Please Support the Charity Bowl

May 12, 2008

From Kevin at Fanblogs.com:

Like you, I’ve been touched by the devastating cyclone in Myanmar, the tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri and the Midwest, storms in the Southeast, wildfires in California & Florida, and earthquakes in China, not to mention the everyday needs in our own communities.

Orson from EDSBS and I are asking you to show your school spirit and help those in need today by making a donation to the American Red Cross, CARE, or the International Rescue Committee.

In turn, we’ll rank the total donation by school and display it this week at Fanblogs and Every Day Should Be Saturday. The winning school will have its colors displayed at EDSBS and logo/mascot shown on every page at Fanblogs.
The particulars:

  1. Make a donation online to the American Red Cross, CARE, or the International Rescue Committee.
  2. Email the donation confirmation to kevin@fanblogs.com and state your team affiliation by 8pm EDT on Wednesday, May 14th.
  3. Results will be displayed at Every Day Should Be Saturday and Fanblogs throughout the week, with the final results shown by Thursday, May 15th.
  4. The winning school will have its colors displayed at EDSBS and logo/mascot shown on every page at Fanblogs.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. (Now… go make a donation and don’t make your school look cheap!)

I’m in already. Let’s do this, Gators.


USC Has a Serious Agent Problem

May 12, 2008

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program has reported that former USC basketball player OJ Mayo received around $30,000 worth of benefits from Rodney Guillory, a “runner” for sports agency Bill Duffy Associates. This is not just a passing accusation either; OTL has a mountain of evidence detailing the story. It stretches back to when Mayo was in high school in Huntington, West Virginia.

I was going to draw some detailed parallels between Mayo’s case and the Reggie Bush case, but Pat Forde already beat me to it. He goes a bit over the top, I think, but it’s a nice summary of the allegations.

The troubling aspect is how cavalier USC appears to have acted towards agents and their influence. Yahoo! Sports’s investigation into the football program showed that agents and their representatives were allowed to be in the locker room and on the sidelines at practices and games. Now we find out that the school did nothing about the fact that Mayo was known to be associated with Guillory, despite the fact that former USC guard Jeff Trepagnier and a former Frenso State basketball player were suspended for accepting benefits from him.

USC Compliance Officer Schultz was unavailable for comment.

Every major program has trouble with agents. UF suffered its own scandal with the Tank Black episode back in the mid-1990s. If anything, that fact should make schools more vigilant about keeping agents and their runners away from their players. USC especially needed to be on that beat, considering the Reggie Bush fiasco and the fact – and this was news to me – it’s against California state law for agents to give gifts to amateur athletes.

Really, Mayo was a ticking time bomb for NCAA compliance. He has been in the spotlight since he was in middle school. His family was very poor, yet he had nice clothes, nice shoes, and a 42″ TV in his dorm. USC head coach Tim Floyd apparently had contacts with Guillory during the recruiting process, despite Guillory’s past history with the school. All the signs were there.

Mayo’s case also ties in with a lot of other issues in college sports – the role of media and now colleges in middle school athletics, the NBA’s age limit, and the NCAA’s historically laughable record of enforcing its own rules. Combined with the Bush case, it shines a light squarely on the issue of whether USC can police itself.

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. We have not just one, but two major sports media outlets that have done far more investigation into Trojan players than USC itself has. We also have reports from both the Bush and Mayo investigations that agents and their influence seem to be an accepted part of the culture in USC football and men’s basketball between agents being allowed at football practice and Guillory not being blackballed from the men’s basketball program.

How about it USC? When are you going to regain institutional control?


I’m on FoxSports!

May 11, 2008

Thanks to syndicating this blog over at Bleacher Report, my piece on coaches following legends was picked up by FoxSports! It’s basically the same as what I posted here last week, except with a puzzling edit done in the section on Auburn that doesn’t make sense.

That was an awful nice surprise to find late last night.


Hornsby is a Slug, Has Been Kicked Off Team

May 9, 2008

If I’m going to go over FSU’s troubles earlier this week, it is only fair that I cover Florida’s as well.

