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Columnist Scarbinsky Wisely Says It’s Time For Coaches To Ban Twitter

twitter-logoWe’ve been writing it for years.

Coaches would be wise to ban their athletes from Twitter.  If not always, at least during the season.  Though as Johnny Manziel proved this weekend with his “i can’t wait to leave college station” rant, there’s really no good time for tweets.

Yesterday, Al.com’s Kevin Scarbinsky joined the growing chorus of folks wondering why coaches don’t put their foot down on that little blue bird’s neck:

 

“They call Twitter a social medium, but let’s be honest.  Does one angry man seething into his cell or his table really have any socially redeeming value?

Some thoughts are better left unsaid, especially if they’re going to be shared with the world.  Chances are, if you’re a major college athlete and you say something insulting, demeaning, rude or profane, a lot of people are going to know about it by sundown.”

 

Bingo.

Scarbinsky goes on to point out that Twitter has zero to do with the First Amendment, a point we made back in November when we last took up the subject.  In that piece, we also included five SEC coaches’ views on Twitter.

Bully for their views, our view remains the same — coaches would be wise to nix Twitter before they’re burned by the loose lips, er, fingers of a teenager.

And as always, be sure to follow MrSEC.com on Twitter where we’ll do our best to hold our angry rants and profane remarks to a minimum.

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SEC To Stay With 8-Game Schedule In 2014, “Probably” In 2015 Too

8 or 9SEC commissioner Mike Slive announced yesterday what everyone expected to him to announced — that his league would head into 2014 with an eight-game conference schedule and a 6-1-1 format.  He also said that the 2015 season will “probably” use the same plan.

“Probably” being the key word.

As we’ve noted on numerous occasions, if SEC officials find themselves being snubbed by the College Football Playoff selection committee for strength of schedule reasons, they’ll vote to go to nine games ASAP.  If SEC officials see an opportunity to improve attendance and/or make more money by going to nine games, again, they’ll do it.

As for Slive, he says nothing will happen until Friday at the earliest:

 

“I do want to tell you in capital letters that the First Amendment is alive and well… I just came out of the football coaches’ meeting and we had a healthy discussion there.  They’re gonna continue that discussion tomorrow.  We had a discussion with our ADs and we’ll continue to have discussions throughout the week.  I certainly don’t believe we’ll come to any closure here, but my hope is that everybody will weigh in on the discussion.  We’ll see where we are by Friday as to what the next step is.”

 

There is little chance of a nine-game schedule passing for 2015, 2016 or any other year by Friday.  But that didn’t keep a pair of coaches from sounding off on the league’s scheduling issues yesterday.

Alabama’s Nick Saban got plenty of national publicity for once again pushing the SEC toward a nine-game SEC slate:

 

“You talk about trying to create some kind of strength of schedule (component).  That’s difficult to do when we have six teams at the end of the season last year in the top 10 and other teams that are vying to get into the (BCS) championship game.  Then to think the team that loses (the SEC) championship game wouldn’t have gotten in the final four if we had one.  That’s not taking strength of schedule into consideration at all.  It’s taking how many games you lose into consideration.  But I think if we all played more good opponents, you could lost more games and still have a chance to get recognized as being a good team.”

 

While Saban has been the most vocal proponent of a nine-game conference schedule, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin has been the loudest opponent.  That was true yesterday as well:

 

“Every coach, every administration wants the best out-of-conference schedule they possibly can have.  But why should somebody else dictate to us what that is?  Nobody knows what’s in the best interest of Vanderbilt, and I would argue what’s in the best interest of Vanderbilt is in the best interest of the SEC and so on and so forth…

We’ll go to nine and people will say, ‘We don’t have enough sexy out-of-conference games anymore so you’re going to have to play nine and another.’  When’s it going to stop?  Two years from now they’re going to say, ‘You know, we probably ought to schedule an NFL team.  You’re probably going to have to play the Jets.  You’re going to have to play the Falcons.’  Now we’re going to play nine games and an NFL team.  When’s it going to end?”

 

Amazingly that wasn’t even Franklin’s biggest spin of the day.  He also suggested that an extra conference game would be bad for players’ health:

 

“It’s funny that we’re also talking about player welfare and health.  Well, now you’re going to play another game like that a year.  Couldn’t you bring up player health and safety for those games?… I think you just have to be careful that the things we’re saying are consistent.”

 

Now that’s a spin cycle.

For the time being, expect to see SEC teams playing an eight-game schedule in 2014 and 2015.  After that, we suspect the league will move to a nine-game format.  Whether the league’s teams will be forced to play the Jets or Falcons remains to be seen.

