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NCAA Prez Under Fire For Losing Unwinnable Game

Penn State Abuse EmmertTalk about your thankless jobs.

With so many people worried about the heat members of the new college football playoff selection committee will take, there’s already an important figure in collegiate sports who’s got it far worse than any playoff panelist — NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Emmert took the reigns of the NCAA more than two years ago.  Today he’s been riddled with more bullets (verbal in nature) than Sonny Corleone at a tollbooth.  Coaches don’t like the NCAA because its rulebook is too thick.  Fans don’t like the NCAA because the organization is basically the police force of college sports and if their favorite school is cheating in some way, well, they don’t want them to get caught.  Media members attack the NCAA because that’s just what we do.  We look at big organizations and attempt to critique them, often in unfair ways.

And if happen to be the poor sap who’s agreed to sit atop the NCAA’s org chart — as Emmert has — then you’re the guy that coaches, fans and media members will target most often.

This week, Sports Illustrated is running a lengthy story on the overall failure of Emmert to reform the NCAA during his tenure.  (Of course, when he’s attempted to actually reform the rulebook, the changes have all been ixnayed after the fact by coaches and athletic directors who were not consulted).  Among the many negative reviews of Emmert and his team from SI.com:

 

“In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as the ‘King of the Press Conference.’  That’s not a compliment.”

“A portrait emerged of a (enforcement) department battered by turnover, afraid of lawsuits and overwhelmed by scandal.  One ex-enforcement official told SI, ‘The time is ripe to cheat.  There’s no policing going on.’”

“When talking to a dozen college officials to get a pulse on Emmert, many struggled to answer the question, ‘What has he actually accomplished so far in his tenure?’  Even the harsh sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ($60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four years) has painted Emmert in a bad light after he went on a television tour, which some perceived as a victory lap, to talk about the unprecedented action by the NCAA.”

“The NCAA failed to pass most of the initiatives Emmert has trumpeted.  Many agreed with the ideals behind Emmert’s ambitious agenda, including trying to give scholarship athletes a small amount of money to cover the full cost of school, and paring down the rulebook.  But the lack of results have highlighted the growing schism between have and have-nots in Division I and further polarized the athletic directors who feel largely ignored and highlighted how out-of-touch Emmert is with his constituents.”

 

Yikes.  It goes on from there and it gets no prettier.

Not to be outdone, The Sporting News put in some calls of its own to further pile on the easy-target NCAA president:

 

“Why does embattled president Mark Emmert still have a job?  The reason could be this simple: Firing Emmert could do more harm than good.  ‘If you force him out, you’re essentially telling everyone he has failed,’ one NCAA (university) president told Sporting News.  ‘When you’re dealing with (litigation), it’s not prudent to admit failure at the highest office.’”

*  “‘He is incapable of looking in the mirror and figuring out that he could be the problem,’ one administrator of a BCS school told Sporting News.  ‘A leader with a personality like that, it affects everyone he manages and it affects the way the organization is run.’”

 

The real problem might just be that reforming the NCAA is a goal that cannot be accomplished, a game that can’t be won.  Sci-fi heads, think “Kobayashi Maru,” the ultimate no-win scenario.

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Ex-Penn State QB Open To Any School… Including MSU

Penn State falls to Virginia, 17-16Any schools out there looking to nab another quarterback before the 2013 season can turn their eyes to Happy Valley.  And try to get in line in front of Mississippi State, apparently.

Former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench is looking to leave the Nittany Lions program after a season spent mainly on the bench last year.  Bench’s pass attempt total in 2013: eight.  According to the QB — who thanks to PSU’s NCAA penalties can transfer and play immediately — he wants “a shot to compete for playing time where I go to school next.”  Late last week it was reportedly that that next school just might be Mississippi State.

Bench admitted that multiple reports of “mutual interest” between him and Dan Mullen’s program were correct.  ESPN reports that he’s also considering South Florida.  But he’s putting the word out loudly and clearly that he’s open to talking with anyone:

 

“I’m not against being away from home even though with the reports out there that I’m deciding between schools closer than say, Penn State from where I am in Georgia.  At this point I want everyone to know I’m open to any school and any situation.  That sounds like a cliche but it’s the truth…

If we were to take the academics out of the equation and talk about on the field, I’m going to my new school to play football.  Not watch football being played.”

