Faster than a speeding bullet,
More powerful than a locomotive,
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…
Look, up in the sky!
It's a bird!
It's a plane!
It's the reason we'd rather watch college football than do almost anything else in the world.
It's been a week of ebullient celebration in Ann Arbor while Columbus burns but even those outside of The Sacred Brotherhood have started to muse on the actual justice of it all. WatersDemos took the premise of a New Yorker article – "Is college worth it?" and ran with it for college sports. Most prescient, I thought, was goodness of creating a class of "fake" (not his words) students to serve the interests of what's essentially brand marketing.
I'd like to take that further: what's so good about college sports?
(after the jump, it's a job [lowers voice] for Superman.)
All better. Denard doppleganger détente, dastardly dialogue defused:
That is downright eerie. They are the same person.
Manball cyborg of yore. Have a desire to see Tom Coughlin get his face caved in Gary Moeller? (Very gradually, anyway.) Here you go:
The skill position talent that year was Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander, Tyrone Wheatley, Ricky Powers, Elvis Grbac, and Dave Diebolt. That's insane, and Michigan played like it when not going up against Steve Emtmann. They put up at least 20 points in every game until losing to #1 Washington in the Rose Bowl, put up 30 eight times (including a 31-3 blowout of OSU), and cracked 40 five times against Big Ten opposition.
Deep as the sea. The Daily's Tim Rohan got Larry Foote and Jarrett Irons on the record about player payments; what they have to say is surprising unless it's completely unsurprising:
“It’s a lot bigger than Tressel,” said Foote, who was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. “I’ve been telling people that. It’s a lot bigger. College atmospheres, big universities and athletic programs, they’re dirty — a lot of them are dirty. And coaches, they’ve got to take the fall.”
Both Foote and Irons said that in each of their own unique experiences they have come to understand it is common. Yet both denied any wrongdoing happening at Michigan.
“When I was at Michigan,” Foote continued, “that’s one thing I pride myself about Michigan, because the stories I hear about other teams with the money and the alumni and the stuff like that, the stuff I’m hearing — I mean it is brand new.
“And people don’t understand when they ask me, ‘How much money did you get?’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ I’ve never even heard of players at Michigan getting money. Not one story.
Irons is speaking from his experience attempting to recruit players to IMG, so he's a guy who would know. Michigan's compliance program coming down hard on anyone with a new car is recounted (again).
Maybe so? Previous skepticism about Notre Dame setting money on fire to join Hockey East because it has schools people have heard of (and by "schools" we mean "Boston College") is less skeptical now that one Jeff Jackson is on the record about it:
“It’s a possibility,” acknowledged Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “I know our athletic director and associate athletic director are doing their due diligence in looking at all of the alternatives.” …
Jackson said they will be looking at being in a conference with “like-minded schools” and that pertains to academics and other areas in addition to athletics.
“It’s not just about the hockey end of it,” said Jackson. “And we’re also looking at our access to TV rights.”
There are still a lot of hurdles. Hockey East does not want an odd number of teams so a 12th would have to be added, whether that's CCHA-killing Miami or one of the Atlantic Hockey schools that would like to offer a full complement of scholarships.
I'm not a big fan of the move, which would put the CCHA on precarious footing, but what can you do?
Go on you Tangerines. I linked this series on one Canadian's excellent adventure at the bottom of the Premiership table already but I'll do it again so I can grab a paragraph. Blackpool has just gone from 2-1 up with 33 minutes left to safety to 4-2 down and relegated. The third goal—the crippling one—was an own-goal by Blackpool stalwart Ian Evatt. In the aftermath Evatt is just shattered (example @ right). Cue Blackpool fans:
Marvelously, the Blackpool fans were chanting “ONE IAN EVATT…THERE’S ONLY ONE IAN EVATT.” Evatt, a few yards up the pitch from Holloway, head down and shoulders slumped, turned an acknowledged the support with a wave. I’ve mentioned it before but the relationship between clubs and fans in Europe is so different from the relationships in North America. When Steve Smith scored in 1986 to eliminate the Oilers from the playoffs, he was met with something less than complete support from the fans in Edmonton. As great as the Edmonton fans were in the 2006 playoffs, it was unthinkable that Ty Conklin could take to the ice again after his mistake in Game 1 - he didn’t have the reserve of goodwill to draw on that Evatt did but even if he did, it’s tough to imagine him receiving this sort of support. By turning the sporting experience into the commodity that it’s become in North America, in explicitly turning it into a business from which profits are expected to be generated, the relationship is different. Fans aren’t supporters in North America in the way that they are in Europe - they’re consumers. If the product that the team is offering stinks or the team hits on tough times, they react like consumers who are receiving poor service.
