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Pac-12 Notes

March 31st

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Athletic Directors: “If there’s no college football season, we will be f*****”

From watchstadium.com … Nearly one-fifth of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) athletic directors believe there is at least a 50 percent chance a full college football season won’t be played this fall because of the impact of COVID-19.

And if there is no college football, a majority of the 130 FBS athletic directors contacted by Stadium predict dire consequences for the sport.

“There better be (a season) or many programs will be out of business,” an athletic director said.

“Quite simply,” added another AD, “it would be devastating.”

Another AD was more direct: “If there’s no season, we will be f*****.”

Without the millions of dollars of revenue generated by college football programs (media rights, ticket sales, sponsorships, donations, etc.), some ADs fear there would be incredible consequences, including schools having to cut or eliminate Olympic/non-revenue sports.

In a survey conducted by Stadium, all 130 FBS athletic directors were asked to rank their optimism on the upcoming season being played from “1” (will not be played) to “10” (definitely will be played). Of the 130 ADs contacted during the past week, 112 participated in the anonymous survey.

None of the ADs gave lower than a “5” ranking (meaning a 50/50 chance there is no season). However, several admitted they probably provided a higher-numbered response because they wanted to remain positive and optimistic about having the season.

“I’m optimistic we’ll have a season,” a Power Five AD said. “But, ask me again in May what I think.”

The most popular response was a “7” ranking from 27 percent of the ADs, followed by an “8” ranking from 24 percent and a “5” ranking from 18 percent of the ADs.

Continue reading story here

National championship odds: Only Oregon and USC are less than 100-1 from the Pac-12

From CBS Sports … The college football season is still five months away, but it’s never too early to look forward to what the oddsmakers anticipate in the race for the College Football Playoff National Championship. Oddsmaker William Hill Sportsbook released its college football futures on Monday, and it should come as no surprise that three of the usual suspects sit atop the odds board as Clemson leads the way with 11-5 odds, followed by Ohio State at 4/1 and Alabama at 9-2.

What’s even more interesting is that those three teams also have the most money wagered on them. Clemson is the most popular wager to this point with a whopping 20 percent of all national championship futures total dollars coming in on its side. Alabama leads with 8 percent of total tickets placed, and trails only Clemson with 14 percent of the total dollars wagered.

William Hill also details which teams could be this year’s LSU based on the Tigers entering last season with 30-1 odds. Auburn (25-1) Notre Dame (28-1) and Texas (35-1) all have similar odds with four percent of total tickets each. The Fighting Irish are sixth in the country in total dollars wagered at five percent.

Below are the full list of odds from William Hill Sportsbook:

  • Clemson … 11/5
  • Ohio State … 4-1
  • Alabama … 9/2
  • Georgia … 7-1

From the Pac-12 … 

  • Oregon … 25-1
  • USC … 60-1
  • Utah … 100-1
  • Washington … 100-1
  • Arizona State … 200-1
  • California … 300-1
  • UCLA … 500-1
  • Washington State … 500-1
  • Field … including the other four teams in the Pac-12 … Colorado, Oregon State, Arizona, and Stanford … 50-1

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March 30th

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NCAA votes to allow spring sport athletes an additional year of eligibility

From the NCAA … The Division I Council on Monday voted to allow schools to provide spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility.

Members also adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility who decide to stay. In a nod to the financial uncertainty faced by higher education, the Council vote also provided schools with the flexibility to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that athletics aid be provided at the same level awarded for 2019-20. This flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility in 2019-20.

Schools also will have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.

Division I rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period. The Council’s decision allows schools to self-apply waivers to restore one of those seasons of competition for student-athletes who had competed while eligible in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 spring season

The Council also will allow schools to self-apply a one-year extension of eligibility for spring-sport student-athletes, effectively extending each student’s five-year “clock” by a year. This decision was especially important for student-athletes who had reached the end of their five-year clock in 2020 and saw their seasons end abruptly.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.”

Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.

The Council also increased the roster limit in baseball for student-athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the only spring sport with such a limit.

Pac-12: Activity suspension extended to at least May 31st

From CUBuffs.com … Pac-12 officials announced Monday that the conference has extended its suspension of organized team activities through May 31, with limited exceptions based on student-athlete well-being.

The conference also stressed that there will be periodic re-evaluations of the policy over the coming weeks should circumstances warrant a change in policy. The next likely date for officials to “look in” and reassess the situation is May 1.

As for University of Colorado activities, the latest Pac-12 action does not mean that CU’s spring football session and spring game have definitely been canceled. While the spring game will not be played on its original date of April 29, there still exists a possibility that some kind of spring football period could be held over the coming months if circumstances allow.

The entire Pac-12 release follows, and the link can be found here:

SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 announced today that following a meeting of its CEOs, it has made the decision to extend its previously announced suspension of organized team activities through May 31, with certain limited exceptions based upon student-athlete well-being, and with periodic re-evaluations over the coming weeks should circumstances warrant a change in policy.

Key elements of the suspension include the following:

  • No organized, in-person team activities of any type;

  • No in-person voluntary workouts, film study sessions, meetings, technique drills or practices of any type;

  • Virtual or online supervised voluntary workouts and skill instruction are not permitted, regardless of location;

  • Virtual group activities, including film study, are permitted to two (2) hours per week for football and four (4) hours per week for all other sports.  We are appealing to the NCAA to increase the two-hour football limit in the near future;

  • Coaches can recommend written, self-directed workout plans, and taped demonstration videos on workout plans are allowed in order to demonstrate proper form and technique;

  • In-person, on-campus nutrition may be provided in circumstances where student-athletes are unable to leave campus, and off-campus nutrition is limited to distribution of products normally available on campus;

  • It is fully permissible to provide non-athletically related support to student-athletes, including sports medicine treatments, physical therapy and rehabilitation; academic support; and mental health and wellness support; and

  • It is permissible for institutions to provide off-campus student-athletes with apparel and personal equipment that is regularly available to student-athletes when they are on campus for conditioning workouts.  It is not permissible to rent, purchase or arrange for conditioning or strength training equipment or machines.

