Friday, May 8, 2009

News of the Week

It's Friday and that means it's time for news of the week! And by news of the week, I mean news NOT involving Manny Ramirez, Brett Favre's unretirement or A-Roid's return to baseball...

The NCAA's latest attempt to prove they're not just a greedy, money-making monopoly and that they really do care about the "student" part of their student athletes came out this week in the form of the Academic Progress Report. The school that had a score lower than 925 (probably derived by a formula more complicated than the QB rating system) in any sport would lose scholarships. Your Golden Gophers and the Ole Miss Rebels were the only two schools whose football teams didn't "make the grade" (ohhhh you see what I did right there?), and had three scholarships taken away. They can recoup them with better scores next year.

In the Strib article, AD Joel Maturi says the main causes were:

"a 2007 campus sexual assault that led to the dismissal from the team of five players and conviction of Dominic Jones; transfers after the coaching change from Glen Mason to Tim Brewster; and poor academic performance by Brewster's first recruiting class in 2007. Only eight of 19 players remain from that class, which was hastily put together after Brewster got the job in January 2007."

The academics of the football squad is actually improving with Brewster, as their fall score was 957. The Gophs obviously were the worst in the Big Ten, who fared pretty well as a conference.

School APR
Penn State 976
Northwestern 973
Ohio State 968
Indiana 957
Wisconsin 953
Michigan 947
Iowa 946
Michigan State 931
Illinois 930
Purdue 926
Gophers 915

The real surprise to me on this list was seeing Penn State #1. With all of the off-field problems they've had in Happy Valley lately, it's obviously not affecting the kids' school work any. Also I thought Iowa scored really well considering how many of their players were probably doing their homework from the backseat of a police car (come on, that was too easy. Like I was going to pass that one up?).

One of the players was Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz's son James, a freshman center, who had arrested for the second since October for an alcohol related incident. Look, I know, you know, we all know most college kids under 21 drink. It happens all of the time. But to be not just a football player (who is going to draw more attention to himself than a regular student), BUT THE COACH'S SON, and get arrested twice in your first freaking year on campus for boozing it up in public? I can understand it happening once, hey fine, we all make mistakes, but twice? I mean, how freaking dumb can you be?

Why is more not made of what a total sham the weekly Top 25 Coaches Poll is? Of all the ridiculous things about the BCS (and there's a lot of them), the most ridiculous is that this poll makes up ONE FREAKING THIRD of the BCS rankings every week. ONE THIRD!!! This from a "coaches poll" that I can guaranteed is not filled out by one single college coach. Ok maybe the very first one, since they have all spring and summer to do it, and so Steve Spurrier can cast his one first place vote for Duke (where he got his first head coaching job). Oh what's that? They made him stop doing it because they thought it makes a mockery of the poll? Really? You know what else makes a mockery of the poll? THE ENTIRE POLL ITSELF!?!?! Good freaking gravy, college coaches do not, or at least should not, have the time to give an accurate poll of who the best 25 teams are in the country every week. They know their own teams, they know the teams they play each week, and they probably know enough about the teams in their conference. But for a Pac-10 coach to know if Minnesota is better than Oregon State, or a Big 12 coach to know if Texas is better than LSU? There's no freaking way!! The coaches ballots are filled out by either a grad assistant or the school's sports information director or the assistant sports information director or the assitant to the assistant of the sports information director. But hey, this is one third of the rankings for the BCS. Of course it is.

Anyway, to try to put some level of accountability on this whole biased, uninformed process, college fans and media wanted the coaches vote to be public. Every coach, every week. The coaches only relented to doing this for the final poll of the season, and now, they want to take that back. Why? Because they had the folks at Gallup take a look at it, and apparently that's what they're recommending. Look, I can understand all of the Gallup polls being secretive and not revealing a person's voting record, but this is not like voting for office. It should be public just like the voting record of senators and congressmen/women/people/PCblahblahblah. You're one third of the ranking for a system that will put HUGE money in your conferences' pockets and your school's pockets and therefore YOUR pockets if you vote for your team and those in your conference into a BCS game or higher than they deserve to be. Call me crazy, but I think a poll that has that much of a ramification on the outcome of the end of seasoson should be made public. Of course this would actually make sense for the fans, and when have those running college football ever done anything makes sense for the fans? Exactly.

Former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller is suing college football game maker EA Sports and the NCAA, saying the video-game maker wrongly uses the names and likenesses of athletes and the NCAA sanctions the practice. As you no doubt know, NCAA players cannot make any money from their college success while in college, and therefore the NCAA can not sell college jerseys or merchandise with a players' NAME on them. Of course, the NCAA gets around this by selling college jerseys every year with the numbers of the team's best player on them, but since the name isn't included, they have argued successfully that the jersey number has no relation to the player because his name isn't on it. This is all a bunch of baloney, of course, because you know damn well Ohio State fans are buying up #2 Buckeyes jerseys and Minnesota fans are buying up #7 Gophers jerseys because that's the number of Terrelle Pryor and Eric Decker (I would LOVE to see a study forcing the NCAA to prove that people are buying the jersey because it's their school jersey and not because of the player wearing it. If you went to the Gopher school bookstore and put a #7 jersey and a #0 jersey side by side, I can guarantee you that a #0 jersey wouldn't see until they were out of #7 jerseys).

Likewise the EA Sports NCAA Football video game (my favorite game on the planet), does not use player names in the game, but instead has players on the roster that are identical to the players on a college football teams every year, they just use the player numbers for names. For example, Decker would be named "WR #7" in the game. His height, weight, number and game ratings would be exactly like those of Eric Decker, just without the actual name. In the article the NCAA and EA Sports appear confident they'll beat this in court, but I'm not so sure. I mean, when you give a player his actual name, the in-game announcers say it. If the players are just supposed to be random players and are NOT based on the real guys, then why are the in-game announcers able to pronounce all of the names once they're changed?

It also just seems REALLY random that Keller would do this now, and not when he was in school. NOt only that, but I would think the jersey thing would be even more obvious and easy to disprove than the video games. Just have to wonder what Keller's motives are in all of this, especially when he says he's "not interested in getting compensated for himself." Maybe he's just mad they didn't make his unlikeness better than he actually was?

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