Tag Archives: NCAA

Press Your Luck: The 2014 NFL Draft

On Thursday the NFL will promote it’s newest class from amateur sports into professionalism, and maybe, stardom. This is always a stressful time of year. How could it not be? Drafting the wrong player could be more than detrimental to a franchise, setting it back years and years (see the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins since 1999).

The level of angst involved in each team’s pick, exceeds and is reminiscent  of, the 80s game show Press Your Luck. The game show consisted of 18 squares that lit up randomly and a button contestants had to push to stop the light on a square. In the squares were cash prizes, vacations, boats and other game show stuff.  There was also a character called the Whammy that would basically erase any prizes the contestants had earned to that point. This of course caused contestants to rock back and forth muttering “no Whammy, no Whammy, no Whammy”, and looking crazier than the Joker in Arkham Asylum. As a kid I watch the cardiac arrest inducing reruns with the same shear glee, I assume, the rest of America did back in 1983. That is until some guy figured out the sequence wasn’t random, won a ton of money and then more or less killed the show.

Pssst...Hey. Houston. Don't mess up.

Pssst…Hey. Houston. Don’t mess up.

There is a similar feeling around the NFL draft. The choices feel very random, and one wrong decisions can screw up everything a team has worked this hard to achieve. With the stakes this high, this is the pinnacle of drama. This year’s draft is set to be the most dramatic of them all. There are a lot of teams in need, and there are question marks all over the place. Thursday the questions, and the games, will begin.

“No Whammy, no Whammy, no Whammy.”

Will The Real Jadeveon Clowney Please Stand Up?

With Jadeveon Clowney, the talent is already there. He’s got the speed strength and size to be dominant at the pro level. There should be no question marks around him. None. Yet here we are wondering if he’ll pan out. The reason, of course, has to do with his effort. Clowney has been accused by numerous (albeit anonymous) sources of taking plays off. While his coaches come to his defense, the criticisms still hang in the air like the remnants of a smelly fart. After all, if the Houston Texans do take Clowney at number 1, can they expect a guy who gives his all every down? Should they expect the guy who allegedly saved himself for the NFL? It’s pretty unclear. Think about it this way, if a guy puts in less effort to keep himself injury free for the NFL it stands to reason that he would do the same thing in a contract year. He might do the same thing if his team looks like it might not make the playoffs, or if they’re getting blown out. This is not to say that Clowney is that kind of guy but once the questions are raised, they just kind of stay there.

Which Jadeveon will we get? The one who (allegedly) takes plays off? Or the Clowney who, all but erased a man from the pages of human history?

In Johnny Football We Trust?

Johnny Manziel needs no introduction. He was college football’s most electric offensive player by far. If you want to talk about a human highlight reel, Johnny Manziel is your guy. He’s also the guy that has been riddled with the biggest questions. He is after all, no stranger to controversy. Johnny is a star and isn’t shy about wanting to live the life style. His parents are affluent and as a result he’s had money to spend. This is important because we’ve seen how he spends it before he’s gotten his own multi-million dollar deal. He hasn’t been really reckless but, ever since Ryan Leaf, going to Vegas with your money is going to give any GM pause (this is before his height and risky play style are referenced).  Johnny is the super athletic and hyper talented guy who, as of this moment, may or may not have his head screwed on right. Manziel earned the nickname Johnny Football, and with good reason, he can flat out ball. My opinion is that football won’t be the thing that gets Johnny off track.

Teddy Bridgewater And The Great Divide.

In his games he demonstrates the savvy, poise, and knowledge of a pro. At his pro day he looked bafflingly terrible. He’s Teddy Bridgewater, the most NFL ready prospect of all the quarterbacks. The pro-style offensive at Louisville prepared him for this. He had full autonomy of the offense. Not known for having the strongest arm, Bridgewater was a brains over brawn kind of guy. He uses his eyes to manipulate the defense, he’s incredibly intelligent showing an understanding of football concepts beyond his years. One pro day should not undermine these qualities. It just seems so strange to see a guy like Bridgewater look that off. Even in his episode of QB camp with Jon Gruden, his throws looked off. His poise and intelligence were there but the throws looks so…average. So the question with Bridgewater is the same as Jadeveon Clowney. Which one is the real one? Usually in these situations you go back to the tape. The tape doesn’t lie (usually) but, that pro day is the little red flag that could. It’s a red flag that’s not going to go anywhere until week 1 of the season.

2014 may prove to be the NFL’s gut check draft. It hardly seems like teams know what they want, even though most of that is the usual misdirection and gamesmanship that has come to define the biggest offseason event in sports. It’s the obsessing about hand size and 40 times, that define this moment. GMs and other front office executives are trying to show some clairvoyance by trying to see and know the very thing they can’t see and can’t know. We sit at home watching it like some sadistic game of Press Your Luck, which says a lot more about us more than it says anything else.

