Silver Bullet Points Gets Apocalyptical

Written December 19th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Advent Calendar Of Sorts

This could quite possibly be the last SBP of… well forever. The Mayans have spoken… or the Aztecs, I always get them confused. So, of course there’s only one soundtrack for the moment… it’s been a good ride.

Buckeye 411

  • Something Significant- As exciting as this season was, I’d be willing to bet that the most important game that Urban Meyer coached this year might just be the one involving military veterans just back from tours of duty. It’s part of  the “Tostitos Homecoming” event that will air on January 3rd, but Coach Meyer once again found himself across the field from Bobby Bowden. The event also included stars from the NFL and pop culture… a great event for a great cause.
  • Longsnapper Update! It’s no secret that we’ve got a soft spot in our heads and a warm spot in our hearts for current Buckeye and Nittany Lion scourge Bryce Haynes. That why we received Monday’s news that Ohio State had gotten another verbal for the 2013 class on Monday with mixed emotions; sure, it’s a “preferred walk on”, but the position in question is long snapper. Thomas Worthington’s Nick Sharick joins the team by way of Tennessee- he took a grey shirt with the Volunteers after not participating in fall camp. Eligibility wise, he’ll be a freshman while Haynes and Makridis complete their eligiblity in the next two years- as a “preferred walk on”, he’ll have the opportunity to earn a scholarship during his tenure. This is definately a move that is impacted by Ohio State’s scholarship restrictions this season- we’ll talk more about that a bit later in today’s commentary.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye’-  Wide receiver Verlon Reed has left the program, and will transfer to a yet to be determined institution. It sounds as if the transition is “amicable”; Reed was recovering in 2012 from a knee injury after having a relatively successful 2011 campaign.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Compliance? One of the interesting stories recently has been Ohio State’s “strengthened” compliance efforts following the self audit and issues in 2010-11.  As a part of that, student athletes are receiving valuable “real world” coursework, including budget creation and money management. Folks who mock these as unnecessary “jock” instruction haven’t worked with college students recently- I’d love it it my students leaders had the same requirements.

As a part of this, though, the University is requiring students to have “open” bank accounts- to allow the University to better monitor incoming funds to avoid no-show jobs and booster “gifts”.  The New York Times took a good look at the controversy surrounding this mandate; as there are those who see this as a dangerous violation of these young adults’ privacy. From the article-

“Part of me says you do what you’ve got to do when you’re a big-time college athletics program,” said David Ridpath, an assistant professor in sports administration at Ohio University and a member of the Drake Group, a network of professors who lobby for academic integrity in college sports. “The flip side is it’s pathetic that we have to do this. I don’t like the Big Brother aspect of this. Do we have to monitor everything? I guess it’s the next logical, unfortunate step.”

Later, the director of ESPN’s 30 for 30 about athlete financial struggles comments that the move is a frustrating one-

“…they are attempting to enforce and comply with rules that we all know to be fundamentally unfair to the student-athlete. They have a moral, ethical, contractual obligation to better educate those students. But they cannot infringe on their basic rights as an individual, as an American, rights that other Ohio State students enjoy. Not to make sure they’re not taking money from anybody.”

It’s an interesting perspective- Does the University monitor students who receive full scholarships or internships to ensure they are spending their funding “wisely”? But the expectation is different- physics majors can’t violate rules and negatively impact the University’s image in similar ways that a high-profile scandal can in athletics… see Penn State for proof.

While hopeful that students will be able to grow AND the University will be able to better ensure compliance to the NCAA’s labyrinthine guidelines, I can also see the argument that the Athletic Department is really seeking to cover their own assets… they don’t want to have anything ruin the cash cow that is big time sports at their institution.  Again, the Times article hits close to home on this point: Ohio State’s compliance office(s) have a combined million dollar budget.

  • Where Credit Is Due- From the “Glad You’re A Buckeye, Bro” files, the guys at Eleven Warriors and Gneptune Productions knocked this out of the park:

Commentary: Roster Management

With the news this week that Ohio State had gotten it’s fourth “preferred walk on” verbal and offered yet another one, as well as the decision by Verlon and his family to transfer from OSU, my mind started wrestling with a fundamental reality that college fans must deal with. How do our favorite teams get all of the players they need to be successful.

I’ve got a lot of different perspectives on this, as you probably guessed. The first is that I realize that “attrition” and the like are a normal part of the college experience, for both students and student athletes. My “real world” experience calls me into numerous meetings about things like affinity (a sense of belonging) and retention rates- it’s normal for young adults to make changes in their life paths as a part of their post-high school educational process.

This was also to be somewhat expected at a higher rate this season; even though Coach Tressel had students transition out of the program during his tenure, it’s easy to imagine that students recruited under the previous regime might feel a disconnect with the current staff (either in philosophy, perceived opportunity, training/other expectations, relationship with previous staff members). And, given what we’ve seen from Coach Meyer, it’s also understandable that this might be kicked up a notch.

