Silver Bullet Points Fingers

Written September 12th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

As you’re reading this, I’m prepping for the drive from Los Angeles to the Bay Area with the Mrs. for Saturday’s game. Given that we got engaged on the Marin Headlands, this song by one of her favorite performers is the obvious choice for this week’s soundtrack. Gonna’ warn you, though… this week’s reflection is… uh… verbose.

Waiting

Buckeye 411

  • Injury Update- The question that everyone’s been asking hasn’t yet been answered, as Coach Meyer said that Braxton threw a bit on Wednesday before leaving practice to get more treatment on his knee. Coach commented that the issue isn’t pain, but seems to be “stability”, and that Braxton is adjusting to his knee brace. It would not be surprising to see Kenny G start and be relieved by Miller, nor would it be a shock to have them split time at the position. Both will travel, Coach Meyer indicated that they would know more after Thursday’s practice and that he remained optimistic.
  • Two Thoughts- 1) The last time Braxton was held out of play in a game he returned to action and performed pretty well. 2) That being said, if Ohio State feels that they can win the game with Smooth Jazz and give Braxton a week (or two) to recover, I wholeheartedly support that decision. Long term goals here, peeps.
  • Also- Adolphus Washington did not practice on Wednesday, but is expected to travel. His is a bit of a different situation, as the injury is something that can linger. Also, as amazing as Washington is on the field, the Young Bucks are doing good work under Coach Vrable’s direction.
  • Good News- Corey Linsley is scheduled to play the entire game this week at center, having gotten the clearance to do so from the medical staff after his foot injury has significantly healed
  • Red, Not Scarlet- A couple of older “back ups” that many are surprised have not gotten the playing time they were expected to were discussed on Wednesday, and Coach Meyer said that it’s a possibility that Bri’onte Dunn and Michael Thomas may end up redshirting if they aren’t going to be a part of the planning this season. He also discussed how he felt that they were “wasted” by the coaches last year, and didn’t want to make the same mistake moving forward.
  • Getting Defensive- Ryan Shazier talked about the Silver Bullets’ excitement to play Cal, and that they were working diligently to ensure that the Bears didn’t have the success necessary to string together drives and run 100 plays a game. He also spoke about the need to maintain leverage on Cal’s running back Brendan Bigelow, as his ability to get to the edge is a strength that created issues for Oho State last year. However, Shazier mentioned that Bigelow’s talents were helped by a number of small mistakes that the young defense made last season.
  • Getting Ready- Playing the role of Bigelow this week in practice? Carlos “I’ll be back next week” Hyde. Not too shabby.
  • Stripes Lost- I guess we’re still doing that now, as Cameron Johnston, Tyquan Lewis, and Trey Johnson all had their black stripes removed today. Woot!
  • Honors- This week’s Sammy Silverman graphics, for your enjoyment:

SilvWk2

This Week In NCAA Shenanigans

In case you missed it, there were a couple of “major” college football stories that broke this week.

Rocket Surgery

First up, Sports Illustrated’s take-down of Oklahoma State, which has been broken into a five part series for your pageviews enjoyment. Led by world renowned raffle-justice-seeker George Dohrmann, the article is co-authored by Thayer Evans, a media member that Cowboy fans would say compares most closely with Mark May in his ability to be unbiased.

Oh, and Michigan Man Les Miles is prominently featured. Wheee.

Here are links to the stories as we have them, as well as a TL;DR summary

  1. Money- Cowboy players received no-show jobs, $$$ handshakes, and payouts based on their gameday performances
  2. Academics- Cowboy players had tutors that did some of their work and professors who were willing to “adjust” their grades to help with eligibility
  3. Drugs -(Thurs.) Allegations of drug usage in the program, including troubling accounts of the ways that OkSU handled these types of situations. Dohrmann says that this aspect of the story is the one that stands out to him as the most “shocking”.
  4. Sex (Fri.)- The “hostess” situation that we’ve seen at other schools was also in Stillwater. No, not the Hostess situation that they have in Michigan.
  5. Fallout (Next week)- What has happened to the players that were part of the program but are now “cast aside”. I haven’t read this, but you can guess that the players, many of whom were dismissed from the program before graduation, aren’t doing so well.

