Let's deploy the fourth-grader test on Ohio State's response to the NCAA:
The institution is very surprised and disappointed by the lack of action in this matter by then Head Football Coach Jim Tressel. His behavior in this situation is out of character for him, as he has been a man of integrity and high moral standards since his hiring as the head football coach in 2001. His lack of action in this matter appears to have been the result of indecisiveness regarding the appropriate actions to take in this specific situation in which he was placed, as opposed to a blatant disregard of NCAA legislation. … The institution will not excuse such behavior. As a result, the institution has imposed significant corrective and punitive actions upon itself and sought and received the resignation of Tressel.
This is why, possessing every scrap of information about Tressel they have today, they fiercely suspended him for two games against MAC schools, and then suspended him for five games, before finally accepting his resignation, oops wait it's actually a retirement and that 250k you owe us… yeah, nevermind. Truly the behavior of Jim Tressel was a heinous deed the university abhors. It is clear that the Ohio State University took one look at Jim Tressel's actions and said "this will not stand." We are embarrassed.
What say you, fourth graders?
Hmm. The fourth-graders do not seem to buy it.
Fourth graders, what do you think about the assertion that Jim Tressel's "indecisiveness" led him to email a shady "mentor" about this a dozen times, but not compliance? Or the NCAA any of the three subsequent times he had an opportunity to say "oh, right, that whole thing about tattoos some guy I know personally who has helped us out before and I spent large parts of my summer emailing people who were not my compliance department about… yeah, that"? Fourth graders, do you believe Jim Tressel is an indecisive person?
No. No you do not.
The danger is that the NCAA might buy it, though, isn't it? If the NCAA buys that the problem is limited to Tressel because nine Buckeyes ticketed in loaner cars and reports that are unconfirmed but obvious from a half-dozen Buckeyes about Hookups on Tats and other things, and they aren't incensed by being duped about the Sugar Bowl, and they aren't incensed by OSU's actions against a "very successful coach in a very popular sport in a very short period of time" then they could get away with violating the most important aspect of NCAA enforcement: you are expected to police yourself.
So, NCAA: are you dumber than a fourth grader?
This is an important question to answer. Here's hoping the answer is "no," because an organization that reacts to the things Jim Tressel did in the way Ohio State did and then has the audacity to say something like this if the NCAA dares add punishment to what can't even be described as a wrist-slap…
"I'll be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive," Smith said. "Unless something new arises from where we are today, it'll be behavior (from me) you haven't witnessed."*
…you're being called out. Ohio State is daring you. They are double-dog daring you. Either send Gene Smith on the warpath and the unemployment line or establish defiant see-no-evil as the new baseline for enforcement.
*[What would that be? Contrition? A lack of wholesale delusion? The vague impression of competency.]
Excessively Defensive Section
Twitter was overrun with Buckeyes in various states of glee, denial, and smack-talking yesterday, with much of it directed at Michigan fans for their various states of butthurt, disbelief, and cynicism. These emotions are not limited to Michigan fans. It's hard to find someone who's not mocking Ohio State in the aftermath.
TSN's Dave Curtis:
As this story evolves, it’s tougher to conceive of Tressel as the only evil in that football program or athletic department. If he’s not, and the NCAA finds out, the Buckeyes will face USC-style sanctions. If he was, then Ohio State is guilty of failing to monitor its coach, and lacking institutional control by letting Tressel gain so much power.
Some concession, some spreading of the problem behind the head coach, would have marked a small first step in helping the Buckeyes win back the public. It would have helped with the NCAA, too.
The public’s only recourse is ranting and complaining. NCAA officials can punish to the point of paralyzing the program for a while. And come the fall, that’s exactly what they will do.
ESPN's Brian Bennett:
I can envision the following conversation during Ohio State's hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions next month.
"So, you vacated your wins from 2010?" an infractions committee member says.
"Yes," Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee says. "It was the least we could do."
"You're right," the committee member responds. "It was technically the least you could possibly do."
Tom Fornelli and Jerry Hinnen, Notre Dame and Auburn fans respectively:
Fornelli: Ohio State just really doesn't seem to get it, or they're in a deep state of denial. The NCAA isn't going to see that the school has vacated it's wins from last season and move on. There will be scholarships lost, and there will be a postseason bowl ban for a year or two. It's not fair to the players on the team or whichever coach eventually takes over for Tressel, but unfortunately for Ohio State, the NCAA knows that you can't just erase the past and fix things.
Hinnen: We're assuming they do. Since we're discussing the NCAA's Committee on Infractions here, there's no way to know exactly what they're going to do until they do it. Precedents mean nothing and logic is frequently tossed aside like so many babies in so much bathwater.