Safety Jamar Hornsby has been kicked off the team. He was using the gas credit card of Ashley Slonina, who unfortunately passed away in the same motorcycle crash that took the life of former walk on Michael Guilford.

He apparently took the card while helping clear Slonina’s apartment of her personal effects. She was the girlfriend of Hornsby’s fellow defensive back Joe Haden, which is how he could have been in that situation.

I shouldn’t have to mention how reprehensible it is for someone to steal the credit card of the deceased girlfriend of a teammate and then use it for 6 months. I know he’s innocent until proven guilty, but the likelihood he didn’t do this is pretty low. Financial fraud, especially when done by an amateur, leaves a huge trail of evidence.

This is not Hornsby’s first brush with the law, so he already lost the benefit of the doubt. This is not an isolated incident; it happened for 6 months and there’s no way to confuse it for something like self defense in a fight or ignorance of the law. This sort of action doesn’t just run counter to what a university stands for, but counter to any sort of human decency.

It comes less than a week after it was announced that reserve LB Jerimy Finch will be transferring. He was having issues back in his home state of Indiana where he has two children, and there were doubts that he would be academically eligible this fall.

When you combine all of that with FSU’s problems and a UCF player being injured in a shooting in Louisiana,  it was not a good week for college football in the state of Florida.


SEC Roundtable: Florida

May 9, 2008

I was asked to write the SEC Roundtable entry for Florida over on Bleacher Report, so check it out here.

This page is keeping track of the other articles as they’re published so you can keep up with all of the teams in the finest conference in the land.


The Guys Who Follow College Football’s Coaching Legends

May 9, 2008

We’ve all heard it a million times: “You don’t want to be the guy who follows a legend; you want to be the guy who follows the guy who follows the legend.”

It makes intuitive sense, and it certainly would seem true. Urban Meyer is the guy who followed the guy who followed the legend at Florida, and things have worked out quite well for him so far. Then again, Bill Callahan was the same at Nebraska, and the fans were ready to run him out of town two years before he finally got the axe.

To see how true this adage is, I’ve looked at some coaching legends and the guys who followed them. They are as follows, in chronological order from when the legend was hired:

OKLAHOMA

Legend: Bud Wilkinson, 1947-63, 145-29-4 (.826); 3 national and 14 conference titles

Follower: Gomer Jones, 1964-65, 9-11-1 (.452); 0 national or conference titles

Next: Jim Mackenzie, 1966, 6-4 (.600); 0 national or conference titles

This is somewhat of a bad example to start off with, since Mackenzie sadly passed away due to a heart attack after his first season.

Jones definitely had a difficult time following Wilkinson though, having not been able to break even in his two years. Wilkinson is the coach who led Oklahoma to its famed 47-game winning streak, and he failed to win the Big 8 title in only three of his 17 years.

AUBURN

Legend: Shug Jordan, 1951-75, 175-83-7 (.674), 1 national and 1 conference title

Follower: Doug Barfield, 1976-80, 29-25-1 (.536), 0 national or conference titles

Next: Pat Dye, 1981-92, 99-39-4 (.711), 0 national and 4 conference titles

Jordan held the job for 25 years and the stadium is named after him, but his .674 winning percentage is lower than any of the other legends on this list. Barfield followed him up with 5 forgettable seasons, with 8-3 being the best record he posted.

Dye had the most success in his tenure of the three, though he was forced out of his coaching and AD position when it was revealed that assistant coaches and boosters had paid a player. He still is fondly remembered, though, as the field at Jordan-Hare stadium was named after him in 2005.

OHIO STATE

Legend: Woody Hayes, 1951-78, 205-61-10 (.761), 5 national and 13 conference titles

Follower: Earle Bruce, 1979-87, 81-26-1 (.755), 0 national and 4 conference titles

Next: John Cooper, 1988-2000, 111-43-4 (.715), 0 national and 4 conference titles

Earle Bruce did an admirable job in following Woody Hayes after Hayes’ unexpected meltdown and firing. He did not see the same success however, though he nearly won the national title in his first year.

John Cooper is a goat in OSU annals, having posted a 2-10-1 record against Michigan and having presided over numerous academic and discipline problems.