 

Bench was rated a three-star dual-threat quarterback prospect by Rivals.com coming out of high school.  At Mississippi State, the starting quarterback is junior Tyler Russell.  His backup is redshirt freshman Dak Prescott, who missed spring practice after having surgery to repair a ligament in his big toe.

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Former Penn State Quarterback Reportedly Considering Mississippi State

Steven BenchQuarterback Steven Bench played high school football in Georgia and was recruited by Mississippi State.  He chose to go to Penn State last year but now the Bulldogs could be back in the picture.

Penn State announced last week that Bench would be transferring and a report out yesterday indicated he was considering both Mississippi State and South Florida. Because of NCAA sanctions at Penn State, Bench is eligible immediately as long as he transfers by August 1. He’ll have three years of eligibility left.

Tampa Bay Times reporter Greg Auman notes that Bench recently started following Bulldogs assistant coach Geoff Collins on Twitter.  

As a freshman at Penn State, Bench played sparingly, throwing for 12 yards on eight pass attempts.

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Blood, Give Us More Blood: Now Everyone Wants Rutgers Hammered

angry mobEx-Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice did some very bad things.  He shoved his players during practice.  He was verbally abusive towards them, even using homophobic slurs (not that he’s the first coach to do that).  Worse, he actually threw basketballs at them.

Mike Rice deserved to be fired.  End of story.

But it’s not the end of the story.  Rice is being obliterated in the national media.  ESPN’s numerous talking heads have jumped in to trash Rice.  Except for Bobby Knight, of course, who was conspicuously absent from the network’s pound-it-into-the-ground coverage on its 6pm ET “SportsCenter” broadcast yesterday.

You remember Knight.  He was the guy who threw chairs, verbally abused players, and finally lost his job at Indiana after he laid hands upon one of his Hoosier players and — like Rice — was caught doing so on videotape.  He’s also the guy who now serves as a top basketball analyst for ESPN and who fellow analyst Dick Vitale raves about.

Vitale got in on the Rice story yesterday via Twitter:

 

vitale-tweet

 

Coaching suicide, eh?  Must depend on how many games a guy’s won.  Knight lasted a long time before a video clip brought him down.  It can be argued that Rice’s taped incidents were worse than the biggie caught on tape involving Knight, but at that point we’re just splitting hairs.

Knight was a bully to his players.  Rice was a bully to his players.  Not all of their players hated them.  Some came to Knight’s defense.  Some have come to Rice’s.  It’s not unlike the Marine who hates his drill sergeant only to later say he appreciates him for “making a man out of him,” or some other such macho thing.  (Perhaps there’s a little bit of Stockholm Syndrome mixed in there, too.)

In Knight’s case, he had hundreds of wins and three national championships on his resume.  Rice had only been a head coach for six years.  He took Robert Morris to a pair of NCAA Tournaments, but in three years at Rutgers he was a disappointing 44-51 overall.  Winning masks a lot of ills.  Losing magnifies them.

Knight also coached — mainly — in an age before Twitter and wall-to-wall sports coverage across television networks and the internet.  Rice screwed up and got caught in the age of social media.  Once ESPN aired video of him flinging balls at this players’ noggins, he was doomed.

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USA Today Digs Into Emmert, Digs Up Issues For LSU, Saban

mark-emmert-ncaa-prezNCAA president Mark Emmert is a man under fire.  The organization he runs is one of the least popular in the country, it’s mired in a scandal regarding its own handling of an investigation, and it’s facing a potentially landscape-changing lawsuit.

Now the press is getting involved, too.  USA Today has begun digging into Emmert’s past.

It’s this writer’s opinion that any time you dig long and hard enough into someone’s past — especially someone who’s worked at a number of different jobs — you’re going to find dirt.  That’s because people who work in a number of places are bound to make a number of enemies.  All it takes is for one or two enemies at each stop to start hurling accusations and a man’s reputation will go bye-bye lickety-split.

That said, one of the places Emmert worked was at LSU as the school’s chancellor from 1999 through 2004.  People there are talking.  We’ll let USA Today pick it up from there:

 

“At LSU, an academic fraud scandal emerged in the football program under then-coach Nick Saban in 2001-02. Emmert oversaw an investigation into the allegations made by a university instructor that eventually acknowledged five minor and isolated violations and declared most of the claims ‘unfounded.’

