Saban Sums Up Cheating

Over the last decade, I think it’s safe to say that NCAA rules enforcement has been gutted.  Several things have led to this, especially:

  • Money – there’s lots of it at stake in college football; and
  • Schools lawyering up and forcing the NCAA to back down.

We have little brother to thank, in large part, for the last one.

During his recent swing through ESPN, Nick Saban was asked about cheating in college football and he had some interesting things to say.

First, he made some general comments on cheating in general:

“But I don’t see players getting bought. I don’t see players getting extra benefits any place,” Saban said. “I think recruiting is so transparent now, I think most people are scared to death that they would get caught publicly — not by the NCAA, not by the conference office.

“But even if you have illegal contact with a player, he tweets that you talked to him. So that’s a violation. I mean, it’s so transparent, you almost have to do things correctly because I don’t think anybody needs to catch you. I think the public would catch you.”

 

I get where Saban is coming from here.  No one goes on an ESPN media tour and announces that schools are cheating.  (Well, um, I guess unless you are Bret Beilema.) But at the same time, there are, obviously schools that cheat and cheat big time.  I can think of two right off the top of my head and they live in the SEC West.

He’s also very right.  Social media is so pervasive nowadays that the possibility of getting caught publicly is much greater than actually getting caught by the NCAA nazis.

He also had the opportunity to address some comments made by the Big 12 commissioner related to cheating:

Saban threw in one more comment about the Bowlsby’s comments on First Take.

“You’re always looking for a reason and one of the easiest excuses is to say the other guy did something illegal, aight?”

 

Ouch, that stings.  Except for a Sugar Bowl win last season, the Big 12 hasn’t won much in a while.  And until they do, comments like this will only look like sour grapes.

Still Room on the Bus

Seems as if there’s still room on the bus:

Hard to believe they are still scrambling to sell tickets after an SEC championship and a title game appearance…and with expectations of a good season.

Secondary Tickets: Bama Comes in Third

If you don’t already have season tickets to Alabama games, or if you have to by road tickets, it’ll cost you:

Alabama tied with Georgia for the highest median ticket prices. Its median price of $200 ranked behind only Notre Dame ($210) and Ohio State ($211). Auburn, despite beating Alabama last year and coming off an SEC Championship, ranks just 15th for median prices at $110.

The Crimson Tide also ranks as one of the top teams for elevating ticket prices on the road. When Alabama hits the road, its opponent’s prices increase by an average of 163 percent. That was second only to Florida State.

Both the Tide and the Tigers appear on VividSeat’s list of the most expensive games for the upcoming season. The Iron Bowl ranked third with an average price of $488. Alabama’s game with LSU ranks second at $494.

 

The inclusion of Georgia is a little bit of a head scratcher.  Other than early season games with Clemson and South Carolina, their schedule seems a bit average.

Loaded with Stars

There’s a post on BOL detailing Alabama’s 2014 roster by recruiting stars.  The numbers are staggering:

2014 Roster-Stars
5 stars:(13)
4 Stars: (52)
3 Stars: (18)

There was a time – not so long ago – when having one player with five stars was rare and we would go ga-ga over a couple of three-star guys.  For now, those days are gone.

If you ever wonder what is fueling Nick Saban’s run in Tuscaloosa, use this as a reminder.

Enter Lane

There are several different story lines that will follow Alabama football throughout the 2014 season.  Hopefully, we’ll take a look at those as the off-season turns into the pre-season.

Two of the most talked about and most anticipated, though, are replacing AJ McCarron and replacing Doug Nussmeier.  McCarron’s replacement hasn’t quited been decided yet, but Nussmeier’s has:  Lane Kiffin.

The questions surrounding Kiffin abound.  How will he co-exist with Nick Saban?  How will he fit into the staff?  Is he a jerk?  Can he keep his mouth shut?  How long will he last?

Those are all good questions and we’ll hear them a bunch.

The consensus from outsiders is that he is petulant, protected and has lived his life with a golden spoon in his mouth.  Some of that may be true, but I don’t buy the whole story.  Kiffin may have been given the benefit of the doubt at certain times – perhaps because of his father, but he’s still been the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers and USC Trojans.  Whatever his role, he also played a significant role on Pete Carroll’s dynasty at Southern Cal.

Like his personality or not, that adds up to significant experience and when you have a chance to add a coach with a resume like Kiffin’s to you staff, you have to take a look.  Saban did and apparently he like what he saw.

As noted here, I think Saban brought Kiffin on board for three reasons:

1) I agree with Rick above. Recruiting is king.

2) I think Saban was looking for a more aggressive play caller than Nuss. Part of that, IMO, is being able to maintain execution of a game plan when Saban is scalding you during a game. Many believe Kiffin has the personality to handle that. We will see, I guess.

