Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Wisconsin's Alvarez endorses Plus One

Calling out the SEC is all the rage in the Big Ten at the moment.

I wrote Thursday that one of the Big Ten’s intents in supporting a Plus One was to get the SEC to come up North to play national semifinals. Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez put it in writing in the latest issue of “Varsity”, Wisconsin’s official online magazine.

In his “Behind The Desk” column, Alvarez wrote, “ … I applaud the Big Ten and commissioner Jim Delany for advancing the discussion.” He called national semifinals played on campus sites, “ … one way of leveling the playing field a little bit.

“I’ve felt that SEC teams have had an advantage because of the number of bowls that have been played in their backyard. What would they think about leaving the South and playing in the Midwest?”

It’s an open-ended question but Alvarez goes on to say the Rose Bowl and regular season must be preserved. He uses the example of Duke’s loss to Miami this week having little impact on the big tournament picture.  Football is a different animal (badger, actually).

“I’m definitely intrigued by the proposal to seed four teams and play two semifinal games on campus sites,” Alvarez wrote.

The fact that administrators are coming out of the woodwork to support Plus One has to tell you something is going to happen. I’m still not sure it will go as far as a playoff. Arizona State president Michael Crow probably put forth the most radical proposal yet. -- an eight-team playoff.

It is interesting to note that in Crow’s playoff, only conference champions would be eligible. That would mean no Alabama in 2011. That also might require a phone call to Pasadena. Where would the Rose Bowl in an eight-team playoff?

Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:39 pm
 

Big East-to-West moves forward sluggishly

When the ACC raided the Big East once again in September, the stated intention of the fractured league was to remain a BCS conference. Or whatever the definition of a big time conference was going to be in 2014.

That’s the year when everything changes. College football’s postseason is going to be adjusted, making it less about what league you’re in and more about what your league is worth. Right now, the reconstituted Big East is attempting to rebuild its worth before increasing it.

And that’s the tragedy that overshadowed this week’s announcement that Memphis was joining the league in 2013. A few months ago Big East turned down a massive $1 billion offer from ESPN, hoping for something better. Sounds laughable now, doesn’t it? Memphis is in the league for the same reason West Virginia is suing to get out of it.

"The Big East and its Commissioner failed to take proactive measures to maintain, let alone enhance, the level of competition for the Big East football schools,” West Virginia’s lawsuit against the Big East reads.

Remember, this is a football discussion. While Big East basketball remains powerful, it is the economics of TV that football still drives these contracts. By far. Then throw in the fact that college basketball on television is becoming oversaturated. Football is going to have to carry the new Big East when formal negotiations begin later this year.

Things have changed a lot in six months. Commissioner John Marinatto has gambled and won in the sense that is league is still a league. He has lost in that a TV windfall along the lines of $1 billion look less likely. That was the amount ESPN offered last year (for nine years) to broadcast the Big East.

That was before the ACC struck and West Virginia left. Since then, Marinatto’s league has been reduced to selling the Big East brand to the likes of San Diego State more than selling Big East football.  Memphis is marginally better off, I suppose, than in Conference USA. Still, the jokes about Boise State being in the Big East West Division haven’t died down. It’s a great week for Memphis but in the end the school was nothing more than a live body willing fill out the lineup.

And that lineup for 2013 looks more like Conference USA. In about 2005. In fact, the projected 2013 Big East roster includes seven former Conference USA schools.

Back in the mid-2000s the Conference USA football deal was worth about $9 million per year. The current Big East deal, due to run out in 2014, is worth about $35 million per year for what in 2011 was eight teams.

That’s after the league turned down that $1 billion offer last year. Think an average of $111 million per year would have kept the 21-year old football conference together? It certainly would have kept the Big East on ESPN which all that matters these days as conferences morph into content farms for TV. Now there is speculation that the Worldwide Leader, upset at being rejected, could lowball the Big East  when its deal expires after 2013-14. Or drop out all together.

One industry analyst texted me saying the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC alone  will worth more than a new Big East deal in 2014. The Sports Business Journal reported Monday that the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse will mean a $1 million-$2 million bump per year for ACC members. In a matter of a whirlwind few months, the Big East’s hopes for a lucrative TV contract now rest with Boise State, Connecticut, Houston and Rutgers.

