Why Helmet-to-Helmet Rules Exist and Why You Don’t Care

Last week in college football there were at least three players ejected under the NCAA’s new targeting rule, and at least as many helmet-to-helmet penalties flagged in the NFL. These are important rules for both players and the

sanctioning bodies at both levels of football. The NCAA and NFL are both driven by money, as are the players. The players want to make as much as humanly possible (which I support) and the owners and NCAA want to spend as little as possible (which I support).

Here’s the fundamental problem: both sides cannot win. In their zeal to reduce the amount of concussion-like injuries in the NFL, the league turned itself into what many call the ‘No Fun League.' Teasing names aside, at the end of the day the change is best for the players, but not the fans. Allow me to expand on this - as fans, we generally only care about two things: wins/losses and fantasy sports. For the most part, fans feel no direct impact on whether a player is injured or concussed, and the only real impact we feel is if a player isn't playing because of injury or suspension.

Bell: Expanding helmet rule could be NFL's next step

The owners in the NFL and administrators in the NCAA have a much bigger stake in the game than we do. No, I won’t say the owners have all the liability, but honestly they have most of it. The game cannot be played without the players, but it also cannot be played without the owners who finance the teams we watch or the stadiums we sit in. For the record, I don’t have an extra $2 billion dollars laying around to buy an NFL franchise.

What everything boils down to is the owners want to make money and protect their investments. In fact, their investments are really no different than your retirement account, except for the fact that they’re a lot larger.

Players, on the other hand, want to play and they aren't interested in protecting themselves, but they should be. One can only play football so long before life kicks in. The average NFL career is less than seven years. What about college football players who never make it to the NFL? What’s their post-football career outlook?

I’m not suggesting players stop playing football, because for some that simply isn't an option, but consider this: after you play football, what are you going to do with your life? Owners won’t care about you unless you’re suing them, and fans will forget about you six months after you leave school or retire.

Uni Watch: Impact of helmet policy

As fans, we live in the here and now, but owners and NCAA administrators have to think about the long-term effects of how violent football has become. If that fundamentally changes the way football is played, so be it.

What would you think of football if one of your sons, brothers, or husbands had played football only to retire and not remember his name in 10 or 15 years? At that point is his playing career more important than his life?

The easy answer is no, and the rules aren’t going to revert back to where they were 10 years ago. That’s a continuing adjustment for fans. Game officials will rightly err on the side of caution to protect players from themselves.

The simple fact is that fans have no skin in the game, other than maybe a few hundred dollars here or there, while owners are gambling with billions and players are risking their lives. Think about that the next time a player is ejected or fined for helmet-to-helmet contact.

Red River Shootout Should Be Mack Brown’s Last Stand

This weekend Texas will face Oklahoma, in Dallas, in what I still call the Red River Shootout. It won’t be pretty, or at least it shouldn't be based on what we've seen from Texas this year. Texas lost to Oklahoma 55-17 in 2011 and 63-21 in 2012, and unless Texas is somehow able to convince the game officials to help them again Saturday at the Cotton Bowl, this will hopefully be the end of the Mack Brown Era. I’m obviously no longer a fan of Mack Brown, and it isn't because I don’t like him as a person, but it has more to do with his performance in his job over the past several years.

I think Brown is in over his head at Texas. I think the game has passed him by, and I’m not saying that I think he’s old (he is), but he’s coaching 1990’s football in 2013. I’m also not suggesting he retire and not coach anymore, but he should leave Texas and coach somewhere else. Texas is a big school. Texas is the number one revenue generating school in the country. Number 1, and it has been for the better part of five years. When your program generates 50-plus percent of that income for your school’s athletic department, your team needs to be better than it has been.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has already announced that he’ll leave his position next year, and as I’ve stated on many a College Football Round Table, the same needs to happen to Mack Brown. He isn’t the only one who needs leave. It’s time for men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes and baseball coach Augie Garrido to leave as well. Texas needs to clean house in order to save its entire athletic program.

I posed this question to the panel a few weeks ago: Are the Longhorns the best team in Texas anymore? Are they the third or possibly even the fourth best team in Texas? If your answer to the first question is no and/or your answer to the final question is yes, then the program has lost its way. There’s no reason a school the size of Texas should be fourth best team in the state.

If you’re wondering who the better teams are, they’re Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas Christian. I’m willing to concede that TCU and Texas can interchange places three and four. Are Texas A&M and Baylor that much better than Texas? Yes, and they’re light years ahead of Texas in terms of recruiting and offensive play and scheming. Baylor doesn't play defense, but if they played the Longhorns in Waco, in Austin, or in any 22,000 seat high school stadium, they’d be Texas by 30.

Is there a chance Mack Brown can save his job? Of course. Beating Oklahoma cures all, at least in the short term. Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz in week two this year, and brought in Greg Robinson who is old school like Mack Brown. Again, the problem is Brown not recognizing the changing trend in college football.

