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Silver Bullet Points Watches Carpetbombing

Yes, I know they’re flares. It fit the theme. Go with it.

Quick look at a bit of coolness from yesterday’s presser, then onward into the fray

Buckeye news

Ohio State announced yesterday that they will be wearing customized helmets for the Spring Game, painted with a military design to honor American servicemen and commemorate the 75th anniversary Jesse Owen’s performance at the Berlin Games.

Oooh! Camoflagey!

Most of these helmets will be re-painted over the summer, but the announcement goes on to read

Each of the 25 remaining “camo” helmets will be individually numbered, autographed by Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel and then sold, with the sale benefiting the Ohio National Guard Family Readiness and Warrior Support Program, LiFE (Learning in Fitness & Education) through Sports Program and  the Ruth and Jesse Owens Scholars Fund. These helmets will be sold off-line on a first-come, first-served basis for $1,000.00/helmet (limit one per an individual).

which I’m sure will make the good folks over at Tiger Droppings extremely happy.

We talked already about Coach Fickell’s promotion, and other sites have good coverage of the press conference. We expect to hear more today following the media accessible spring practice period.

We haven’t talked about the “news” that Coach Tressel forwarded the Cicero email to Jeanette businessman and Pryor mentor rather than the OSU Compliance office or Gene Smith, mostly because it’s already been said.  We all have our theories/rationalizations, but it doesn’t change the fact that it makes his “confidentiality” excuse hold next to no water, and the NCAA will certainly respond accordingly. I was a bit intrigued that the media responded almost wholeheartedly with a “well, now that we know this, he has to be fired/resign” theme, mostly because this doesn’t get to be decided in the media. We’re assuming that, if this information was leaked from inside the athletic department, that the NCAA was aware of this (and has been since the University found out about it).  So, while it doesn’t appear positive in any way it’s not as if it was “proof of a greater coverup”.  It’s like I’ve been told- just because I don’t know something doesn’t mean that it’s important for me to know it.

So, let’s get to the flavor of the day: The “HBO “revelation” that a former recruit at Ohio State is alleging that he received cash from a booster and “sexual favors” from a co-ed while on a recruiting trip.  We’ll get to the context in just a minute, but it should be noted that this occurred around the same time that the athletic department was under a full investigation, and the University was not found to have any pervasive issues with this type of behavior (“pervasive” means “more than a one or two time thing”).  If true, it’s indefensible and should have been dealt with.

Regarding the “sexual favors” aspect of the story, I’m shocked to hear that a student who was visiting a University might have had “relations” with someone during their visit.  That type of thing never happens when high school kids visit Universities. Sarcasm aside, unless this was coordinated or tacitly facilitated by the athletic department or the coaching staff, I’m not sure how it’s relevant to the perspective that those two entities are “lawless”. Particularly when the reporting team at HBO sports has themselves stated they had no proof to back up the claim. However, since Ohio State is the target of the month, it’s the story that everyone’s been running with.

And now, the rest of the stories…

Last summer, your humble correspondent noted that the NCAA had been particularly busy with high profile cases and situations, and wondered if there was a new mentality for the organization in terms of addressing these types of issues. Be careful what you wish for, right?

Over the past few days, we’ve seen this blow up in ways that were unimaginable in previous years. Here’s a quick summary for those of you who only rely on ESPN for your news and commentary:

With all of this going on, it’s certainly good to have a stalwart institution like the NCAA available to help monitor and hold athletic departments accountab… what? You say the NCAA has it’s own issues to deal with right now?

Among the crack panel looking into the matter? An Orange Bowl committee member who accepted a free cruise as a part of his Orange Bowl duties. Playoff PAC released an evaluation of “the blind leading the blind”, which includes the revelation that (HT Wiz Of Odds):

  • The Orange Bowl sponsors an annual Caribbean Cruise that the bowl describes as a “complimentary getaway” for bowl staff and college football officials that features no business meetings.
  • One out of every $10 that the Sugar Bowl takes in ends up in the hands of its top three executives.
  • BCS bowls use charitable funds to fly bowl executives and spouses first-class, pay private club dues and foot the bill for employees’ personal income taxes. The Orange Bowl, for example, spent $756,546 on travel in fiscal 2009 for its personnel.
  • The Orange Bowl spent $331,938 on “parties” and “summer splash” in fiscal 2004, $42,281 on “golf” in fiscal 2004 and 2006, $535,764 on “gifts” in fiscal 2006 and $472,627 on “gifts” in fiscal 2008.
  • The Sugar Bowl spent $201,226 on “gifts and bonuses” and $330,244 on “decorations” in fiscal 2008.
  • The Orange Bowl spends over $100,000 per year on “postage and shipping” (10 times the amount that other BCS Bowls spend annually).

Yup, that’s the same Orange Bowl where Virginia Tech and Stanford lost money for the privilege to participate.

UPDATE: The Solid Verbal brings a video montage of the mayhem:


So, with all of this carnage, what’s the takeaway for college football and college sports fans? For me, there are a couple of things that stand out.

  1. This is going to be an interesting summer. And by “interesting”, I mean “hey, that’s a tractor trailer accident and now nuclear cannibal cows are roaming the city. That’s interesting…”.  We alluded to it when the Oregon story broke, but this off season could easily be one that changes the landscape of the sport.
  2. Easy on the schadenfreude. It seems as if the motto for the current climate could easily be “Just wait…”, as program after program are brought into scrutiny by investigative journalism and unfortunate incidents within their athletic departments.
  3. Change is on the way? There continues to be pressure in the court of public opinion regarding the NCAA and “big time” college sports- the Cam Newton situation, the ongoing cries for a playoff/investigation of the BCS, the whispers of future conference expansion (remember that? Wasn’t that fun?) all continue to mount. Should federal interest turn it’s eye to the business (and tax exempt status) of athletics and higher education (like they have nothing else to do), the we could see some major developments at a structural level.
  4. Will the hammer fall? How will the NCAA deal with these situations? Will they have the time/staffing/resources to fully delve into all of these matters (pay for play, recruiting and street agents, institutional integrity challenges)? And when they do, will they be looking to set a new precedent/make an example of persons outside of their expectations, or will the responses be consistent with their history of dealing with these type of things? Will they find it easier to punish individuals or entire programs? We wondered this summer if the NCAA was working harder in order to maintain relevancy- will their responses reflect that?

For Ohio State fans, this last question might be the most relevant… Will the NCAA’s decisions on the current investigation be appropriate and proportional to the situation, or will the public pressure and media frenzy to “clean things ups” result in sanctions that exceed what we’ve seen other places? While I still believe that there are only minimal comparisons between the situations involving Ohio State and Tennessee (including investigation into other aspects of the athletic department at UT), Buckeye fans might be able to read the future of the program in the tea leaves of this summer’s decision about Knoxville.

Like I said… it’ll be an interesting summer.

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