Those are the four most attractive Big East schools to TV, according to the analyst.

CBS Sports Network may be interested in the new Big East-to-West Conference. The same goes for the NBC/Comcast. Its new NBC Sports Network needs programming. But don’t expect a bidding war. That’s what has driven up the price of college football in the past decade – the public’s insatiable desire for more of it. But even during that gold rush there has been a clear dividing line – thank you, BCS – between the haves and have nots.

The Big East-to-West TV carrier(s) may pay a lot more than $35 million, but it/they won’t overpay. The point is not to lose money on a diminished football league, especially with the Big 12 out there for grabs in 2015.

No matter what the outcome, the Big East is going to be something like the sixth-richest conference, just like it was in the last round of negotiations.  The same market forces still apply. The Big East has been in the BCS only because of a waiver granted in 2007. The latest BCS contract expires in a couple of years, coincidentally at about the same time as the Big East’s TV contract.

Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese always said there should be a major college football presence in the Northeast. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. Not in one conference. The league always claimed New York in its TV footprint. But with Syracuse leaving and San Diego, Boise, Houston and Memphis coming in, how much longer can Big East football be a big presence in the <>East<> much less nationwide?

 

Posted on: February 6, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 6:05 pm
 

Big 10 "kicking around" idea of Plus One

Maybe it’s the declining interest in college football for the first time in years.

Although a BCS official said it wasn’t.

Maybe it’s the unrest regarding the BCS system.

Although the system has been defended vigorously – by the BCS.

Or maybe it’s just time.

The Big Ten – the Leaders and Legends themselves – have taken a significant step in adjusting the sport’s postseason beginning in 2014. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the Big Ten is “kicking around” the idea of a four-team playoff with the semifinals played on campus sites. 

While the idea of a Plus One is nothing new – it has been mentioned prominently as a replacement for the BCS – the Big Ten’s apparent increased interest is intriguing.

The Tribune quoted Northwestern AD Jim Phillips as saying, “The Big Ten is open and curious.”

Since spring 2008, various administrators from four of the six BCS leagues (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12) have supported a Plus One. Most recently, ADs from the Big Ten and Pac-12 supported a Plus One in a straw poll in August.

The BCS pays out $180 million to participants per year. One powerful BCS AD indicated that a Plus One would be worth significantly more than double that amount. The 11 FBS commissioners next meet to discuss the issue later this month in Dallas. No final decision is expected. Significant progress is expected to be made in late April during the annual BCS meeting, this year in South Florida.

“I think sports fans are conditioned to playoffs,” Delany told the Tribune. “I don’t begrudge them that. They’re looking for more games, but we’re trying to do the right thing.”

The Big Ten Plan – what else you going to call it? – involves having the semis played on the campus of the higher-seeded team. This past season that would have meant Stanford playing at LSU and Oklahoma State playing at Alabama. The problem, as you may have noticed, is that in 2011 a Plus One would have included Stanford from the Pac-12 but not the Pac-12 champion, Oregon.

Right now, that may be a mere detail. The Big Ten is seemingly onboard in light of recent lower attendance numbers and TV ratings.  Regular-season attendance declined, if only slightly, for the second time in three years. Average bowl attendance hit a 33-year low this season. Overall BCS bowl ratings were down 10 percent from the 2011 bowls and  down 21 percent from when Fox last had the contract in 2009.

The 13.8 rating from the LSU-Alabama game was down 14 percent from last year's Auburn-Oregon game and down 24 percent from the Alabama-Texas game two years ago. BCS executive director Bill Hancock cautioned last month to reacting too early to attendance and TV ratings.

But perhaps a convergence of all those factors is now forcing change. If a Plus One is adopted expect more games grouped around the traditional Jan. 1 date. ADs and presidents are not only concerned about ratings and attendance but about second-semester football. The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee is particularly concerned about the BCS bowls being played further and further away from Jan. 1. There have been several times when teams had to get back from those games just in time for the second semester or the second semester had already begun after a BCS bowl.