I'd like to think that college sports have some insulation from that but once PSLs come in and uniformz are deployed and it's clear your money teat is being milked not at all gently—80 dollar Eastern Michigan ticket ho—the differences are less than you might like. At least there's a damned war about booing people after things like the Toledo game. That's not a matter up for debate in pro sports.
(As a side note, what a good idea for a vacation: go to England during the final week of the Premier league season and go to as many relegation battles as possible. That's quality sports tourism.)
The court is a lie. Nobody circles the wagons like non-fake Buckeyes, even if they're Penguins. Former YSU quarterback and booster largess recipient Ray Isaac:
Number one, I’m totally responsible for what I did at Youngstown State University. Every year, from the time I was on campus, from ’88 to ’91, Tressel had compliance seminars — not to deal with bookies, not to deal with drugs, not to deal with not buying or selling anything. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I met [booster] Mickey Monus. It is implied that on the first meeting that I had with Mickey Monus that I received $150. That is the biggest lie ever told. … Jim Tressel never ever knew anything about our dealings. I kept it secret. To say Coach Tressel knew about this car, or knew about this money, listen, the only way that anyone knew about the money I received from Youngstown State University was Mickey Monus got indicted on $1.1 million worth of embezzlement and fraud.
In 1988, according to court documents from a jury-tampering trial involving Mickey Monus, a wealthy school trustee and the founder of the Phar-Mor chain of drug stores, Tressel had called Monus about arranging a job for Isaac. The player and the CEO had never met, but Isaac told SI that he had heard of Monus's "philanthropist-type hand" from two basketball players. At his first meeting with Monus, Isaac received $150. According to the court documents, by the time he left Youngstown State, in 1992, Isaac had collected more than $10,000 in cash and checks from Monus and Monus's associates and employees. …
Three years later Monus was on trial for jury tampering in the government's first prosecution of him, which had ended in a hung jury. During this trial (at which Monus was found not guilty) Monus and Isaac, who had pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a juror on Monus's behalf, disclosed their financial dealings while Isaac was a student and alleged that Tressel had set these in motion with that first phone call.
A reporter covering the jury-tampering trial called the school and reported Monus's and Isaac's testimony, prompting an internal investigation. That probe revealed that Isaac's car was the worst-kept secret on campus. According to NCAA documents, all of Isaac's teammates who were interviewed "except one" knew about the car or had suspicions about it. Even people outside the football family knew. Pauline Saternow, then the school's compliance officer, had such misgivings about the car that she recused herself from the investigation committee because, according to Cochran, she did not feel she could be objective. Everyone raised an eyebrow -- except Tressel.
You can believe Ray Isaac, or you can believe Ray Isaac in court and all of Ray Isaac's teammates except the guy who you have to send all the Snopes links to.
Etc.: North Carolina braces for a notice of allegations from the NCAA. It will be a while before any penalties are clear but it sounds like UNC folk are expecting to take a scholarship hit of "minimal" intensity. LeCharles Bentley writes a David Mayo-level column for ESPN Cleveland: "[Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller, and Nathan Scheelhaase] would not have chosen the Big Ten if Pryor had not chosen the Big Ten — except perhaps Robinson. But that goes back to the point: Robinson followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan in hopes of changing the landscape of the Big Ten."
UMHoops checks up on Robinson, Stauskas and possible (but probably not extant) third 2012 recruit. Greg Schiano wants to replace the punt with a 4th and 15 from the 30. I'm intrigued. We could actually shoot threes last year.
