Posted on: June 7, 2011 12:09 pm

Hamilton resigns, Vol Nation cheers, what's next?

 Contrition is all the rage in college sports these days. Jim Tressel made it a memorable Memorial Day by resigning before one more bit of shame could be heaped upon his program while he was in charge of it. If it helps Ohio State with the NCAA, all the better.

 That's why they call them "mitigating factors", moves that soften the blow of potential major penalties. In the NCAA's eyes, flight is definitely better than fight. Officially, Tressel resigned. Unofficially, he had become too much of a burden for Ohio State to carry headed into its Aug. 12 infractions committee hearing.

 The same might be said of Mike Hamilton and his relationship with Tennessee on Tuesday. Except that the school is cutting it close if it wants to make an impression with the NCAA. Three days before Tennessee goes before the infractions committee, Hamilton resigned after eight-plus years in the position and 19 years at the university.

 He will stay on through June 30, including for Friday's infractions committee appearance in Indianapolis. That just adds to the mystery. Is it proper to assume that Hamilton was pushed out? (These "resignation" announcements are frequently semantic mating dances so the affected party can collect buyouts etc.) UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek said no, but what was he supposed to say?

 Will Hamilton's departure and appearance as a lame duck in Indy, truly make any difference to the NCAA? It certainly makes a difference to UT fans who wanted him out as the NCAA closed in and instability continued.

 "If I could end the turmoil by stepping aside," he said. "I thought that was important."

 Are they dancing in the streets of Knoxville? Maybe just a small jig. The haters got their wish.  If you get close to the Tennessee border,  you can hear an entire state shout, "What took you so long?" Those voices will tell you that Hamilton's resignation was way overdue.  

 More importantly, the school continues to prepare its case in a dangerous bundling of alleged football and basketball violations. We know for sure that Bruce Pearl lied.  Lane Kiffin bailed after a year with slightly more wins (seven) than secondary violations. Forget the violations, the ultimate sin for Kiffin was UT's love was not reciprocal.

 More significant at this point is that Kiffin failed to promote at atmosphere of compliance according to the NCAA.

 Let's not ever forget that, at the time, Hamilton's hiring of Kiffin was considered a home run. No one blinked when Daddy Monte made $1.2 million a year as defensive coordinator or that Lane made $2 million in his first head coaching job. It was the price of being a big-time SEC program. And Vols everywhere crave to be big time in the SEC.

 It didn't work out and the big time seems like a Hail Mary away. For now, Derek Dooley is more famous for the NCAA rule that bears his name than for picking up after Kiffin. Even as the problems arose, Hamilton could boast about hiring Pearl. Not now. The man who tried to renovate Tennessee athletics left a lot of blank drywall, but not for lack of trying. Pearl lied. Kiffin bailed. The man who hired them both, failed to sustain the momentum. The athletic department he leaves behind is still waiting to be picked over by the NCAA.

 "I think today," Hamilton said Tuesday, "was inevitable."


Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Tennessee
Posted on: June 6, 2011 6:09 pm

USC vacates, is Ohio State next?

Ohio State, you're next.

 Well, maybe, but the non-story that was the BCS finally and absolutely vacating USC's 2004 title on Monday does have implications colored Scarlet and Gray. The way things are trending in Columbus, Ohio State could be the next to vacate a BCS bowl win. A BCS source told me that the same standard would hold for Ohio State if it was forced to vacate this year's Sugar Bowl: Wait until the case is decided and all appeals are exhausted.

 Admittedly, the stakes would be a bit smaller but no less embarrassing. A national championship wasn't involved in Ohio State's 31-26 win over Arkansas. Six players mysteriously reinstated for the bowl somehow were. Five of those six players were key contributors in the win. At issue is how many of those victories will end up standing when the NCAA is through with Ohio State.

 Those six players were cleared by the NCAA to play that particular game but this case has miles to go -- no pun intended re: Terrelle Pryor loaners -- before it is finalized.

 And, no, that doesn't mean Arkansas becomes Sugar Bowl champion if Ohio State vacates. Just like USC in 2004, if the Buckeyes vacate, there likely will be no 2011 Sugar Bowl champion in the BCS' eyes.

 USC is believed to be the first team in the wire service era (since at least 1936) to have a national championship removed. 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: BCS, NCAA, Ohio State, USC
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:42 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2011 12:34 pm

USC appeal affected by NCAA mistake

 Because of what it says was an "administrative error", the NCAA said Friday it initially misinformed USC about the school's ability to appeal what are a significant portion of its major penalties related in the Reggie Bush case, CBSSports.com has learned.

