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NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia TechOver the weekend, a number of college football players wrote the letters “APU” on their athletic gear in protest of the NCAA.  The “All Players United” movement figures to grow each and every week until the NCAA starts paying players cash or outlaws such writing on athletic gear (and the latter will likely come much sooner than the former).

The movement also mentions such things as concussions and NCAA reform, but you can be sure the main goal is get some cash flowing in the athletes’ direction.  And with players now protesting and thousands of media members now barking that the NCAA must be toppled and players must be paid, I’ve become convinced.

Pay the players.

Sure, no one from Jay Bilas to your local paper’s columnist has come up with an idea for an incorruptible system that could replace the NCAA should it be toppled like a dictator’s statue.  No one has explained which athletes would be paid or how lawsuits from those unpaid would be defeated.  No one has explained how paying players will cut down on cheating (as if making some is better than making more).  And no one has stated exactly how much those players who would be paid, uh, would be paid.  (Steve Spurrier’s idea to pay 75 guys out of each coaches’ wallet sounds good at a Media Days presser — and it’s easy for a guy making $3 million to push for that — but that will never come to pass under any circumstance and Spurrier damn well knows it.)

Despite all that, I’ll go ahead and join the chorus of complainers: Pay the players!

But I do have one requirement.  With great cash, will come great responsibility.  Yes, I say just throw open the coffers and give the players their booty.


Since there is no other semi-pro or minor league system in place for pre-NFL’ers, these paid players must still go to college to play ball.  That much is obvious.  That’s why they would be getting paid, right?.  Well, since they would be paid, they should also have to pay college tuition like everybody else out there.  Out-of-state students crossing state borders should have to pony up a little more.  Those who want to play for Vanderbilt or Duke, had better be making enough to cover the quarterly — or would it be “semesterly” — bills.

Some of you are probably already crying foul.  It’s ridiculous to make players pay for their own school.  “It wouldn’t be fair!”

So? I don’t think it’s fair that coal miners get black lung.  Which is why I didn’t become a coal miner.

If kids don’t want to play college ball, they don’t have to.  It’s not the US Army circa 1968.  No one is drafting these kids and forcing them to play college ball.  If it’s unfair, they don’t have to do it.  They can get a real job like millions of Americans who would have loved to have gotten a free college education in exchange for playing football (or another sport).  Or they could go to school on their own and prepare for a profession, having to pay off college loans for years like millions of American who would have loved to have gotten a free college education in exchange for playing football (or another sport).

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Fix The NCAA? There Are No Simple Answers (But We Do Have A Suggestion)

gfx - honest opinionYesterday the NCAA admitted that some overzealous sleuths withing its ranks overstepped their bounds while investigating the University of Miami’s athletic department.  That admission has predictably led to a wave of new “Fix the NCAA!” stories from one coast to the other.

One problem: There is no simple cure-all for what ails college athletics.

There’s no bottle of Witch Hazel to drink.  Or to pour on stains.  Or to wash one’s hair with.

There’s no magic elixir.  Not even the paying of players would act as a silver bullet, yet that was the first solution kicked around firstest by the mostest.

The problem with schools paying players is that not all schools can actually afford to pay players.  And which athletes would they pay if they could?  Just the kids from revenue sports?  Get ready for lawsuits if that’s the plan.  Just men?  Get ready for even more lawsuits.

Also, if all schools were allowed to pay players X amount, there would still need to be some type of policing agency to make sure one school wasn’t paying X + Y.  If it’s legal to provide cake, someone’s gonna try to provide icing.  On that you can bank.

Another possible plan involves instituting an Olympic style system to college sports.  Andy Staples of and Jay Bilas of ESPN are proponents of that design.  As sharp as those two men are, the Olympic model would only create new problems as it solved old ones.  If boosters and businessmen were allowed to pay to players — so long as their favorite schools did not — you’d wind up with bidding wars for athletes.  And even if you hold your nose and pretend that the idea of full-scale, above-ground bidding wars doesn’t stink, you would still have to deal with problems that would be imported from the ranks of professional sports.

What happens the first time a lowly-paid athlete surprises everyone with a thousand rushing yards in a season?  Here’s guessing he’d ask for more money.  If he didn’t get that money, might he hold out just like his heroes in the pros do?  Someone eventually would.

And if you’re A-OK with hold-outs as part of the college game, what about transfers?  Let’s say it’s up to the boosters and business-owners backing a school to decide whether or not to give the hotshot tailback a raise.  And let’s say they decide not to pony up the cash he desires.  Can the player simply leave to play elsewhere?  Is there a contract between the player, the booster, and the school preventing the player from cutting a better deal with another program?  Would there be a governing body to prevent such free agency?  Or are the NCAA’s transfer rules just as outdated as its views on amateurism are said to be?

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ESPN’s Basketball Version Of “GameDay” Will Head To Rupp Arena

ESPN released the schedule for its “College GameDay” basketball show today and only SEC school will get a visit from Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and crew — Kentucky.  And the game ESPN tabbed for its all-day coverage should be a good one — Missouri’s first visit to Rupp Arena as a member of the Southeastern Conference.