A full copy of the Pac-12 policy can found here: Pac-12 Pandemic Policy (PDF)

The Pac-12 and its member universities will continue to make the health and well-being of student-athletes and all those associated with our athletic programs our number one priority.  We also committed to doing our part to support our communities and to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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March 29th

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Can NCAA schools afford an extra year of eligibility: “It does come down to money”

From The Athletic … By the time night fell on March 12, college sports as we’d always known them had ground to a halt. The dominoes had begun to fall early that morning, as men’s basketball conference tournaments were canceled one by one. The rest happened at once, a watershed moment in NCAA history as the national governing body canceled the remainder of its winter and spring championship events in one fell swoop.

In an instant, thousands of athletes in their final season of eligibility faced an abrupt and untimely end to their college careers. Almost immediately, those in charge began to consider how to make amends.

On March 13, the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee “agreed that it will be appropriate to grant relief for the use of a season of competition for student-athletes who have participated in spring sports,” according to a document circulated to member schools. The committee said it would address specific issues tied to scholarship limitations and financial aid at a later date.

That later date is now here. On Monday, the Division I Council will vote on this particular eligibility issue. The Council is made up of athletic directors, conference commissioners, faculty athletic reps, senior women’s administrators and current student-athletes, with voting weighted toward the Power 5 leagues.

But the vote is much more complicated than many have made it out to be so far, despite the coordination committee’s initial language and the fact that Division II ruled last week to grant its spring sport athletes an additional season of eligibility.

Making a similar decision across Division I would be significantly more expensive, which makes it significantly more complex.

Most high-level administrators support granting Division I spring sport athletes the opportunity to play in 2021, according to conversations with various athletic directors and conference commissioners this week. But they aren’t sure about the mechanics of actually making it happen — and committing to it financially while so much remains uncertain and the country appears to be headed into a recession. On Thursday, the NCAA reported that it would distribute just $225 million (of what was supposed to be $600 million) to its Division I schools. That’s a significant hit for many athletic departments. State schools are expecting to take another significant hit in terms of appropriations for higher education. Uncertainty regarding revenue from donations, endowments, television contracts and ticket sales remains, as athletic administrators grapple with the possibility of football season being canceled, shortened or adjusted in some form.

Can these same athletic departments afford to dole out financial aid for spring sport athletes for another year? Giving an additional season of eligibility to seniors on spring-sports teams could cost public schools in the Power 5 conferences anywhere from $500,000 to $900,000, according to a USA Today analysis.

“This isn’t just the rich schools choosing not to spend money on something,” one high-level Division I administrator said Friday. “This one is real. It does come down to money.”

Continue reading story here (subscription required) …

SEC to allow “virtual instruction”  and video conferencing by coaches

Related … Pac-12 joins in … from CBS Sports

Related … “Big 12 to join other conferences in allowing virtual meetings for teams” … from ESPN

Programs in the ACC, throughout the suspension, have been conducting meetings via Zoom

From ESPN … The SEC league office has notified its 14 schools that virtual instruction and video conferencing for its football programs will be allowed beginning Monday.

The SEC presidents and chancellors had initially voted to suspend all athletic activities, including practices, meetings and other activities, at least through April 15. These updated guidelines will now allow two hours of virtual instruction or meetings per week, including film review. The idea is to allow coaches to continue to engage with their players, who are not on campus during the coronavirus pandemic and taking online classes, and help fill in the gaps in the absence of spring practice.

Under the new guidelines, staff members will still not be allowed to remotely watch, direct or review physical workouts. But virtual film review, chalk talks and anything else that doesn’t involve physical activity will be permissible.

Schools are allowed to provide strength and conditioning workouts and specific drills to players, but coaches are not allowed to observe that activity, be it in-person or virtually.

The SEC said further assessment of offseason and/or summer activities will occur in the coming weeks.

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March 28th

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College football 2020 – in the summer?

From Sports Business Daily

  • Amid a growing concern that the college football season could be pushed back, or even canceled, an alternative could come into play — moving the season up to July, August and September, writes SBJ’s Michael Smith. Every other scenario has the season starting later in the fall, at a time when the coronavirus could be returning for another round of infections as the cool weather returns and a vaccine most likely unavailable until 2021. But staging an abbreviated college football season in the summer presents an opportunity to play games when the warm weather could help prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Such a drastic move would depend on a number of factors, according to sources Smith talked to this week:
    • Would campuses be open and able to properly staff games?
    • Would media partners be receptive to such a radical idea? Given the pent-up demand for live events by then, perhaps so?
    • Would fans turn out for football in the summer, especially with temperatures in the 90s? Would they even be permitted inside the stadium?
    • Could athletic departments recoup some of the revenue they’ve lost by staging a summer season?
    • How would a season work? It would almost have to be conference games only. Teams could start with a June mini-camp, July training camp and eight or nine games in August and September with no postseason.
  • These are questions that take time to answer, but alternative scenarios like summer football will be discussed by commissioners and athletic directors who will be desperate to play this season. There’s no guarantee that a fall season would succeed, and it might be more likely to fail if the virus returns. A summer season could be the only way to play college football in 2020.

NCAA set to vote Monday on extra eligibility for student athletes

From 247 Sports … The NCAA’s decision earlier this month to cancel all championships for winter and spring sports in the 2019-20 academic year due to the COVID-19 outbreak has generated plenty of discussion over what the future holds for student-athletes that were robbed of competing for a national title. In the case of spring sports, the season was virtually a wash, with conference after conference making decisions to cancel athletic competitions through the end of the academic year.