 USC was given a form last summer incorrectly indicating it had the ability to appeal an unethical conduct charge against former assistant Todd McNair. The NCAA said that once the error was discovered, USC was notified.

 That didn't stop USC from still appealing McNair's penalty. That attempt was admonished by the NCAA when its appeals report was released on Thursday. It said the point was "moot" and that USC "did not have standing" to appeal. The NCAA said Friday that USC knew it could not appeal McNair's penalty before submitting its official written appeal. USC appeared before the NCAA appeals committee to state its case in January.

 On April 29, McNair himself lost his personal appeal to the NCAA to have the charge removed from his record. He intends to sue the NCAA. USC officials could not be reached for comment.

 According to a source, USC was given a notice of appeals form that gave it the opportunity to appeal McNair's finding. That apparently was the "administrative error". The school chose to appeal McNair's penalty, and returned the form to the NCAA which accepted it. Approximately two months later, the source said, the NCAA ruled that USC could not appeal McNair's penalty.

 The NCAA built a significant portion of the case against USC in its assertion that McNair knew about the relationship between Reggie Bush and would-be marketer/convicted felon Lloyd Lake. Bush took thousands of dollars in cash and extra benefits from Lake, according to the NCAA.

 The point is not that USC or McNair would have necessarily won relief from the NCAA if the mistake was not made. The appeals report makes no mention of an error by the NCAA.  In refusing to consider the appeal, the NCAA cited bylaws and that seemingly have little or nothing to do with the right to appeal. (See Page 17) says only that a school may not request an in-person appearance before the appeals committee unless the institution had made an in-person appearance before the infractions committee. says only that an individual can appeal:

 "An involved individual may appeal the Committee on Infractions' findings and/or show cause order imposed for violations of NCAA legislation in which he or she is named."

 That's where it gets murky. When this brought this up to the NCAA,  a spokesperson said  "generally speaking" a school cannot appeal findings imposed on an individual. So already we've got  1) an administrative error by the NCAA; 2) questionable interpretations by the Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee and 3) a slammed-door in USC's face changed to "generally speaking."

 CBSSports.com was able to find an Alabama case from 1995 -- 16 years ago -- when the school was allowed to appeal a faculty rep's penalties. When that bit of information was emailed to the NCAA, CBSSports.com was told that the appeals process was much different in 1995. Back then appeals had to be heard together. That was changed in January 1996 to separate the appeals between school and individual to make the process more fair.

 Then CBSSports.com came across a 1994 case where a Texas State baseball coach found guilty of unethical conduct was able to appeal as an individual. An NCAA spokesperson explained that the coach's ability to appeal was dependent on the school filing a notice of appeal.


Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Reggie Bush, USC
Posted on: May 26, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 10:50 am

Ray Small now has to talk to the NCAA

Ray Small has to talk to the NCAA now doesn't he?

I don't mean in the legal, compelled sort of way. The association doesn't have that kind of power. But if the former Ohio State receiver is going to tell the student paper The Lantern that he sold his gear for extra benefits and "everyone was doing it", Small needs to sing to the NCAA.

Just for the sheer theater of it, if nothing else.

Small told the paper that he sold his memorabilia for cash because he, like other athletes, was struggling financially. He had four Big Ten rings. "There was enough to go around." He said there friendly car deals. He said Ohio State athletes, "don't even think about [NCAA] rules."

Tell us something we don't know to this point, Ray. And yet, in the middle of a scandal that threatens to take down coach Jim Tressel -- along with AD Gene Smith and president Gordon Gee -- hearing it from a new, recent Buckeye source makes it more compelling.

That's why Ray Small has to talk to the NCAA. In fact, Wednesday's story has the possibility of not meaning much unless Small does speak to the NCAA. The association can't make him talk with an enforcement officer because he is a former player. The NCAA doesn't have subpoena power. But if he doesn't, Small looks, well, small.

He can rat out his teammates and shoot his mouth off to the student paper but his words lose their punch unless Small has the stones to back it up in front of the NCAA. Without his cooperation, what he has alleged can be investigated by the NCAA and certainly puts Ohio State in a more negative light, but Small can skip a bunch of steps by calling enforcement director Julie Roe Lach right now.