The Tigers will visit the Wildcats on February 23rd in what could be a showdown for the SEC’s regular-season crown.

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Bilas Praises Calipari’s Honesty

When he’s out recruiting a new batch of potential one-and-doners, Kentucky’s John Calipari is very honest about his goal of making his guys NBA-ready as quickly as possible.

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas likes the approach.  When asked about Coach Cal’s penchant for using the NBA as a recruiting tool, he said:

“All of them do.  I tend to think John is one of the most honest about it.  John’s out front (with) ‘We want to prepare you to be a pro.’  Nothing wrong with that.  Kids want to be pros.  It’s OK to pursue that dream.”

Calipari should have two more players taken in the first five picks tonight.

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SEC Headlines – 6/17/11

1.  The athletic budgets at Ole Miss and Mississippi State have both climbed for 2011-12.

2.  Some of State’s new money will go toward putting a new roof on Humphrey Coliseum.

3.  Here’s a preview of Georgia’s 2011 team from an MSU point of view.

4.  Seth Emerson of The Columbus Ledger opens his mailbag.

5.  Jay Bilas — who rips the NCAA at every turn – tweeted ‘em to the woodshed over the recent John Calipari flap.

6.  Some UK basketball players are eyeing a national title run in 2011-12.

7.  South Carolina got approval for its new video board at Williams-Brice Stadium.

8.  Tennessee has hired a search firm to help find a new athletic director.

9.  James Franklin says Vanderbilt’s players are in better shape now than when he arrived.

10.  ESPN continues to rank each conferences positions… here’s their SEC offensive line rankings…

11.  And their rankings for individual SEC O-linemen.

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Pearl “Thought About” Not Coaching UT Against UConn

Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl has hit the halfway mark of his SEC suspension.  His Vols are 2-2 in the league and coming off back-to-back wins over Vanderbilt and Georgia (on the road).  This weekend his team will head to Hartford to match up against #8 UConn.  Pearl will be back on the bench, though he briefly considered sitting this one out.

“I thought about it… and wasn’t sure what purpose it would serve.  We’ve put some unprecedented penalties on our program — there’s no question that the visibility of it all — and (the penalties) have played a part in some of our struggles as it should.  That’s what happens when you get suspended, that’s what happens when… you’ve got self-imposed penalties.”

Pearl was also asked about the many national pundits — Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps — who have said he should have been fired or should be suspended for at least a year.

“They have a job to do.  These decisions (about the punishments) are made by people with all the information.  So sometimes it’s puzzling when people make strong statements when they don’t have all the facts.”

If Pearl can lead Tennessee to victory against UConn — and how many NCAA references do you think will be made in a game featuring Pearl and Jim Calhoun? — it will be the Volunteers’ third win of the season against a highly-ranked Big East foe on a neutral court.  UT has already beaten Villanova in New York City and Pittsburgh in the Steel City (though away from their home gym).

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Jay Bilas: Bruce Pearl Should Have Been Fired

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas believes Bruce Pearl should have been terminated from his position as Tennessee’s basketball coach.

Bilas pointed to the misleading information Pearl provided to the NCAA during a summer interview about secondary violations committed by him and his staff. Pearl later admitted to the NCAA that he didn’t tell the truth.

Bilas wrote the following:

“We can all agree or disagree, but if I were in charge at Tennessee, I would have dismissed Bruce Pearl. Just on established facts, there is no reasonable justification for his actions and those of his staff. Every coach understands that if he lies to the NCAA in the course of an investigation, he is likely to be fired. And if a player lies to the NCAA, his career is often over. How can we possibly expect it to be different for a coach than a player?”

That’s not necessarily true about the player. Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was suspended by the NCAA last year when he provided misleading information about his relationship with former NFL star Deion Sanders. Bryant decided to enter the NFL Draft at the end of the season, but he would have been eligible to return this past September if he had chosen to do so.

Bilas also disagreed with SEC commissioner Mike Slive’s decision to suspend Pearl for the first eight games of SEC play in January. Bilas pointed out that Slive certainly had the power to suspend Pearl, but that it wasn’t the right decision.

“Pearl violated NCAA rules, lied about it and has since admitted it,” Bilas wrote. “But by those same rules, Pearl is entitled to a Notice of Allegations, 90 days to respond, and a hearing. Instead, the SEC hit him with a suspension before a Notice of Allegations was even handed down, short-circuiting and encroaching upon the NCAA process and diminishing the authority of the NCAA.”

How might Slive’s decision affect the NCAA’s ruling on Pearl and Tennessee? That remains unknown, and potential punishment from the NCAA might not come until June.

Some might believe that Bilas is out to get Pearl. That hardly seems to be the case. In his column, which can be read as an ESPN Insider, Bilas points to the outstanding job Pearl has done as UT’s coach.

“There are few that I have seen who are better in preparing a team and breaking down the game,” Bilas wrote. “He is truly a great coach.”

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