TEXAS

Legend: Darrell Royal, 1957-76, 167-47-5 (.774), 3 national and 11 conference titles

Follower: Fred Akers, 1977-86, 86-31-2 (.731), 0 national and 2 conference titles

Next: David McWilliams, 1987-91, 31-26 (.544), 0 national and 1 conference title

Akers did a much better job than McWilliams did. Akers caught flak though for losing bowl games and in his final few years having bad records against Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

McWilliams’s 1990 SWC championship year looks like a fluke in light of the rest of his seasons, with the 7-5 record in his first year being the second-best record he had.

ALABAMA

Legend: Paul Bryant, 1958-82, 232-46-9 (.824), 6 national and 13 conference titles

Follower: Ray Perkins, 1983-86, 32-15-1 (.677), 0 national or conference titles

Next: Bill Curry, 1987-89, 26-10 (.722), 0 national and 1 conference title

Perkins left the New York Giants to coach at his alma mater, and he left four years later to take a rich contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. An incident where a former player that he had recruited claimed he was paid led to the school being placed on probation in 1995.

Curry was doing well in his three years, though he was 0-3 against Auburn. He didn’t like the contract offered to him in 1990, so he left to coach Kentucky.

GEORGIA

Legend: Vince Dooley, 1964-88, 201-77-10 (.715), 1 national and 6 conference titles

Follower: Ray Goff, 1989-95, 46-34-1 (.574), 0 national or conference titles

Next: Jim Donnan, 1996-2000, 40-19 (.678), 0 national or conference titles

Neither Goff nor Donnan panned out for the Bulldogs. They both failed to win even an SEC East title, and both were used as Florida’s whipping boy. Goff is perhaps most famous for being called “Ray Goof” by Steve Spurrier.

MICHIGAN

Legend: Bo Schembechler, 1969-89, 194-48-5 (.796), 0 national and 13 conference titles

Follower: Gary Moeller, 1990-94, 44-13-3 (.758), 0 national and 3 conference titles

Next: Lloyd Carr, 1995-07, 122-40 (.753), 1 national and 5 conference titles

Moeller is a controversial figure for Wolverines due to his messy departure following a drunken altercation at a restaurant. Some argue his best years were already behind him; some argue that he was trying to modernize the program and that Carr won his national title with Moeller’s players.

Carr is one of the few followed-the-guy-who-followed-the-legend guys who actually won a national title. His legacy will remain mixed due to his futility against Jim Tressel and the loss to Appalachian State.

BYU

Legend: LaVell Edwards, 1972-2000, 257-101-3 (.716), 1 national and 19 conference titles

Follower: Gary Crowton, 2001-04, 26-23 (.531), 0 national and 1 conference title

Next: Bronco Mendenhall, 2005-present, 28-10 (.737), 0 national and 2 conference titles

Crowton won the MWC his first year with Edwards’ players, but failed to reach .500 in his remaining three years. Mendenhall has put together consecutive 11-win seasons, winning the MWC title each year. His 2008 team is expected to contend for a BCS bowl.

NEBRASKA

Legend: Tom Osborne, 1973-97, 255-49-3 (.836), 3 national and 13 conference titles

Follower: Frank Solich, 1998-03, 58-19 (.753), 0 national and 1 conference title

Next: Bill Callahan, 2004-07, 27-22 (.551), 0 national or conference titles

Solich is probably the source of the modern “You don’t want to be the guy who follows a legend” movement, having been fired after a 9-win season. Callahan ended up being a disaster, and will probably be despised by Husker fans forever.

FLORIDA

Legend: Steve Spurrier, 1990-2001, 122-27-1 (.817), 1 national and 6 conference titles

Follower: Ron Zook, 2002-04, 23-14 (.622), 0 national and conference titles

Next: Urban Meyer, 2005-present, 31-8 (.795), 1 national and 1 conference title

Zook was doomed from the beginning, having been a fallback choice for the coaching position and having never been a head coach before. He won games he shouldn’t have, but lost games he shouldn’t have too. He also presided over an explosion of off-field issues, including Zook himself being involved in a fight at a frat house. Some Florida fans still defend him, but the overall sentiment is that his hiring was a mistake.

