This Week’s Sports Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Todd Gurley Falls Victim to Random NFL Rule

9898602293_c42e30e1ce_bLast season, Todd Gurley of Georgia was probably the best running back in college football. But, he was only a sophomore.

According to the NFL, in cooperation with the NCAA, he wasn’t eligible to declare for the draft, he had to return to Georgia and continue playing, for no money beyond tuition, room and board.

He decided to try and make a little money off of his fame, taking $3,000 in exchange for autographing a bunch of memorabilia. For this, he was suspended by the NCAA for 4 games. (Never mind how much the university was making off of him and his jersey.)

In his first game back from suspension, he continued to show why many thought he was the best running back in the college football, until the 4th quarter, when he tore his ACL.

Now, he will probably still get drafted if he decided to come out of college this season, but probably not as highly as he would have last year, costing him a few million, I’m sure. Money he could have had, if the NFL and NCAA didn’t block players who aren’t 3 years removed from High School from declaring for the draft. It’s mind-boggling that the league is allowed to have a rule that, in effect, blocks adults from making money in their chosen profession, and blocks individual teams from paying them for it.

If a kid wants to come out, and a team wants to draft him, why does the league get to interfere with that commerce?

The Inexplicable SEC

SEC logo photo

We’ve been told that the SEC West is the most amazing collection of great football teams ever. I’ve been skeptical of this claim for a while now, and this week provided more fodder. Here’s why:

 

  • Missouri beat Texas A&M to maintain their lead in the division.
    • Victories by other SEC West teams over A&M have been considered quality wins, but they currently stand 7-4 and do not seem like a good team
    • Missouri is 8-2, with a blowout lass to Georgia, and a home loss to Indiana. (INDIANA?????)
  • Georgia blows out Auburn
    • Yes, the same Georgia team that has inexplicable losses to South Carolina and Florida beat one of the “quality” West teams, badly.
  • LSU gets shut out by Arkansas
    • LSU, also one of those “quality” West teams, gets shutout by a team that had lost 17 straight SEC games and whose signature win this year is against 3-7 Texas Tech.

What to make of this? Perhaps, this is more evidence that Auburn, A&M and LSU really aren’t very good football teams.

Is that’s true, what does that say about Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss?

State gained their #1 ranking in large part by beating LSU, A&M and Auburn is consecutive weeks. They got a lot of credit for a stretch against teams with a combined 21-11 record before finally losing at Alabama.

Ole Miss beat Alabama, which they deserve credit for, but losing to LSU and Auburn? Ugh.

Alabama seems to be the best team of the bunch, but it’s a fairly mediocre bunch, in my mind.

To be fair, however, every other conference in America is just as mediocre, and is being led by teams that don’t seem very good. This includes Florida State, who somehow has won a bunch of games they had no business winning. So I’m willing to admit the SEC is maybe the better collection of teams when compared to other conferences right now, but I think college football, in general, is pretty mediocre right now, full of wildly inconsistent teams. Maybe that’s the reality of kids leaving early and having to play at a younger age, or perhaps their all just point-shaving? ;-)

 

Photo by Roger Smith

This Week’s Sports Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

NCAA Can’t Help But Corrupt Everything

I often wonder if the NCAA can do anything without some sort of corruption, and now we learn that it couldn’t even let the “independent” investigator looking into the Penn State – Jerry Sandusky case be, you know, independent.

 

Court documents filed in Pennsylvania show that the NCAA and investigators from a firm hired by Penn State University to conduct a wholly independent investigation of the university’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal worked closely in the investigation.

So, apparently, the answer to my question remains no.

 

 

This Week’s Sports Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Costs of NCAA Football

south carolina football stadium photo

Grantland today did a great job of documenting the sad tale of Marcus Lattimore. More importantly, Michael Baumann does a good job of documenting everything that Lattimore meant to South Carolina, all the money and prestige he brought to the program, and how after a couple of devastating knee injuries, he never played a down for the 49ers before retiring this week.

It reminded me of a conversation I had at Reser Stadium on Saturday night about Sean Mannion. Here’s a kid who had a pretty good shot at getting drafted relatively high last year, but decided to come back for his Senior year on the hopes that he could improve his stock a bit, set a few records and really dominate. In the mean time, Oregon State has his face on everything. They are using his pursuit of the Pac-12 career passing yardage record to sell tickets, jerseys, t-shirt and everything else they can.

By all accounts, here we have a good kid coming back to complete his education, leave the football program in a better place than he left it, and trying to really improve his game. Sean didn’t get injured, but poor offensive line play and injuries up and down the depth chart at receiver have led to a fairly poor season so far. It’s probably done more damage to his draft stock than anything else.