Brown needs Texas to win and in a somewhat convincing style Saturday against Oklahoma, but I don’t have confidence they will. I honestly believe that the Sooners will win the 108th meeting convincingly, and I hope, for the sake of the entire Longhorn athletic program, that Brown is fired Lane Kiffin style after the game.

Operating under the assumption (hope) that Brown loses to Oklahoma and Bob Stoops on Saturday, the Red River Shootout should be Mack Brown’s last stand.

College Quickie: Do Oklahoma State's Allegations Finally Bring Us To NCAA Crossroads?

Are we finally at the NCAA crossroads? Before we even consider what might be happening with the O’Bannon lawsuit, consider the allegations revealed today by Sports Illustrated against Oklahoma State. Sports Illustrated alleges in the first of a five-part series that players were paid, very well, under the table with cash, sex, and drugs. I guess the only thing missing is rock and roll, but I digress. Without having all parts to the series, it’s tough to say what exactly Oklahoma State is facing in terms of allegations, but it’s safe to say at this point they’re significant.

Scandal: Oklahoma State - Sex, Drugs and Cash

More important than what happens with Oklahoma State is, is this where we see significant change in athlete compensation and punishment for schools when they violate the rules?

Sports Illustrated admits that some of the allegations are based on hearsay, but we know at least a significant percentage of them are true, or close enough to get the Cowboys in significant trouble. One has to ask, if this were your athletic program are you OK with your players being paid for sacks, tackles, and touchdowns?

In light of vacated wins and lost titles, how far do you want the boosters of your favorite college team to go to compensate players? Now we’re back to the fundamental question of whether players should be compensated. I’ve almost always been against paying players because I think they already receive fair compensation through scholarships.

Boone Pickets Stadium. One has to wonder if Mr. Pickens will be around when it hits the fan. Photo: ensign_beedrill/Flickr

At some point, I’d like to see stipends extended to all players, but keep in mind those dollars won’t be coming from the schools. The overwhelming majority of schools lose more money than they make each year on academics, and even if its funny accounting that gets them to those loses, consider how many school must accept academic subsidies (read: taxpayer money) to keep their programs afloat. Why do you think schools like Rutgers and Maryland are leaving their traditional homes to join the very rich Big Ten? It is obvious they were not making money in their current homes.

So, where do we go from here? Do you have an idea about how to fairly compensate players, or should we create another level of college athletics where players are paid a salary? How does this impact lower divisions of the NCAA and players in the non-revenue generating sports in the highest division?

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment or e-mail me at damien@morethanafan.net.

The College Quickie is a series of quick takes from our writers on college football's hottest topics. 

Is Brady Hoke on The Hot Seat?

Michigan Wolverine's Head Coach Brady Hoke. Photo: MGoBlog, Flickr. It’s probably a little early to give my official predictions of coaches on the hot seat (I was 7-3 last year), so I’ll quickly speak to the fact that many are suggesting that Michigan coach Brady Hoke needs to appear in a BCS game to keep his job.

The long and short of it is, he’s as safe as Urban Meyer.

Yes, I just compared the job security of Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer.

The truth is, Hoke - in order to keep his locker room believing in him and to continue recruiting high quality athletes to Michigan - needs to win about nine games, and appear in a top-tier bowl game. Beating Ohio State and/or appearing in the conference championship game will only bolster his position and extend his longevity.

To compare Michigan’s path to a national championship with Ohio State’s is foolish for all, including Wolverine detractors. Although the programs appear far apart, in reality they couldn’t be closer. I’m not suggesting the Wolverines can’t get the national championship game this season, but their path is more difficult.

Like Ohio State, they only face one BCS opponent (Notre Dame) in their non-conference schedule, but they face worthy in-conference challenges against Penn State then Michigan State, Nebraska, and Northwestern in consecutive weeks before facing Ohio State at the end of the season.

On paper, their schedule is tougher, and in reality, their team isn’t as strong. Hoke’s recruiting skills have proven to be formidable over the past two off-seasons, and assuming Michigan only loses three games this season, he will survive and the Wolverines will secure an appearance in a top-tier bowl game.

I’ll go ahead and make the assumption that Michigan takes two of three from Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State and say they play in the conference championship game, and play in a upper-level bowl game.

They’ll only be able to do this if Hoke’s defense plays as well as expected, and Devin Gardner quickly adapts to whatever scheme offensive coordinator Al Borges comes up with for the quarterback.

To oppose that, Michigan will have three new starters on its offensive line. If they don’t have their ills figured out by the time they play Notre Dame, they better have it figured out by the time they face Penn State and Michigan State.

I say all that, not to evaluate the X’s & O’s of what Michigan can do this year, but to quiet those who think Hoke is in danger of losing his job.