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SEC Commish Opens Up About Scheduling On Eve Of Spring Meetings

mike-slive-smileTony Barnhart of CBSSports.com has produced the perfect kickstart to this week’s SEC spring meetings in Destin.  The longtime writer and radio host recently sat down with SEC commissioner Mike Slive for a lengthy Q&A about the league and its future.  Everything from the SEC Network to player stipends to the new College Football Playoff is covered right here.

With possible changes to the SEC’s scheduling format sure to be a hot topic this week, Barnhart asked Slive about that particular hubbub:

 

“Remember last year we overwhelmingly voted to keep the current 6-1-1 scheduling model and we are currently building the 2014 schedule on that basis.  The question is whether or not we keep that model for a longer term.  As I have always said, the First Amendment is alive and well, and will be on display for the next few days.  We understand there are different points of view on this.

Should we stay with the 6-1-1 model?  Should we eliminate the permanent crossovers?  Should we go to nine games?  There is going to be a lot of discussion during the week on this and a lot of media interest…

If I had an opinion (on permanent cross-division opponents), I wouldn’t tell you.  But I am open-minded on this issue.  The test for me is what is the principle in play?  There are scheduling principles in play, but for me, the overriding principle is: What is in the long-term best interest of the Southeastern Conference?  That is a simple principle but it can be very difficult in application.  It takes some forecasting.  It takes some thinking.

We’ve always been very creative in this league.  We have always been deliberate and careful.  All those characteristics have to go into this discussion about the schedule.  Where it comes out, I don’t know, but everything is important — every element.”

 

First, it didn’t take the commissioner long to work in his favorite “First Amendment” quote.  Betcha it won’t be the last time you hear that one this week.

As for the takeaway from the above quote, it’s clear that as a sly businessman and strategic thinker, Slive has always been and will always be focused on “What is in the long-term best interest of the Southeastern Conference?”  From signing two landmark deals with CBS and ESPN in 2008 to pushing through an unpopular (with coaches) soft cap on football signees to launching an SEC Network, Slive keeps his eyes on the big picture.

Turning our attention to the current dust-up over permanent cross-division opponents, the vast majority of schools seem to be in favor of keeping them as a part of the league’s scheduling format.  Those games help to keep three old rivalries alive (Alabama/Tennessee, Auburn/Georgia, Ole Miss/Vanderbilt).  They also aid overall conference parity by matching the SEC’s traditional “winners” against one another (and the traditional “losers” against one another, as well).

Are permanent rivals good for everyone?  LSU says “nay.”  But are they good for the Southeastern Conference as a whole?  The majority of schools to date have thought “yay.”

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SEC Coaches Sound Off In Twitter Debate

Should they or shouldn’t they?  Should college coaches allow their players to tweet or should they ban them from using the popular social media platform for fear that someone will write something he shouldn’t and bring trouble upon himself of the program as a whole (as was the case during North Carolina’s recent football scandal).

As we’ve written before, at MrSEC.com we believe most coaches would be wise to ban their players from Twitter during the season.  Several programs across the country have gone that route.  And for those who feel it’s a First Amendment issue, it’s not.  At least no more than a coach banning his freshmen or his quarterbacks or some other players from speaking with the press.

Aaron Brenner of The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer did a nice job of compiling the varying views of a variety of SEC football coaches.  You can read his excellent piece right here.

We’ll simply share with you some direct quotes from five different league coaches…

 

“What can you ever gain by putting your business on the street?  The bad outweighs the good.”

– South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, who bans Twitter during football season

 

“I’ve got mixed emotions.  It can be a very good tool, depending upon how it’s used.  I think it’s been a great thing for me and the relationship-building here, for us to get our message out of who we are and what our core values are.  A lot of our kids have that to heart, too.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and makes you question whether it should be a part of your program.  I can also be very discouraging to read some of the things you see on there.  I want kids to understant that could prevent them from getting a job one day.  I’ve asked a few to get off of it.”

– Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, who does not ban Twitter

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Michigan’s Hoke No Fan Of NCAA Rules On Social Media… But The Solution’s Simple

No, this isn’t MrBigTen.com — though we do own that domain name, thank ya very much — but Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has brought up one of our favorite topics: Athletes and social media.

Turns out a Michigan player sent out a congratulatory message on Twitter to a UM commit earlier this month.  That could be a secondary NCAA violation.  (Tennessee is also currently facing a potential slap on the wrist thanks to a player’s tweet.  Sticking with UT for a moment, a former hoops player at UT once brought his own eligibility into question by mentioning a business in a YouTube clip.)

CollegeFootballTalk.com has Hoke’s reaction to the mess:


“I think social media happened so quickly, and the NCAA is trying to get its head around all that stuff.  We just need to keep educating our players… and I’ll mention what they put out there and what they say.  But there’s no question something needs to happen.”