“We had two experiences where we had to fly back the night of the game,” Ohio State AD Gene Smith said of two recent national championship games. “We played Florida [2007 in Glendale, Ariz.] and flew back right after the game. I remember stopping at the In-N-Out Burger. Our kids had to go to school the next day.

“We can’t do that, we can’t.”

The chairman of that BCS oversight group, Tulane president Scott Cowen, said the sport must proceed carefully.

“Two-thousand eleven was not a great year for intercollegiate athletics in America,” Cowen told CBSSports.com “I think all university presidents want to find more ways that we can cooperate and repair intercollegiate athletics.”

At least 50 different postseason plans were exchanged among the FBS commissioners Jan. 10 in New Orleans. There was no consensus but it is clear powerful people are getting used to the idea of a four-team playoff. NCAA president Mark Emmert has said on multiple occasions that there would be some interest in what he termed a football “Final Four”. SEC commissioner Mike Slive as well as Delany have been quoted as warming up to the idea.

If semis are played on campus sites then that could mean the championship game could be bid on. With the Cotton Bowl played in Cowboys Stadium, waiting on the doorstep to join the BCS that could be a huge step. One touchy issue for current BCS bowls is the preference to stay in the current four-year rotation for the championship game because of concerns about retaining sponsorships.

The Big Ten would have to consider the impact on the Rose Bowl. If one or more of the bowl's partners – Big Ten and Pac-12 – were in the playoff, how would that affect the Rose? The conferences and Rose Bowl are already uncomfortable with losing teams to the BCS championship game.  

The current deal with ESPN expires after the 2013 regular season/2014 BCS bowls. BCS commissioners are expected to have a new model for consideration by presidents by summer. 

Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:40 pm
 

Emmert contacts DI CEOs on scholarship issue

NCAA president Mark Emmert has reached out to Division I presidents urging them to support what is becoming the controversial implementation of four-year scholarships.

In a document obtained by CBSSports.com, Emmert asks the presidents to defeat the override proposal on legislation that is allowing four-year scholarships for athletes. Previously, scholarships had been renewed annually, sometimes at the whim of a coach. The four-year measure was approved in October, but 82 schools subsequently signed an override petition.  

“It [override] will take away the opportunity for multi-year support for thousands of student-athletes,” Emmert wrote in the letter. “As we are a presidentially led Association, it is important that you direct what the vote of your institution will be. I encourage you to defeat the override of this proposal.”

Presidents can vote online next week beginning Feb. 13 through 5 pm ET on Feb. 17.   

The petition required the NCAA board of directors to reconsider. It will take 222 schools out of 355 in Division I to override the measure. Last week various reports stated that the majority of Big Ten schools support the measure, which was encouraged by commissioner Jim Delany. According to those reports at least eight of the conference’s 12 schools awarded four-year scholarships on National Signing Day.

“You’re going to graduate,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last week. “We have that obligation.”

The rest of the 120 schools in Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) are split at best on the issue based on an informal canvassing of the division’s 11 conferences.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive supported the measure as early as July as part of a national reform agenda. Auburn went on record last week as saying it awarded four-year scholarships to its latest recruiting class.

If FBS is split, that suggests that approximately 70 percent of the remaining 235 Division I schools (approximately 162) are going to vote for the override in order to defeat the measure.

If the proposal survives, four-year scholarships would still be optional only for each school. The one-year renewable scholarship has been in effect since 1973. Since then coaches have been able to “cut” athletes for sub-standard performance on the field. The existing proposal would still allow scholarships to be revoked year-to-year due to academic or off-field issues.

Even then, there could be subjective issues defining off-field conduct.

“I’d be surprised, frankly, if it’s overridden,” said Chad Hawley, the Big Ten’s associate commissioner for compliance. “The proposal come out of a working group on student-athlete welfare. Nationally there seems to be a commitment to keeping it in play. I’d be more surprised than not if it went away.”

Supporters are worried about the practice “running off” players who do not fit when a new coach takes over. Critics have said the measure pits large, well-funded athletic departments against smaller schools. The Associated Press reported that Boise State said in its override request that four-year scholarships would be a “recruiting disaster.”

"There is never a guarantee that the incoming student-athlete will be a good fit for the program and the institution," the school stated. "If it is a poor fit, the program is put in a difficult situation to continue to keep a student-athlete on scholarship."