Remember CARA? Michigan's NCAA troubles began when the compliance forms designed to track countable hours stopped getting submitted in a timely fashion. One of Michigan's regular internal audits came around, noticed the empty file, and wrote something stern about it. Someone who has hopefully been fired with prejudice leaked that report, the Free Press piled on that molehill like a mofo, and bam: major-ish NCAA violations. The whole saga is encapsulated in a lengthy rant on this site.
The equivalent in Columbus has just been FOIAed:
An audit of Ohio State University's compliance department in November found that it was not doing enough to monitor the use of cars, uniforms and equipment by athletes.
… The OSU auditors wrote in November that the department needed to pay more attention to athletes' cars, particularly those driven by football players, and needed more control over the inventory of uniforms and equipment.
At this point Tressel had already failed to act on Cicero's email and the legal department was just about to stumble on this fact.
In Michigan's case they ended up releasing a torrent of emails from compliance to the football administrators that went unreplied to. (The only figure censured in the final report still at Michigan is Labadie-badgerer Ann Vollano.) In Ohio State's case it seems more like willfull ignorance, as the Dispatch buries its lead way at the bottom of its article:
In 2006, the auditors' review of athletes' car registration forms found that they were incomplete and sometimes inconsistent with the car registry maintained by University Transportation and Parking. Compliance officials vowed to correct the problem.
But last year, the auditors reviewed car registrations of 152 athletes and observed vehicles driven by football players to spring practice. Auditors found that 44 athletes bought parking permits for, received parking tickets in, or were seen driving cars that weren't registered.
Records obtained in May show that football players continue to submit incomplete forms, lacking sales prices, dates of purchases, co-signers and other required information.
That is an obvious, huge problem that Ohio State officials took no action on despite problems existing five years ago. Dollars to donuts the bulk of those odd cars were being driven by football players. Probably a third of the team was driving around in cars they had not registered with the department. They cleverly hid this fact by driving those cars to practice.
It makes me fist-shakingly angry to hear the new Pryorlawyer's spin about this—he just buys a new car every three months and takes them on test drives and this keeps happening despite getting two heinous speeding tickets. This does not happen to humans. It only happens to Buckeyes.
In The Tank
On a similar note, man, the Dispatch is fanboi central. You do not need to be told this. They have a "days since Michigan beat OSU" clock. But if they had any stones at all they would have turned this up years ago. In a way we might actually be thankful to them since the pattern of don'tgiveadamn got longer and longer as they asked Tressel about how awesome he was, but it's telling that all the Dispatch stories are coming from the news side of the aisle. Toy department in full effect.
As an example, by miraculous coincidence I actually read a Facebook message someone had sent me*; This message was attached to a message the guy had previously sent me in 2008, when Ohio State defensive lineman Doug Worthington picked up a DUI. Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer checked the VIN number of what the police report said was a "2004 Cadillac station wagon" and found the car was in fact an Escalade. Homer McHomer (AKA Ken Gordon) at the Dispatch left that out of the story, causing one of those internet newpaper tiffs in which the principals gently poke at each other while maintaining solidarity against the masses.
Meanwhile, even Lesmerises missed kind of a thing when he attempted to explain the discrepancy:
What exactly does that mean?
Not that much, according to Richard Morman, the deputy chief of police for the OSU campus police. He said that Worthington had recently purchased the Escalade (which goes for about $20,000 to $24,000 according to the Kelley Blue Book). According to Morman, the dealer put his old plates, from what Morman said was a GMC sports utility vehicle, on the Escalade and told Worthington to make sure the plates were properly transferred
Lesmerises noticed the discrepancy between what the car was supposed to be on the police report and what the campus police said, but didn't follow up. That's better than Homer McHomer playing see no evil, but something less than dogged.
This section will probably get me a sarcastic tweet from a newspaper guy comparing this section to my reaction to the Free Press. So: I've never been against digging, just being completely wrong and sensational.
*[Do not send me facebook messages—I don't reply. Sorry. Email is always best.]