Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:47 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 8:48 pm

Baylor's Human Highlighters and Adidas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If clothes make the Bear, consider Sprint Center the latest battleground in the apparel war.

That would be the war between Nike and pretty much everyone else. Fifteen months ago, the first BCS title game between the two apparel titans took the field when Auburn played Oregon in the BCS title game. That would be Auburn, an Under Armour school, and Oregon, a well-known Nike school.

The uniform war was on the night before the game when Nike projected laser images of its swoosh logo on the side of Camelback Mountain. So, yeah, this is getting serious.

The latest apparel incendiary was dropped by Baylor on Thursday in the Big 12 tournament. The Bears wore canary yellow Adidas threads head to toe against Kansas State. Socks to T-shirts. The nuclear yellow was part of the same color combination worn by Oregon 15 months ago. One press row wag took one look at Baylor and said his sinuses were cleared.

They were that bright.  

On national cable, Adidas just fired off a shot across Nike’s bow. Why it matters: Recruits have chosen schools for lesser reasons than uniforms. If you think it doesn't matter, check out Kansas' Thomas Robinson, who tweeted that he thought Baylor's unis were "tuff."

Even if Baylor as a team isn't tuff all the time.

If you haven't noticed, high-profile games have become the new fashion runways for apparel manufacturers. Baylor got a two-hour plus commercial Thursday for Adidas -- and Baylor -- in that order. Twitter blew up -- not necessarily about the game but about the uniforms.

One tweeter called Baylor, "The All-Star Crossing Guard Team From Waco."

Another: "Here's every idea they've [Adidas] ever had: 'Let's put three stripes on it.'"

Shot across Nike's bow? "Those are hand-me-downs"

If it matters to Oregon fans, then it matters to Nike. If it matters to Nike, it matters to Adidas. If it matters to Adidas, it means something to Baylor. This game alone may enhance a relationship that just got a lot more intimate. Adidas' deal with Baylor has a year to go.

Expect a long-term extension? 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 27, 2012 5:20 pm

Did Oregon replace Chip Kelly this week?

Mark Helfrich would have made a fine head coach at Oregon.

So fine, that some think the Ducks’ 38-year old offensive coordinator could put the title on his job history. Right now. ProFootballTalk.com reported Thursday that Helfrich had indeed been given the job – if only momentarily -- when Chip Kelly reportedly went to Tampa Bay.

Oregon had already replaced Chip Kelly when he changed his mind 

That was the headline on ProFootballTalk.com Thursday morning. That’s also what PFT.com’s Mike Florio said this week on Tim Brando’s radio show.

In a column published Friday in the Eugene Register-Guard, columnist George Schroeder wrote,  that while Helfrich wouldn’t have been a splash hire replacement “ … for a little while late Sunday night, he was as about to be the right hire.”

Those two reports from reliable outlets suggest one thing for sure: The world is getting to know what college football insiders have known for a while: Helfrich is a rising star. Also that Kelly – if he did leave this week -- may have had to somehow “reclaim” his job at Oregon. And if you believe in the chain of command at Oregon, well, Nike CEO Phil Knight has been known to have some influence with the football program.

At the least, Kelly’s apparent departure so close to signing day had to ruffle some Duck feathers. Knight’s command of the moment – anger bubbling just below the surface -- was compelling on Thursday at the Joe Paterno memorial. No matter what you think of his stance on the Paterno/Sandusky issue, Knight owned the room. You can understand how the man got where he is  -- basically owning Oregon football.

Greg Schiano took mild criticism for leaving Rutgers so close to signing day on Thursday. Oregon has established itself as a national program. Think if Kelly had left this close to landing the school’s next class. The fallout would have been similar to Butch Davis leaving Miami a week before signing day in 2001.

Schiano had spent 11 years making the job and program matter when he bolted for the NFL. Kelly has been at Oregon three years. Despite the Nike influence, it is still a fragile football outpost. Kelly owes some of his salary and reputation to the coaches who made the absolutely right moves in replacing themselves with the right man at the right time. Rich Brooks hand-picked Mike Bellotti who then gave way to Kelly.