I say that based on his own comments about his players this season. While The Vest could take an hour to say nothing in particular, Coach Meyer has been incredibly candid in his press opportunities- both in praising and in publicly stating that some of his players were falling short of his expectations. Heck, at the end of the season he spoke yet again about the steps that his Heisman candidate QB would need to take to reach his potential… and that was one of “his guys”. If he’s been this honest with the press, you’ve got to assume that he’s just as forthright with his players- he spoke candidly about Kenny Guiton’s transformation after a meeting, and that he had one foot on a bus back to Houston but chose to step fully into his role and become the “Coach” that the team looks up to.

As I think, then, about Verlon’s decision, it seems to connect that he may have had one of those honest conversations with the staff and realized, for whatever reason, that his successes would lie elsewhere. Again, I’m speculating here… but I’ve had those conversations with students under significantly less pressure than stellar receiver at Ohio State.

Hello Coach Nutt!

But with that realization comes a whisper of a concern… Isn’t this also what we’ve criticized in the past from programs who have a history of oversigning? Programs that load up every February with top recruiting classes and then find ways to make the numbers work- either by not renewing scholarships, “helping” students find medical hardship opportunities, or pushing for transfers to clear cap space.  Luckily, we know that Coach Meyer found ways to win in the SEC without this practice- however, given the scholarship reductions this year and next as well as the top level recruits clamoring to get to Columbus, it would be tempting to perhaps work a bit harder to find room for more of “your guys”- particularly when you were so dismayed with the roster that you inherited when you arrived.

One major difference, though, comes from being a member of the B1G… where there’s not only four year guaranteed scholarships and a cap on a “per-year” class size (cannot focus solely on total roster number), but any variance from that per-year number must be explained to and approved by the conference itself. That in and of itself goes a long way toward stopping the “summer exodus” that other programs seem to experience- players who transition in June or July… just in time for their former teams to get under the 85 number by the start of fall camp.

While I’m not saying that Ohio State might be pushing players out to ensure that great recruits will have a slot open for them, as someone who works in higher education I am saddened by even the possibility of this practice at any institution- it highlights yet again how far the institutional mission has been compromised by high revenue sports. Students become a means to an end, rather than having their growth and development be the end that state funds, tuition dollars, student loans, and a lot of hard work and family prayers/sacrifices have sought to provide.

The fact of the matter is, outside of graduation or following Jonathan Hankins to the NFL, the only way for an incoming top notch recruit to begin to follow his dreams as a Buckeye is for a former top notch recruit to realize or decide that his dreams in Columbus have changed.

Keep an eye on the great coverage of Ohio State recruiting from James and the team here at tBBC, as well as our friends at Oversigning.com regarding this issue across the college sports landscapes.

Across The NCAA

  • Since We’re On The Topic- Sometime today, Ohio State target and Junior College linebacker Tommy Sanders will have committed to Texas A&M. He was rumored to be an Ohio State “lock” as early as this weekend, so this decision , coming on the heels of a visit to South Carolina seems a bit odd. It’s quite possible that his family found College Station to be the best opportunity for him, or that either/both USCe and Ohio State chose to pull their offers based on other factors (other targets, academics, etc). At any rate, we wish him nothing but the best.

I bring this up not only because of the Buckeye connection but because of another curious factor. If the Aggies do get his commitment, he will become the sixth linebacker and the 34th member of their 2013 class… a group that’s approaching Houston Nutt numbers. The SEC has enacted a “Houston Nutt” rule stating that each class cannot number more than 25, so there’s a good chance that some of these students (if they actually end up in College Station) will need to enroll early in order to back-count against last year’s class of 17-19. However, as our friend Jeremiah from MotSaG points out- they’re on target to have 129 signees over a five year period- that’s 4 over what B1G and PAC schools are allowed to sign.

  • Special Costumes Are Special- Here’s what the folks at the University of We Need Another Coach will be wearing this year in something called a “Belk Bowl”:

Snazzy

  • You Know Who’s Not Crazy About Expansion? Faculty. Although, what do the professors have to do with a University, anyway??
  • Hail, To The Walking Billboards- From 1969-2010, TTUN had three different uniform designs. From 2012- the present, they’ve used seven, including the “special” bowl versions of their gear. EDSBS takes the best look at this, but I’ve got to wonder why you’d mess with one of the most iconic looks in all of sports /remembers pro-combat Nike money, /cries. They’re going with a “matte-finish” to the “navy” on their helmets; the sun-colored wings will remain the same as before. Given that the matte look originated as a tribute to Stealth Bombers, you’ve got to think that the Wolverines are hoping that their new gear will help keep Clowney from finding them.  Good luck with that.
  • You Know Who Needed Stealth? Denard Robinson, who was cited recently for driving with a suspended license. He joins three other Wolverines who’ve been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons… look, I know that college students make dumb decisions, but I’m wondering how the view from the Michigan high horse is these days.
  • Ohio State Coaching Trees Continue To Grow- Former Tressel Assistant Mark Snyder returns to the state to lead Kent following Coach Hazell’s transition to Purdue. Snyder was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M this past season- they’ve lost both coordinators this year, and Coach Snyder won’t get to enjoy those five shiny new linebackers. Correction- it’s Paul Haynes. I’m a moron. Guess the 6 linebackers were too much to walk away from. Former Meyer assistant and current Utah State head coach Gary Andersen is expected to be named the Wisconsin coach soon- I guess having your team almost beat the Badgers in Madison is all the interview that was needed. Given that logic, though, I wonder what it means to be a coach who actually won as a visitor there?