One of the biggest talking points, in light of that, is whether or not the impacted athletes — particularly spring sport athletes —  should be granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA in wake of the athletic calendar being disrupted due to the virus. According to the Associated Press, The NCAA Division I Council is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to allow another year of eligibility for spring sport athletes such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players, who had the bulk of their seasons wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.

After the D-I council votes, the D-I Board of Directors, comprised primarily of university presidents and chancellors will have the chance to weigh in on the matter. According to the AP, however, the board of directors could kick the decision to the council for further consideration.

As far as winter sports are concerned, a restored year of eligibility for athletes in those sports is also set to be discussed, but support there is minimal at best, according to a memo recently sent to college sports administrators from the NCAA that was obtained by the AP. The argument against granting extra eligibility for athletes in winter sports such as basketball, hockey and wrestling is that those sports had either completed or were near completion of the regular seasons when the COVID-19 cancellations began to unfold.

‘Winter sports had either concluded their regular season competition or substantially concluded their regular-season competition,” a portion of the memo said, per the AP.

For D-I spring sport athletes, the precedent is already there when it comes to hopes of retaining a year of eligibility. Division II has already approved legislation to provide an extra season of eligibility and financial aid for its spring sport athletes, according to the memo.

Continue reading story here

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March 27th

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Kirk Herbstreit: “I’d be shocked if we have football this fall”

From YardBarker.com … Sports fans are hoping the coronavirus pandemic is under control by the start of the 2020 football season. Even if the spread has slowed dramatically, however, Kirk Herbstreit does not think we are going to see college football this year.

Herbstreit said during an appearance on ESPN Radio Thursday night that he would be “shocked” if the 2020 college football season is not canceled.

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Herbstreit said, as transcribed by TMZ. “Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a (coronavirus) vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

While Herbstreit is certainly not an epidemiologist, he said he believes what we have seen with the coronavirus outbreak thus far is only “scratching the surface of where this thing’s gonna go.” He’s also concerned about the lack of preparation time for teams even if the pandemic has quieted down in a few months.

“You don’t all of the sudden come up with something in July or August and say, ‘Okay we’re good to go’ and turn ’em loose.” Herbstreit said.

At this point, the NFL seems to be the only league refusing to make major changes to its schedule. However, there are plenty of people around the league who believe the start of the 2020 season will be delayed, at the very least.

Continue reading story here

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March 26th

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NCAA to distribute $225 million to schools (instead of $600 million)

From ESPN … The NCAA board of governors voted unanimously on Thursday to distribute $225 million to Division I schools in June — less than half of what it had previously budgeted — following the cancellation of its basketball tournaments and other winter and spring championships because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA had planned to distribute about $600 million, with the first distribution scheduled for April.

The NCAA generates most of its revenue from TV and marketing rights from the men’s basketball tournament, along with ticket sales from national championship events.

The NCAA said $50 million will come from its reserves and that it also has a $270 million event cancellation insurance policy, which will be used to pay off a line of credit to cover the remaining distribution within 12 months.

“We are living in unprecedented times not only for higher education but for the entire nation and around the globe as we face the COVID-19 public health crisis,” Michael V. Drake, NCAA board of governors chairman and Ohio State president, said in a statement. “As an Association, we must acknowledge the uncertainties of our financial situation and continue to make thoughtful and prudent decisions on how we can assist conferences and campuses in supporting student-athletes now and into the future.”

NCAA president Mark Emmert told ESPN last week that the national governing body was “going to have to do some more hard things to figure out how we move forward.”

“We’ve got some cash reserves and a variety of things, but is it going to be painful? Absolutely. It’s going to be very hard,” Emmert said.

Continue reading story here

Report: NCAA facing $475 million decline in revenues (with a $380 million decline in expenses)

From USA Today … The NCAA is facing decreases of $475 million in revenues and $380 million in expenses for its current fiscal year, according to estimates in a report released Tuesday by one of the nation’s three major credit-rating firms.

The amounts for 2020 would represent a 42% decline in revenue and a 36% decline in expenses from 2019, based on figures that Moody’s Investors Service calls its “adjusted indicators,” which can differ slightly from numbers shown in the association’s financial statements.

In dollar amounts, that means the NCAA will have about $654 million in revenue and about $668 million in expenses in fiscal 2020.

Both of those amounts have been above $1 billion in each of the past two years, according to the association’s recently released audited financial statement.

The NCAA’s greatest expense traditionally has been its direct distribution to Division I conferences and schools. Over the past two years, that outlay has averaged about $610 million.

The Moody’s credit opinion and subsequent comments to USA TODAY by firm vice president and senior credit officer Dennis Gephardt provide some insight into how the NCAA is handling its financial affairs after canceling the Division I men’s basketball tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While based on work by Moody’s analysts, Gephardt said, “We had conversations with (NCAA officials) and they offered general guidance.”

What remains unclear is how much money will go directly to Division I conferences and schools. In recent years, those distributions normally have comprised a little less than 60% of the NCAA’s total annual expenses. But this year is far from normal.

Continue reading story here

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March 25th

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Expert: “I’m doubtful we’re going to have a 2020 football season, NFL or college”

From CBS Sports … What was once unthinkable has quietly become a discussion point and concern throughout college athletics. Will the coronavirus pandemic force the cancellation of the 2020 college football season?

With it already having taken out the NCAA Tournament and the remainder of 2019-20 season, including the College World Series, athletic departments are looking ahead to football as the next major event on the collegiate sports calendar.

“I am not trying to be overly pessimistic, but I’m doubtful we’re going to have a 2020 football season, NFL or college,” said Warren K. Zola, a respected expert on sports law and executive director of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. “That’s just me. I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that we’re all back over the summer.”