Emmert even met on LSU’s behalf with the NCAA, which accepted LSU’s findings. But after Emmert decided to leave LSU in 2004, a witness testified in a deposition that the instructor was telling the truth and that the problems were far more systemic than the school admitted, even extending to grades being changed for football players, according to court records.

The culture was ‘appalling’ and ‘like Romper Room,’ the employee said in 2004 testimony.”

 

That blurb shifts into a longer breakdown of LSU’s issues under Emmert.

Whether Emmert was guilty of a cover-up or not, LSU is back in the news today.  So is Nick Saban, who will have to provide answers about this situation and how it might pertain to his current program at Alabama.  Already enemies of Emmert — Penn State fans, duh — are taking the USA Today report as Gospel.

The old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is just that — an old saying.  The phrase was coined long before talk radio, the internet, and social media made the rush to judgement oh so much easier.  USA Today’s decision to re-open the vaults on Emmert will most assuredly cause headaches for a few folks in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa over the next few days.

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Walton Decommits From Penn State, Plans To Play In SEC

Linebacker Jonathan Walton from Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala., is no longer committed to Penn State.

Walton told AL.com he will consider offers from Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee. He has already taken official visits to South Carolina and Tennessee and plans to visit Auburn this upcoming weekend.

“After that, I’ll probably take a week to think about it and then decide where I want to play my college football,” Walton said. “I do plan to stay in the SEC.”

Walton didn’t indicate he favors a particular school.

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SEC Headlines 1/18/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Johnny Manziel gets a speeding ticket and a Texas judge takes to Facebook to publicize the case.  The judge, Lee Johnson, is a Baylor alum and could be in trouble for posting the information.

2. The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am thought about inviting Manziel but apparently backed off when they discovered it would have cost the Texas A&M quarterback close to $20,000 to pay the entry fee or run afoul of NCAA rules.

3. Manziel on the new generation of NFL quarterbacks: “Watching them you see some of the things that have changed in the NFL, with the read option and where (teams) can do some things with a mobile quarterback.”

4. Collateral damage from the Manti Te’o case hits South Carolina. Fake Jadeveon Clowney Twitter account creates a stir. South Carolina officials informed Twitter about the account Wednesday night.

5. Bret Bielema has completed his staff at Arkansas – hires Kansas State assistant Michael Smith to be the Razorbacks receivers coach.

6. Florida coach Will Muschamp on the departure of Dan Quinn and the promotion of D.J. Durkin to defensive coordinator: “D.J. and I will run the defense, continuing the way that Dan and I did for the past two years.”

7. A busy Mark Stoops at Kentucky: ”There have been some moments when you sit back and (it’s like), wow,”

8. Three walk-ons now have scholarships at Tennessee – unofficial number of scholarship players now totals 69.

9. Could the SEC have 11 or 12 bowl teams in 2013?

NFL Draft Prospects

10. Departing Auburn running back Onterio McCalleb will play in the Senior Bowl - marking three straight weeks he’ll play in all-star games.

11. Four Texas A&M players will participate in all-star games. The East-West Shrine Game and the Raycom All-Star Classic are Saturday with the Senior Bowl a week later.

12. Aggies running back Christine Michael, who butted heads with coach Kevin Sumlin and saw little playing time his senior year, is impressing scouts at East-West Shrine Game practice.  “Michael has been the top back in practices.”

13. Even before the girlfriend hoax story emerged, Manti Te’o's draft stock was plunging. Gil Brandt: “In that game against Alabama, this was like a guy who was the best shooter in the world in basketball and here comes a game and he can’t even hit the backboard.

14. Mel Kiper on Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree: “I think he could certainly be top 10-12. I have him 13 right now, but by the time the combine workout is over, he could end up in the top 10.”

15. Kiper on 2014 draft prospect Aaron Murray:  “I think you’re looking at maybe a second-round pick.”

College News

16. Penn State coach Bill O’Brien wins the Bear Bryant Award.  Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin were finalists.

17. Al Pacino will play Joe Paterno in a movie about the late Penn State coach.

18. Former Alabama great and ex-Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom is the new running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans.