But if the COI ever wants to be taken seriously, rubber-stamping OSU's self-imposed "punishment" and giving the Buckeyes a pat on the head just can't be an option. Without subpoena power, the only thing standing between the NCAA and utter investigative helplessness is honesty and cooperation from those involved. What it got instead from from OSU was Tressel lying through his teeth with Gee and Smith nodding genially at his side. The NCAA tried to be lenient with the Buckeyes once already--and was repaid with a sham of a Sugar Bowl and a carton's worth of egg on its face for its troubles.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Bud Shaw only speaks in one-sentence paragraphs:
The question is whether it's doing so as a strategy or out of delusion. Delusion is the leader in the clubhouse.
The Buckeyes started out looking nonchalant in all this, remember. Now, they just look arrogant.
Early on, they opened themselves to charges that their internal investigation amounted to, "Nothing to see here, move along."
This is an administration that initially wrist-slapped Tressel with a two-game ban, then increased it to five, then sought his resignation and now is fitting him for a pillory for display before the NCAA.
The designated media contrarian—there's always one—is Stewart Mandel, who argues that the media firestorm in the aftermath of the NCAA's allegations hasn't materially affected the charges, which the school argues are limited to Tressel. I'd think the head coach lying to keep six players eligible for an entire season obviously deserves a bowl ban and scholarship pain even when you don't account for OSU's persistently nose-thumbing response.
Prepare the little girl screams. Tom broke OH OL Kyle Kalis's upcoming Michigan visit, then Kalis decommitted from Ohio State, and now guys who work for OSU's 247 affiliate (specifically Dave Biddle) are writing off not only Kalis but still-committed OH RB Bri'onte Dunn:
Source: OSU has "no chance" at Dunn or Kalis
Wow. This coming from the family member of an OSU player. These guys aren't just decommitting, they have written off going to OSU. Remember, there are current and former OSU players who went to the same high school as Kalis and Dunn respectively. Word going around at both St. Eds and GlenOak are that the Buckeyes have "no chance" at landing either of them.
What a complete 180 for Kalis. I'm not surprised in the least about Dunn. When I interviewed him two months ago and he said he was "opening things back up" that told me he was basically decommitting. But Kalis was Mr. Buckeye talking about how much he loved OSU and that he was going to recruit like crazy to get other top prospects to join him in Columbus. He reminded me of Brewster and Justin Zwick in that respect.
"Wow" doesn't quite cover it unless it's the sort of wow that goes along with a fondness for hot dogs. Flipping Dunn and Kalis would see Michigan graduate from drinking MSU's milkshake to drinking OSU's. It's gotten so bad for the Buckeyes that the Spartans are drinking OSU's milkshake, nabbing Se'Von Pittman. If Aldophus Washington commits to Purdue next week put the entire state of Ohio on suicide watch.
What are Michigan's chances of flipping the decommit(-ish) duo? Well, Kalis's visit in particular seems to coincide with last weekend's OL visit madness—if he is going to jump ship he's got to do it quickly and it appears Michigan is pretty much his list outside of OSU, about whom see above. Dunn is wobblier since he hasn't actually committed yet and Penn State is a factor, but if the above is reliable Michigan would have to be the favorites.
Later Biddle says Brady Hoke is "negatively recruiting the hell out of OSU," which causes the requisite amount of swooning from the daintier folks in the thread. Specifically:
He's telling these guys that OSU will get hit harder than USC and they "shouldn't fall for the same (stuff) Lane Kiffen sold all those SC recruits."
Heavens to Betsy.
NFL not so much. The National Football Post has a really interesting, extensive piece in which Michigan's seniors are evaluated for NFL potential. No one other than Mike Martin rates highly, but some of that is because of Michigan's zone system. David Molk:
A shorter, compact lineman who looks nearly maxed out physically, despite weighing 288-pounds. Looks a little tight hipped trying to sit into his stance, but has a quick first step and snaps and steps very quickly. Creates leverage for himself consistently, extends his arms and can easily reach and seal on the plays off his frame. Displays a compact, sturdy punch and can stun defenders at the point. Looks really natural when asked to quickly reach block on runs to the perimeter, as he’s coordinated getting his feet around and can seal the edge routinely. Displays natural range/balance getting into blocks at the second level as well. Breakdowns well showcases the ability to routinely seal on contact.
This is three years of UFR on Molk in one paragraph. Molk is praised as a "perfect fit" for Michigan's run-first spread offense but only a potential starter in a zone scheme. If he's big enough he could end up one of those guys who gets drafted in the seventh round and plays for a long time for a good team whilst remaining totally anonymous.
Whole piece is worth a read; it's really interesting to see a professional break down Michigan players after you've formed your own opinions of them. Nothing seems particularly off base.