After doubts about his offense abounded in his first year, Meyer solidified his position in his second by winning a national title. Some fans are uncomfortable with his highly aggressive recruiting tactics, which have drawn scrutiny from other coaches and the NCAA, but otherwise Gators are more than happy with his job so far.

*   *   *

Following a legend, regardless of place in line, is not easy. Only Pat Dye clearly surpassed his legendary predecessor’s accomplishments, but his departure was not the stuff of legends.

None of the followers distinguished himself after leaving, though Earle Bruce had a nice run with Iowa State before coaching the Buckeyes. Ron Zook still has time to carve out his legacy at Illinois.

The book is still open for Mendenhall and Meyer, but both appear to be in good shape. Despite their records, most of the coaches in that coveted “guy who followed the guy who followed the legend” role didn’t fare much better than the guy who did follow the legend.

There is some truth to the adage, but in the end good coaches will succeed in good situations regardless of who came before.


More Academic Trouble at FSU

May 8, 2008

It is somewhat ironic that on the day the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report was released, FSU announced its former starting left tackle will be transferring to a JUCO after being declared academically ineligible.

Daron Rose started 11 games for the Semis last year, but was suspended in the academic scandal that hit the FSU athletics program last December. It’s a case of “when it rains, it pours” for a program that lost projected starting linebacker Marcus Bell when he was released from his scholarship on Monday and still is without WR/RB Preston Parker who by school rules cannot participate in athletics due to an outstanding felony charge.

It would be easy to take some cheap shots at the school over these matters, but it’s almost a case of old news since Rose and Bell both were suspended in the academic scandal. Plus, college football players being charged with felonies is nothing new. The real problem is the way the school dealt with the fact that some key players will be suspended for the first three games next year due to that academic scandal.

FSU chose to have its schedule begin with not just one, but two I-AA teams in Western Carolina and Chattanooga. And it’s not just that they’re I-AA teams – they’re bad I-AA teams. They went a combined 3-19 last year. FSU’s scout team could probably win those games.

It effectively turns the sanction into a one-game suspension, with the game against Wake Forest being the only team with a pulse that the penalized players will miss. It’s one thing to have a mid-season suspension conveniently line up with a game versus a bad team; everyone does that and if it’s not a coincidence, you can at least make up a plausible lie. There’s no way to frame structuring a schedule around a suspension without it being a completely overt weasel tactic.

The sad thing for a once-proud program is that it will need those wins. The Semis will probably lose to Wake Forest due to missing those suspended players, and the Deacons have had FSU’s number as of late anyway. Florida never wins easily in Tallahassee, but the Gators are a lot better and a lot deeper than FSU is and will almost certainly win.

Of the remaining schedule, Colorado, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Boston College will be as good or better than FSU at full strength will be, so the Semis will need to 4-1 in those games to have a chance at the ACC championship game. A 3-2 mark would mean missing a January bowl yet again.

In the end, though, wins are a Pyrrhic victory if the academic side of things doesn’t get back in order. That’s not an impossible task considering plenty of schools keep their players in good academic standing without any shenanigans. Perhaps with new AD Randy Spetman and the eventual takeover of Jimbo Fisher, FSU can once again be a winner, only this time without any dark clouds of controversy.


Surfing Through the SEC Football Schedules

May 7, 2008

The Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu put out his preliminary projections for the SEC, and it got me thinking. I am not ready to put out my projections yet, mainly because there are too many good teams in the conference just to throw an order together right now. Projecting the SEC finish will take a lot of research.

I did end up looking at each school’s schedule, mainly focusing on the non-conference games. If you haven’t yet done that, you’ll be glad to know that the SEC schedules this year are less cupcake-y than past years.

For the record, I am fine with schools raiding the bakery for fundraiser games a couple times a year, but I do expect BCS schools to play at least one BCS opponent. I also think playing I-AA teams is inexcusable except for the very best I-AA teams, like Appalachian State, which are better than the Utah States and FIUs of I-A anyway.