Last month, the board delayed implementation of the annual $2,000 player stipend. It asked that the working group to come back with a modified proposal by April. Even if a new proposal gets through in April, it would have to survive a 60-day comment period. During that time there would be a second chance to override.

Both actions (stipend/scholarships) came out of an August presidential summit in Indianapolis. Critics attacked the stipend for being implemented too soon. Also, there was a concern about affordability, especially for some schools outside of BCS conferences.

The heading of Emmert’s letter states: “Subject: Student-Athlete Well Being” It goes on to state, “ … I need you to participate in the vote. I encourage you to defeat the override of the proposal that will allow student-athletes to receive multi-year scholarships.”

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:20 pm
 

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

The irony is that Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin have almost become buds.

“As bizarre as this is because our relationship has been so public, I actually get along with him, probably, now,” Meyer told me this week. “We actually have conversations now. He’s fine. We’re fine. He apologized. I said, ‘I acted like a child too.’ ”

It was three years ago, that Kiffin started a year-long tweaking of the SEC establishment by accusing Meyer, then at Florida, of breaking NCAA rules.

“I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him,” Kiffin said of the now infamous and inaccurate accusation regarding receiver Nu’Keese Richardson.

Left in Kiffin’s wake were a half-dozen secondary violations remaining from his zeal to remake the Vols. As we know, his one-act play at Tennessee is long over. Kiffin has rehabbed both USC and his image the last two seasons.

“He reached out,” Ohio State's new coach said of Kiffin. “I reached back. Me and his dad [Monte] have been friends for a long time. I was as [much to blame] as anybody. I was very childish and egotistical. Then he reached out and said, ‘You know what? We didn’t start out on the right foot.’ “

This all comes in the context of a lot of childishness, Big Ten style. In the past 48 hours, Meyer has morphed from rock star free-agent savior come down from the heavens to rescue Ohio State football, to a recruiting bottom feeder. In the unholy marriage of Twitter, internet and incessant electronic talkfests, there were strong words thrown around to describe Meyer’s recruiting methods.

“Illegal,” said Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema.

“Unethical,” said Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Really quickly, Meyer has become the Lane Kiffin of the Big Ten. Meyer’s boss, Gene Smith, felt compelled to issue a statement Friday. Without actually saying it, the coaches seemed to intimate that Meyer was “flipping” recruits, getting them to come to Ohio State after they’d committed to other schools. The description used Wednesday on National Signing Day was that Meyer had signed eight players who had previously committed to other schools.

So what? Flipped, turned. Whatever. The man had a few short days to fix Ohio State in recruiting, with a bowl ban thrown in to work around. The problem is as the story develops, it lacks nuance, subtly and context. You have to read the full quotes from Bielema and Dantonio (below).

I was in Meyer’s office Thursday and told him about Bielema’s Wednesday statements.

“He [Bielema] called and said that [pausing] It really wasn’t our staff, it was the previous [staff],” Meyer said, “something about where a pro player called a kid or something like that. A former Buckeye called a kid. That’s all I remember. I checked into it, there’s no truth to anything.”

Unethical? Name me a coach who hasn’t signed a recruit who had been favoring another school. It’s how the industry works. It’s cutthroat. It’s brutal.

“I tell our guys,” Meyer said, “you really have no value to a program if you can’t recruit.”

All this reminds me of the great Ricky Bobby who once said, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

Good call. There are no second places in a recruiting. You either get the guy or you don’t. As long as no NCAA or civil laws are broken, it’s every recruiter for himself. By some estimates, Meyer landed four kids who had committed to Penn State. It would have been a recruiting sin, if he didn’t pick over the remains of Penn State football. In fact, who didn't go after Penn State recruits? Maybe the best question for Meyer is, “Four? Why didn’t you get six?”

Speaking at high school coaches’ clinic Friday morning, Meyer had enough. He was quoted as saying (rhetorically): “You’re pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got nine guys [recruiters] who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”

How does that taste, Big Ten? Bielema told the Sporting News that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez would speak to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany Friday about Meyer’s recruiting methods. There’s one problem with that. Let’s say that Meyer pissed off a bunch of Big Ten coaches by taking their commits. Again, so what? “Commit” should be stricken from recruiting glossary along with “slight lean” and “strong verbal.” They are contrived terms meant to shame a player into what has become some sort of promise/marriage/sacred bond.