Hybrid until you die. I've tried to make the case that the 4-3 under is halfway between a conventional 4-3 and 3-4. My basis for the assertion usually revolves around the idea the strongside defensive end and three-tech defensive tackle are more alike than the three-tech and the nose tackle or the SDE and the weakside end. Here's a bit more ammo for that POV from an interview on Touch The Banner with Matt Godin:
"We have the main position which I'm going to play, which is the 5-technique. I guess you'd consider it more D-tackle, but I'll also play outside...I'm only going to have one guy blocking me. It's more of an outside position, actually, but I'm going to be run stopping a lot, too."
The confusion in that statement is considerable, but when he says "outside" he probably means he's going to get a look at WDE. I'm guessing that look will be brief since he's already 270 and with Roh/Beyer/Black/Ojemudia/Brown hanging out at that spot he's probably not going to bring as much pass rush as the winner of that derby.
So when you're looking at the recruiting class you can roughly bin the three-tech DTs with the SDEs; many of those guys will flip from one to the other like Ryan Van Bergen and Brandon Graham before them. If Michigan's two committed SDEs, Godin and Tom Strobel, are really 6'6" each they're a bit taller than you'd like at the three tech, which should leave a spot open for a Danny O'Brien who's more of a fit there, but rumor has it that's not the case. Like everyone else on the internet I'd much rather have a DT than a fullback or a sixth OL, but the internet does not call the shots.
This institution is mad under control, yo. The 65-page Notice of Allegations lodged against UNC yesterday contains many, many allegations headlined by one of their assistant coaches acting as a runner for an NFL agent. It does not allege the dreaded lack of institutional control, which should have Trojan fans running to Los Angeles Torch & Pitchfork.
Stewart Mandel notes this and suggests Butch Davis could keep his job as a result:
Blake's nefarious role in all this (which includes his own unethical conduct charge for withholding information from investigators) is the biggest source of mystery as to how his boss, Davis, managed to avoid the NCAA's wrath. In a document outlining its Principles of Institutional Control, one of the acts the Committee cites as "likely to demonstrate lack of institutional control" is if "A head coach ... fails to monitor the activities of assistant coaches regarding compliance." But it then follows that up with: " ... the head coach cannot be charged with the secretive activities of an assistant bent on violating NCAA rules." Apparently the school did a bang-up job portraying Blake as just such a character, absolving Davis and the school for failing to uncover his secret employer.
Because of that, North Carolina may have staved off the most severe imaginable penalties, but you have to imagine they're still going to be pretty rough. Maybe it's a one-year postseason ban instead of two. Maybe it's 10 docked scholarships instead of 20. Either way, three years' worth of wins are about to be vacated.
The biggest question: Will Davis keep his job? That one will be entirely up to the school.
I'm baffled. I'm not sure how you can possibly suggest anything was under control at UNC. I'm also in favor of removing that bit on not charging the head coach for secretive activities of his assistants. Here the canard about how you can't follow 100 college-age kids around is even more ridiculous: Butch Davis has nine assistant coaches. He should be expected to know whether one of them is working for Gary Wichard.
Mandel's just speculating when he says the UNC case will cause a smaller ripple than those of OSU and USC. I think he's likely to be wrong about OSU if only because we've already got a meaty notice of allegations in the UNC case and until that document hits for OSU we've got no idea what the NCAA will decide is impermissible in Columbus. But if he's right it's going to be a blow to this whole We're Serious Now, You Guys, Seriously campaign Mark Emmert is running. The document the NCAA produced on UNC should be enough for a firebombing.
Meanwhile, Oregon has managed to dig up some more stuff they got from Will Lyles: four spreadsheets with erratically reliable information about 2012 and 2013 recruits sent in February and March of this year, more than ten months after Oregon wrote him a check. The NCAA can't possibly buy what Oregon's selling, can they?
The next year is when the NCAA decides whether implausible deniability is a proper defense. Here's hoping the answer is
Reverse Righthaven. Rivals' Tom Dienhart sat down with Rich Rodriguez for an interview. It's the same boilerplate you'd find in any interview with a guy who'd like a head coaching job in the near future save for this small bit on Pryor:
Are you surprised by what is going on at Ohio State?
"I know some of it because we were close to the situation when I was at Michigan and part of the rivalry, the recruitment of Terrelle Pryor and all of that."
It's about 1500 words. The Detroit News took 750 of them as an "excerpt" for an article in the paper without so much as linking the original piece or writing anything around it. The News just up and took half of a published article and republished it. The only explanation is there's some sort of content sharing agreement, but since Scout's Sam Webb writes for the news and Rivals' Josh Helmholdt for the Free Press, that doesn't seem likely. The News is so internet hood, yo.
The best part is that when I C&Ped the News article into Live Writer to get a word count it automatically inserted a "read more" link to the News. False.
I summarized my take on the mascot situation in one tweet: The Michigan mascot in my head wears fierce armor made from pieces of the stadium halo, and the ’93 Final Four banner as a cape.