From a view more than five months from kickoff on Aug. 29, that concept is hard to comprehend.

Just pause for a moment and consider where we are right now as a country with the coronavirus. With 72 percent of Americans believing containment will take a few months or longer, 57 percent say the battle with the coronavirus is “going badly,” according to a CBS News poll. There are currently 55,330 confirmed cases in the United States with 804 deaths, and neither the testing rate nor the infection rate has reached its peak.

Now imagine, five months from now, jamming 100,000 fans on a steamy Saturday afternoon into a stadium to watch 22 men in close proximity on any given snap running 150-plus plays.

That’s the furthest thing from social distancing.

It hit Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork this week when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed. That event was set to take place roughly a month before the start of the college football season (July 24 to Aug. 9). Olympic officials finally concluded it was not wise for 11,000 athletes from all over the world to congregate for two-plus weeks.

“With that news right there, then that starts creeping into the football season and training camps and scheduling,” Bjork said. “… I don’t know how you operate [if the season is canceled]. Where would the bailout come from? Because we would all have to have one if we were going to maintain any sort of normalcy.”

Continue reading story here

Washington State senior defensive back dies 

From USA Today … Washington State senior defensive back Bryce Beekman died Tuesday night, Pullman (Washington) Police Commander Jake Opgenorth confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. He was 22 years old. The cause of death was unknown.

“As of right now there are no obvious signs of foul play,” Opgenorth said.

The Whitman County Coroner’s Office did not immediately release details of the death. Washington State’s athletic department released a statement expressing condolences.

“I knew him to be a wonderful young man,” coach Nick Rolovich said in a statement. “He was always positive and well respected amongst his teammates.”

Beekman, a redshirt senior for the Cougars, started all 13 games in 2019. He transferred from Arizona Western College and was expected to be a key player in the 2020 campaign. Beekman had 60 tackles, fifth on the team, last season.

Beekman is the older brother of Reece Beekman, a four-star college basketball recruit in the 2020 class who has signed with Virginia.

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March 24th

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Pac-12 needs a “coordinated effort” for planning the return of football in the fall (or beyond)

From the San Jose Mercury News … Despite campus shutdowns and a conference office rendered vacant by shelter-in-place regulations, Pac-12 administrators are engaged in regular discussions about several key issues facing college athletics.

The list includes the status of NCAA Tournament distributions, likely changes to transfer rules and the looming  legislation on name, image and likeness — momentous stuff, for sure.

But a subset of those officials convenes daily about a topic no one could have ever guessed would need addressing:

The restart of the college football machinery generally and spring practice specifically.

“The focus now, and rightfully so,” a conference source said, “is on the issues staring us directly in the face.”

But there are two issues standing off to the side, poised to deliver a wallop to major college athletics:

* A significant disruption to the football season in the form of a delayed start or outright shutdown (and the resulting financial toll).

* The status of the game-day experience for spectators in a post-COVID-19 world, whether that dawn arrives in September or not until the fall of 2021.

Those matters could soon move to the forefront.

“The Pac-12 has some of the smartest minds in the country, not only with athletic directors but also when you think about the universities themselves and all their resources,” said Andy Dolich, the Bay Area-based sports executive whose resume includes stints as the 49ers’ chief operating officer and the Memphis Grizzlies’ president of business operations.

“I would put a task force in place that has sports people, technology experts and even scientists — amass the smartest people and all the resources of the schools themselves …

“Because whenever this ends, it’s not going to be a case of, ‘OK, everything’s fine. Now come on back to the stadiums.’”

To that end, the conferences should not act independently:

There must be a coordinated effort, Dolich said, on the issues fundamental to the sport: from spring practice and recruiting to training camp and ticket sales.

Continue reading story here

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March 23rd

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College football without fans possible – but not economically feasible

From NBC Sports … The coronavirus has stopped college football in its tracks. Talk to anybody around the sport though, and they’ll often couch it in terms like ‘for now.’

While most of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has been limited to the postponement or cancellation of spring ball, there’s been a lot of talk about what happens if the current state of events pushes into the fall.

Some coaches are already making plans on the off chance that the season does getting delayed. Plans at the conference level are still being made about events in the summer but there exists the potential of things the gridiron being impacted come August and beyond. While cancelation of the 2020 season would be a catastrophic event to the entire athletics industry, there are some who will leave no stone unturned in order to get games played.

Could that also mean quasi-European style contests in empty stadiums without fans? It’s feasible according to one SEC AD even if it doesn’t make sense on the accounting front.

“I can’t comprehend it, especially looking at our place where you have facilities built specifically for housing these large gatherings, 100,000-plus people,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork told the Dallas Morning News, “and you have financing related to that based on ticket sales and advertising and suite sales and donations.

“So the whole model rises and falls based on football. If there’s no spectators maybe we can play, but if there’s no spectators, the economics just don’t work. That’s what we have to focus on is that long-term picture.”

The Aggies took in over $44 million in ticket sales (across all sports, but mostly football) in 2018, according to USA Today. That amounted to roughly 20% of their total revenue that year. While it may not be enough to axe something at their expensive college football program, it could lead to canceling a non-revenue sport like A&M volleyball.

We’re still a long ways away from having to make decisions like that in this sport just yet. But the time very well may come unless the spread of the coronavirus gets under control and local authorities give the go-ahead to having large gatherings once again.

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March 22nd

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Giving athletes an extra year of eligibility could cost $500,000 to $900,000

… Just when schools are going to be facing a reduction in payouts from the cancellation of March Madness … 

From USA Today … NCAA Division I schools’ plan to preserve an additional year of eligibility for athletes in spring sports whose seasons were lost due to the coronavirus pandemic could place a significant additional cost on athletics departments that will be facing declining revenue.