Officially, I see no reason for Michigan to lose more than two games in 2013.

Do you think Brady Hoke is on the hot seat, or has he built enough good will to carry him a few more seasons?

Introducing the College Football Round Table

It’s almost that time of the year, and we wanted to do something a little bit different at More Than a Fan for college football season. This year, we’ll be doing a weekly football round table on the ins and outs of the college game. Every week we’ll do a live Google Hangout with four people talking everything college football. Here’s the thing, we want YOU to be involved. We want you call in with your questions or comments. No college football topic is too obscure.

Along with myself, included on the weekly rotation will be Josh Flagner (@RailbirdJ), Hayden Grove (@H_Grove), Aaron Mcghee (@Aaronm59), Jeff Rich (@JRichTCF), and Dan Zaleski (@CommonManDZ). We’ll have at least one guest position open every week, and we’d love to have you for the entire hour.

We’ll tentatively schedule the live broadcast for Wednesday evenings, and of course every episode will be available through our normal podcast feed (http://mtaf.co/getpods).

Stay tuned, in the next few weeks we’ll have each of our regular hosts give their preseason top 25, and their conference champions, along with predictions for the major bowl games and the final BCS National Championship game. These predictions will be similar to what I did with Ryan Isley (@Isley23) and Stephen Garvin (@CleveNole) last season.

You have to be as excited about this as I am, right? Are you interested in joining us for an episode? E-mail me at damien@morethanafan.net and I’ll get you on the schedule.

Only seven Saturdays until football begins.

Thoughts on College Football's Attendance Problem

This may or may not come as a shocker to all of you, but college football has a bit of an attendance problem. A lot of it is self-inflicted by the schools themselves, but some of blame is to be shared with the fans. This one included. The problem: technology has outpaced the “in-stadium experience.” I use the quotes because that’s what all the smart and overpaid team and league people say when asked about attendance. I do my best to attend one or two college football games per year, and I’ll be honest with you: I’d attend more games if it weren’t so damned expensive. I actually have no excuses to not attend football games. I live in Northeast Ohio and have at least 10 Division I-A schools within a six-hour drive. Why don’t I go? Easy, the games and everything involved are expensive, but that isn’t the main reason. It’s because the times I want to go to games the teams I like to watch aren’t playing solid opponents.

If you’ve never been to a college football game tickets average about $50 per seat, and that’s before you pay for parking, food, non-alcoholic drinks, concessions (you will buy something), and deal with out of control drunk students, alumni, and fans who wish they were alumni.

All in all you’re looking at about a $300 day. I say day, because I’m going to make the stupid assumption you’ll arrive at said game that day and leave to go home right after without trying to locate a hotel.

Note: If you’re looking for a hotel for a game in September and don’t have one already, be prepared to break out your American Express. Yes, I know it’s only May, but you get the hint.

I don’t have the solutions to these problems, but I have a few suggestions, none of which involve going to a nine-game conference schedule.

Reduce the amount of games against cupcakes. This applies to all the big name schools. I have no interest in paying full price to see Ohio State play Akron, Tennessee play Memphis or Texas play UT-San Antonio.

If you’re going to play cupcake schools reduce ticket pricing. I know it is sacrilege to offer a discount in collegiate athletics, but come on, you want me to pay the same price to see Ohio State versus Wisconsin as I would Ohio State verses the Eastern Carolina Catamanooks? Not happening.

Reduce the amount of student tickets and give those tickets to young alumni contribution free. Yes, I said take tickets away from students. Why, because at most schools students don’t use their entire allotment anyway, and unless all you want are old super rich white guys at your games you better find a way for your young alumni to get tickets. Instead of spending millions on stadium expansions sell the tickets you have first.

Improve the in-game experience. I’m not a great fan of having Wi-Fi at stadiums, but if that’s what it takes to get people to games, then install it and do it right. This weekend I was at the Indianapolis 500 along with about 300,000 other people, without Wi-Fi, and had excellent 5-bar LTE coverage the entire time. So if the wireless carriers can get it right in the Circle City they certainly can figure it out in Tuscaloosa, Knoxville, Columbus, and Berkley.

Put replays, stats, and scores on an app and give access to those who are inside the stadium. It’s a waste of time, but if helps sell those last $10,000 seats then it could be worth the $3 million you’ll spend on the infrastructure.

I know nothing I’ve said before is news, but unless you want people to stay home and watch on their 60” plasma’s instead of coming to stadiums this is sound advice all collegiate athletic directors and conference commissioners should take into account.

[tl;dr] Akron’s Jim Tressel Should Be on the First Selection Committee

3177159521_ab0fb74486_z I’m not fan of Jim Tressel as a person based on how he handled his players and compliance officers while at Ohio State, but one thing about the man is that he is a good coach, even if he isn’t a good person. If the gray-haired dudes that run the College Football Playoff are looking for former coaches to sit on their first selection committee they should start with Jim Tressel.

