Good morning, good day etc. CFR denizens.
Last week was a bit slow here so I thought I'd dive into those cold waters and shock the system a little this morning. There's no real central theme I'm working on at the moment so instead we'll have some random topics below.
First up: how about recruiting?
There's a little over a week of recruiting left until signing day when recruits can first sign official letters-of-intent to enroll at all our favorite schools. I suppose I'll have some things to add on signing day, but it's a topic well covered by the major recruiting websites. National Letter of Intent Day (aka Signing Day) is February 7.
The buzz of late has been Urban Meyer's efforts at "stealing" other schools' verbally committed players. He's been quite good at it these last few weeks, changing the minds of several top players including an offensive lineman committed to USC and a defensive end committed to Notre Dame among others. He's also rumored to be close to changing the mind of one of the nation's top receivers towards the Gators and away from LSU.
Anything goes in recruiting and I'm not cynical about those kinds of maneuverings but if you do it enough and to the wrong people you're eventually going to get burned. Florida has certainly benefited from the championship afterglow but the recruiting coups have certainly angered coaching peers. As happens so often to teams at the top of the college world, Florida's sunshiney days may lead to darker times.
Look at the bad press that eventually followed recent champions like Oklahoma, like Miami, like Ohio State and USC since they won championships. There's a public image cost to be paid because I don't know, that's just what happens. We have this sad habit of tearing down what's successful out of spite or jealousy or whatever and inevitably the same troubles await someone like Florida. The case of the purloined recruits is yet another temptation to fate.
I wrote a great deal about the NFL draft last year but felt a little frustrated by the time of the draft. One can have every resource in the world available to them and at the end of the day the draft's outcomes can be confounding. I've taken it much more easy on here this year after learning that lesson.
The lead-up to the draft remains one of the more exciting moments of the offseason, not all too dissimilar from recruiting in that there's a great deal of evaluation, speculation and allocation with great hope and promise. The worst of it is the sadness of knowing not every college star is NFL material. The games are simply different, not just in talent but style and not every college superstar can hack it in the NFL. For someone who likes seeing college stars succeed instead of backing up itinerant nobodies like Mike Furrey, this can be frustrating.
Speaking of the draft, the Senior Bowl was held this weekend in nearby Mobile, Al. The majority of the excitement is during the early week when fans and NFL personnel can observe the full practices (Thursday and Friday practices are walkthroughs and the game isn't the most ideal setting to evaluate), interact with the players, hobnob with all the scouts and GM's and just take in the experience.
I didn't attend any of that, but the other night bumped into a gentleman who made the trip. Not to further kill the Auburn fans on here, but he's a good friend of former Alabama quarterback Kenny Stabler, helps run some of his organizations and media stuff. He's also good friends with, well, a lot of people, knew a lot of the business in town here and was equally savvy talking about various college seniors and the NFL coaches looking at them.
So we talked for a while about all that going down in Mobile and about Wade Phillips and Jordan Palmer and the Holy Trinity (Notre Dame/Alabama/USC) and Panthers coach John Fox who I happened to have spoken with once before and is a really good guy. My mother also ran into several departing players at the airport, sounds like they all had a good time. She doesn't have every roster memorized but mentioned talking to players from Tennessee, South Carolina and USC.
So that was the excitement and hubbub for this small town this week being less than an hour away from Mobile and all that rush of people.
Now, to revisit some topics from last week.
I posted those questions about the Reggie Bush case last week specifically to accomplish two things:
1)To visually sort out the involved parties because I think the public is quite misguided about the situation and who allegedly did what. For whatever reason I keep hearing people say it's about USC boosters and crazy stuff like that when it has nothing to do with boosters.
2)To test how readers would sort that out. Nobody really bit and I don't blame any of you.
The lesson is that it's a complicated case. Most of the information we hear is coming from one side of the story because the other side has simply clammed up. The other side's entire response to this point has been a combination of 1)not talking about it and 2)claiming extortion.
For all the intriguing accusations against Bush, the government has quietly built a case against his accusers which is where the talk of audio recordings recently came from. Evidence is being prepared and presented to a grand jury to determine whether or not to push forward with that case.
I think we've hit an interesting point in this story because any advance in determining what Bush and USC did (the NCAA angle) will not happen until that case pushes forward. The NCAA is clearly unable to gather much evidence to offer fair guidance and so they do their best and hope some evidence falls out of the sky to help them. Enter the extortion case.
The Los Angeles Times recently published another accusation with the New Era folks now claiming that Bush himself came up with the idea of the marketing company, not them. This is important (and a complete reversal of their original story which once again calls into question their credibility) because these two new allegations could put them in some deep doo doo.
First of all, there's a law on the books in California that makes it either illegal or legally inadmissable to make recordings without the knowledge of both parties. It remains unclear whether the rumored recordings were agreed-upon by Bush or his parents. If not, all that talk is moot. I don't know the law here but if they're not allowed in court the NCAA may not be allowed to make use of them, either.
Also, if USC were to somehow be punished for this situation there's apparently a statute in California law that allows them to sue the New Era guys. That's why I think they are now claiming Bush started this entire process, that it was his idea because if they are shown to have been that spark in the ignition they not only face the San Diego District Attorney's office but also the full force of USC's lawyers. Defending oneself against separate cases is mighty expensive methinks, especially when you're an ex-con.
Like I said, verrrry complicated and I don't see a resolution to this anytime soon. Until then we'll continue to have these well timed accusations from the New Era partners and whatever else can be made public by the DA's office.
Any lawyers out there who would like to add anything or correct any errors of mine?
Finally, Saurian Sagacity left a comment for me last week to take a look at their analysis of Rule 3-2-5-e.
We've been had
Read the entire thing, but here's a meatier summary:
In summary, it appears that rule change shaved one minute off of each Gator game (on average) while decreasing the number of plays run by 8. The minutes per play increased by almost 5 seconds. Since we know that the each game has 60 minutes of actual playing time, and the elapsed times of the games was slightly shorter, and the number of plays played was less, we can only assume that commercial messages swallowed up most of what would have been saved time.
The amount of commercial spots that the networks were able to milk out of each game in 2006 increased from 17 to 20 (14 to 19 for CBS games) after the analysis was tweaked. We were had worse than I thought.
Sleight of hand.
Give us our four hour games or give us death! But seriously... give us our game back. More possessions, more plays, that is what college football is about. If we wanted neatly packaged three hour games, D-I college football would have been relegated to the dust bin of history after being swallowed whole by the NFL. But that's not what we want now is it?
The number of teams averaging 400+ yards of offense was halved from the previous five year trend, teams averaging over 30 points/game went from 36 to 20, teams allowing fewer than 300 yards/game on defense went from 9 to 26 (!), number of teams allowing fewer than 14 points/game on defense went from 2 to 7 and the number of teams averaging over 200 yards/game rushing went from 21 to 8 (!).
That rushing number in particular suggests that formerly balanced running teams freaked out a little and cast their lot with the passing game to make up yards for the time loss. This isn't good.