The side door…

Ironically, as the FBI was investigating the play for pay scheme involving Adidas and college basketball coaches they uncovered another play for pay scheme.  This one involved the use of the side door made famous by the rich and famous to get their kids into elite colleges.   What may been lost in translation of this case is that the scandal focuses on athletes use the side door to get into school.

While this story has produced numerous segue issues of crime and corruption, the parents involved used coaches at various private schools to skate around normal admissions requirements. While the media has done a bang up job of covering the rich and famous side of this story, I would like to share the other side.

Every D-I university has a set of academic requirements for students to be admitted to a university.  These same universities, both private and state use the side door to admit 10% of the students who fall below those levels.   The side door can be used by a university to admit children of donors, alumni, celebrities and for that matter your Cousin Eddie.  The side door can also be used to admit athletes.   Here is how this works.

As many of you know from personal experience, a perfect score on the ACT is a 36.  The NCAA allows athletes to be eligible at any D-I school, public or private with a 17 score on the ACT.  At OU the required score for regular admission is a 24.  Players whose scores fall between the 17 and 24 score can be admitted via the side door.

At Stanford the required ACT score for admission is a 32.  While Stanford athletes tend to be extremely smart; there is no way any of their football players could score a 32 on the ACT.  Heck, I can barely count that high myself.  It has been my experience that Stanford coaches do somersaults when their prospective players score a 24 on the ACT.

The NCAA requires D-I member schools to field at least 14 teams.  Okie State has the minimum of 14 teams while OU has 19.  Big Ten universities sponsor as many as 31 teams.   This means that a university can have hundreds, if not thousands of athletes on campus at one time.  Without the 10% rule, this would not be possible.

As you can see, private schools use the sliding scale for its athletes similar to state universities.  This is why a USC can compete for National Championships similar to an OU and Alabama.   Most importantly, without a side door for college athletes; there would be no college sports. We would be sitting around on fall Saturday’s watching Law and Order reruns.

There you have it…the side door from another angle.  May not be a perfect system, but as you can see, this is the cost of doing business in the college sports world.

 

 

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When in doubt, fire the help…

The good news is that Joe C. is taking a page from his OU football playbook.  The bad news is that this move may be too little, too late.   Don’t get me wrong, no one in their right mind expected Joe to fire Sherry so as we expected he is taking the easy way out.

Joe has insisted that Sherry send her longtime assistant coaches packing.  I can only hope that the move came with a one year plan of improvement.  I say this because as we know, Sherry does not like change and she most certainly does not like taking advice from others.  I am sure that firing her two assistants with four decades of experience was hard, but watching this team implode over the last several years has been even harder for OU fans.

A short leash is critical for us because Sherry is a different animal than Bob Stoops. The one year plan will help Joe insist that she hires the right people and takes their advice. The plan worked miracles in football, but then again we are talking Sherry here.

I also believe that Joe should turn the heat up on Lon as well.  Have Lon send his staff including his son to the showers and put him on a one year plan of improvement as well.   This team made the NCAA tournament by the skin of its teeth.  As we know from watching these guys all year, we’re not very good.  Let’s get real…this basketball program has just been taking up space for three years and yes bleeding off money that could be going to other sports.

Hey, who knows a year from now, OU can go to Kelvin Sampson with cap in hand, apologizing for his mistreatment the last time around.   Kelvin’s 11th ranked, 31-3 Houston Cougars are looking pretty good these days.   Who knows, OU fans may learn how to pronounce his name this time around.

If I appear to be impatient…I am.  I’m tired of football fans footing the bill for these two programs.  OU is sending millions of dollars down a rabbit hole for these guys.  If we’re not going to take basketball seriously, let’s turn them into club sports and use this money for football, gymnastics and softball.

Let’s start the plan of improvement clock on both basketball programs right now.  One year and counting…

Boomer Sooner…

 

 

 

Great Depression/s…

Outside of football Oklahoma has had few real legends of late.  The state started off like a house afire with the land run, the oil boom, Jim Thorpe and Will Rogers.   Then came the Dust Bowl, the Okie migration and of course the Grapes of Wrath.  We have been fighting upstream ever sense.

OU did its part to help Oklahoma recover from the Great Depression by giving us President George Lynn.   Cross hired Bud Wilkinson who in turn created the greatest team in America for its time.  David Boren was a mere pup sitting in the stands the day Notre Dame snapped the 47 game win streak.  Boren developed a love affair for Oklahoma, as well as for OU football similar to that of Dr. Cross.  He would eventually be asked to help OU overcome Oklahoma’s 2nd Great Depression.

Oklahoma had been torn asunder with the unraveling of the Barry Switzer era.   David Boren became university president and almost immediately fired John Blake and replaced him with Bob Stoops.  He eventually replaced Bob Stoops with Lincoln Riley.

