The Week that Was

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Last updated: 05/21/2011 7:54 PM
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The Week That Was
By Tony Gerdeman

I would have written more for you, but it wouldn't be fair to those who can't afford it.


The Big Ten spring meetings were this week and the biggest thing to come out of it was the news that the conference is talking about increasing the aid to their student-athletes.

The number being thrown around right now is $3,000 per athlete to cover assorted living expenses. To cover all of Ohio State's 400+ athletes would cost the university around $1.2 million.

But since they have it to spend, why can't they spend it?

It's being called by many a "game-changer", and is being used to show just how wide the gap is between the haves and have nots.

Such a plan will be decried as unfair to those institutions (essentially non-BCS schools) who cannot afford to keep up. Which begs the question, 'Are schools here to benefit the students, or are students here to benefit the schools?'

Clearly, the schools that can afford the increase want their students to benefit. The schools that cannot afford the increase, however, would appear to be opposed to not only their own students benefiting, but everybody else's as well.

The NCAA's intent is to make things fair for everybody, but it's also been put in place to benefit and protect the student-athletes. Killing a modest proposal such as the Big Ten is considering ($250/month per player) wouldn't seem to be protecting students at all. Rather it would be protecting those universities which couldn't afford to do the same. From the article linked above:

"With the Big Ten’s wealth, gained mostly from television contracts, Smith said most of its schools could add a cost-of-attendance increase to the aid already given. Leagues with similar revenues could provide the same benefits. Those without would be stressed to find such funds."

"Smith said those situations shouldn’t prevent the Big Ten from adding to the scholarships if it chooses."

"The reality is, if there’s cost of attendance and you can’t afford it, don’t do it,” he told reporters at the meetings. “The teams you’re trying to beat can’t do it either. Don’t do it because Ohio State’s doing it. That’s one of the things schools at that level get trapped into thinking.”

There are several divisions of NCAA athletics. Maybe it's simply time for a new one.

But it doesn't look like it has to come to that - provided the BCS is killed off.

Here is a great piece from the NCAA's Bylaw Blog called "Time for Football to Pick a Side", and in it the author suggests the NCAA and the FBS either part ways for a while, or they finally partner up Ross and Rachel style and create a playoff.

In the piece, it is asserted that the $3,000 per player that the Big Ten is interested in implementing could be paid for in full--for all schools--with an actual NCAA Championship.

"One option is for FBS football to agree to a playoff, but not just any playoff. An actual NCAA Championship, run by the NCAA, with revenue distributed by the NCAA according to traditional standards of NCAA revenue distribution. Assuming a college football playoff earned revenue equal to the Division I men’s basketball tournament, it would pay for the jump to full cost of attendance scholarships for all sports, a substantially increased enforcement staff, all the while allowing for significantly higher revenue distributed based on success in the championship."

But that proposal doesn't really do anything for the schools who can already afford the increase. They like being different and don't really feel like adding a bunch of hayseeds to their country club.

The Bylaw Blog then makes another proposal--break up Sam and Diane style, and "have a good life" without eachother.

"The other option is for FBS football to be kicked out. That is, to remove FBS football from the list of NCAA sports, stop regulating the sport, and stop using football to determine how revenue is distributed. In effect, if football does not want to have actual skin in the game of its own regulation, the NCAA shouldn’t either.

Could it happen? That largely depends on who would vote on a proposal to remove FBS football. But remember that if you pit the BCS AQ conferences vs. the rest of Division I, the “have nots” control a sizeable 33-18 majority on the Legislative Council. So if the rest of Division I, including some FBS conferences, decide that removing football (at least temporarily) from the NCAA is in their best interests, they have more than enough votes to do it."

It would seem that the parting of ways would be the best option for all involved since the BCS schools could continue to live in their ivory towers while the lesser schools could then go and try to make money with an NCAA Championship.

I would like to see it if for no other reason to see which conferences on the cusp--i.e. the Mountain West Conference--beg, scratch, bite and claw their way into the good graces of the BCS.

Or would they simply feel comfortable staying with the NCAA?

When this story broke earlier in the week, I wondered how long it would take for the SEC to say they'd also be interested in an increase in aid. After all, there's no way they're going to let the Big Ten do something to get an edge without matching it in short order.

Turns out, it took about a day, and it wasn't just SEC commissioner Mike Slive who said he was interested. It was the commissioners from the Pac 12 and Big XII as well.

Slive: "I have long thought that we should revisit the limitations on the current scholarship model and perhaps expand it to cover the full cost of attendance. I look forward to that discussion."

Larry Scott (Pac 10/12): "I fully support studying the impact of increasing the grant in aid package for student-athletes. We have not had any discussion on earmarking funds for this purpose."

Dan Beebe (Big XII): "This is a topic that BCS commissioners discussed at recent meetings and one that we agreed to review with our respective member institutions at spring conference meetings, which I intend to do at the upcoming annual Big 12 meetings."

As if the BCS situation didn't put the Political Action Committees in a tizzy bad enough, flat-out paying players more could eliminate all of the ground the non-AQ schools have gained.

Despite what they tell you, the non-AQ schools are on even ground when it comes to the BCS, but this would essentially do away with that.

It then puts the politicians who are upset with the BCS in a very unpopular position of arguing against benefiting college students.

It seems to have finally gotten to the point where the relationship between the upper crust of the FBS and the NCAA is no longer mutually beneficial.

Now we'll just have to see how long they decide to stay together "because of the kids".


Now that spring football is over, players have gotten a pretty good idea of where they sit on the depth chart, and it generally leads to a rash of transfers.

But this is also the time of year when coaches all around the country make some preliminary decisions on whom they'll have to cut due to being oversigned, and some coaches are wasting no time.

Arkansas and Bobby Petrino, who were oversigned by ten, have granted releases to five players recently, with an eye towards a medical hardship for a sixth.

Wide receiver Lance Ray, kicker Eddie Camara, tight end Ryan Calender, offensive lineman Cam Feldt, and linebacker Austin Moss have all been granted releases.

Not all of it is nefarious, however.

Ray did not participate in spring practice after being arrested in his dorm room on January 31st in possession of marijuana, and as we all know, possession of marijuana is always dealt with harshly by football coaches (he said sarcastically).

Moss wanted to transfer last year, but his dad talked him out of it.

Offensive lineman Colby Berna is likely to receive a medical hardship. He has yet to play for the Razorbacks in two seasons, and his shoulder problems go all the way back to high school.

Clearly, these are three instances where Petrino knew these guys wouldn't have to take up a scholarship in 2011, and so he prepared by oversigning.

Still, it doesn't account for everybody who will need to be cut yet. Especially since they just received a commitment from a junior college offensive lineman, and could be on the verge of landing a linebacker as well.

Petrino didn't have room for the 30 he signed in the 2011 class, let alone the one or two more he's going to add in May.

But I guess that's what the "annual scholarship evaluations" are for.


It was announced this week that Lloyd Carr and Eddie George, among others, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December.

The only real reason I mention it is because the article says for a coach to be eligible for induction, he must have at least a .600 winning percentage.

That's 7-5 every year with an eighth win mixed in every three years. Pretty pedestrian. The good news is that Rich Rodriguez is sitting right at .607.

It's just a good thing you don't have to be named Coach of the Year of your FBS conference in order to get in.

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