Safe to say, that if Kelly flirts with the NFL the next time he’d better take the job.

Kelly went on a local radio show Monday to say he “never committed to the [Tampa Bay] job, never flip-flopped.” It would be nice to know what the Bucs think of that comment. It is also legitimate to ask, if Kelly was adamant about his stance why didn’t he go on national radio/TV and get his message out?

While the locals may have been mollified, there are some remaining truths. Helfrich’s profile has been elevated in the last week. While Kelly obviously and rightly has his hands all over the offense, Helrich comes highly recommended.

“Everybody wants the hot flashy popular [guy],”  said Dan Hawkins, the former Colorado head coach. “Mark is very, very sharp [and] very, very smart. He was going to be a doctor when he went to college. He could be in a room of politicians or professors and they’d have no clue he was a football coach.”

Hawkins and Helfrich worked together for a total of six years at Boise State and Colorado. In between those two jobs, Helfrich was Dirk Koetter’s quarterbacks coach at Arizona State. He came to Oregon with Kelly as offensive coordinator in 2009. The obvious question going forward is how much Helfrich has to do with play-calling. Kelly is considered the Zen master, the offensive genius. Helfrich is the silent partner.

But if Oregon was considering elevating him – or had elevated him – the question had been answered. No matter who is calling the plays at Oregon, Helfrich was perceived good enough to run the entire program. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:50 am
Edited on: January 23, 2012 11:04 am

Chip Kelly staying at Oregon, but for how long?

Chip Kelly, WTF?

A part of me says any college coach anywhere would want to try the NFL. Another part says why Kelly, why the Bucs and why now? OK, so it's an NFL opening, but it doesn't mean anyone with Chip’s chops will automatically become the next Jim Harbaugh.

And not necessarily with that offense.

Oregon's coach waffled Sunday night/Monday night before staying at Oregon. Waffling would put him on a team of coaches whose roster is overstocked. Nothing wrong with waffling. If the Bucs would have hired you, great Chip. But you’ve essentially been refining, developing, running that same offense for about the past 17 years -- 14 at New Hampshire, three at Oregon. It's a great offense -- for college.

Someone will have to convince me how it resembles a winning offense in the NFL at the moment. While Kelly’s O has revolutionized the way the ball is moved in the Pac-12 and around the country, the contrived word "Tebowesque" comes to mind in regard to the NFL.

In other words, it worked in college. In the pros? TBD. At Oregon, Kelly pretty much had the best and fastest players around (until he played the SEC). In the NFL, the rules kind of bunch everyone toward 8-8. Chip Kelly is not an 8-8 guy. Neither are impatient owners. That's why you see so much turnover. Raheem Morris went from rising young star to fired in three seasons in Tampa. In 2011, he started 4-2, then lost his last 10.

Again, nothing wrong with flirting with the NFL. But it is a brutal, unforgiving life. Would Kelly have gladly morphed overnight from offensive genius to NFL pro-style robot? Doubt it. Every time a Patriots assistant leaves Bill Belichick and falters, I’m reminded of the singular talent of Tom Brady.

The Pats got lucky hitting gold in the sixth round. Would Kelly in the NFL?

Does it matter? Worst case scenario, Oregon’s coach could fall upward -- get fired himself after three seasons in the NFL and rebound with a big-time job in college. That essentially happened to Nick Saban. It may happen to Pete Carroll.

What I do know is that Kelly has a job in perpetuity in Eugene -- or until the NCAA weighs in. He is the king of Oregon, one of the top five college coaches today. A national championship is definitely in his future if he sticks around. But my first thought when the Tampa reports popped up was that Kelly must have some inside information in the Will Lyles investigation. Then I was reminded that Oregon hasn't so much as received its notice of allegations.

