Big 12's best interest to go out and grab another school with its own network. Granted, BYUtv doesn't have the same clout as ESPN-backed TLN, but one of the driving factors behind BYU's move to independence was to achieve more national exposure (which it's getting with its own ESPN deal) and reclaim more programming for BYUtv. Obviously a chance at a BCS auto bid might trump all that, but I'm not sure that's the direction -- geographically or philosophically -- that the Big 12 wants to head.
The Big 12 is a Texas-based conference, even more so now with the departures of Nebraska and Colorado, and it makes sense to add another Texas school. Television markets really aren't an issue here -- Texas A&M isn't providing any markets of its own as it is -- and reportedly the conference
While Houston has never had a national breakthrough season like TCU or Boise State, it's been consistently successful on the mid-major level for nearly a decade now, and it spent two decads (1976-95) in the same conference with Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor. Fan support would be a concern (average attendance last season: 31,728), as it would with SMU (23,515), another contender. I don't know what the deciding factor would be if it came down to those two, only that Houston is slightly more established right now.
Is it that obvious?
I get why fans eat up this stuff. It's like a trade-deadline for college football ... if the trades in question possibly impacted 15 different teams. I'm sure debating all the potential scenarios is a whole lot of fun. But I don't think you'll find too many media members who "enjoy" covering what is essentially an endless charade of propaganda, misinformation and wild speculation that all blends together into one big gossip party on Twitter, changing by the hour.
Case in point: ESPN last weekend ran as "news" on its ticker a "report" from radio host/basketball analyst Doug Gottleib that A&M was "headed to the SEC" and that Clemson, Missouri and Florida State were "likely to follow." That was basically gossip disguised as news, but ESPN legitimized it by running it front and center, thus forcing all those schools to have to respond. (And unfortunately, I'm no better. I contributed to the misinformation last weekend when I hastily read the SEC's statement from Bernie Machen, naively took the first part about being "satisfied" too literally and rushed out a mistaken tweet that the SEC had "passed" on A&M, which promptly got retweeted a zillion times.)
You would think we all would have learned a lesson from last summer, when Texas leaving for the Pac-10 was a "done deal" right up until the moment it wasn't. But we haven't. And far be it for me to deprive everyone of enjoying the closest thing we have to a trade deadline.
That's a good point. For the most part, USC has not yet begun to feel the effects of its sanctions, which will really kick in over the next three years. After this year, it's entirely possible the Trojans won't have a full 85-man roster again for another six or seven years. But I would argue that USC has already felt the effects in one area. Several upperclassmen who took advantage of the exemption allowing them to transfer without sitting out a year -- including defensive lineman Malik Jackson (Tennessee), running back D.J. Shoemate (Connecticut) and tight end Blake Ayles (Miami) -- have either started or are projected to start for their new schools. Two others, linebackers Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Uona Kaveinga (BYU), were underclassmen who may have transferred anyway. And remember, offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson opted to sign with Miami instead because of the sanctions. That's a whole lot of guys who could have either started or provided key depth for the Trojans this season.
But for the most part, these "announcers" you speak of are probably mixing together the sanctions with the flat-out recruiting neglect at several positions toward the end of Pete Carroll's tenure. That most notably impacted the offensive line, where the Trojans are so woefully thin that Lane Kiffin signed a couple guys this year mostly for the purpose of serving as warm bodies. I still expect USC will be better this season than last, and maybe even better next season (it's way too early to tell) before the bottom falls out in 2013-14.
Someone at the Tournament of Roses offices in Pasadena is reading this right now and popping an Advil.
That IS funky. Now if only we could have gotten them to open up with Wake Forest and West Virginia, I'd have to believe that would crush any previous "W" streak.
It's rare that highly touted defensive players make as immediate and noticeable an impact as, say, a freshman running back (Adrian Peterson) or receiver (A.J. Green). But it certainly sounds like Clowney will be the exception. Steve Spurrier has done nothing to temper the expectations. He talked him up at SEC Media Days before he'd even gotten to see him on the practice field. After the Gamecocks' first practice, Spurrrier facetiously lamented that Clowney was "playing too fast" and not giving his quarterbacks enough time to throw. Clowney was credited with two sacks in South Carolina's first scrimmage, and the coaches flat-out said their offensive linemen can't block him. That can't bode well for the rest of the league.
Even the most skilled freshman can't get by on athleticism alone, and Clowney will need to master his assignments and take care of business on plays run away from him. But he's got all the makings of an elite pass-rusher, and it will be interesting to see just how big a difference he can make on an already talented South Carolina squad.
I agree with everything Nick wrote. Unfortunately, he wrote it before the best of those senior offensive lineman, left tackle Elvis Fisher -- a 40-game starter -- suffered a season-ending knee injury Monday, a potentially crushing blow for the Tigers' BCS chances.
But the main reason I tabbed Mizzou
The Tigers' season will largely depend on the success of new quarterback James Franklin (and, now, replacing Fisher), but he's got plenty to work with -- that line, veteran receiver T.J. Moe and prolific pass-catching tight end Michael Egnew. I expect Mizzou to contend with everyone this side of Oklahoma in the Big 12, so that Sept. 9 date at Arizona State could be the key to getting over the hump and into a BCS game.
Of course the day after I wrote that, Arkansas' star running back, Knile Davis, went down for the season. I think I could rightfully ask for a mulligan -- but I won't.
Florida lost five games last year without its coach resigning (at least until after the season) or its star players serving five-game suspensions. Texas lost seven. Really think it's that much of a "reach?"
I can't make a blanket promise that the names won't be used in things like conference previews or, during the season, College Football Overtime. They're part of the lexicon now whether we like it or not. All I ever pledged was to keep them out of the Mailbag, and so far I've held true to that.
Though I will say that if, like me, you've been watching the outstanding season of