But let’s say that somehow Delany pushes through an official Big Ten stance that no coach can intrude on a “committed” recruit. The one big problem: Even if all 12 Big Ten schools agree, there are 108 other FBS programs who won’t.

In fact, recruiters will be laughing all the way to their private planes during recruiting season. How do you think SEC coaches are going to react if the Big Ten coaches all agree to this little “gentlemen’s agreement?”

Probably by winning a seven consecutive national championship, for starters.  

“Gentlemen’s agreement?,” one incredulous former major-college assistant told me Friday. “[Recruiting] is a Clint Eastwood movie. ‘Hang ‘Em High, ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.’ Are you kidding me? Gentleman’s agreement?”

Context was an issue here. I had a Michigan State official call me to explain Dantonio’s quotes. Read the entire Bielema statement from signing day. Kind of takes some of the starch out of a flaming controversy that continues to have kindling thrown on it. Michigan State defensive coordinator "starts a recruiting rivalry."

You would hope. In fact, there should be a recruiting rivalry should exist with every Big Ten team. The Spartans haven't been to a Rose Bowl in almost 25 years.

Anyway, here's the full quotes ... 


Mark Dantonio
speaking in general on Wednesday:

"I would say it's pretty unethical. You ask people for a commitment, you ask for people's trust, ask for people to make a commitment to you, but then you turn around and say it's OK to go back after somebody else's commitment. That's a double standard.

"Everybody's got a job to do, there's a lot of pressure, but we're all grown men and we're trying to do a job, just like society today in every respect, whether it's a reporter or doctor or lawyer or somebody else. People are gonna try and do their job, they're gonna do what they have to do to get it done sometimes."

Specifically on Urban Meyer:

“They've got a new coach, there's differences when a new coach comes in. It's a new testing of the waters, but it's a two-way street, it's always a two-way street. There's always gotta be the other person listening, too. I think when it becomes a matter of twisting somebody, when you're a 50-year-old man or 40-year-old man twisting a 17-year-old, that's when it's wrong.

"I'm not saying that's happening in the Big Ten Conference, but I see that happening around the country. That happens when somebody decommits on the day of signing day and you've got to wonder about that."
 
Dantonio then released this statement on Friday: "Let me be clear: Some general recruiting statements I made were completely taken out of context when combined together by a reporter not in attendance. The timing of my comments was a reflection of an occurring matter on Signing Day and nothing to do with Urban Meyer at Ohio State. My comments regarding 'unethical' behavior were general in nature, according to my current coaching philosophy, and not directed toward any particular institution." 

Question to Bret Bielema on Wednesday: Is Urban Meyer’s hiring changed recruiting in the Upper Midwest and in the Big Ten?

Bielema:  "Well, I don’t think it, I hope it doesn’t change. I think the potential to change has been there. And, there’s a few things that happened early on that I made people be aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league that I had seen take place at other leagues, other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. And I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact. I actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him, and the situation got rectified.

“But the one thing I love about this league, it was kind of funny, when I was a younger coach, I was offered a job in another league, right? And this coach, I was working for $175,000 for Coach Alvarez, and he asked me what I was making, and I said I was making $175,000. He goes, ‘how many year contract?’ I said, ‘zero, just a one-year contract.’ He goes, ‘I’ll offer you $350,000 in a four-year contract.’ And I’m like, ‘ah, I don’t think so. You know, it’s not, money is not important to me at this point. I kind of want to stay where I’m at in the Big Ten. It’s got great values. I’m at a great place, a great institution.’

He goes, ‘okay, I’ll make it $450,000, and I’ll give you a five-year guarantee.’ I said, ‘okay, now I’ve got to talk to you.’ But it did make a point of interest to me. I didn’t tell you that I was just joking. But it was a real offer that was out there. And he said to me, ‘you know what the difference between the Big Ten and this conference is?’