Kelly may have been bailing on a bad situation, one that eventually may impact his ability to succeed at his job. But at this moment it doesn’t seem like it. He came back to win ballgames and face the NCAA music. In that order. Oregon officials have maintained since the day of the initial document dump that they are innocent. Or at least not very guilty in the NCAA court of law.

What Oregon does have to worry about is the long-term plans of its coach. Kelly is now on record as looking around. He cannot be blamed. Again, the NFL makes sense for any upwardly mobile coach. There are few places in college he could or would go except the No Fun League. But there are also few places with the corporate support of Nike, which has paid off with three consecutive BCS bowls and a national title shot.

Going forward, Oregon AD Rob Mullens has to consult his List. Every AD worth his mascot lapel pin has one in his back pocket. On it, he has the names of, say, the top five candidates he would call should his coach leave. If Mullens doesn’t have his personal List,  then he isn’t as sharp as I thought.

At the top has be Boise State’s Chris Petersen. Oregon is thought to be one of the few places Boise’s almost hermit-like coach would consider. He has roots in Eugene. He coached receivers there for six years before moving to Boise. The media-averse Petersen would have to deal with more, but not much more.

This is a coach who was reportedly offered substantial millions by UCLA. Petersen’s name comes up for about every major job that opens. He’s good. Oregon could do worse.

Nothing happened Sunday night/Monday morning and a lot happened. Kelly stayed at Oregon. But the emerging question is: For how long?

And does have Mullens have his List?

And would C.P. be interested?    

Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:34 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 12:36 pm

Son of WWL: Les Miles will do the right thing

Les Miles will do the right thing.

Ever since CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy noted that LSU’s suspended players may face a two-game suspension due to failed drug tests, there has to be a lot of hand-wringing in Baton Rouge.

A two-game suspension would put the Nov. 5 Alabama game in play. LSU can get by without Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon Saturday against Auburn. Alabama is a different matter.

In a game that is shaping up as a national semifinal, Miles needs all hands available. I believe he will do the right thing and hold those players out of the Alabama game – if the players are subject to a two-game suspension.

It’s a logical conclusion that the players face a two-game suspension – at least. The original report said the players failed a drug test. The NCAA doesn’t test for street drugs like synthetic marijuana, the drug named in the report. The SEC doesn’t test for drugs. It is the conference’s policy that each school have its own drug-testing policy.

That leaves LSU. If the report is true, there are some tough decisions ahead. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the suspensions will be only one game

We probably will never know that for sure about any drug-test issues. Any failed drug test falls under privacy laws protecting students. Unless the students or their parents admit to a failed test, the reason for the suspensions could remain a secret.

That doesn’t relieve Miles, or his AD Joe Alleva, from doing the right thing. I believe they will. Miles took decisive action on Jordan Jefferson, even though the quarterback was eventually charged with only misdemeanor battery.

There a lot of schools that would have gone to the wall to keep their starting quarterback on the field. LSU wasn’t one of them. Miles was behind that.

In a world gone mad with conference realignment and unethical conduct, it would be nice to see LSU/Miles set a standard.


WWL has a sworn duty not to give free publicity to apparel makers during their hideous assault on traditional uniforms. But this item could not be ignored.

It’s a perfect time to draw attention to the players who are on the field for LSU against Auburn. The Tigers will be wearing their Pro Combat unis.

Meanwhile, the damage was done last week at Michigan State. While the words “good taste” didn’t enter the conversation in describing the Alabama-Birminghamish uniforms, there was one cool aspect to them.

On the back of the Spartans’ Pro Combat jerseys worn last week against Michigan is the Greek phrase, “Molon Labe.” Translated, it means “come and take them.” It is an expression of defiance spoken by King Leonidas I to the Persian army which had demanded the Spartans lay down their weapons.

Wow, these guys are serious. Used to be the most damage at a Michigan State game was caused by brat juice dripping on your new fleece.

Maybe it’s not Urban Meyer. Maybe it’s just being a Gator. There have been arrests at Florida in the last calendar year.