Here’s a rundown of the SEC non-conference schedules, in alphabetical order:

ALABAMA

BCS Opponent: @ Clemson (Aug. 30)

Cupcakes: Tulane (Sept. 6), Western Kentucky (Sept. 13), Arkansas State (Nov. 1)

ARKANSAS

BCS Opponent: @ Texas (Sept. 13)

Respectable Non-BCS: Tulsa (Nov 1)

Cupcake: Louisiana-Monroe (Sept. 6)

I-AA: Western Illinois (Aug. 30)

AUBURN

BCS Opponent: @ West Virginia (Oct. 23)

Respectable Non-BCS: Southern Miss (Sept. 6)

Cupcake: Louisiana-Monroe (Aug. 30)

I-AA: Tennessee-Martin (Nov. 8 )

FLORIDA

BCS Opponents: Miami (Sept. 6), @ FSU (Nov. 29)

Respectable Non-BCS: Hawaii (Aug. 30)

I-AA: The Citadel (Nov. 22)

GEORGIA

BCS Opponents: @ Arizona State (Sept. 20), Georgia Tech (Nov. 29)

Respectable Non-BCS: Central Michigan (Sept. 6)

I-AA: Georgia Southern (Aug. 30)

KENTUCKY

BCS Opponent: Louisville (Aug. 31)

Cupcakes: Middle Tennessee (Sept. 13), Western Kentucky (Sept. 27)

I-AA: Norfolk State (Sept. 6)

LSU

Respectable Non-BCS: Troy (Sept. 6)

Respectable I-AA: Appalachian State (Aug. 30)

Cupcakes: North Texas (Sept. 13), Tulane (Nov. 1)

OLE MISS

BCS Opponent: @ Wake Forest (Sept. 6)

Cupcakes: Memphis (Aug. 30), Louisiana-Monroe (Nov. 15)

I-AA: Samford (Sept. 13)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

BCS Opponent: @ Georgia Tech (Sept. 20)

Cupcakes: Louisiana Tech (Aug. 30), Middle Tennessee (Oct. 25)

I-AA: Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 6)

SOUTH CAROLINA

BCS Opponents: NC State (Aug. 28), @ Clemson (Nov. 29)

Cupcake: UAB (Sept. 27)

I-AA: Wofford (Sept. 20)

TENNESSEE

BCS Opponent: @ UCLA (Sept. 1)

Cupcakes: UAB (Sept. 13), Northern Illinois (Oct. 4), Wyoming (Nov. 8 )

VANDERBILT

BCS Opponents: Duke (Oct. 25), @ Wake Forest (Nov. 29)

Cupcakes: Miami University (Aug. 28), Rice (Sept. 13)

* * *

Only LSU doesn’t have a BCS opponent. Alabama, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt do not have I-AA opponents. LSU should not lose anything for playing Appalachian State, though, especially because Mountaineer fans have already begun predicting a victory on Charlotte sports talk radio.

LSU’s slate is the only one I’d call “shameful” in the bunch, though I am not happy about all of the non-App State I-AA teams you see listed. However, until the NCAA reverses the rule and stops allowing wins over I-AA teams to count towards bowl eligibility, those games are sadly inevitable.


One More Reason the BCS is Bad for College Football

May 6, 2008

Playoff opponents use many arguments against a playoff. One is that a playoff is of no use because naming a champion is too dicey a proposition. Another is that it breaks with the tradition of the game. A third is that if college football really needed a playoff, wouldn’t it have collapsed by now?

Well, I’m not going to argue the playoff part. With 120 teams each playing 12 games against wildly different schedule strengths, it’s a stretch from a theoretical and mathematical standpoint to say you can pick a “true” champion with a couple more games at the end.

As to the other two points, they miss why college football is popular. It’s popular because people like football. Colleges play every other sport you can name, but none are as popular as football is because people like football.

The traditions, the rivalries, and everything else enhance the game on the field, but in the end, it’s the game on the field that matters. Case in point: the annual Florida/Florida State game used to be appointment TV for everyone nationally. ESPN College GameDay visited the game 5 times in 6 years from 1995 – 2000.