And I said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘in the Big Ten, everybody tells on everybody. In our conference, nobody tells on anybody.’ And that made a huge comment to me. And I’ve been very cognizant of that, encourage our coaches to play by the books, to do things in a certain way. If you have to lie, cheat, or steal to get someone here, it doesn’t make a great point once you get them here about how you’ve got to handle them.

“So I think that’s the point that I’ll take moving forward. Our league is based on certain values that we’re going to hold to be true. And, you know, if you don’t hold to those things to be true in our conference, well, you’ll be held accountable.”

There’s a couple of ways of fixing this “situation.” It sounds like Delany is going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with his coaches to stop the backbiting. It happened with the SEC’s Mike Slive a couple of years ago when Kiffin was in full throat.

The other is to establish an early signing day, say the first week of December. High school players can be left alone to concentrate on state playoffs and their studies. Families don’t have to waste money on last-minute unofficial visits. Best of all, it relieves the pressure Signing Day, a date that has evolved into becoming an end to the process. 

It’s actually the beginning of a two-month signing period, but they don’t want you to know that. That’s an issue for another day. For now, it’s Urban’s world and the Big Ten is only living in it. 

Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:03 pm
 

Gene Smith statement re: Urban Meyer

This statement from Ohio State AD Gene Smith was released by the school early afternoon on Friday: 

"I am disappointed that negative references have been made about our football coaches and particularly head coach Urban Meyer regarding recruiting. In our league appropriate protocol, if you have concerns, is to share those concerns with your athletic director. Then your athletic director will make the determination on the appropriate communications from that point forward. The athletic directors in our league are professionals and communicate with each other extremely well. Urban Meyer and his staff have had a compliance conscience since they’ve arrived." 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 1, 2012 11:38 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 12:09 pm
 

From TVZ to DGB, Mizzou makes history

Somewhere Tony Van Zant is shedding a tear.

Until Dorial Green-Beckham signed with Missouri on Wednesday the landing of Van Zant, the Hazelwood (Mo.) Central tailback, was the signature recruiting moment for Tiger fans. Back in 1985, Van Zant was at least the top-rated running back in the country, if not the No. 1 overall prospect. Mizzou and its followers attached their hopes and dreams to the shifty kid from suburban St. Louis.

To say that Van Zant was a bust is an insult to the noun. He was supposed to be the foundation for “Woody’s Wagon,” the name given to the momentum created by hiring former Steelers defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer. Van Zant injured a knee playing in a state high-school all-star game after his senior season. That caused him to miss his entire freshman season at Mizzou in 1986. Later, he injured the other knee. For his career Van Zant ran for a grand total of 214 yards.

Woody’s Wagon ran off the road. Widenhofer was fired after four seasons. Today, Van Zant is a high school coach in Saginaw, Mich. On Wednesday, Green-Beckham, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, inherited part of Van Zant’s legacy when he signed with the Tigers.

There can be a direct line drawn between Van Zant and Green-Beckham. They were both high school All-Americans. Both were Parade Magazine’s national player of the year. Both were known by their initials in the recruiting process – TVZ and DGB. Both were national recruits who stayed home. So which one is he, this DGB?

Is he Dishon Platt or Fred Rouse or is he Percy Harvin or Derrick Williams? Will he ever finish in the top 10 in receiving during his career? CBSSports.com checked the number of receivers ranked in the top 20 among national recruits in the last 10 years (according to Rivals.com). The idea was to determine how valuable highly-rated high school receivers were to teams and how they panned out.

From a group of 200 recruits over those 10 years, only 27 were receivers. That’s 13.5 percent. Of those 27, 14 played on at least one conference-winning team. Seven of those 14 played on at least one national championship team. Only two of those 27 ever finished in the top 10 nationally in receiving yards per game since 2002. (Tennessee’s Robert Meachem in 2006 and USC’s Robert Woods in 2011.)

So which one is Green-Beckham? He was only the third receiver in the last 10 years to be rated No. 1 overall. The other two were Florida’s Harvin (2006) and Penn State’s Williams (2005). Harvin was part of two national championship teams and has had a productive NFL career. Williams was one of the most versatile players in Penn State history becoming the only Joe Paterno player to ever catch, run and return a kick for a touchdown.

Is this a snapshot of Green-Beckham’s career?