Tressel, while at Ohio State, appeared in nine BCS games including three national championship games, and though it’s he likely won’t coach another game in college football he’s the perfect fit to sit on a committee that will determine the makeup of the new playoff system.

I imagine Tressel is itching to participate in some way in college football, and this would be perfect opportunity for guys like him who have tons of experience to have a voice in its new system. Is there someone else who has as much experience as him that would be better on the committee, of course there isn’t.

Teamed up with other former coaches such as former Alabama coach Bill Curry, and current Pacific-12 commissioner Larry Scott as Bleacher Support suggests, these three could anchor a committee that will quell the fears of many college football fans.

I don’t have a lot of confidence in this new system because I don’t believe it is inclusive of enough teams, but having these three on the committee and leaving SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany off the committee will give the appearance of transparency the sport hasn’t seen in a long time.

I’m not suggesting that Slive and Delany can’t be objective, but it’s likely their two conferences will dominate the post-season conversation yearly, and instead of having to recuse themselves when their teams are discussed it would be better for the committees workflow to leave them out.

The Big Ten and SEC will have plenty of representation, and people like Ohio State’s Gene Smith along with Tressel and Curry are representative of each conferences past, present, and future. Smith’s time on the basketball selection committee makes him a natural fit to be either the chairman or co-chair for the first committee.

Tressel’s time at Ohio State along with his nice BCS appearances makes him the most obvious choice to be on the committee, and frankly there isn’t a former coach who’s alive that’s more deserving of chance to sit at the table than Tressel.

tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world.

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

[tl;dr] Reduce Both the Men’s Shot Clock and Overall Number of Timeouts

A few weeks ago, Ryan wrote about adjustments college basketball should make in order to make the men’s game more competitive. One of the aspects he focused on was the shot clock, and it just happens that NCAA rules committee is considering a change to the shot clock in its biennial rules cycle. The current men’s shot clock is at 35-seconds, while women use 30 and NBA, WNBA, and FIBA each use a 24-second shot clock. The intent of the shot clock is quicken the pace of the game so the offense cannot hold the ball for an unlimited about of time.

It’s obvious men’s college basketball has a scoring problem, and while shortening the length of the shot clock might be an obvious way to help correct the situation it isn’t the best solution. To me, the best remedy to basketball’s scoring solutions is fewer timeouts.

Basketball’s scoring problems are most prevalent at the Division I level in media games; that is games where timeouts are automatic every four minutes for broadcast media. In addition to four media timeouts per half, teams still retain their four 75-second timeouts (often expanded to 90-seconds for media) and two 30-second timeouts. Each team must use at least one of their 30-second timeouts in the first half or lose that timeout. Assuming teams use all of their timeouts there is a potential of 20 timeouts in one game.

TWENTY timeouts in one game!

Let that sink in.

The easiest solution to solve Division I’s scoring problem is to reduce the amount of timeouts in media games. We know broadcast media will not give up their structured timeouts, so the best solution is to either reduce the overall number of timeouts to say three per game, or make all non-media timeouts in media games 30-seconds.

As far as reducing the shot clock: yes, it will force more attempts, but that will not necessarily mean more made baskets or better shorts. Initially it will mean fewer of both.

Offenses will need to adjust to a shorter clock. A 30-second clock should also eliminate the requirement to advance to ball to the frontcourt in 10-seconds mirroring the women’s rule.

For college basketball, 24 seconds isn’t enough time for most teams to run a proper offense. In a time of giving offenses the advantage, the best solution is to reduce the clock to 30-seconds along with reducing the overall number of timeouts.

tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world. //

[tl;dr] College Football Playoff, Yes that’s really the Name

tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world.  They heard your cries, “The BCS sucks,” “we want a real playoff,” and “pay the ‘student-athlete,’” alright, well they listened to two of your three complaints. So, the BCS commissioners replaced ‘BCS’ with ‘CFP.’ How’s that taste in your mouth? Probably about as good as this new “playoff” will.

Yesterday, the college football power players agreed on the name College Football Playoff as its rebranding of the Bowl Championship Series. I know Jim Delany was involved, because that name is about as good as Legends and Leaders. Hopefully, this is only a temporary name.

Also, agreed upon was the rotation of games and dates between cities. The first championship game in January 2015 is expected to be played in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium, and honestly if there’s a place that deserves it, it’s Arlington. Cowboys Stadium the premier facility in football and the DFW Metroplex is a premier host city. A place where you won’t see any championship game is someplace where the average January temperature is below 50.

That’s right, no cold weather cities, and before you blame the powers that be, know that no cold weather cities have bid on the championship games to this point. This surprised me; I thought for sure Indianapolis, Detroit, and even New York would at least bid on something considering all have, or will in New York’s case, hosted a Super Bowl.