Giving an additional season of eligibility just to seniors on spring-sports teams could cost public schools in the Power Five conferences anywhere from $500,000 to $900,000, a USA TODAY analysis of schools’ financial reports to the NCAA shows.

Schools outside the Power Five would face lower amounts, but FCS schools that have relatively robust spring sports offerings could be looking at a cost of around $400,000. However, for the schools that would be facing amounts much lower than that, the additional revenue needed — even in the best circumstances — is hard to come by.

And the outlay involved would grow dramatically if the option for a replacement season of eligibility were to be permitted for more than one class.

“I do believe it’s the right thing to talk about it and see what the possibilities are,” said Eastern Washington athletics director Lynn Hickey, whose program has five spring sports teams and in 2018-19 provided less than the Division I-maximum number of scholarships in all of them. “In our situation, how do we come up with the funds for the extra scholarships that we weren’t counting on? Quite honestly, I don’t know how we would pay for it. I’m being very honest and transparent. I don’t know.”

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March 21st

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Arizona Desert Swarm: Time to part ways with Sean Miller

From ArizonaDesertSwarm … What took place throughout the season probably favored those with guarded optimism. I can’t honestly say if the team got better from start to finish.

There’s no point in speculating what could have been but I think everyone could rationally agree with a high level of confidence that this wasn’t going to be the team that broke through to the final weekend. This means, as fans, we were in line for another disappointing finish.

Moreover, I believe it underscores a bigger issue on hand. An issue that really divides the Wildcat faithful.

Is it time for Sean Miller and Arizona to part ways?

… This was the year that was supposed to erase everything that happened dating back to the Sweet 16 loss to Xavier in 2017. And as I briefly outlined, there have been a lot of bad memories.

There really hasn’t been closure to the bribery/recruiting scandal, just radio silence. Sometimes no news is good news but it’s hard to believe that nothing can come from that.

It was recently reported that HBO is releasing a documentary of the scandal later this month. I can’t imagine that there is new damning evidence against Miller that would be considered unbeknownst to President Robert Robbins, AD Dave Heeke or the rest of the Arizona insiders.

However, it’s just going to reopen those wounds. It’s also bad timing (or perfect timing depending on which side of the table you sit) that it’s following the conclusion of a season that should probably be considered a disappointment.

The bottom line is Miller has done wonderful things for “A Player’s Program” and the facts support that position. It’s just hard to get out from under the dark cloud of the FBI Investigation or overlook the underachievement dating back March 23, 2017, when Arizona gave away its ticket to Xavier for another Elite Eight appearance.

The university and Miller should be facing a crucial decision to make this off-season. Given everything we’ve witnessed over the last few years, both on and off the court, is it time to part ways?

I believe the answer is yes.

Read full story here

NCAA to allow schools to reimburse players for cancelled visits

From NBC Sports … The NCAA continues to open up their rulebook in order to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

In an announcement made Friday evening, the organization issued a number of waivers to schools regarding expenses for student-athletes. The most notable of these includes allowing programs to reimburse recruits for expenses related to canceled official and unofficial visits.

Schools pick up the tab for official visits already but if there’s something like an extra family member coming along, seems like that can get reimbursed now. Unofficial visits are paid entirely by the players and their families themselves.

It remains to be seen how this reimbursement will work. Given the number of visits that take place during the coming weeks for spring football practice, it could add up to some sizable checks being cut either way.

“The NCAA Division I Council and its Coordination Committee recognize that the decisions they make must be grounded in the values of higher education and must reflect the realities of the challenges facing higher education.  This is certainly magnified during this unprecedented period resulting from COVID-19,” said Grace Calhoun, chair of the Division I Council. “To that end, as an example, the Coordination Committee, acting on behalf of the Council, took timely action to address health and safety concerns among student-athletes, prospective student-athletes and coaches. The Coordination Committee identified other issues that lend themselves to full Council review and decision-making.”

While it doesn’t specifically apply to football, a vote on eligibility relief for spring/winter sports athletes will be held on March 30.

The NCAA has already halted all person-to-person recruiting until April 15. This has resulted in a dead period across all sports, including football.

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March 20th

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Could college football go with a shortened season in 2020?

From CBS Sports … If the coronavirus pandemic continues for multiple months, Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said Thursday that the 2020 college football season could potentially be impacted … “if football is played, period.” Mendenhall told a small group of reporters he is already preparing his program to begin from scratch — with no spring practice or formal training — on or around Aug. 1 with the beginning of fall camp.

“We’re preparing exactly with that model in place,” Mendenhall said during a videoconference. “We’re acting as if, and we’re making preparations as if, we won’t have spring practice. We possibly won’t have players here for summer school, any session, and possibly we won’t have the opportunity for anything other than fall camp to begin.

“Knowing that fall camp timing might even be pushed back, meaning that there certainly could be a chance that it’s not even be a full schedule played this year — if football is played, period.”

To date, Mendenhall is the highest-profile voice in the sport who has even suggested a full season could not be played. The FBS season begins in less than six months on Saturday, Aug. 29. The overwhelming majority of programs start in Week 1 on Saturday, Sept. 4.

“I’m willing to look at that vision as far as possible saying, ‘What if there is no football this season,’ or ‘What if there is a modified season?'” Mendenhall said.

The fifth-year Virginia coach is a member of the American Football Coaches Association board of trustees. He has spoken only informally about the subject with his peers.

“Solutions are so wide-ranging right now and have to be because of a lack of a definitive end point to [the virus],” Mendenhall said.

AFCA executive director Todd Berry, after recently speaking with medical professionals, relayed to CBS Sports their opinion: “This [virus] is probably going to plateau in a couple of weeks.” Of course, Berry added that those medical professionals are “not writing this down in concreate.”

If games are missed at all, it could have a tremendous impact on college athletics. College football revenue is the foundation for FBS athletic departments.