Hoke also said having to report secondary violations for tweets and texts is “wasting people’s time.”

Well, until the NCAA does open the door to any and all tweets and texts, here’s our standard suggestion: Coaches, keep your kids away from social media.

An NCAA investigation into the North Carolina football program — an investigation that cost Butch Davis and many of his assistants their jobs — began with a single player’s tweet.  One comment about partying with an agent/runner caused UNC’s improving football program to unravel.

A few coaches have created social media policies.  Fewer have banned their players from using Twitter and Facebook.  Most simply take the “I’ll deal with it if they say something stupid” tack.

And that’s dangerous.

One dumb tweet can tarnish a program’s reputation.  One bad Facebook comment could lead to an NCAA investigation that might uncover all manner of dirt.

Until the NCAA revises its rules on social media, the safest path is to ix-nay social media.

For those of you crying “First Amendment rights!” you don’t really understand the First Amendment or why it was created.  Players could still tweet if they wanted to… but they’d be subject to punishments, suspension or banishment from their athletic team.  They wouldn’t be thrown in jail.

If you disagree, you might try to tweet that your boss is an arse and see if you can use the First Amendment to save your own rear.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Further, what about all those coaches who already keep freshmen (and other players) away from the media altogether?  Barring social media would just be an extension of those policies.

The smart coaches will snuff it out until the rules change.  Those who don’t risk secondary violations and much, much worse.

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Slive Sounds Off On NCAA Allegations, Oversigning, And Sunday Football

Mike Herndon of The Mobile Press-Register recently caught up with SEC commissioner Mike Slive to discuss some of the biggest hot-button issues facing the Southeastern Conference today.  It’s interesting stuff and well worth your time.

Below — in the interest of providing a summary — we provide some of Herndon’s topics and Slive’s answers, as well as our own thoughts on the commissioner’s responses.


Topic 1:  What can be done to curtail the influence of boosters on college sports?

Slive:  It’s time to look at the process and see if there are ways to improve (our) dealing with some of these issues that have surfaced.  Many of them are just issues.  Most of the things you’re talking about are allegations or some of them are just rumors.  The fundamental thing is that anything that takes attention away from student-athletes and coaches on the field is not good for the game.  When those issues arise, I think we do have a responsibility to take a look and see if whatever processes we have in place, whatever rules we have in place, are in fact sufficient, appropriate, reasonable, expeditious.  Any time we have issues that are what we call off-the-field issues, it’s always time to see if we can do it better.

MrSEC.com’s take:  That’s a long way of saying, “something needs to be done,” but there’s no suggestion as to what that something should be.  And with good reason — no one in the history of college athletics has figured out a way to keep boosters away from players.  So no offense to the SEC’s commissioner, but there’s nothing to suggest he’ll be the man to come up with the silver bullet cure for rogue boosters. 

Does something need to be done?  Yes.  Can something be done?  Doubtful.  Hammering institutions more harshly — for the illegal actions of boosters — might cause a few to think twice before making those hundred-dollar handshakes, but it wouldn’t stop all or probably even most.


Topic 2:  Do you envision a time when college athletes will be paid?

Slive:  If you mean paying them so they become employees, I don’t see that happening.  If your question is, is it time to see whether or not the traditional definition of a scholarship — which is room, board, tuition, fees and books — is sufficient in some instances, I think that is an area that deserves a look.  One example might be that a scholarship could reach a level of the cost of education rather than just the definition of a scholarship, the full cost of education.

MrSEC.com’s take:  There is no way for Division I athletic departments to fund salaries or even stipends for all of their athletes.  Also, any attempt to fund some sports and not others would result in even greater debate and lawsuits. 


Topic 3:  Will the SEC re-examine oversigning?

Slive:  It’s more than just the question of oversigning.  It’s a question of looking at all these issues that comprise how teams develop their ultimate roster.  We have put together a group of our athletic directors who have been working on this now for several months and we anticipate looking at their report in Destin, when we do our business.  We expect the First Amendment to be alive and well in Destin and I actually anticipate that we would do something more than we have done up to now.

There are a lot of things that go with it — the question of oversigning, the question of grayshirting, the question of early admission, the question of pre-enrollment in summer school.  We are working to take a very comprehensive look at all the different elements, not just the one issue of oversigning.

MrSEC.com’s take:  Good.  As we wrote in February, the SEC has enough advantages when it comes to talent base and income that it should not need to be the most lax league in America when it comes to oversigning.


Topic 4:  Has the SEC discussed playing games on Sunday if the NFL lockout continues?

Slive:  No, we haven’t talked about it. … We’ve got a lot of tradition.  It’s the hallmark of this league. … We play on Saturday for the most part.  Whether or not we would adjust, no one has said a word to me about that and certainly we’re not going to take the initiative.