Championship games will feature a week of craziness only the largest cities can handle, but have no fear I suspect the northern cities to get into the act sooner rather than later. I’m guessing they want to see how the new format will play out.

The most important part of this whole thing is what we don’t yet know, and that is who the members of the CFP selection committee will be. If you think this will be like basketball’s selection committee you’re exactly right. The problem here is members of this committee will likely have a bigger axe to grind. The solution is more media accountability. Good luck with that, right?

The CFP website is collegefootballplayoff.com and until Monday, April 29 you can vote for the logo. So, you do have some say in the new playoff.

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

[tl;dr] ACC’s Grant of Rights Agreement Effectively Halts Conference Realignment

tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn't read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world. Yesterday, ACC presidents approved a grant of rights deal that will essentially halt any plans the Big Ten has for current expansion. Grant of rights means that any television revenue generated by a school who then decides to leave the conference will guarantee that revenue will stay with the conference. In layman’s terms, if Duke leaves the ACC for the Big Ten its television revenues from all sports will be spread among the remaining members of the ACC and or Duke for the duration of the GOR agreement.

The Southeastern remains the only conference that doesn’t have a grant of rights deal, but honestly who is leaving the SEC at this point?

It is widely believe the Big Ten has been interested in adding UNC or Georgia Tech to its membership, and many think Florida State has been hoping either the Big Ten or SEC would approach them about membership. With this agreement, neither will happen until at least 2025.

This is good for the fans of college sports who are sick and tired of the constant change in conference membership. Hopefully the carousel will stop now that all the big conferences other than the SEC have a form of grant of rights agreement.

The school this has the greatest impact on is Florida State, which is widely believed to be the ACC’s most valuable property. Many suggest the Seminoles were looking to leave for either the Big Ten or Big XII, but at this point that seems impossible.

I asked Stephen (@CleveNole) and this, and he said Florida State has been working on getting its Association of American Universities (AAU) certification hoping that would bolster its academic appearance to the Big Ten.

I’m guessing that even with the AAU certification FSU’s academics and Big Ten’s academic standards were too far apart. As far as the Big XII goes, I wonder if its membership is happy to be at 10? They have no incentive to bring in one or two more schools and make their revenue pie smaller. Who’s to say their media partners would give them more money for the likes of Florida State and an unknown 12th school?

Each Big 12 school receives about $15 million per year, while Big Ten schools receive nearly $21 million. Both are expected to renegotiate their television contracts soon.


The Big Ten is Basketball’s Version of The SEC


Traditionally when people think of football power conferences we think of the Big 12 and the Big Ten, in the past ten or so seasons that's obviously changed with the focus squarely on the Southeastern Conference. The SEC having won eight of 15 BCS titles, don't forget Tennessee won the first one (Rocky Top!), is are clearly the best conference over the past decade, even if the conference is very top heavy. The Big Ten on the other hand has largely been a disappointment over the same period save a few spots with Ohio State and Michigan.

When it comes to basketball though the two conferences couldn't be more opposite. This year, the SEC was only able to get three teams into the tournament, and only Ole Miss (!!!) is representing the SEC in the Sweet 16. The Big Ten had seven teams selected and has Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State playing in the round of 16. Compare that to football where the Big Ten had no teams in the top ten of the final BCS standings and the SEC had six in those same standings.

As good as the Big Ten is in basketball it could not be any worse in football. In a hypothetical world with Penn State and Ohio State being eligible last year one can assume that at least Ohio State would have been in the National Championship conversation and Penn State likely plays in the Rose Bowl. Outside of those two teams, was any other team worthy of being on the same practice field as the top six SEC teams? Didn't think so, but that's alright because even though the Big Ten was able to get seven of its teams in the men's tournament I'm confident any Big Ten team could beat any SEC team in basketball.

Are you able to say the same thing about the Big Ten football schools versus SEC football school? No, and if you try and tell me any Big Ten team can beat any SEC team you should be drug tested, twice.

This isn't an indictment on the Big Ten as a whole, but consider that a conference that was once great at football is now great at basketball and average at football. Things change, and so will the Big Ten, and in a few years it will probably be good again in football.

This past season the Big Ten was atrocious in football because half of the conference had new head coaches, half had new offensive coordinators and half had new defensive coordinators. The Big Ten can go a long way to improving its football credibility by stabilizing the conference in hiring better coaches and recruiting better.

These are known facts, but the conference also needs to schedule better, something that I've written about before. As bad as the conference is, its intra-conference play isn't actually the worst on the planet, but its non-conference schedule is embarrassing. Ohio State has taken the lead by scheduling tougher opponents, but the conference as a whole needs to step its game up.