And Finally-

I saw the Hobbit in Seattle this past Friday at 12:01 AM (yup, that guy), and couldn’t help but remember what I found myself realizing in the Lord Of The Rings Movies: Eagles are really lazy jerks.  Anywho, I found myself thinking about this again after watching this video, and giving thanks that my people are historically “big boned”:

(since when have I let facts dissuade my opinions?)

8 Comments

  1. WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 19th, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Im not into correcting you but Paul Haynes is the man at Kent, HUH?! and Snyder is staying put at aTm. He is wanting a job where he can make a difference. Marshall didnt care to give their Aumnus a longer go.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 19th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    You’re right!!! I got my “breaking news” confused. :)

    [Reply]

  2. KenNo Gravatar
    December 19th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Busy week, I see.

    This ‘open bank account’ thing is bothersome to me. I agree with you, it strikes me as a Compliance Dept asset coverer. Actually, offering budget & money management course to general student population isn’t a bad idea.

    I guess the Conference did get it right with the four-year scholarships and per-class cap limit. IMO it would tend to encourage athletic departments to constrain themselves.

    The proposed UM uniforms are hideous; no wonder some of their players have DQ’s themselves from wearing them in the bowl game. The frontal pic looks like the mannequin either found a place to store his extra sweat socks or is trying to smuggle grapes.

    [Reply]

  3. EricNo Gravatar
    December 19th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I see what you did there. Don’t make me contemplate proving you wrong.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 19th, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I wish I knew which thing we did there you were talking about. :)

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    December 19th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Hell, it could be anything. Perhaps it’s the kid-snatch video which appears to be… faked?

    [Reply]

  4. Catch 5No Gravatar
    December 20th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    It is refreshing to see an OSU blogger who is critical of oversigning actually view OSU’s actions in the same light. You stop short of actually finishing it honestly, but it is nice to see movement in the right direction at least.

    If you continue to look at it this way honestly, you will come to one of two conclusions: 1) OSU, like oversigning teams are both actively removing players from their rosters to make room for new recruits. There really isn’t any difference between cutting 9 guys in Dec. and Jan. to gain more signees in Feb, and signing more guys in Feb, then cutting 9 guys in June and July. OR 2) OSU, like oversigning teams are simply acting on attrition. If Urban Meyer sits down and is honest with his players so they can make a choice to stay or go, can we not assume the same of coaches like Nick Saban? The difference is really only when the transfers are announced – the choice by the player is no different. If a player wants to transfer, but finish out his school year, why should he announce to the world (and current teamates) that he’s leaving? Perhaps the player wants to try one more Spring practice before he makes up his mind – a coach like Saban can sign a guy with the understanding that he may need to greyshirt if the first player decides to stay. The point is, oversigning can be done without cutting any kids, just like not oversigning. It just depends on how you look at it and how much you read into things you don’t have all the facts about.

    Secondly, you have the SEC and B10 rules on oversigning confused. The SEC has a cap on the yearly signings (I really don’t know how TAMU is getting away with this class) while the B10 rule deals strictly with the 85 total roster number. A B10 team can sign as many as they want (within the NCAA rules) as long as they stay within the 85 limit (although they can go over by 3 as long as they are open about how they do it).

    Lastly, allow me to ask you to talk to Bryan Thomas about Urban’s roster management style.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Great comments, and I appreciate both the praise and the perspective.

    As I hoped you gleaned, “roster management” at any level makes me uncomfortable. If a student chooses to no longer participate (which includes injury or violation of team guidelines), then it totally makes sense for them to look elsewhere. However, if the decision is “encouraged” then it shows once again that the goal of the program is not about the student’s development but other factors. James Jackson’s situation at OSU is such an example.

    I think that you may be correct regarding the total numbers piece in the B1G. What’s interesting, though, is that the SEC’s rules have just come into play in the past few years (it’s called the Houston Nutt Rule for a reason), while the B1G has had these guidelines in place for much longer (1956). The 25 per year number is a good guideline, although it does allow for oversigning if a team only has 15 openings but still brings in 25 new teammates on NLOID.

    While I agree with you that the “result” is still problematic (as I mentioned above), the process of being able to explain how you’re going to reach your numbers to the conference office on or around NLOID seems different to me than the appearance of some schools to still be juggling personnel into June and July. If, as we’ve both said, students are being “encouraged” to look elsewhere, wouldn’t you rather know that in February than a month or so before you hoped to begin your season?

    There have been huge strides made in this- four year scholarship guarantees are a huge step in the right direction, and it’s good to see many SEC, PAC, ACC, an B1G schools commit to this. However, the fact is that this part of what’s allegedly an element of the educational endeavors of a University continues to be an unfortunate aspect of the reality of semi-professional sports.

    We’ll be continuing to watch this situation, both at OSU and elsewhere in the B1G, and will be among the first to draw attention to the practice should it begin to shift and become less integrous.

    [Reply]

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