How long does Denard Robinson have as Michigan's quarterback? Devin Gardner is bigger, stronger and definitely has a more accurate arm. That’s not saying much given D-Rob’s 52 percent completion percentage.

But the feeling among many is that if Robinson, a junior, is around next season he will be converted to a slot receiver, wildcat or some sort of other unique weapon. Michigan State exposed him as an inaccurate thrower who couldn’t get outside against a quality defense.

Michigan has another week to figure things out before hosting Purdue. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 14, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 2:51 pm

Meaningful college football reforms

As our five-part series ends, it's time for action. Our own. The following are meaningful and realistic reforms to clean up college football (and by extension college athletics).

Create a commissioner for college football: This is not an original thought. Our Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart, suggested it in April. 

The sport suffers from too many competing views and constituencies. There needs to be a person with some sort of meaningful authority over the sport. A go-to guy (or girl) who could, for example, explain in plain English why those five Ohio State players were allowed to participate in the Sugar Bowl. An authority figure who could suspend a coach for a game or two for ripping officials. Someone who loves the game and has its best interests in mind.

An objective mind with enough respect to shake hands on press row, and enough of an iron fist to make the hard and fast decisions.

In all seriousness, I would nominate our Mr. College Football.

Quit sweating the small stuff: On Wednesday, our Bryan Fischer tweeted that the NCAA came down hard and banned media from filming involuntary offseason workouts. Brilliant. Meanwhile, players are partying on South Beach and making small fortunes selling their gear.

The best way for the NCAA to gain the trust of coaches and get the attention of players is to separate violations into another sub-category involving violations involving a competitive or recruiting advantage. Those are the violations that make a difference in the game. Those are the ones that piss off coaches the most.

"If you lump all violations of the law into one category, then all of us are guilty," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said.

Brett McMurphy pointed out this week that former Oklahoma State receiver Hart Lee Dykes put four schools on probation. Ohio State was able to win a Sugar Bowl and win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title because it fielded ineligible players. Concentrate on the major stuff. Everything else is details.

Call Spielman and Meyer for advice:
You knowingly cheat, you're gone. Six months, a year. Doesn't matter. Put it in the rules. Players and coaches alike. In fact, create a list of penalties equal to corresponding violations.

The infractions committee has leeway in assessing penalties on a case-by-case basis. Too much leeway. That has become a crutch when explaining why one school gets The Big Haircut, while another gets off. This is the No. 1 way the NCAA could gain the trust of the public, coaches and administrators. Moses had the Ten Commandments. Not too hard for humanity to follow for thousands of years.
The NCAA has a 434-page manual that is all over the place. It can't be that hard to tighten things up.

Call Warren Buffett for advice: Former Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny suggested a brilliant way to cut through the B.S. Get four or five power brokers in and outside college athletics and figure it out, or at least begin to figure it out.

Start with SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commish Jim Delany. Throw in Phil Knight from Nike. Maybe Warren Buffett. The roster doesn't matter. Just make sure the participants are smart, powerful and willing.

Slive and Delany two of the most lucrative amateur entities in the country. Knight and Buffett are accomplished businessmen. I wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the room but I'll you a number familiar to Cecil Newton that these guys could come up with a way to save college athletics.

Whatever happens, please, no ... more ... committees. It's take for action.

Coaches must be removed from the player discipline process: Coaches are naturally prejudiced in favor of their players. That's not to say they can't be objective when the star quarterback gets a DUI, it means most of the time they won't be objective.

Coaches get paid to win. The best way to win is to have the best players on the field. The AD or a faculty committee should determine appropriate discipline. That would lessen the likelihood of player entitlement and or enabling by coaches. If that means one less Stephen Garcia on the field, so be it.

Make infractions committee hearing public: This was actually recommended by the Lee Commission in 1991. It has been stubbornly ignored since.

Twenty years ago, then-NCAA executive director Dick Schultz asked Ronald Reagan's Solicitor General Rex Lee to look into the enforcement process. Eleven of the commission's recommendations were adopted. Open hearings weren't.