Continue reading story here

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March 19th

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Schools facing financial fallout from canceling March Madness: “The economics of all this could definitely be extensive”

From USA Today … Major-college athletics directors are planning on the NCAA not being able to cover all of the revenue it will lose because of the cancellation of the Division I men’s basketball tournament due to the coronavirus outbreak, six ADs and college sports administrators have told USA TODAY.

That is likely to result in a reduction of the association’s scheduled distribution of $600 million to Division I schools and conferences this spring, the ADs and administrators said. How much of a reduction is still to be determined, and that will depend on the association’s ability to tap its reserves and borrow money.

The ADs and administrators spoke on the condition of anonymity because the financial details are still being worked out.

“The economics of all this could definitely be extensive,” one AD said.

The association has $250 million to $275 million in business-interruption insurance connected to the tournament, the ADs and administrators have been told, but it is unclear how quickly that money would come to the NCAA – or how much. These types of insurance claims can bog down in a variety of disputes, and catastrophic-event insurance markets are likely to be under stress because of the global pandemic.

The association depends on the basketball tournament for nearly all of its roughly $1.1 billion in normal annual revenue.

During a fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2020, the NCAA had been scheduled to collect $827 million just from its long-term multimedia and marketing rights agreement with CBS and Turner, according to the association’s recently released audited financial statement. That statement attributed $170 million in non-CBS/Turner revenue for fiscal 2019 to “championships and NIT tournaments,” with a sizable portion of that likely coming from the men’s basketball tournament.

Continue reading story here

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March 17th

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Arizona’s Sean Miller exposed in HBO documentary – “We paid the players”

From ESPN … Shortly after an undercover FBI agent revealed her true identity to aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins in a hotel suite at Times Square in New York on Sept. 25, 2017, Dawkins’ cellphone rang.

And then the undercover agent’s cellphone rang. Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller was somehow simultaneously calling both phones.

“My phone rings, their phone rings,” Dawkins said. “That s— was like duplicated, basically. This s— is crazy.”

That scene was recreated in HBO’s upcoming documentary “The Scheme,” which will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on March 31. “The Scheme” was supposed to premier Tuesday at the South By Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas, but the festival was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

HBO provided a screening copy of the film, directed by Pat Kondelis, to ESPN and other media outlets on Tuesday.

The nearly two-hour documentary focuses on Dawkins’ role in the federal government’s three-year investigation into college basketball corruption, which led to the arrest of 10 men, including four assistant coaches.

Dawkins, a onetime runner for NBA agent Andy Miller, was convicted of helping facilitate money from Adidas to the families and handlers of high-profile recruits to steer them to Adidas-sponsored schools, and of bribing assistant coaches to steer their players toward his fledgling management company in a separate federal criminal trial. Dawkins has appealed both convictions.

In the film, he admitted to breaking NCAA rules but denied committing a federal crime.

“We admitted from Day 1 that we paid the players,” Dawkins said. “There’s no point in hiding that. There’s no law in the world that says breaking an NCAA rule is a federal felony. There’s no law that says that, and [prosecutors] twisted the law to make it fit.”

Continue reading story here

Here is the trailer for the HBO Documentary …

 

ESPN: What a 64-team football bracket would look like (CU a No. 14 seed)

From ESPN … Sure, the four-team College Football Playoff has been fun and made the chase for college football’s top prize more inclusive. But let’s liven up the party and expand the field to 64 teams.

Here’s the format: We’ve seeded the teams 1 through 64, and the seeds are based on ESPN’s latest Football Power Index entering the 2020 season. FPI’s top four teams are Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Alabama, and with the Crimson Tide being the fourth No. 1 seed, that means they will travel to the West Region.

There’s no First Four in this tournament, and don’t get too caught up in the seeds. Just like the hoops tournament, there are always upsets, especially in the early rounds. And to keep things interesting, a few of the first-round matchups include compelling storylines.

Just like nobody second-guesses the CFP selection committee, I’m sure there won’t be any second-guessing our picks and which teams advance. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of projection involved and maybe even a touch of fantasy, too.

Today, we’ll take a look at the field and work our way through the first two rounds of the tournament, narrowing the pool from 64 to 16. We’ll then play the rest of the games and crown the 2020 national champion to the familiar tune of “One Shining Moment.”

The Bracket

1-seeds: Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama

2-seeds: Penn State, Wisconsin, Texas, Texas A&M

3-seeds: Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida, LSU

4-seeds: Oregon, USC, Auburn, Michigan

5-seeds: Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota

6-seeds: UCF, Nebraska, Florida State, Utah

7-seeds: Virginia Tech, Indiana, Iowa, Stanford

8-seeds: Washington, Cal, Iowa State, TCU

9-seeds: Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisville, Purdue

10-seeds: Northwestern, Miami, Cincinnati, Mississippi State

11-seeds: Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Ole Miss, Baylor

12-seeds: Houston, Texas Tech, Virginia, West Virginia

13-seeds: UCLA, Kansas State, Boise State, Navy

14-seeds: Missouri, Washington State, Georgia Tech, Colorado

15-seeds: Michigan State, Memphis, North Carolina State, SMU

16-seeds: BYU, Arizona, Duke, Louisiana

First four out: Illinois, Arkansas, Oregon State, Wake Forest

(3) LSU 31, (14) Colorado 17: LSU lost a ton from last season’s national championship team, both players and coaches. But it still has All-American receiver Ja’Marr Chase, and his three touchdown catches help the Tigers break open a close game.

(11) Baylor 24, (6) Utah 22: A year ago, Dave Aranda was helping to steer LSU to a national championship as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator. Now, he’s got Baylor in the second round of the NCAA tournament in his first season as the Bears’ head coach.