Over the last 10 years, the receiver position is tied with running back (27 each) as the second-most abundant position in the top 20. Defensive line is No. 1 (41 players). Going into Wednesday, only 14 schools in the last 10 years have taken top 20-rated receivers. There are the usual suspects – USC leads all with seven in the top 20.

Then there are the all-out busts. Florida State had two of the biggest at the position in the last 10 years. In 2002, Platt was the No. 16 player in the country. He never made it academically at FSU, transferred to South Florida then faded into obscurity.  In 2005, receivers ruled. Williams and USC’s Patrick Turner were the top two rated players in the country. There were four wideouts in the top 18 including Cal’s DeSean Jackson.

The fourth wideout in that group, Rouse, went from playing in the Orange Bowl for FSU to transferring to Texas El-Paso to spending a couple of months in jail to Concordia College-Selma.

So which one is DGB? For now the foundation of Missouri’s jump to the SEC. Gary Pinkel’s offense has had stars of several wideouts over the past decades (examples: Jeremy Maclin, Danario Alexander). But that was in the wide-open Big 12.

If he never catches a ball, Green-Beckham, like Van Zant, has created momentum for Mizzou. Perhaps other players will follow. Perhaps he will be a game breaker. But SEC defenses are tougher. That doesn’t suggest he won’t succeed. Green-Beckham is the third nationally top-rated receiver to sign with an SEC school since 2008. The other two guys didn’t do too bad – Alabama’s Julio Jones (No. 4 overall in 2008) and LSU’s Rueben Randle (No. 2 overall in 2009).

Somewhere Van Zant is shedding a tear because of a career derailed -- and maybe because DGB has a chance to be the TVZ that never was.   


Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:39 pm
 

Big 12 commissioner candidates

Now that the Big 12 has formed a search committee to find a permanent replacement for Dan Beebe, it’s time to line up a list of candidates.

These four have been most often mentioned in administrative circles and published reports: Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowksy, West Virginia AD Oliver Luck and NCAA interim vice president of championships and alliances, Greg Shaheen, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick

 
--Banowksy, 51, is so highly thought of that his name was dropped by Neinas in September during his introductory teleconference. Banowksy is in his ninth year with Conference USA, which is currently in talks to combine and form a new conference with the Mountain West. There is already speculation that Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson would retain that title with the new conference, ostensibly leaving Banowsky free to take the Big 12. 

--Luck, a former NFL quarterback, has extensive administrative experience. In 1991, he made an unsuccessful run for Congress in West Virginia. Following that, he was general manager for two different teams overseas in the World League of American Football. Luck, 51, was the WLAF's president from 1996-2000 before the league rebranded as NFL Europe. From 2001-2008, Luck was CEO of the Houston Sports Authority and president of the Houston Dynamo of the Major League Soccer. Since June 2010 he has been West Virginia's AD. The school is in the process of moving from the Big East to the Big 12. Among his accomplishments at WVU is successfully implementing beer sales to increase revenue.

--Swarbrick reportedly finished as runner-up to Beebe the last time the Big 12 went searching for a commissioner in 2007. He was also a finalist for the NCAA president’s job in 2002. Swarbrick, 57, has a legal background having practiced law for 28 years before taking the Notre Dame job in 2008. He is credited with consulting on the NCAA’s move from Overland Park, Kan. to Indianapolis. Since he joined the Irish, football has continued its mediocrity. Swarbrick has had to fire Charlie Weis. Brian Kelly has yet to find traction in getting ND to the championship level. Heck of a question: Which job is considered better in the world of college athletics – Notre Dame or Big 12?

--Shaheen might be the most intriguing candidates. He is seen as one of the brightest minds in sports today. As NCAA vice president of basketball and business strategies, Shaheen was credited for the basketball-in-the-round concept that allowed the Final Four to be played in football stadiums. Also, during his watch the NCAA in general has become more open and media friendly. I reported in March 2009 that the Pac-10 twice took a run at him to be its commissioner before hiring Larry Scott. 

Here is a Sports Business Journal profile of Shaheen in 2010. He was mentioned on Jan. 23 in SBJ as a possible candidate for the Big 12 job. 

 

 
 
 
 
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