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Jay Bilas Exposes NCAA Shop, Defends Justice.

Go to the NCAA Shop now. Here’s the link: http://www.shopncaasports.com/

Do you see a search bar? No? That’s because there isn’t one. The NCAA Shop disabled it after ESPN analyst Jay Bilas did some searches of players on it’s site. This is important because the NCAA claims not to make money off of players names and likenesses. Yet a simple search on the site proved that this isn’t the case. Typing in a player’s name in the search bar led directly to the correct team and corresponding jersey number.

Does it matter that the player in question was suspended? Or if they are currently being investigated for alleged rule breaking?

Nope . . .

. . . and nope.

This is the NCAA that won’t allow college athletes to sell their own memorabilia under the facade of amateurism. This is the NCAA that suspends them and slaps them on the wrist for doing so and then turns around and sells, what is essentially their name and likeness online. That’s not even the really unfair part. The part that is truly unfair is that there isn’t a whole lot the student athletes can do about it. Not Manziel, nor Bridgewater, nor Clowney. None of them can really stop it. Besides the media no one can hold the NCAA accountable.

As long as fans buy merchandise and video games and the like, it’s the players who get continually screwed. Fans feed the machine. Specifically, the money of fans feed the machine. The NCAA doesn’t care about the spirit of the game or protecting amateurism. They care about having your money in their pocket without having to pay the people that get it there. I’m all for fair but, does that sound fair to you?

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Johnny Manziel Is Not A Smart Man

Johnny Manziel is being investigated for allegedly selling his autograph for a five figure fee. This information came from ESPN’s Outside The Lines.  Two witnesses say that they saw Manziel sign products but that they did not see him receive payment. While the NCAA is very good at investigating things, it’s difficult to believe that this particular investigation is going to bring much result. The circle of information is too small and unless Manziel tells on himself (officially making him dumber than I thought) he wouldn’t get caught for his alleged actions.

While the alleged action of selling autographs isn’t smart, especially given the fact that Manziel’s family is quite wealthy, that’s not why I think Johnny Football is being pretty stupid.

I think Johnny Manziel is being stupid because at this point, he’s displayed the maturity of a six-year-old child. A six-year-old, for those of you who have never been around one, doesn’t think about the future. They can’t grasp the concept of their current actions having future consequences. And why should they? They’re six. When I was six wanted to be a Power Ranger or a Stegosaurus, I can’t quite remember which.

The problem?

Johnny Manziel is 20 years old. He isn’t a child. He’s an adult, and more importantly, he’s an adult that wants to be in the NFL. This is a notion that is becoming increasingly more difficult to believe with every incident. It was the summer of Manziel in the worst way imaginable. In a summer in which Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder and Tim Tebow joined the Patriots, Johnny managed to dominate the headlines.

The first questionable decision in a conga line of questionable decisions by Johnny Manziel goes back to December 20th of last year in which Johnny had court side seats to see the Dallas Mavericks host the Miami Heat. This is not a bad decision in and of itself but, people questioned how Manziel got his seats, he took to twitter. Which is always a bad idea.

Then January 5th of this year Manziel takes an instagram picture with a fist full of cash and tagged it “casino ballin” which again isn’t wrong, but maybe the world didn’t need to see that. Johnny again seems to be living his life as though he didn’t have the scrutiny of being a Heisman winning quarterback. When the (completely justified) scrutiny came. Manziel again took to twitter. Do you see a theme developing?

Source: (@jmanziel2)

I could do this all day. There is a laundry list of incidents. There was the bottle of Dom Perignon January 6th, the reported shoving a graduate assistant in a March 23rd practice, that thing with the Manning Academy or the twitter rant after a parking ticket on June 16th.

Johnny actually deleted this tweet but a simple google search proves that nothing is really deleted from the internet.

What’s the point? Johnny Manziel is extremely talented. However, he’s short standing at 6’1″ and there are questions about his arm strength. Legitimate questions about Johnny Football’s on the field measurables mean that he should not invite extra questions about his off the field ones. It doesn’t make any sense. Many said that media coverage of these stories were making mountains out of mole hills but, Manziel has provided quite a few mole hills because of the situations that he puts himself in. Then he compounds it by tweeting about all of it.