3) Nuss took some heat last year for under utilizing a couple of talented players (e.g. Henry and OJ Howard). I’m sure Saban expects better use of a talented roster.

Yes, we had a rebuilding offensive line last year, but, overall, the offense under performed, especially during key stretches.  In my opinion, that’s ultimately why Nuss is at Michigan this year.   I believe Saban wanted to add some swagger and aggressiveness to an already talented offensive team and he thinks Kiffin can get this done.

I hope he’s right.

I’m sure we’ll be talking about this quite a few more times as the season nears.

Sorry for the Weed, Bro

In case you didn’t know it, Auburn’s Nick Marshall is sorry:

“He was very regretful,” [chief] Holder said. “He was very respectful. He was very apologetic. He seemed like he was disappointed in himself. He did get a little teary eyed as we had the conversation. I think sometimes what those kids need, they need somebody to talk to them and say, hey, you made a mistake, don’t let it happen anymore.”

Right, chief.  He just needs a shoulder to cry on.  That’s it.

Nowadays, you better know that most of the players on your favorite football team smoke weed.  One study says that about 22% of college players smoke doobies, but I’m guessing that number is short – by a lot.  Marijuana, like it or not, is part of the culture of college athletics.  I don’t know why and it makes no sense to me, but it is.  It figures that athletes that spend so much time training and preparing their bodies would stay away from pot, but they don’t.

Therefore, it’s not appropriate to cast stones at your rival, but your guys are doing it as well.  Players at all schools are going to smoke dope and it doesn’t matter what you say or do primarily because, well, there aren’t any consequences.  Oh, Gus Malzahn will tell us that there are, but there won’t be anything significant – and by significant I mean any significant playing time.  Why?  There are a couple of reasons, I think.

One, our culture as a whole condones the use of illegal drugs.  Who are we, the medicated masses, to prevent one of our favorite athletes from having a little fun?  After all, these guys work so hard to play the game we enjoy so much.

Two, there’s two much money involved.  Do you honestly think a little bit of pot found in a car will get in the way of a college playoff run?  Do you think a little weed will be a roadblock for college coaches with millions of dollars in salaries and benefits on the line? Not hardly.

College athletics has become accepting of drug use – just review your favorite team’s drug testing policy – and that is a reflection of how our culture now view drug use, regardless of what local, state or federal drug laws may say.  If our culture truly has a problem with drug use – even less than an ounce – there would be a reaction that would force our favorite teams and conferences to act.  Instead, our favorite teams and conferences are treading water on the issue until drug laws are relaxed.

Nick Marshall is nothing special or new related to marijuana use.  I won’t think one way or the other regarding whatever consequences Malzahn doles out to him.

But I will be a little doubtful about his apology.  We’ve seen this act before.

Usually, when we are sorry for something it’s because of one of two reasons.  One, we are sorry that we got caught, because getting caught means we have to deal with a hassle.  We won’t really want to change our behavior, because we probably don’t think we did anything wrong.

On the other hand, there is recognizing that what we did is wrong, and we are truly sorry for making a mistake, harming others, causing trouble, etc.  We realize we hurt ourselves, broke the trust of others and sinned against God.  And we don’t want to do it again.  We are sorry.

It’s really not my place to judge the sincerity of Nick Marshall’s apology.  That’s really between Marshall and Auburn and Marshall and God.  But because this plays out in the public eye, and because this is a reflection of how our culture deals with things, it is interesting to see how things will play out.

For Nick Marshall’s sake, I really do hope he is sorry.

 

Back

Blogging is hard work.

Regardless of one’s motive for writing, fulfilling the commitment to blog regularly takes a lot of effort. The process of coming up with the idea for a good post, writing it in a quality fashion and the doing so consistently, according to the committed schedule, is quite the undertaking. I’ve been able to blog consistently on a couple of sites, but eventually, the process wore me out and I dropped the blogging ball, so to speak.

On this site, for example, I’ve blogged through a couple of football seasons by posting articles on a daily basis. The seasons were fun and mostly successful, but by the end of the seasons, I’m mostly tired of talking about Alabama football. I also begin to realize that the time I’m spending on Alabama football blogging takes away time from writing about other things.

Life also takes over at some point.  Simply put, in the great big scheme of things, blogging is not that important and other, more important things need to be handled.  Back in 2012, for example, we sold our house and moved.  There was just no possible way to blog, despite being in the midst of a back-to-back title run.

But…as the calendar flips over and as we inch toward football season, the itch returns.  So, I’ve decided to give it another go, but with a few modifications.  The posts may or may not be daily and they won’t all be about Alabama football.  In an effort to be less herky-jerky and more consistent, I’ll probably just post all my blogs here instead of here and there.

It’s good to be back – for a while – and Roll Tide.