MrSEC.com’s take:  We still believe — as we wrote here last month — that this is a non-starter.  Moving games would require massive changes for fans’ and teams’ travel plans.  So this isn’t something that could likely be done at the last minute… at least not without ticking off fans who have scheduled vacation days, hotel reservations, and airline tickets. 

The NFL lockout could conceivably end at any moment.  So if it ended one week prior to CBS carrying Georgia versus South Carolina on a Sunday (for example), would that SEC game move back to Saturday?  If so, fans of the Dawgs and Cocks would be forced to change their plans for a second time.  It makes sense that the networks would want to replace NFL programming, but if the NFL returns, those networks’ contracts with the NFL would force them to air the pro games.  And that would leave the SEC to shift games back and forth.  It’s very unlikely that the SEC would play along with anything like that.

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Noon Newspaper May 4th, 2009

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

"Fanhouse?  What's that?"

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by James Crisp – AP

“Fanhouse? What’s that?”

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The John Wall recruiting saga took a really shocking turn today, as wall has apparently been charged with a crime — breaking and entering.

Bluegrass State Basketball has the story, and there is, according to him, more to this than has been reported so far.  Hopefully, the “more” is favorable to Wall.  For more reading on this subject, here is The Sporting News’ story, and here is the WTVD report in Raleigh-Durham.  There seem to be very few details at the moment, and the charge is only a misdemeanor and Wall was not actually arrested.

Fanhouse claims that Roy Williams and Coach K will now no longer be interested, but the Coach Calipari still will, claiming his intent was “not to indict” UK or “the Wildcat boosters who so desperately want a star point guard.”  First of all, why is it the “consensus” that Calipari will still be interested and nobody else will?  The author doesn’t attempt to explain that, and just allows the reader to assume that Calipari is fine with taking kids with “a past,” (to be fair, his past indicates that he is), or that Coach K isn’t (Roy Williams backed off Wall weeks ago), or that UK has no other viable options.  And is he saying that UK fans are so desperate for a point guard that we would offer a scholarship to a good player regardless of their legal status?  What a crock.

The facts of the case have yet to emerge, and the charge may well wind up being dropped.  It isn’t as if the kid broke into an occupied home with an AK-47 and started shooting up the place.  The Fanhouse article is typical of why journalist so revile bloggers — it is fact-challenged, reporting that Wall went to NC Central when Adam Zagoria reported earlier that meeting didn’t happen, and blames that aborted visit on “eligibility issues,” which is another item not in evidence.

Before everyone panics and starts deciding that Wall is trouble, let’s step back and wait for the facts to emerge.  As Dave Telep of Scout.com told USA today, “[This] doesn’t feel right.  This may have been nothing more than a youthful prank, a case of mistaken identity, or simple guilt by association.  I’m not encouraged by the news, but I also think we should not be rushing to judgment.

Now, for the rest of the news.

UK Basketball News

  • Some interesting observations about the player who has the attention of UK fans captivated at the moment.
  • I don’t think this blogger is a UK or John Calipari fan.  Interesting post, though.
  • Wall did not go to his planned N.C. Central visit, according to Adam Zagoria.
  • Nice piece by BBallSophist at True Blue Kentucky.
  • The new NCAA rule makes bad choices easier, and other links this morning via John Clay.
  • UK on the final list of 12 for Harrison Barnes.  Barnes is really a good player that would reload us for 2010.  Not only that, he is a smart kid.
  • Chris Fisher has some weekend stuff over at Kentucky Ink.

UK Football News

  • Fidler back in the quarterback race.

Other UK Sports News

  • UK Softball loses to South Carolina on Sunday.
  • Bat Cats keep their SEC tournament hopes alive with a huge series win over the Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday.

NCAA Sports News

  • Mississippi State gets a commitment from John Riek.  Rick Stansbury gets an A+ for his recruiting effort at MSU this year.

Other News of Interest

  • An interesting story about Scout.com’s Dave Telep.
  • Facebook groups versus the NCAA.  This is going to become a problem the first time a public university takes action beyond a threat against someone on Facebook.  The NCAA, as a private entity can set rules and enforce them without fear of First Amendment ramifications.  But it seems to me that requiring public universities to enforce NCAA rules is a much trickier problem and could give rise to a legitimate claim under the First Amendment.So far, the matter hasn’t come to legal blows, but it will eventually.  Things like this always do.  For my money, the best thing to do is to politely ask people to help the university comply with the rules without resorting to the stick of a cease and desist letter.  Most of these kids are just fans of university sports programs and would gladly comply rather than put their favorite team at risk, if asked nicely.

 


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