Make that happen and I’ll sign on. Someone sketch that out for me and I owe you a beer.
Lonnie White got paid at USC back in the 80s. Also, The Daily (not that Daily) figured out this ASCII thing.
Grantland commissions Brian Phillips to write on Roger Federer, a great example of the site picking the cream of blogging-type people and not just the Klostermans of the world. Only problem is the obvious one when writing a footnote-laced article about Federer: you have giant posthumous looming competition.
If they can figure out you are doing something shady, you're in trouble.
Yesterday Oregon produced an FOIA data-dump that initially caused yawns. Important people on my twitter said "nothing to see here," so I didn't look. Then Doctor Saturday said it again:
And as far as NCAA violations are concerned, frankly, it seems there's not a whole lot to see there: Oregon paid its money, and received its materials, as do many other schools that use recruiting services within NCAA rules.
And then Doctor Saturday related what Oregon had bought with its 25 grand:
Amid the documents released by Oregon related to the football scouting services inquiry were 140 recruiting profiles of high school players under the heading "2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet." Above each individual profile, however, reads "Player Profile 2011." The related invoice cites the "2011 National Package."
A search of all the players listed revealed that virtually all graduated from high school in 2009 with a few graduating in 2010 or 2008.
And I'm all like wait a dang minute here. Oregon paid a guy $25k for perfectly useless information and it seems like people are reacting like this isn't a major violation on a plate. Andy Staples comes to the rescue, but even as he does he feels the need to point out paying 25k for nothing may not be against NCAA rules:
Even if the payment was for something else, investigators probably couldn't have proved the Ducks broke any 2010-vintage NCAA rule regarding scouting services. But that only holds true if Lyles produced something resembling a legitimate product. If Kelly or any of his coaches tried to pass off the booklet released Monday as legitimate, NCAA investigators might consider that a fib on the level of, say, claiming a recruit wasn't at a cookout at a coach's house when he actually was or, possibly, conveniently forgetting to mention that series of e-mails about the tattoo parlor. Ask former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel how those fibs turned out for them. It's relatively unclear whether any NCAA rule in 2010 could prohibit a school from paying a recruiting service $1 million, much less $25,000. But it's crystal clear that in 2010, the NCAA rulebook forbade lying to the NCAA.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, Greg Little's license plate thing gets even more bizarre:
Between March 9 and April 29, 2009 Little’s Dodge was issued 16 parking violations under three separate license plates. The car was cited three days in a row from March 30 to April 2, and each time had a different plate. On April 13, the car was cited twice, with two different plate numbers.
Many of these plates are "linked to a car dealer currently serving time in federal prison for money laundering."
Even more meanwhile, the Ohio BMV says there is nothing to see here with the Ohio State car purchases:
The BMV's 65-page report issued Tuesday said the certificates of titles for cars sold by Jack Maxton Chevrolet and Auto Direct to players and families accurately reflected the vehicles' sales prices.
This leaves Ohio State dealing with tattoos and memorabilia and nine guys with dealer plates instead of temporary tags and several other things besides.
The question the NCAA is going to have to answer soon is "how obviously fishy does something have to be before we punish someone?" Each of the three items above falls at a different place on the you-expect-me-to-believe-that scale:
- Actual car purchases by Ohio State people checked out by governmental organization: not that fishy in and of itself. Add the loaners and the memorabilia and the cuddly relationship and there's still a cocktail of NCAA violations, but the actual sale of vehicles that were apparently sold for book value or above in most cases is plausibly on the up and up. The sheer concentration of sales and murky value of used cars makes it unlikely there wasn't some extra benefits going on, but proving that seems required if that particular slice of the Ohio State issues is going to produce anything.
- Greg Little's ever-rotating license plate from guy serving time for money-laundering: there might be some level of plate and car swapping that is reasonably explained. Little clearly exceeds that and is hooked up with a guy who was in some dirt. Other schools monitor traffic/parking infractions closely; if UNC did so they would have ended up suspending Little a lot sooner. This should be the ground for a failure to monitor charge, one that will be part of a more general hammering for John Blake's clear knowledge of Marvin Austin, et al., and their magic carpet rides.
- Oregon paying 25k for perfectly useless paper: if you had purchased a $25,000 vehicle and found out it was in fact a rabbit, you would get your money back. You would instruct your credit card company not to honor the charge or sue or something. You would not go on your way, maintaining a positive relationship with the man who sold you a rabbit he told you was an Escalade. This is fishiness that should rise to the level of a major NCAA violation in and of itself, a clear quid-pro-quo with no plausible explanation.
The NCAA dared to make inferences in the USC case, something that forms the basis for much of the Trojan outrage surrounding the case. They made a leap of logic many fourth-graders could make. Oregon obviously fails the fourth-grader test. North Carolina likely does. In this instance, Ohio State does not; with the loaners they do.