I know from first-hand experience how much Boren hated the Okie migration story. I also know first-hand how much he loved Oklahoma, OU football and the university.  As an Oklahoma fan, it has been painful for all of us to watch the wheels come off the Sooner Schooner since Boren’s retirement.

Regardless of your loyalties to the new guy or the old guy, OU is now in total free-fall. The latest bad news pains me the most.  A year ago, OU was listed for the first time by U.S. News and World Report as a top 100 national university.  Due to the undoing at the university over the past year, the latest Report now lists OU as unranked.

That’s right Oklahoma’s flag ship university now appears to be in the midst of its 3rd Great Depression.  Once again, we need OU football to save the day.

Boomer Sooner…

 

Which came first the chicken or the egg…

This is the age old argument for school administrators.  Some would suggest that an over emphasis in one area can create problems in the other.  I totally understand as I have seen situations where academics did take a back seat to sports.  I have also seen where school administrators would use an over emphasis in sports as an excuse for poor academic performance.

It has been my experience that for the most part excellence in one area tends to create excellence in the other.  The key to success in both areas is creating a positive school environment that makes students want to excel and represent their school in a positive manner.  That’s right excellence can be contagious…

Below I have listed the latest academic performance for 12 metro area high schools as presented by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.   I would suggest that the high schools on the A/B academic list also have outstanding athletic programs.  Conversely, I would suggest that high schools on the C list tend to be bringing up rear in both areas.

Academic grades…                       

  • Edmond Memorial           A
  • Edmond North                  A
  • Norman North                  B+
  • Westmoore                        B
  • Edmond Santa Fe             B
  • Mustang                             B
  • Norman High                    B
  • P.C. North                           B
  • Moore                                 C
  • Putnam City                      C
  • Southmoore                      C
  • Yukon                                 C

 

 

Never too early top 25…Part II…

Here are my thoughts for ESPN’s #11 through #25 “way too early” preseason rankings for 2019.

ESPN’s way too early top 25…

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. Ohio State
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Florida
  8. Texas
  9. Texas A&M
  10. LSU
  11. Michigan
  12. Oregon
  13. Washington State
  14. UCF
  15. Syracuse
  16. Washington
  17. Penn State
  18. Utah
  19. Northwestern
  20. Iowa State
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Missouri
  23. Auburn
  24. Nebraska
  25. Army

My take…

  1. Michigan – Harbaugh will finally have a great shot at beating Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State this year. Once this happens, Harbaugh can leave Ann Arbor and return to the NFL, the game he was made for.
  2. Oregon – Watch out for the Ducks…these guys are recruiting lights out and with Phil Knight’s Nike money Oregon will be back sooner than you think.
  3. Washington State – Sometimes good things happen to good guys…after surviving that mess in Lubbock a few years back, Mike Leach is on top of the football world again. The difference now is that he hired someone to coach defense.  Only Mike Leach can win in Pullman.
  4. UCF – This is a tough one to gauge. Some have these guys not losing a step, but I just don’t see it. I believe eventually the team to beat in this conference will be Dana Holgorsen’s Houston team.
  5. Syracuse – With the right coach, the Orange will always be pretty good, but limited east coast recruiting will keep them in check.
  6. Washington – Former Boise Coach Chris Pederson was a great hire at Washington and with USC and UCLA down, the Huskies and Ducks will be moving up the Pac 12 charts.
  7. Penn State – Boring uniforms and boring game…these guys can always draw 105,000 fans for their whiteouts in Happy Valley, but will always be vulnerable on the road. Always good, but never good enough…
  8. Utah – Kyle Whittingham is an outstanding coach for a team that plays in a weak Pac 12 Conference. These guys always perform above their expectation level. How they keep this guy around is hard to understand.
  9. Northwestern – Same thing here…Pat Fitzerald can flat out coach. Northwestern is ranked by US News and World Report as the 10th best academic university in America and that list includes Princeton, Harvard and Yale. Can you imagine Alabama or Clemson winning with those academic standards?
  10. Iowa State – How in the world did Iowa State lock up Matt Campbell through 2023. Iowa State is now the third best team in the Big 12 Conference. It’s only a matter of time before the SEC with its deep pockets comes calling.  My money is on Auburn for Matt Campbell’s next move.
  11. Wisconsin – The Badgers will always be good, but never great…their fans seem to be okay with that.
  12. Missouri – Mizzou realized that they could be just average in the Big 12 or just be average in the SEC. They went with the SEC to pick up the SEC paycheck and better scheduling. Next season the Tigers will play six home games to go along with road games against SEC bottom feeders Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Arkansas.   With Clemson quarterback transfer Kelly Bryant under center, a ten win season could be on the horizon for the Tigers.
  13. Auburn – Ponder on this thought for a moment…Twenty years ago, Gus Malzahn was coaching high school football in northeast Arkansas making $50,000 a year.  Today, he has a $40 million dollar buyout clause at Auburn.  This guy is living the American dream.
  14. Nebraska – First off, let’s agree that Nebraska leaving the Big 12 was the right move for the Huskers.  They were not married to Texass or OSU like we are.   I also think that Nebraska can be pretty good again.   Big Ten scheduling will help as Nebraska will not play Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State next year and will play the other conference heavy weight Ohio State at home.  Look for a big year for Scott Frost and Nebraska in 2019.
  15. Army – As you know I’m an Army fan. I also must say that I saw the Army resurgence coming several years back…West Point lowered its academic standards for football players to allow them to compete with Navy and they hired Todd Monken away from D-II powerhouse Georgia Southern. The 2020 OU game at West Point is on my bucket list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never too early top 25…Part I. 