If what he says it's true -- and it's detailed enough to make me believe -- then we now know there is a long history of cheating at Ohio State. I can hear some of you laughing out there: "Well, duh!" True, but the NCAA needs some kind of evidence to make a case. Or in this case, make a big case a blockbuster. Why stop at just Tressel hiding emails?

The NCAA already has plenty of evidence the Tressel case. In fact, there isn't much disputing of the facts. Tressel covered up. Tressel knowingly played ineligible athletes. You can't even say that about Reggie Bush and USC. He was rogue -- one guy -- and, unless something else emerges to the contrary, Pete Carroll didn't know. Small's comments suggest a widespread culture of cheating.

Well, duh
, indeed.

Even Gene Marsh, The Vest's mouthpiece, may have to admit that even with his misguided shot at "some dot-com writer somewhere."

(Dear Gene: Without those dot-com writers -- they're called legitimate media, by the way -- you would be sucking air for clients.)

Save the NCAA some work, Ray. If you're a man, the best way to use this information is to formalize it with a call to the NCAA. Here's the number if you need it: 317-917-6222.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Ohio State
Posted on: May 26, 2011 12:41 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 8:50 am

USC almost certain to lose '04 title

It now seems a certainty that USC will vacate its 2004 BCS title after losing its appeal of crippling NCAA penalties. CBSSports.com's Bryan Fischer reported Wednesday that USC had been notified that the NCAA had rejected the school's appeal. An official announcement from the NCAA is expected on Thursday.

The BCS has maintained for months that it would vacate the title only after the case was concluded.  More than five years since Yahoo! Sports broke the story of Reggie Bush's extra benefits, the case now seems finished. USC AD Pat Haden is expected to say Thursday that the school will take no further action.

BCS executive director Bill Hancock told reporters in July, "If USC loses the appeal, the [2004] championship will be vacated. And the feeling is in our group, the commissioners group, is that there was not a game, no game happened."

Hancock added at the time, "They [commissioners] will vacate, they will not elevate anyone," referring to the 12 school presidents who make up the BCS Oversight Committee.

"The presidents could decide to do something else, but I think it's most likely that they will vacate it."

Early Thursday, Hancock reiterated that no other team would be elevated to win the BCS title. "It would simply be vacated," he said in an email.

Prior to the NCAA's official release of the appeal denial, Hancock also said Thursday: "If, at the conclusion of the NCAA’s process, it is determined that an ineligible athlete participated in one of the BCS games, then the commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee members will consider whether vacation of the team’s participation in a BCS game—or vacation of the championship, in this case—is warranted. There is no set timetable for the group’s consideration of the matter, but I expect it would happen sooner, rather than later."

If they decide to take action, the oversight committee's decision would most likely be unanimous. If USC loses its title it would mark the first such occurrence in college football since at least the beginning of the wire service era in 1936. USC is expected to keep its '04 title in the AP poll. Instead, it would essentially be stripped of its final No. 1 ranking in the coaches' poll. The winner of the BCS title game is mandated to finish No. 1 in the final version of that poll.

On June 10, the NCAA vacated 14 victories from USC's 2004 and 2005 seasons as part of the penalties stemming from the Bush investigation. Bush essentially competed while ineligible for two seasons because he had taken money and benefits from marketers trying to win him as client when he turned pro.

Because the NCAA doesn't stage a championship in Division I-A football, it has no control over the BCS championship process. 

The Football Writers Association of America last year stripped USC of the '04 title and asked the school to return its Grantland Rice Trophy that goes with the honor. The Heisman Trust vacated Bush's winning of the 2005 Heisman Trophy. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 3:34 pm

NCAA prez to DOJ: Ask the BCS about playoff

Mark Emmert just hit it out of the park in terms of shoving it back in the Department of Justice's face.

In the NCAA president's answer to the DOJ Wednesday regarding the BCS, he essentially said, "Don't blame me, I just work here."

Or, if you want it verbatim: "... It is not appropriate for me to provide views on [football's postseason]. With regard to the Association's plans for [a playoff], there are no plans absent direction from our membership to do so."

Here is the entire letter.  

Everybody satisfied? The NCAA has little to do with major college football's postseason. What control it does have is minimal. A few of my peers had kittens when DOJ sent the letter to Emmert, like this was some sort of end of the BCS.

Me? I was surprised that the DOJ shook its finger at Emmert when it should have contacted the BCS initially in the first place. To me, it kind of shows how clueless DOJ is at this point. They're not even asking the right questions of the right people in a possible anti-trust investigation.