In basketball, the conference faces some of the best opponents across Division I, and it shows. Big Ten teams' RPIs are consistently higher year after year. The conferences biggest basketball spending school, Michigan State, is also its most successful and most profitable and that's because the school has made a commitment to Tom Izzo the same way Alabama has made a commitment to Nick Saban, the same way it appears Ohio State will commit to Urban Meyer.

All are important, but the most important is that nationally the Big Ten has become a much better basketball conference than football conference. That isn't a bad thing, and it isn't what Big Then traditionalists want, but no one in the ACC complains about how they're more known for basketball over football.

This weekend the Big Ten has a chance to fill each of the Final Four spots with each of its teams. Anything less than two teams in the Final Four is an abject failure for this conference that is college basketball's version of the SEC.

Mark Emmert is the Queen of England


Who has the toughest job in America with no power? Mark Emmert. In the United Kingdom they’d call him the Queen of England, and that’s too bad because I think Emmert has the best of intentions.

I know Mark Emmert is in a tough position because he really, really wants to be like Roger Goodell, but in reality he has no operational control over the organization that he runs; the NCAA. He is a figurehead, and one that has embarrassed the association for the better part of three years. Emmert cannot compel athletes or coaches to testify and has no say in what punishment is handed out to those who violate the association’s arcane rules.

Unfortunately for Emmert, there is no way he can enact any change that will be make the association as svelte and efficient as it needs to be. He has fought the good fight, but hasn’t necessarily done a good job fighting. He has had his head buried in the sand, and his enforcement investigators have made him look foolish. He’s been through two enforcement managers and no one in their right mind believes the investigation into Miami’s transgressions has been handled fairly.

Yeah, we know Miami cheated their asses off, got caught, and will likely face sanctions this June. On the other end of the spectrum is Penn State, which committed virtually no violations of NCAA regulations, and was basically given the death penalty. You can argue Penn State had a moral authority to do this and that, but the reality is they didn’t commit any violations. Emmert somehow convinced Penn State’s board of board to accept sanctions out of fear that the Committee on Infractions (COI) would hand down much severe penalties.

I’m guessing the people at Penn State forgot Emmert has no control on the actual penalties handed down by the COI while the people at Miami didn’t.

Pretty sure Emmert doesn’t look like Roger Goodell, but don’t tell that to anyone in State College, PA.

Anyone have an idea of what the real problem could be? Let me explain it to you. There are academic people - who are very smart - attempting to manage and run a sports enterprise. There isn’t a university in America that has a president, chancellor, provost or any of those other fancy titles that has ever run any form of a sports organization.

Know who is in charge of the NCAA? Mark Emmert, former president of the University of Washington. Before Emmert, was Miles Brand, former president of university of Indiana, who is known mostly for firing Bob Knight. What do they have in common, neither has run any type of sports property in their careers.

Arguably these two have been two that have defined the NCAA and its current direction more so than any other administrator before them, and neither has any real operational control of the organization nor has run a sports enterprise before taking the job.

The Executive Director of the NCAA is basically the Queen of England. The only difference is the Queen cannot be removed and makes a hell of a lot of money…and she gets a pretty nice car.

Can Emmert save himself? Sure, but it won’t help the organization or the student-athletes the association is supposed to serve. The best thing Emmert can do is go to those who hired him, demand the association be completely re-organized and quit the day those changes are implemented.

Do I see Emmert becoming a patsy for the greater good? Of course not.

So, since he won’t demand change and will likely be fired for his employee’s shoddy work on the Miami investigation, another university leader will be hired and the cycle will continue.

Don’t place the blame on the Emmert, NCAA’s Queen of England, but blame college presidents whom refuse to empower him to enact the change that is much needed in Indianapolis. //

The Time is now for Real Change at NCAA

The time has come for a complete overhaul of the NCAA and the way it investigates infractions. I know, you were hoping I would say it’s time to blow the entire organization up and start all over, but it isn’t. And if you think in terms of the big picture, hopefully that day will never come.

Here is what I know about the NCAA: It is really good at hosting tournaments at all levels, and it is really good about making the collegiate student-athlete experience great for 99% involved. What it is not good at is investigating and enforcing penalties infractions against the 1%. I’m Catholic, which means I know nothing about math, but for the sake of this argument the 1% here are 120 member schools that belong to Division 1-A (FBS).

At the very top level the organization doesn’t appear to have the chops or the staff to enforce penalties or to even conduct fair investigations. Often the investigations take many years to complete and penalties meted out by the different Committees on Infractions (COI) aren’t consistent.

Look, I know, these people don’t have subpoena power, but investigators and the COI need to use that to their advantage. If a person is not willing to cooperate with the COI or its investigators then don’t punish them or whomever you’re investigating. Move on and give that person or school the benefit of the doubt.

DM to COI: you are not a de facto grand jury, and to think you are is as distasteful as it sounds.

