Friday, June 01, 2007


There's less than three months left before the college football season, beat writers have had nothing to cover and SEC fans have a gnawing sensation in their stomach, a hunger for any morsel about their teams.

It must be time for the SEC meetings, the annual gabfest meant to drum up interest in the league.

Sorta like this. Only a lot more testosterone. And no Babwa.

And if the meetings are sort of like the male version of The View, then we have our candidates to be the equivalent of Rosie and Elizabeth: Nick and Les.

The brouhaha blew up after Les Miles, in one of the more bizarre moments of the offseason not involving Arkansas, said that with Nick Saban joining the Crimson Tide, LSU had "a new rival in (expletive) Alabama!"

This was strange on two levels. First, having no obvious connection to LSU before his employment there, Miles had little reason to be bitter at Saban. Especially since Saban's departure paved the way for Miles to take the reins at LSU.

Second, C&F imagines it would come as a shock to LSU fans to find out that Alabama was not an old rival.

In any case, the rivalry between Miles and Saban apparently has its roots in the classic source of tension between two coaches -- recruiting.

Miles later apologized for the remark in an e-mail to the LSU student newspaper. He told a Louisiana reporter last week that he was caught up in the recruiting fervor after Saban had gone after several Louisiana players who were LSU commitments.
Meanwhile, Saban rubbed LSU coaches and fans the wrong way when he pointed out at his introductory news conference at Alabama that many of the Tigers' stars in their Sugar Bowl rout of Notre Dame the previous night were players he had recruited.
There were also whispers that Saban was critical of Miles and his staff when talking with Louisiana recruits - allegations that Miles said he could not prove.

You gotta love that phrase -- "allegations that Miles said he could not prove." In other words, he thinks it's true. But that proof thing is just so (expletive) elusive!

On the recruiting front, SEC coaches seem none too interested in an early signing period -- a defensible decision. It seems to C&F that the last thing you would want is a system where a young man is pressed to make a quick decision that will almost drastically affect his future. And with an early signing period, there would be more pressure earlier. The academic sides of colleges are already backing away from early decision periods; let's not go somewhere that's already proving to be a bad idea elsewhere in the collegiate world.

Now, extending students' careers on the other end? That's another story. Coaches are keener on a proposal to get rid of the whole redshirt idea and just give players a fifth year of college eligibility. (HT: SMQ)

SMQ raises valid concerns about this:

Why should football depart from this wider assumption of college as a four-year enterprise? Assuming there has to be cap on eligibility - there does, doesn't there? - how long is too long? Four years is traditional and perfectly appropriate. Coaches are getting a little greedy here, where the concept of redshirting is already a courtesy in their favor.

But isn't the redshirting idea a little ridiculous? You redshirt a kid, unless you think he's good, in which case you play him, unless he gets hurt, in which case you seek a medical redshirt, etc. etc. etc. And if the player is redshirted, he gets a fifth year of eligibility. So how, exactly, is redshirting any different than granting a player a fifth year, except that he can't play during the redshirt (usually first) year, which in some ways seems to be a worse deal for the student. "Yes, you can spend an extra year in college, take the risk of an extra year of potentially injury-inducing practices, but don't expect to get even five minutes of garbage time because then we can't redshirt you."

And SMQ himself points to the rise of the "super-senior," with some programs (such as South Carolina's journalism curriculum) proving increasingly difficult to complete in four years unless you have AP or other early college credit -- something which, let's be honest, likely isn't common among football players. In other words, is limiting eligibility to four years unless a student is redshirted actually discouraging some students from getting a degree?

At least while they are there, they can learn a lesson in principled leadership from Florida President Bernie Machen, who stood like a rock for his playoff propo...

What's that you say?

I was for a playoff before, but then my state had a debate about it...

Instead, the SEC supports reworking the BCS. Hooray! Because that's got such a sterling track record!

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