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Maisel: UT Administration Has Used Athletic Department “As An ATM”

ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel writes today that one reason Butch Jones was tabbed as Tennessee’s new football coach — in addition to Louisville’s Charlie Strong changing his mind at the last minute — was to help AD Dave Hart convince the academic side of UT to ease up on its practice of milking the athletic department dry.

Maisel writes:

 

“The university administration has used the athletic department as an ATM, saddling it with financial responsibilities that the Vols’ SEC competitors don’t have.  Hart wanted his new coach to be able — and willing — to explain how that financial burden translates onto the field.”

 

We’ve scoffed at the overblown notion emanating from Knoxville that Tennessee’s academics have become just too darn hard compared to its SEC neighbors.  One, the folks pushing that story are either fired ex-UT football coaches or friends of those coaches.  Two, even people who’ve pushed that stance like Phillip Fulmer and longtime defensive coordinator Keven Steele were willing to move back to the school if they could get enough booster support (in Fulmer’s case) or get a slick salary (in Steele’s case).  So things aren’t so bad that the folks moaning about academics wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to coach at the very school they say has become too tough.

Also, regardless of how true the academic issues are — and there’s a grain of truth there, not a silo full, but a grain — we haven’t heard James Franklin whine about academic issues hindering his recruitment of players to Vanderbilt.  In fact, he’s used Vandy’s academic standards as a plus, not a minus on the recruiting trail.

The same can be said for the coaches at Northwestern, Notre Dame and Stanford… all of which have just a tad tougher academic requirements than the Harvard of the Smokies, UT.

That said, Maisel is dead-on when it comes to his comments about Tennessee’s administration requiring the athletic department to give millions back to the school each year (as if being the advertising “front porch” for the university weren’t enough of a return).  There’s a reason UT’s athletic department currently has the smallest emergency cash fund in the Southeastern Conference and that’s the fact that the Vol athletic department returns an abnormally large portion of its revenue to the academic side of the school.

Jones has a reputation for running a sound ship academically.  That might make his words more impactful to a group of academicians who are dead set on “getting theirs.”

UT’s new coach might simply need to convince Tennessee’s top brass to pick up a copy of Aesop’s Fables.  “Killing The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs” might make for an interesting read.

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Texas A&M And Mississippi State: The SEC’s Olsen Twins

Apparently some folks just can’t tell ‘em apart.  Texas A&M and Mississippi State, that is.

Both wear maroon and white.  Both have new adidas uniforms that feature a stripe (MSU) or two stripes (A&M) running down the sleeves of the jerseys.  Both are located in small, but nice — not an insult — college towns.

Hell, both were once coached by Emory Ballard.

Still it’s a little odd that the SEC’s own shop — SECstore.com — had for sale the hat you see at left.  The one that features A&M’s logo on the front and the word “Bulldogs” on the back.

Whoops.

The SEC claims that someone at the store they use simply clicked the photo of the back of one hat and paired it with the front of another because the colors are so similar.  So apparently you really couldn’t buy an A&M hat with Bulldogs on the back.  If someone receives one in the mail after ordering it, please let us know.

Apparently this was a simple little mistake and hopefully no one’s going to lose their job over it.

Now, even though we drive folks to the SEC’s official website all the time — they’re very nice folks over there, by the way — maybe you should buy your SEC gear through our MrSEC.com Shop.  (Boom, quickie plug!)  Go to A&M’s hats on our site and you’ll see a hat with the word “Aggies” on the back.  (Boom, double plug!)

 

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Mizzou Curators Take No Action Yet; Presser Called For Tonight

As expected, there were no bombshell announcements coming out of this morning’s teleconference between University of Missouri curators.  The school’s board did discuss the future of the Big 12, but they took no action.

It seems the folks who’d come to believe chancellor Brady Deaton might get the ax and that MU would rush headlong toward the SEC have probably just watched one too many episodes of “The X-Files.”  No conspiracies were afoot.

So the Big 12 is fighting to once again save itself.  Commissioner Dan Beebe looks to be on his way out with Chuck Neinas already lined up as his probable replacement.  Oklahoma and others want more revenue sharing and Texas has said it would be open to that.   Still, the ESPN-driven ATM known as the Longhorn Network will continue to drive a wedge between UT and the rest of the conference for the foreseeable future because the Horns have no intention of sharing any of that loot.

The SEC wants no part of undermining another conference, of creating chaos in college athletics, or of being served with a lawsuit by Baylor’s Kenneth Starr… so the Missouri-SEC talks can likely be put to bed until the next Big 12 school has all it can stand of Bill Power, DeLoss Dodds and the Big 12 czars down in Austin.

Even if the Big 12 is saved, we still wouldn’t rule out Baylor filing a lawsuit against the SEC claiming that the league poached Texas A&M and did damage to the Big 12 in the process.  Such a lawsuit would be ridiculously difficult to win, but we wouldn’t put it past Starr to continue to put up a legal stink so as to put the fear of God — how very Baptist — into any school that might think of deserting the Big 12 and Baylor next summer.  “Try to leave and I’ll hold you up in court, too.”

Stay tuned.  This is all sure to change by sundown.


UPDATE – Hmmm.  Maybe we need to start watching “The X-Files” ourselves.  The folks at PowerMizzou.com — the Rivals site that covers Missouri — claims a source has told them that this morning’s meeting was indeed set up to discuss Deaton’s future at the school.  Deaton himself will “provide an update to the media on the Big 12 Conference and Mizzou Athletics” at 7:45 ET tonight, according to an afternoon release.

So it looks like you really, really should stay tuned.




For the record, it still seems rather doubtful that the SEC would yank Mizzou just as the Big 12 is about to save itself.  Especially considering how the league slammed on the breaks with Texas A&M due to Baylor’s previous threat to sue.  Not saying it couldn’t happen, but it would require a surprising change in attitude for Slive and his league.  After all, Starr could claim that the SEC damaged the Big 12 in August, then sat back and allowed the league to pull itself together, only to come back a month later for the final kill.

If we had to put a little money on Deaton’s presser, we’d bet that he’s going to announce Beebe’s resignation.  As you know, Deaton is also the chairman of the Big 12′s board of directors in addition to his duties in Columbia.

Our SEC sources have gone stone silent on this one, by the way.

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