(10) Mississippi State 34, (7) Stanford 28: Mike Leach left the Pac-12 for the SEC, and so did grad transfer quarterback K.J. Costello. After starting parts of three seasons for Stanford, Costello joins forces with Leach in Starkville and sends his former team packing in the first round with a 300-yard passing performance, including a key fourth-quarter touchdown pass.

(1) Oklahoma 51, (16) Arizona 17: Kevin Sumlin’s Wildcats simply don’t have enough playmakers on either side of the ball to keep pace with the school he once coached at for five seasons as an assistant, the last two as co-offensive coordinator. And no matter who plays quarterback for Lincoln Riley, the results are the same — lots of points.

(3) Georgia 41, (14) Washington State 10: Kirby Smart was hoping to be more explosive on offense and brought in Todd Monken from the NFL to be his offensive coordinator. Monken’s impact has been noticeable, but so has the impact of Wake Forest grad transfer quarterback Jamie Newman, who torches the Cougars with five touchdowns — three passing and two running.

(4) USC 34, (13) Kansas State 24: Chris Klieman’s track record speaks for itself. He will get Kansas State to a point where the Wildcats are winning these games. But it’s a case of too much Kedon Slovis for K-State. The USC sophomore quarterback turns in a pinpoint passing performance to ease the restlessness among the USC fans and send the Trojans into the second round.

(8) Cal 28, (9) South Carolina 21: This one won’t sit well in Columbia, South Carolina, with a fan base that was already growing increasingly antsy about the direction of the program under Will Muschamp. On the flip side, it’s a huge win for Justin Wilcox in his fourth season as the Golden Bears’ head coach.

(4) Oregon 52, (13) UCLA 14: Ouch. The Ducks really put it on their old coach, Chip Kelly, who led them to the national championship game a decade ago, and they don’t show any mercy in continuing to pile on the points in the fourth quarter. As well as Oregon plays on offense, it’s equally menacing on defense. One of UCLA’s touchdowns comes late during garbage time.

(11) Arizona State 27, (6) UCF 24: As Arizona State coach Herm Edwards once famously said, “You play to win the game,” and that’s exactly what the Sun Devils do in sprinting out to a big lead early and then holding on for the kind of win Arizona State fans were hoping for when Edwards returned to coaching in 2018.

(8) Washington 27, (9) Kentucky 23: A lot of eyes were on Jimmy Lake this season as he stepped in for Chris Petersen as Washington’s head coach. But he has the Huskies playing with confidence and purpose, and they come up big in the red zone on defense to stave off a pair of Kentucky scoring threats in the fourth quarter.

SOUTH REGIONAL SEMIFINALS (only USC from the Pac-12 made it to the “Sweet Sixteen”)

(1) Oklahoma vs. (4) USC

(3) Georgia vs. (10) Miami

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March 16th

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Betting odds set for a number of Pac-12 games

From FoxBet.com … Odds which have been set so far for non-conference games involving Pac-12 teams …

  • Utah … a 7.0-favorite at home against BYU
  • Stanford … a 10.5-point underdog on the road against Notre Dame
  • USC … a 13.5-point underdog against Alabama
  • Washington … a 1.0-point favorite at home against Michigan
  • Oregon … a 2.5-point underdog at home against Ohio State

And for some Pac-12 conference games …

  • UCLA … a 6.0-point underdog at home against USC
  • Oregon … a 7.0-point favorite at home against Washington
  • Oregon … a 4.0-point favorite at home against USC
  • Stanford … a 3.5-point underdog at home against USC

Oregon to install the largest scoreboard in collegiate sports

From the Oregonian … Oregon is planning to build the biggest video board in college football and a new sound system at Autzen Stadium.

UO athletics is proposing to the university’s board of trustees plans for a new 186′ x 66′ video board and point-source sound system above the East end zone terrace at Autzen Stadium. The $12 million project, which will be funded by private gifts, will voted on by the Finance and Facilities Committee of UO’s board of trustees Monday afternoon and is slated to be completed in August, in time for the 2020 football season which includes a Sept. 12 home game with Ohio State.

“The Athletic Department has consistently received feedback from loyal football fans concerning the audio/visual aspects of their experience in Autzen Stadium,” the project proposal states. “Audio/video services are critically important components to the fan experience. The current A/V equipment and technology in Autzen Stadium is dated (west end zone videoboard is 12 years old and the 2nd oldest in the Pac-12) and is not meeting the expectations of attendees. Newly available technologies will enable the department to better meet these expectations and will play an important role in differentiating the fan experience at Autzen Stadium.”

Continue reading story here

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March 15th

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CBS Sports: Where does college football go from here?

From CBS Sports … The NCAA made the right decision in canceling its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments for the first time. It’s the future that is so scary. There isn’t one at the moment. Not one we can see clearly.

Thursday was The Day Sports Died. Almost everywhere. It was also another case of American hubris: Coronavirus didn’t truly become a big deal in the country until sports were canceled and two NBA players, plus actor Tom Hanks, contracted the virus.

By Thursday afternoon, the only live action available was golf and combat sports. By Thursday evening, even golf was gone.

Where’s the bracket busting in that?

In shutting down all winter and spring college sports for the remainder of their seasons, there are more questions than there is closure.

What about the transfer portal? The assumption is the transfer portal remains wide open during this uncertain period. In normal times, the next reckoning in that space would have been the end of spring practice. Players that lose out on position battles would have had a choice to make. Now, some of those choices — like the games themselves — are on hold.

But transfers have to assimilate, move, meet their teammates. More importantly, enroll and attend summer school. Will there even be summer school this year? 

What about recruiting? In normal times, head coaches aren’t allowed to go out and recruit until after spring practice. However, from April 15 through May 31, assistant coaches fan out across the country for the heart of the recruiting process. Spring is a big evaluation period. “It’s pretty dramatic,” said Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports. “Huge time for these coaches.”