Thanks in part to Ron Zook but mostly to FSU’s decline, GameDay has visited the game just once since. At this point, even Gators are much more fired up about Georgia, a team they didn’t care so much about in the 1990s.

If you need another example, consider that the team with the most history and pageantry, Notre Dame, pulled just a 1.8 average rating on NBC this season.

It should go without saying that football is at its best when you have good teams playing good teams. College football’s popularity wasn’t built on the back of Iowa State versus Kansas.

It also goes without saying that great out of conference games don’t happen as often as we’d want them to during the regular season. Big money programs need home games to fund their empires and the current system doesn’t adequately reward the risk of playing more than one non-conference team with a pulse.

The post season does provide that reward. The games between good teams generate enough money to make it worthwhile to the power schools to play in them. There’s also more prestige on the line, which gives a bigger reward for the risk of playing them. Fans also win because they get to see more good football.

This is where the BCS comes in. Under the BCS, the best teams in college football can play a maximum of one post season game. A post season tournament may not solve many championship disputes, but it would provide more games with great matchups.

That’s what makes college football great – good teams playing good teams. The BCS prevents that from happening as often as it could, so that’s another reason why the BCS is bad for college football.


Why Florida Will Pound Hawaii

May 5, 2008

I was out of town all weekend, so I am woefully behind on news and current events. In lieu of anything on Ryan Perrilloux being kicked off LSU’s team or Ryan Mallet having to redshirt at Arkansas (both of which were inevitable, really), I offer you this really early analysis of the Hawaii at Florida game on Labor Day weekend.

Florida will pound Hawaii. It won’t be close. Florida could sit Tim Tebow out for the game and it still would be ugly.

Now, Hawaii’s new head coach A. Nonymous Whatshisface (actually, promoted defensive coordinator Greg McMackin) says the Warriors are not rebuilding and that they plan on playing like the WAC champions they are. He is keeping as much continuity as he can while imposing his personality on the team. He should know how to do this from his previous head coaching job at… Oregon Tech?

Yeah! Goooooo… wait, does Oregon Tech even play football anymore? (answer: no)

Yes, that Oregon Tech. At the very least he has the Warriors convinced they’re a good defensive team, having placed 34th in total defense a year ago. I guess he left out the part about posting that against the 111th rated schedule.

So, back to Florida. The reason the Gators would decimate Hawaii even with one arm tied behind their back is this: the game is taking place east of the Pacific time zone. Hawaii is awful east of the Pacific time zone. To wit, here are Hawaii’s last several games played in the Mountain time zone or farther east against notable teams:

  • Georgia 41 – Hawaii 10 (2007) – In fairness, Georgia was really good the second half of last year
  • Boise State 41 – Hawaii 34 (2006) – Boise did break through to the BCS, so props for a close game
  • Alabama 25 – Hawaii 17 (2006) – Bama went 6-6 and fired its coach in 2006
  • Michigan State 41 – Hawaii 14 (2005) – MSU went 5-6 and nearly fired its coach in 2005
  • Boise State 69 – Hawaii 3 (2004) – Sure Boise went 11-1 that year, but look at that score!
  • UTEP 51 – Hawaii 20 (2004) – UTEP was only 8-4 that year; not a juggernaut or anything
  • Rice 41 – Hawaii 29 (2004) – This was no miracle year for the Owls; Rice went 3-8, but one of those three was a demolition of a Hawaii team that beat Northwestern at home the same season

If you go even farther back, you find losses at Boise State, USC, BYU, Michigan State, and Navy as well as a 5-point win over a 4-7 Rice team in 2002. The wins in this category are generally over bad teams like Louisiana Tech, Utah State, and Idaho.

The pattern with the Hawaii Warriors is pretty clear: if they go east of the Pacific time zone and play anyone with a pulse, they get smoked. The close games were against a conference rival they knew well (Boise State) and against a lifeless Alabama team with an atrocious offense. They even lost to a normal (read: pitiful) Rice team by two scores.

The travel involved from the islands to the mainland must be killer, so its understandable to a degree. However, when Cam Newton is playing target practice in the late third quarter on August 30th, don’t say you weren’t warned.


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