19. Cowboys have talked to Houston Nutt about joining the staff.

20. Big East football will have 10 teams and eliminate divisions this year.

21. NCAA president Mark Emmert: ”It turns out we know how to write rules. One of the problems is sometimes we write lots and lots and lots of rules.”

22. Kevin Scarbinsky: “Te’o is, at best, a gullible sap, and at worst, a willing participant in the most sophisticated hoax college football’s ever seen.”

23. This is perhaps the goofiest “non-sports” sports story we’ve experienced since Tonya Harding. Report: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has admitted to the hoax.

SEC Basketball

24. Missouri forward Laurence Bowers likely to miss Saturday’s game at Florida- has sprained MCL in his right knee.

25. “The Tigers often look like a team comprised of one holdover and numerous transfers, which is close to being what they are.”

26. In their last 19 conference games spread across basketball, football and baseball – Tennessee is 1-18.

27. Since 2000, LSU has lost their first three conference games five times.

28. Arkansas beat Auburn Wednesday night but it was a disappointing performance for Razorbacks forward Hunter Mickelson.  Mike Anderons’ message: “He’s got to have short-term memory and get back in practice and come with it.”

29. ESPN ranks the SEC 1-to-14 – from Florida to Georgia.

30. Ron Morris pays tribute to Carolina Coliseum – “back when basketball games were played in basketball barns.”

Extra

31. “Catfishing”  is a pretty common occurrence.  ”It’s been going on for a while, and I think it just hit the tipping point.”

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SEC Recruiting Headlines 12/27/12

1. Two prep school Georgia commits will have to wait to enroll in Athens.

2. Alabama is recruiting several highly-touted prospects to finish its 2013 class.

3. Here’s another look at some of the nation’s top uncommitted prospects.

4. Will Dee Liner’s off-field issues be a problem in college? Here’s a discussion.

5. Here’s a breakdown of the East roster in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

6. Penn State linebacker commit Jonathan Walton will visit South Carolina.

7. Former Mississippi State commit Kailo Moore favors rival Ole Miss.

8. Here’s a recruiting wish list for Florida coach Will Muschamp.

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CBS’ Danielson Backs Saban’s Comments About Hurry-Up Offenses “100%”

Last week, Nick Saban caused an uproar among coaches who run up-tempo, no-huddle schemes.  Alabama’s coach — fresh off a game with Hugh Freeze’s fast-paced Ole Miss offense — suggested that defensive players are put at such a disadvantage by those no-huddle systems that it could be dangerous and lead to more injuries.

Naturally, coaches using that offensive style responded negatively to Saban’s claim.  And many non-Bama fans said Saban was just whining because his team had won by only 19 points (which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to this writer).

I thought it sounded, however, like a defense-first coach who hates to see defense go the way of the dodo bird in college football.  That’s not crying.  That’s just a guy taking up for his own style of football in the same way that the speed-it-up coaches have said in the week since that there’s nothing wrong with their system.

Well, Saban’s finally found a backer in CBS color analyst Gary Danielson.

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Doyel: Spurrier Needs To Worry About Coaching, Not The Media

Gregg Doyel can get ready for some ugly emails from South Carolina Gamecock fans.  Here’s guessing he won’t care because Doyel’s a guy who lives for ugly emails and insults.  He’s made a career out of it.

In his latest column, Doyel first tackles Ron Morris’ Penn State comment from a week ago.  It seems he took it the same way I did last week (which might be the first time I’ve agreed with Doyel on anything as well as the first time I’d ever defended Morris):

 

“‘This,’ Morris said on the radio, ‘is how things like Penn State happen.’

Morris wasn’t saying a pedophile will strike South Carolina, or that Spurrier would allow a pedophile to run unchecked. Morris was saying, quite clearly, that it’s a bad idea for a coach to become too powerful at his school, just as Joe Paterno grew to be too powerful at Penn State. That’s what Morris meant.

But it was a bad analogy — wrong time, wrong situation — and Spurrier flipped.

And in the process, Spurrier is confirming Morris’ overall point.”

 

Doyel writes that Spurrier’s remark last week that good things are about to happen because he’s complaining and his bosses are complaining, too, suggests Morris might just lose his job.  (We’ll pause for Gamecock fans to cheer.)  Doyel doesn’t think that’s a good thing.

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