The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC have suspended all on-campus and off-campus recruiting for the time being. Most likely, the upcoming evaluation period will be pushed back. There is already speculation December’s early signing period will be eliminated in Year 4 of its existence to allow recruits more time to decide.

As for right now, this is the time when coaches and recruits form relationships. It will be hard to judge a prospect’s character on Skype. The impact of missing on a recruit — in terms of talent or character — is sort of a minor point at the moment.

What about the name, image and likeness battle? The NCAA likely bought itself some time in terms of controversial name, image and likeness and transfer legislation. The NIL working group was due to make recommendations to the NCAA Board of Directors by the end of April. With travel restrictions, will the board even meet in Indianapolis?

The NCAA is in a good place as it stands. The first NIL bill (in Florida) is expected to take effect July 1, 2021, once it is formally put into law. By that time, the NCAA will have enough runway to develop its own legislation with some help from the federal government. Friday is the last day for the Florida House and Senate to pass the bill.

I am told by several sources it is simply not practical to challenge the legality of what is now more than 30 NIL laws state-by-state.

What about the 2020 football season? It’s the next sport on the college calendar. It’s also less than six months away. Again, should we assume the virus is going to be eliminated or even slowed by then? Without football, we’re talking about impacting the foundation of the athletic budgets of 130 FBS schools.

Note that the U.S. has had a late start to the fight. Italy is spiking. The cases in China, by most reports, have plateaued.

Football is arguably the most intimate sport in the coronavirus discussion. Stadiums that seat 100,000 fans, 22 players banging heads in close proximity on every snap, dozens more standing together on both sidelines. We better make damn sure coronavirus is on the run before we start football again.

“We’re all going to be exposed [to the virus],” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We’re not going to know we’ve been exposed until after we begin show symptoms. Sometimes that’s days later.”

God speed into that uncertain future.

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March 14th

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Pac-12 cancels all sports for the remainder of the season

From the Daily Camera … The Pac-12 made the decision Saturday to cancel all sports for the remainder of the school year as concerns about the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continue to impact the nation.

A statement issued by the Pac-12:

“At a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group and Athletic Directors earlier today, the Pac-12 made the decision to cancel all Pac-12 conference and non-conference sport competitions and Pac-12 championships through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year. This decision follows both the Pac-12’s earlier decision to suspend all sports until further notice, and the decision by the NCAA to cancel the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 NCAA basketball tournaments as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.

“In addition, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to prohibit all organized team athletically-related activities until at least March 29, at which time it will revisit this decision.”

Colorado competes in six spring sports: men’s and women’s track and field; men’s and women’s golf; women’s lacrosse and women’s tennis.

The women’s lacrosse team was five games into its season, going 3-2. The 25th-ranked Buffs had 11 regular season games left on the remaining schedule.

CU’s men’s golf team had competed in three events this spring, with three more regular season tournaments and the Pac-12 Championships scheduled. The women’s golf team was also three events into its spring season, with two more and the Pac-12 Championships scheduled.

Women’s tennis, which began in January, was 8-6 this spring and had nine more dual matches set before the Pac-12 Championships in April.

Track and field, which had the Indoor NCAA Championships canceled this weekend, was scheduled to kick off the home portion of the outdoor season next weekend with the Jerry Quiller Classic. CU had 14 meets scheduled for the regular season, with Pac-12 Championships in May.

Continue reading story here

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7 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. can college coaches be layed off like the rest of us without getting million dollar buyouts? The system is broke and maybe this is the kind of shock we need to bring reality back to college sports. I for one hope so

  2. The Pres says this will all be over in 2 weeks. Others are saying no football of any kind this year. Logic would say it will play out somewhere in between. If it does go to no football that would be described as the biggest non-lethal disaster this country could face, the exception of course a crippling return of the great depression.
    A lethal disaster followed by a non lethal one (or 2)might create a seismic culture shift in this country. Where will he public’s attention turn with no sports, concerts or other shoulder to shoulder gatherings? Instead of predictions of scores it will be interesting to here predictions from sociologists and psychologists. I suppose you could include economists in that crowd too but we hear from them already and I’m not sure if most are any more accurate.

  3. Read the article pretty neat actually so

    Buffs lose in the first round to LSU
    Holers lose tool-

    But the best was this:

    West Region first down

    (2) Penn State 35, (15) Michigan State 17: It’s a made-for-TV first-round matchup between two Big Ten rivals and a rematch, no less, from the regular season. The Nittany Lions ride their experienced, bruising offensive line to take down Sparty for a second time in 2020 in a game that’s never really in doubt. Afterward, Michigan State first-year coach Mel Tucker shuts off his phone and doesn’t take any calls from other athletic directors.</b<

    Pretty funny ol Mel got shaded

    Buffs.

  4. Why does armpit Sean Miller (and the other scum coach at LSU) still have a job?
    Because AZ wont fire him until he starts losing a few more games with players he cant pay for.
    What is taking the NCAA so long ? Is their another kind of bidding war going on behind the scenes?
    Professional wrestling has more integrity. At least all the players and or “teams” there are on the same page.

    1. Agreed, how Miller and Self have kept their jobs is beyond me. The NCAA is joke. It took them no time to ban Jeremy Bloom but these blatant cheaters keep collecting their millions. Very hard to take them seriously.

  5. I smell desperation in the sports pundit fraternity. The 64 team football playoff? puleeeeze.
    I wouldnt buy one, but these guys would probably make more money marketing sports related board games.
    or
    with a lot more time off maybe they can travel around the country and do some real in depth research before they launch into their next “way too early.”
    (thats a joke)

  6. It’s all fun and games until the Nubs get a number 6 seed and then I smack my head and wonder why these pundits love the arseholes in red.

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