As should be expected, the response has been quick from former players and the University, as well as other members of the national media. One “counter point” that I’ve come to appreciate is the “Pistols Firing” blog, who not only does a good job at presenting the other sides of these allegations but also processing his own thoughts on the matter. I appreciate his ability to not only blast holes in the story but also acknowledge that there are more than likely some truths in the reports- something that I hope we also were able to do during the Tatoo-gate situation a few years ago. As a former student athlete at OkSU, he wants things fixed but the right things and not just something that people are pulling out of thin air.

A lot of speculation about NCAA responses to this story were flooding the interwebs on Monday and today, in spite of the fact that much of it occurred beyond the “statute of limitations” that the Association holds to. Personally, I think they’ve already shown us their response- They didn’t care about South Carolina or Oregon’s “Money” situation, they didn’t even respond to North Carolina’s “Academics” issue, and have been dragging their feet about Miami’s “Drugs and Sex” issues. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.

That being said, as I read the first two parts, a few things stood out to me.

  1. I believe that these things happened at OkSU, because they seem to happen everywhere. Again, this type of thing (academic help, financial benefits) happened at the D3 school that I played/coached at, so I have a hard time imagining that things suddenly get “clean” in the big show.
  2. For people who were getting help with money and grades, there are certainly a lot of people who couldn’t manage to be successful at OkSU.
  3. I don’t doubt for a minute that there’s some “hackery” going on here with the authors; we’ve witnessed that first hand.
  4. Where’s the proof? There’s a lot of smoke, but no documented or tangible fire (*cough emails cough*). Seems that 10 months could have come up with something, right?

Actual Size

And this latter point was really brought home late Wednesday when the second “scandal du jour” popped up: Allegations that NFL agents funneled money to players at Tennessee, Mississippi State, and two time champion Alabama. The difference between these two accounts? While SI was playing Encyclopedia Brown in Stillwater, Yahoo! sent Sherlock Holmes (aka Charles Robinson) in to look at the SEC allegations. And, as you have come to expect from Robinson/Yahoo!, there’s proof in the form of phone records, travel documents, and Wells Fargo paper trails with players names on them.

Coach Saban was asked about the situation in Wednesday’s presser, and responded exactly the way that you thought he would.

I’ll let you read through the report, but as you do so you should keep this in mind: Tennessee and Mississippi State are both currently on NCAA probation, and the violations would fall within the window that would categorize Alabama a “repeat offender”. The Tide tends to be on probation about every seven years; this time they just may be ahead of schedule… and if so, it’s possible that the last two national titles would be “vacated”. As if the Notre Dame fans at your office weren’t insufferable enough.

Commentary: Blame Game

It’s been interesting watching the response to these stories as they’ve broken. EDSBS had a great article on Monday asking what the point of the Sports Illustrated report was- are they interested in bringing the Cowboys to justice, tearing down the corrupt NCAA situation, or just getting page views and revenue?

Lost Letterman fell a bit more firmly on the latter option, stating that the OkSU story was an effort by a dying outlet to maintain relevancy.

SBNation’s Jason Kirk posits that the Sports Illustrated story helps us understand how broken the NCAA is, where schools spend millions to ensure kids don’t get an improper dime.

Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel echoes this in his commentary on Robinson’s work, and points out that DJ Fluker (the Alabama start named as receiving improper payments) came from an impoverished background; implying that he certainly could have been excused for seeking financial assistance. Yup, he’s just another victim.

Coupled with the defense of Johnny Manziel’s financial opportunities, it’s easy to see that the tide has turned in the ways that these types of stories are covered. With this latest trend of attacking the idea of “Amateurism” and the NCAA’s seeming disconnect and hypocrisy, my only question is as follows:

What The Hell Took You All So Long?

Look, this goes beyond Ohio State’s problems in 2010-11. Our friend ParagonSC and others in the Southern Cal beat were pointing out the NCAA inconsistencies during the Bush Era (not that one), and we built on their ideas to help point out the problems with both the “system” and it’s guardian as the walls were falling down in Columbus.

But the things we were saying then- that the NCAA is inconsistent, that the game has moved beyond it’s ability to control, that “amateurism” is a lie given the amount of money involved and the processes that universities invest in to ensure that it stays in the right pockets- all of these things are as true now as they were then, it’s just taken a while for the folks in the mainstream to get their heads out of their boardrooms and realize it.