Wednesday's letter basically tipped the leverage back in the BCS' favor. The system's power brokers are on record as saying they'll go back to the bowl system before installing a playoff. In short, Wednesday's developments can be summarized in these possible quotations ...

Emmert: The membership doesn't want a playoff.

The BCS: You can't make us have a playoff.

Big Ten commish Jim Delany basically said as much when he told USA Today, "There's no judge or jury in the world that can make you enter into an four-team, eight-team or 16-team playoff."

That's good enough for me.  It's OK for you not to hate the BCS, but don't look for the DOJ to install a playoff. It isn't going to happen. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 17, 2011 11:19 am

Rest in peace, Dave Parry

Dave Parry confided in me that he had Parkinson's a few months ago. That seemingly would make me a trusted friend except that's how Dave was with everyone.

He loved to talk, about officiating, about football, about you. It didn't matter. To him Parkinson's was not a deal breaker. Sure, it had caused him to step down as NCAA's national coordinator of officiating. Before that, he had been the respected Big Ten supervisor of officials. But even in his retirement, I had looked forward to speaking to him soon about officiating issues.

That won't happen after Parry died Monday due to complications from Parkinson's. At 76, he was taken from us much too soon. A lot of folks lost a dear friend, but football fans also lost a lot of knowledge. With the Big Ten, Parry was on the cutting edge of implementing instant replay a few years ago. His knowledge of the rules was Google-like. He was a college official for 20 years, an NFL official for 16 years.

According to this story
, Parry got his start in officiating to earn pocket money. That turned into a lifelong passion. As a coordinator/supervisor Dave was unfailingly honest to the point of sometimes questioning officials themselves.

The best thing that can be said about Dave was that he was one of those guys who was friends with everybody. I loved talking to him because I realized I loved Dave. Here is the story that resulted from one of the last times we spoke. 

Here is his obit

Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you. 
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big Ten, NCAA, NFL
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 12:10 pm

Statement in Todd McNair case

The following is a statement from Todd McNair's lawyer after the NCAA formally denied his client's appeal on Friday. Scott Tompsett has had 20 years' experience representing coaches in NCAA cases. He has been involved in more than 50 such cases:

"Mr. McNair is disappointed in the decision, but he’s not surprised. After all, the NCAA publicly endorsed the Infractions Committee’s decision last June before we had even filed the notice of appeal. And NCAA President Mark Emmert said last December – while the Infractions Appeals Committee was still deliberating the appeal -  that he believed the Infractions Committee got the USC case right. So, today’s decision simply confirms what the NCAA leadership had already decreed publicly.  

"Dr. Emmert also recently said it’s important for the NCAA to get the facts right in an infractions case. He’s correct; the NCAA owes it to involved parties, the NCAA membership and the public to get the facts right. The NCAA should get the facts right when it ends a coach’s career.  

"But Dr. Emmert apparently wasn’t referring to the USC case when he talked about getting the facts right, because the Infractions Committee mischaracterized and manipulated key testimony. The Infractions Committee based Mr. McNair’s unethical conduct finding on demonstrably false statements. The Infractions Committee based its decision on inconsistent and contradictory findings. And today the Infractions Appeal Committee said that’s OK.  

"Mr. McNair had hoped the Infractions Appeal Committee would set aside his unethical conduct finding so he can try to resume his career. The decision today makes that very difficult.  

"Mr. McNair wants to thank the media outlets that have reported on his case. Several articles by USCFootball.com have reported on the numerous errors committed by the NCAA in Mr. McNair’s case. ESPN.com said the NCAA’s handling of McNair’s case was sloppy and arbitrary, and called McNair’s appeal strong and compelling. ESPN.com also said the NCAA’s finding offends any notion of fair play. SI.com said the NCAA’s evidence against McNair was questionable at best. These are not Mr. McNair’s statements; they are conclusions of independent media outlets.  

"Moreover, according to reports, the United States Congress is considering holding investigative hearings into the NCAA’s enforcement procedures, in part because of the NCAA’s mishandling of Mr. McNair’s case.  It appears the NCAA stands alone in believing Mr. McNair is guilty of a major violation.  

"Mr. McNair is now considering legal action to remedy the injustice he has suffered. This has been a very difficult and trying experience for Mr. McNair and his family. He wants to publicly thank his many supporters for their interest in his case and unwavering support."
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com