When we see stories like Lattimore, Mannion, David Ash at Texas, who quit football after getting concussions, and many others, you have to wonder, what’s the risk worth? How much money could Lattimore had made after his freshman year? Instead, he had to go back to South Carolina, got hurt and wound up making pennies on the dollar of what his value was before the injuries. South Carolina made mint off of Lattimore, but he saw none of it. Playing for the Gamecocks cost him his knee, and any NFL future, and he has nothing to show for it other than being a fan favorite in Columbia.

Somehow we’re supposed to believe that’s fair, because his tuition was paid for.

I don’t think so.

Photo by kmoliver

It Might Be Bias But It’s Also a Problem with Preseason Polls

Southeastern Conference photo

By now, most of you have probably seen the Rolling Stone article in which they claim to show the bias of ESPN toward the SEC.

I’m not here to agree or disagree with the premise. There is definitely some cheer-leading going on with certain ESPN talking heads, but I don’t know that there’s an institutional bias. I think you can absolutely make the case that ESPN being an investor in the SEC network is a conflict of interest, but if there’s one thing we know about ESPN, apparent conflict of interests have never stopped them before. (They are the broadcast partners of many of the leagues they claim to “cover” from a news perspective after all!)

The one thing that the article really pointed out to me is the way that preseason polls create a real problem when it comes to ranking the teams properly.

Case in point, South Carolina was ranked #9, on the basis, I guess, of being a decent SEC team last year. When they got beat by Texas A&M in the first week of the season, the Aggies were credited with a victory over a top 10 team and rode that, and a few ridiculous non-conference wins, all the way into the top 10 themselves. As A&M lost to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama in consecutive weeks, they were all, as the article pointed out, credited with beating a “juggernaut” in A&M. But here’s the thing, A&M’s reputation this season was based on beating a South Carolina team that, in fact, stinks. They stand 4-5 after losing to Tennessee this week. (The Vols FIRST conference win by the way)

So in reality, A&M really isn’t a good college football team, nor is South Carolina. The Gamecocks, in turn, beat Georgia, who’s other loss was the embarrassment against Florida on Saturday, another team that isn’t really any good.

Now as it stands, right now, there are some teams from the SEC who are probably overated. I don’t think it is a huge problem for the final four playoff teams as of right now, but moving forward, these 4 teams are going to change, and there’s a good chance that there will be those who argue for a two-loss SEC team, because, “SEC”, when they might not be all that good, due to the teams they’ve beaten being ranked too highly at the start of the season.

As of now, Mississippi State and Florida State are undefeated, and I think if they stay that way, they deserve to be in the playoff. Going undefeated is an accomplishment in any of the Power 5 conferences. I also don’t have much of a problem with Alabama and Auburn because of a couple of impressive non-conference wins. (Bama over WVU, Auburn over K-State) But, TCU, Oregon, Baylor, Kansas State and Michigan State are right behind them. I don’t think, if everything remains the same, either one can afford a loss.

For the record, just to show that I’m not biased, the Preseason Polls also had these rankings that were ridiculous and as these teams started losing, the teams beating them were given too much credit:

#5 Ohio State (ranking was pre-injury to Braxton Miller, clearly not the reality of that team early in the season)

#7 UCLA

#9 South Carolina

#11 Stanford

#15 USC

#23 North Carolina

#24 (Coaches Poll) Texas

Let’s ditch the preseason poll, and let the teams actually show us something before we start ranking them and giving teams extra credit for quality wins that aren’t.

Photo by Diamondduste

Will the Saints Keep Giving Mark Ingram the Ball?

new orleans saints mark ingram photo

Photo by modenadude

Something interesting has happened with the Saints over the past couple of weeks. Somehow, they’ve managed to dominate two straight games after being kind of a mess to start the season. The one obvious difference between those two games has been the effectiveness of running back Mark Ingram. I do not think this is a coincidence, but I do think the Saints have stumbled into it, and I’m not sure they will continue to do it.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

  • In the last two games, both wins, Ingram has 54 carries, 272 yards and 3 TDs rushing.
  • In the previous 3 games in which he played, all losses, Ingram had 34 carries, 159 yards and 3 TDs rushing
  • In the previous three seasons, Ingram has played a total of 37 games, carrying the ball a total of 356 times

In essence, what’s different over the last two weeks is that Mark Ingram is carrying the ball 27 times per game, versus his career average of just under 10 times per game. The Saints are winning, and Ingram looks like the player he was at Alabama all of the sudden. Imagine that.

Unfortunately, I think the Saints have only allowed him to carry the ball that much over the last two weeks because Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas have been injured, and Darren Sproles is in Philly. As all fantasy football owners know, the Saints like to play a lot of running backs, and spread the ball around. (They also like to throw the ball a lot, including to those other running backs.) The lack of those options has forced Sean Payton to ride Ingram as the feature back, and Ingram has been great. When Robinson and Thomas come back, however, will the Saints old play calling patterns come back with them?

It’s only a small sample size for now, but clearly there is evidence that the Saints should keep running Ingram. Old habits die hard, however.