This week NCAA President Mark Emmert announced there was a significant problem with the investigation involving Miami (FL) and how it was able to obtain information. The NCAA admitted that it caught itself paying Nevin Shapiro’s attorney for information. Most of the facts are not available because the NCAA is conducting an external investigation of its entire enforcement division.

The perception we have of the NCAA and how it investigates and enforces the crimes of the few is pretty bad. College presidents and industry observers have been asking for a complete overhaul of the entire system. They want to make the rule book and penalties simpler, and if this investigation and the problems that arose from it don’t hasten those changes nothing will.

Unfortunately for those who may have been wrongly persecuted or over-penalized in the past, this won’t help you. But if it reduces the chances of current or future student-athletes and coaches from paying for the sins of their predecessors, then any change is 100% better. When the COI hands out bowl bans or reduces scholarships against schools like Penn State, USC, Alabama, etc. and the primary actors have already left the schools the only people they are hurt are student-athletes.

I know, most of you think the athletes should get paid, while I argue they already are, but that isn’t the point. The point is punish those who commit the crimes, and if they are out of reach punish those who enable them to do so. If this means taking significant amounts of money from schools, do so. If this means giving scholarships to non-student-athletes, do so.

Case in point; Ohio State’s athletic program is one of the few in the country that generates a profit through its athletic program. If the NCAA had taken its profit after expenses, while leaving all scholarship and post-season opportunities intact, I promise you other schools would have paid attention. For schools that don’t generate yearly profits through its athletic department, take money from the universities, but not from tax payers or at risk of reducing non-student-athlete scholarships.

Taking money is a better penalty than taking scholarships away from teenager’s who didn’t sell rings or buy their mothers cars or houses with booster money. Don’t believe me, ask Penn State, they’d gladly hand over $60 or even $120 million dollars instead of having to deal with reduced scholarships and a long-term post-season ban.

The changes I’ve suggested aren’t likely, so what are your ideas on better NCAA penalty enforcement? !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Ohio State Fans Need To Get a Grip

12-0. The only undefeated team in Division I. The best team in the Big Ten. I get it Buckeyes fans, “you” didn’t lose a game the entire season. You also weren’t eligible for the post season because former players on your team sold rings for tattoos, took jobs they weren’t required to actually work, received illegal gifts, and your beloved former head coach lied to his own compliance people.

The popular Buckeye sentiment is to blame Gene Smith for not self-imposing a bowl ban last year thinking that the team would be eligible this year. I hate to break it to you, but there is ZERO evidence the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions (COI) would not have imposed an additional year of sanctions. Remember, your former head coach lied to his OWN compliance people. Let that marinate for a while.

That’s the equivalent of your children doing something stupid at school and instead of confessing their sins they lie to you in hopes that you’ll work it out with the teacher. How would that go over at home?

In reality, Ohio State was handed a gift from the NCAA for its token cooperation. Ohio State was already on probation and had it (Smith, Gordon Gee, etc.) not cooperated with the COI, the school could have faced similar infractions to what USC faced for Reggie Bush. Sure, the individual crimes weren’t the same, but in totality they were fairly close.

No, I don’t think it’s fair that the son pays for the sins of the father, but it’s the system that we operate under, so it is what it is.

This past season was good for Ohio State. They faced what is likely, until 2013, their easiest schedule in at least a decade. Half the schools in the Big Ten had new coaches, half featured new offensive coordinators, and half featured defensive coordinators. That spells mediocrity. And Ohio State’s non-conference schedule is, in a word – terrible.

Sure, California was scheduled when they were good, but what the excuse for Miami, Central Florida, and Alabama-Birmingham? The fact of the matter is, when the Big Ten is as terrible as it is, year in and year out, Ohio State needs to schedule better teams out of conference. Ohio State should also consider playing outside of Columbus. Yeah, Michigan got killed by Alabama, but they were smart enough to do it in a neutral location.

Indiana, Purdue, and Wisconsin - three unranked teams that Ohio State almost lost to. Almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, but it means something when voters decide where teams are ranked.

You really think your team is the third best team in the country after sneaking by those teams and getting lucky against Michigan and Michigan State? It isn’t.

You think you would have beaten Nebraska in the Big Ten championship because you beat them in the regular season? Maybe, but Nebraska thought the same after beating Wisconsin in the regular season.

Here’s what I know, your Buckeyes played 12 games in one of the worst BCS conference this year; two of its better teams were ineligible and were forced to send its third best team to the conference championship. That team then destroyed the best team in the other division, then went on to get rolled in Rose Bowl.

Ohio State won 12 games on a prayer, because if you think that team wins each game if they’re eligible you’re high. In a private moment, Urban Meyer says the same thing. The team had nothing to play for but pride, and all that other stuff that means nothing in rankings and standings.