It’s never too early to start thinking about college football for next year.   Thankfully, ESPN helps us out by creating their “way too early rankings.”  They use a number of analytics including returning starters on both side of the ball.   I won’t bore you with all that stuff, but I must say, these guys are usually spot on.   My job of course is to agree and disagree with at least some their predictions.

It is also important to keep in mind that the ESPN “not too early rankings” were compiled prior to the spring semester and some of the latest transfers.

 ESPN’s way too early top 25…

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. Ohio State
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Florida
  8. Texas
  9. Texas A&M
  10. LSU
  11. Michigan
  12. Oregon
  13. Washington State
  14. UCF
  15. Syracuse
  16. Washington
  17. Penn State
  18. Utah
  19. Northwestern
  20. Iowa State
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Missouri
  23. Auburn
  24. Nebraska
  25. Army

My take…

  1. Clemson – same old story and yes getting older… Clemson is reloading for 2019. Clemson gets a pass by playing in the ACC. You have to like the how Brent Venables has come out on top in this situation.
  2. Alabama – Same old story and getting even older… Alabama has finished #1 in recruiting six out of the last eight years. Alabama is reloading for 2019 with revenge on Saban’s mind.
  3. Georgia – Watch out for Georgia…these guys have been recruiting lights out for several years. Iwould rank these guys right there with Alabama and Clemson.  It’s a shame that Georgia does not play in the ACC.
  4. Ohio State – The Big Ten is underrated as an academic conference, but overrated as a football conference.
  5. Notre Dame – The Irish due to scheduling as an independent and its rigorous academic requirements will not compete for another National Championship any time soon.  I know that this will break the hearts of all OU fans.
  6. Oklahoma – Before the transfer of Jalen Hurts to OU, this ranking appeared about right. The addition of Hurts, defensive coaching hires and recruiting changes everything.   Now, I would move the Sooners ahead of Notre Dame and Ohio State and into the playoff hunt.
  7. Florida – Dan Mullen was a great hire for the Gators. These guys are on their way back, but it will take a while in the SEC.
  8. Texas – Texas will be improved in 2019 and provide a much needed boost to OU’s strength of schedule ranking. This may be the year that Texas beats OSU. If so, it will be game on…
  9. Texas A&M – The Aggies are not going to win a national championship in the SEC anytime soon, but that was not going to happen in the Big 12 either.   A&M has used its SEC move to strengthen its image and financial bottom line.  According to Forbes Magazine, the Texas A&M athletic program is now the richest in America.
  10. LSU – Same old LSU…a boat load of talent, but no coaching to go with it. I expect that LSU will extend Orgeron’s contract any day now, fire him at the end of the season and pay him millions to leave town. They will then pay the next guy millions.  LSU is obsessed with beating Alabama and willing to pay whatever it costs to do this.  Good luck with that.

 

End in sight…

USA Today announced last week that the NBA has formally proposed changing the draft-eligible age requirement from 19 to 18 to the National Basketball Players Association.  The players union is expected to sign off on the deal which will effectively allow players to enter the NBA after high school and stick a stake in the heart of “one and done” system.

I suspect that the “man child” Zion Williamson may have motivated the NBA to take another look at the “one and done” issue.  This guy is the second coming of Lebron and the NBA has realized that there may be other Zion’s in the pipeline.  The NBA is also suffering from bad publicity.  The NBA has become complicit in the Adidas scandal that has involved a number of “one and done” players over the past several years.  In either case, the NBA may be yelling uncle and giving up on its putrid “one and done” minor league scheme.

While I am a devoted believer in the value of a college education, asking teen-aged boys to simply hang out at colleges for a couple semesters as they wait for the NBA draft serves no purpose.  I also realize that the move may water down the college game by taking away prime talent; it will also level the playing field.  Blue blood programs like Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas will no longer have their pick of the “one and done” litter.

While I am not going to hold my breath, I really do believe that there is real hope that it may happen this time.  The latest scourge of college sports may be on life support.   I love college sports and I despise those who seek to destroy any part of it.  This move could go a long way in restoring dignity to college basketball.

Stay tuned…