NCAA types continue to argue that allowing the public into the process would keep witnesses from coming forward. Balanced against the NCAA accountability that would result from open hearings, the trade off would be worth it. For years, the accused have griped about "secret" nature of the proceedings. Now they know what the media feels like when practices are closed. Open 'em both up.

Give the infractions committee subpoena power: This has been suggested for years. The NCAA has no power to make people show up for hearings who are not under their jurisdiction. Think if they had the ability to compel Reggie Bush to testify.

There are all kinds of political and legal reasons not to compel witnesses to testify in an issue involving amateur sports. Few want more of Big Brother in our lives. But we're talking about rules-breaking here, not a murder trial.

The NCAA process resembles an administrative proceeding. Remember when O.J. was sued for monetary damages [and lost] after he [allegedly] killed two people? That's closer to the NCAA process than the trial that allowed The Juice to go free.

This one change has the chance of wiping out cheating as we know it. Picture a process where subpoenas could be issued and witnesses -- such as coaches who have left to school -- would have to testify under oath.

Read this transcript from a 2004 House Judiciary hearing for an entertaining and compelling argument both for and against NCAA subpoena power. 

Call 254-754-9000: That's the phone number of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in Waco, Texas.

Seriously, where is executive director Grant Teaff and his leadership as the worst of his Millionaire's Club members drag the profession down the drain? The NCAA can't be responsible for all the reforms.

Posted on: April 25, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 9:05 pm

Fiesta Frolic agenda, judge for yourself

The following is a "Fiesta Frolic" agenda obtained by PlayoffPAC, which says it is the source of a Monday AP story detailing benefits received by current NCAA licensing subcommittee members at the annual gathering.  

PlayoffPAC doesn't designate what the year is for its agenda. Be advised that PlayoffPAC is dedicated to bringing about a college football playoff. Legitimate business is conducted at the annual retreat sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl, but PlayoffPAC contends it is a "boondoggle."

Wednesday, May 7th

o 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM--Golf Bag Check: "Bowl staff members will collect and tag your golf bag. Golf bags will be delivered directly to the course(s) on your behalf. Please pack and label your clubs accordingly!"

o 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM--Nike Suite: "Stop by the Nike Suite to pick-up your Fiesta Frolic gift package for you and your spouse/guest. Be sure to indicate sizes in your RSVP forms!"

o 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM--Hospitality Suite sponsored by HOK Sport

o 6:30 PM--Welcome Reception and Buffet Dinner sponsored by XOS Technologies

o 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM--Hospitality Suite sponsored by HOK Sport

• Thursday, May 8th

o 5:30 AM to 6:00 PM--Hospitality Suite sponsored by HOK Sport

o 5:30 AM to 7:30 AM--Golfer's Continental Breakfast

o 6:00 AM--Golf Departures Begin

o 7:00 AM--Final Golf Departures

o 8:00 AM--Shotgun Start, golf sponsored by Hunt Construction & CMX

o 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM--Spouses Continental Breakfast and Social

o 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM--Nike Suite

o 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM--PING Golf Club Professional Fittings

o 6:30 PM--Reception and Buffet Dinner sponsored by Collegiate Licensing Company

o 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM--Hospitality Suite sponsored by HOK Sport

• Friday, May 9th

o 5:30 AM to 6:00 PM--Hospitality Suite sponsored by HOK Sport

o 5:30 AM to 7:30 AM--Golfer's Continental Breakfast

o 6:00 AM--Golf Departures Begin

o 7:00 AM--Final Golf Departures

o 8:00 AM--Shotgun Start, golf sponsored by Hunt Construction & CMX

o 8:00 AM--Tennis Matches and Demonstrations

o 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM--Spouses Continental Breakfast and Social

• Saturday, May 10th

o Fiesta Bowl / Insight Bowl Host Transportation to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Category: NCAAF
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