There is such a thing as “good will,” be it with public perception or the media. When a person runs out, especially a celebrity, it’s difficult to get more. It’s a perfectly adult thing that players coming out of college to enter the pros know. They are aware that their actions can put things in jeopardy. Maybe Manziel doesn’t realize he’s running out. A sure fire sign is usally when you can’t sneeze in any direction without the media reporting it. Johnny may not care what anybody thinks, but he should. The media will continue to exist, criticize and scrutinize  after he becomes a pro and NFL general managers are keeping tabs on everything he does right now. Johnny’s draft stock is being affected as you read this. All of his actions have very real world consequences for him. No team wants to waste a high draft pick on a guy with more red flags than an air craft carrier.

Does he realize this? Because that would be a perfectly adult thing to do. Any thing less would be, well, stupid.

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Penn State Penalties Too Much?

Today the NCAA handed down penalties to Penn State,  for the Jerry Sandusky scandal and its cover up, and it was harsher than expected. The NCAA has missed opportunities in the past to really flex their muscle and today they wanted to prove a point. They did that and then some. The penalties are a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban and all victories from 1998 to 2011 have been vacated. The NCAA is typically known for not being tough enough, soon enough. No one is really terrified of NCAA penalties as evidenced by SMU in the 80s when they took on many penalties before finally receiving the death penalty in 1987 and more recently by the Miami Hurricanes who have once again violated NCAA recruiting rules.

This was was the NCAAs chance and they dropped the hammer on Penn State, hard. Maybe a little too hard. I think most of these penalties are fair, most, not all. The fine is fair and the money is going to outside programs to help prevent child sexual abuse and aid its victims. I think the four-year postseason ban is fair. It’s a reminder that football should never become so big that it matters more than the human beings it affects. A harsh penalty indeed but, it’s absolutely fair. I do think that one punishment has gone too far. The removal of all of Penn State’s victories dating all the way back to 1998.

It’s clear that the NCAA did this to remove Joe Paterno from the top of the record books. This drops Paterno from first in all time head coaching victories to eighth. This is comes off as an unnecessary demonization of Paterno. When Paterno, according to the Freeh report, chose not to do anything about what Sandusky was doing he made a terrible mistake. The only way he could have done any worse is if he was abusing those boys himself. However, to attempt to remove Paterno from the record books is to pretend that Paterno didn’t also accomplish a lot of good during his time coaching. He helped graduate many students by not putting football above academics and was a widely respected mentor on that campus.

The mistakes Paterno made does not automatically cancel out the good he has done. He didn’t cheat, he won those games fair and square. I say leave the last good thing the man has to his name alone. His reputation is already forever tarnished, as it should be, but he was also a good person. Paterno, like all human beings, was capable of good and evil. Can’t we separate the two?

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The NCAA Needs To Stop Policing A Broken System

The dictionary definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. This past week the NCAA has taken away USC’s 2004-05 national title, Terrell Pryor and Jim Tressel stepped down from their respective positions, and most recently Tennessee Volunteers athletic director Mike Hamilton who had been with the school eight seasons. This doesn’t even take into account the myriad of other investigations and crackdowns in recent memory. Reggie Bush getting the Heisman ripped from him years after he won it, the Cam Newton saga, and the University of Tennessee investigation into the infractions of Volunteer’s basketball head coach Bruce Pearl. Nor does this cover the whispers and rumors such as the comment made by Rachel McCoy, wife of former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, in which she was less than subtle hint that Texas might be a part of the improper benefits act as well (gasp).

If the NCAA keeps trying to keep up with, track down, and punish everyone like they’re doing now, they’ll be taking away titles from now until the end of time. The reason being is that there is nothing wrong with their investigations. Those work just fine. Eventually they always catch who they’re looking for. That person always loses their job and what not, but the point of these investigations is to deter teams from breaking the rules in the future. This is clearly not working. Teams continue to bend the rules and cover up the truth and the investigations will keep coming along with the sanctions and removal of titles and so on.

The NCAA needs to cut it’s losses and realize that it’s time for a rule change. I liked the article by Pete Fiutak over at foxsports.com which he advocated allowing the players to make money. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not talking about paying the players, because if you pay a football player then you’ve got to be fair. You’ve got to pay football players, water polo players, and field hockey players. It’ll never end. However we live in the year 2011 and we’ve still got guys getting in trouble for signing stuff? Why? He or she earned his or her fame and notoriety. Why shouldn’t the student athlete be able to market themselves for money? The NCAA makes money off these kids all the time and when Terrell Pryor signs some stuff and sells it that’s a punishable offense. The BCS is thriving on the labor of college students who don’t make any money. College football is a billion dollar business, but apparently not for those who actually run the business. That’s freaking ridiculous and everybody knows it.

The NCAA needs to consider another way of running it’s business because it’s unfair and because their current way of handling it isn’t working. It’s not fair that the BCS, NCAA, and every major TV network can profit of the success of the student athlete, but the athletes themselves have no say and make no money. The coaches, players, and boosters aren’t broken. Maybe the system is.

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