You’d think that we’d feel somewhat vindicated; the work that Eric put into this article is evidence enough that there’s something amiss, if only someone had chosen to look at it. Heck, I’ve spent the better part of the summer in this space trying to point out that the disconnect between “college” and “athletics” is just a shade larger than the Grand Canyon.

Motivation

Instead, though, I feel as if the money again becomes the driving issue- instead of for the institutions or the players, this time for the “media outlets” involved. The articles linked above point this out clearly… the desire to investigate and bring this issue to the fore is totally due to Sports Illustrated and Yahoo! and others realization that this story will be what helps them create revenue.

Again, it’s not because of “what’s right”, it’s due to “what’s best for the bottom line”.

Which is why this is so frustrating for me- we are where we are in college sports because there’s been a lack of accountability, and part of this is due to the “third estate” being unwilling or uninterested in maintaining that role. Compare the Oklahoma State and Ohio State scandals- OkSU has local media coming to the defense of the program; at Ohio State, the local media acted as if there was blood in the water.

If that level of criticism had existed across the board, rather than merely an investment in copious amounts of cash, there may not be a “system”, or at least not a broken one.

Around The NCAA

And Finally

Sorry folks, the Oscar Race is over:

10 Comments

  1. EricNo Gravatar
    September 12th, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Notre Dame fans may be insufferable, but they still wouldn’t have another national championship to their name. Vacated means the game never even happened.

    Hell, I’d find that funnier than the @$$-kicking they took.

    Also – that was a great job making MP:HG look like a serious drama. *applause*

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    September 12th, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    You mean that MP:HG isn’t a serious drama? Oh, my.

    [Reply]

  2. JasonNo Gravatar
    September 12th, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    The whole thing is a mess. Utterly and completely.

    Love your takes Mali. Agree to the fullest!

    [Reply]

  3. KenNo Gravatar
    September 12th, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Very good article, Mali. Yes, if Meyer thinks he can win on Saturday w/out Miller, then rest him. Definitely won’t need him the following week.

    Nice soundtrack choice.

    [Reply]

  4. Bucknut-in-the-SouthNo Gravatar
    September 12th, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Nice article, Mali, and the link to Gottlieb’s story is much appreciated. What never gets discussed, at least to my knowledge, is the value of an athlete’s college education post-graduation, if he/she chooses to take advantage of the education offered. Earning power and self-satisfaction are increased exponentially among those who complete their degrees, and, in my estimation, that value far exceeds the few hundred dollars the average college athlete might receive as a result of shared marketing revenue. Keep writing these thoughtful and thought-provoking pieces. They make the Buckeye Battle Cry experience one of the most pleasurable of all the Buckeye sites I visit.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    September 13th, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Thanks, BN! Appreciate the kind words…

    I agree that a degree, if completed, is almost of immeasurable value. However, I also think that a lot of “student athletes” major in “eligible”, or never finish the opportunity provided to them for one reason or another.

    It’s why I believe that a student-athlete in a revenue sport should be able to complete a degree (or two!) whenever they want, independent of class expectations connected to their “eligibility”.

    [Reply]

    Bucknut-in-the-SouthNo Gravatar
    September 13th, 2013 at 5:35 am

    I am in complete agreement with that, Mali. Something that is often overlooked is the time and effort a college athlete in any sport is required to put forth. It is a full time job, which makes being a full time student difficult. Giving athletes an extra couple of years worth of tuition and fees to complete a degree is an excellent way to reward their hard work.

    [Reply]

  5. Bucknut-in-the-SouthNo Gravatar
    September 12th, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Also, Mali, the legendary smoothness of Stan Getz is always appropriate and appreciated!

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    September 13th, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Fact.

    True story: My now wife and I had been dating for about a month or so, and were at her apartment watching something while sitting on the couch. Something more “top-40″ was on the stereo, and I asked her to change it. She asked “why”, and I responded, “Because when I tell the story of the first time I kissed you, I want something classier to have been playing in the background”.

    She smiled, and put on this classic. Good choice, on both of our parts.

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    September 13th, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Great story, Mali. The smoothness of Stan Getz and Kenny Guiton pales when compared to you. Well done.

    [Reply]

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