The team bucked a lot of trends this year, but to expect that next year the championship goes through Columbus is one of the funniest things I’ve heard since Browns actually thought Chip Kelly would leave Oregon for Cleveland.

Get. A. Grip. Buckeyes fans. Remember what conference you play in, your schedule, and the negative perception the voters and everyone outside the State of Ohio has of you. One loss in 2012 and the team likely would not be in the Top-15.

Indiana. Purdue. Wisconsin. Pick your embarrassing loss.

12-0 is something for the players to celebrate, because they overcame the “sins of their fathers”. That isn’t reason for you to think that your team had a chance against Alabama or Oregon.

In fact, the only team that had a chance again Alabama Monday night was Oregon. Ohio State would have likely lost by three or four touchdowns.

Here’s something you can hang your hat on: you aren’t the most delusional fans in sports. Cleveland Browns fans have you beat in that game by four touchdowns.

The reality is, Ohio State could contend for a national championship next year, and it is OK for fans to be excited about that, but be honest about where the team is and where it’s going.

Ohio State should be in Pasadena next year, but will it be for the Rose Bowl or the BCS National Championship game?


Notre Dame, Alabama Just 'Beat the Hell Out Of You' -- National Championship Game Recap

picture: CS National Championship Game, Jan. 7, 2013 by Matt_Velazquez, on Flickr Let’s begin with the most obvious statement of the bowl season: there was a not a game in this entire bowl season that was more embarrassing or lopsided as last nights. As a - to use Josh’s (@Railbirdj) term - “Notre Dame guy”, it was tough to watch, sit through, watch on twitter, look at my phone, eat my Arby’s, and drink my Jameson.

That said, no fan, alumni, supporter, student-athlete, or coach associated with Notre Dame has anything to be ashamed of. No one, not even I, thought Notre Dame would be in the national championship game.

In fact, the only person at More Than a Fan that had Notre Dame in a BCS game was Ryan Isley (@Isley23). I told him he was crazy to think that, but I’m glad he was crazy enough to think it.

To paraphrase Florida coach Will Muschamp, and later Alabama coach Nick Saban, the Irish “faced a lot of adversity” throughout the season and overcame all of it, and every week until Monday night.

Yeah, Alabama is clearly the best team in the country. I had doubts about them before their loss to Texas A&M and even after squeaking by Georgia, but after a thirty some days of practice, Saban had his team ready to play. And they did right from the first play of scrimmage.

Alabama came out and blew the doors off of Notre Dame’s defense, so badly in fact I think they just scored again.

Notre Dame’s offense was less than stellar, but I am more than willing to put part of that on Everett Golson. Why? Because if I’m 20 and I have seven of the biggest, fastest dudes in the country coming at me as fast as they can, I would probably poop my pants every time as well.

Should Brian Kelly have put in Tommy Rees? Don’t know, I’m not an X’s and O’s guy and he knows a lot more about football than I do.

What I do know about last night’s game is that, on defense, once Notre Dame had to bring an eighth defender to try and stop Alabama’s run, the game was over. I said try, and italicized it because although it was a valiant effort, even the Gipper could not have provided enough motivation to salvage last night’s game.

Alabama dominated in all three phases of the game (offense, defense, and special teams) and kept scoring, and scoring, and scoring. To anyone who even considers the thought that Alabama ran up the score—stop. Every player on both sides is on scholarship, and each is expected to pull their own weight. Saban made about $5.5 million last year and I’m sure Brian Kelly wasn't eating at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend.

Throughout this entire, rant, post or whatever this is I forgot one thing: to congratulate everyone at the University of Alabama. They simply have the best football program in the country. Many complain about oversigning this or oversigning that, but the fact is they still have the best 85 players in the country.

If the only way your program can compete with them or any other power in the Southestern Conference is to oversign, then stop complaining about it and do it. They have made it clear they won't stop any time soon.

Unless the name of your team is “Oregon” you wouldn’t have had a chance last night. Ohio State fans that is a shot directly across your bow. To say that you would have only lost by two touchdowns is admitting you would have lost. Guess what, second place is first loser. I’ll get to Buckeye’s fans on Thursday.

All that said, congratulations to the undisputed best team in the country, Alabama, and welcome back Notre Dame. It has been a long time since it was “cool” to be a supporter of the Fighting Irish. Alabama “beat the hell out of you,” but you certainly are relevant and deserving of everything you’ve earned this year. //

More Than a Fan Sports Calendar

What time does Ohio State play? What channel are the Browns on? What day is the Daytona 500 next year? Yeah, I cannot keep up with the times or places of most sporting events without looking them up online. So, we created a calendar that you can view on your phone or e-mail client.

We’ll keep the calendar up to date, and you enjoy the games.


ICS: Import into another calendar application Subscribe with your phone using the above link

[google-calendar-events id="1"]