Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well paint me purple and gold...

Never thought we’d say this, but thanks to Les Miles and LSU! Yesterday in a ruling that nobody knew was coming on violations that nobody knew occurred deemed LSU worthy of one year probation and a loss of two scholarships. What did they do? It’ll sound familiar...

Here’s the skinny: ex-assistant coach D.J. McCarthy improperly arranged for transportation and housing for former defensive lineman Akiem Hicks in 2009, then later tried to cover up those actions. McCarthy resigned in December 09, Hicks never played a down for the Tigers. Guess what violation LSU was charged with? If you said 10.1, you’re a winner!

Does 10.1 sound familiar? It should, that’s what Ohio State is charged with in the Tressel email-tattoo violations. Let me correct that. Ohio State is charged with one count of violating rule 10.1 while LSU was charged with violating it twice in the McCarthy-Hicks saga. The NCAA committee on infractions labeled the violations “major” and a coach lost his job. Any of this sounding remotely familiar? (please catch my sarcasm, I know you know what I’m talking about).

LSU imposed self sanctions, as Ohio State did. Their self imposed penalties are a reduction of two scholarships for 2010-11 academic year, 10% reduction in official recruiting visits and calls, and one year probation. No vacated games. No bowl games that now supposedly didn’t happen. No forfeiting of conference championships. And these terms, for all intents and purposes, were accepted by the NCAA, who only added that the 10% recruiting reductions have the 2011-12 academic year added to it. I’m sure Les Miles was very upset by that...

What played the biggest part in LSU escaping any major penalties was their compliance and self reporting. This is something that, as mentioned last week, USC fans and Ohio State haters don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around. When you self report, turn yourself in, provide all the information asked along with your own findings, assist the NCAA in their investigation, cooperate in general, they have a lot more leniency toward the situation and realize that you’re admitting fault and trying to work towards fixing the problem and eliminating it in the future. NCAA Committee on Infractions chairman Dennis Thomas stated "The committee really felt that the LSU compliance staff and institution did an excellent job, and that they assisted the (NCAA) enforcement staff in the investigation regarding these violations. That was critical. If that had not been done, the institution could have really been under more severe and serious penalties as well." Ohio State has been just as compliant from day one.

Ok, so what did LSU really do? That’s the question that keeps being thrown at me. Like their violations were petty compared to scandalous Ohio State and their prostitution ring and drug cartel. LSU was found have made 3,600 recruiting calls from three “noncoaching” staff members. Can’t do that. McCarthy was found to have improperly arranged a visit for Hicks, paid for his transportation, and then later tried to cover it up.

Cut away the fat on whether you decide in your opinion that trading memorabilia for tattoo’s is worse or better morally than a coach paying for a recruit’s visit. Remove the action and the cover up remains in both cases, thus violating article 10.1. Both coaches lost their jobs, and I would say that Jim Tressel’s departure from Ohio State will have much more of a negative impact than McCarthy leaving LSU. Both cases saw the Athletic Department offices and compliance offices do everything in their power to make it right and assist the NCAA once the cover up by the individuals was revealed. and let’s not forget, LSU was found to have violated the dreaded 10.1 twice. Tressel and Ohio State only once.

When you remove the action it’s as simples as a “major” violation is a “major” violation and violating article 10.1 is violating 10.1. The self imposed penalties Ohio State put on itself certainly reflect the magnitude of their situation and the involvement of a lot more than just one player. But taken into context with what we have just seen in Baton Rouge, I think they seem more than fair.

Where are the hounds?

My biggest question regarding the LSU situation: Who knew? Because the national media didn’t pick up on this story until the ruling was released... yesterday. Yes, we heard about the coach getting fired (or resigning) and that LSU had committed some sort of violation and that they’d eventually have to go the principals office. However, where were the Yahoo’s and ESPN’s of the world to crush LSU when they receive their letter of investigation? It was never reported, by anyone, when they received their letter of allegations citing violation of article 10.1. We were made to believe that a violation of article 10.1 could result in the death penalty it was so severe. Yet LSU gets handed two allegations of the same violation and nobody even bothers to report on it? Where is ESPN’s lawsuit with LSU demanding more information and emails?

I wrote this on twitter (@ScriptOhio) yesterday, and I’ll say it again here: Buckeye fans should be outraged! Of course, if you listen to LeCharles Bentley’s comments on WKNR last week, you know what this is all about and why it is what it is.

To summarize: LeCharles Bentley was doing his spot on WKNR when he told the story of ESPN and the Big Ten. Short version, in 2004 ESPN top executives approached Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney about working out a new tv deal that would tie the Big Ten to ESPN for a long long time. Apparently, according to LeCharles, ESPN decided to lowball Delaney. When Delaney told ESPN that if they didn’t offer a better deal, one more commensurate with that if the other conferences (namely the SEC) and ESPN, he would start his own network and ESPN would rue the day. They called his bluff and in 2006 the announcement came that their would be a new Big Ten television network, what we all know now as the Big Ten Network. Oh, and it’s partnered with FOX, something ESPN really had to not be happy about. (Nice shot Jim!)

Even more upsetting to ESPN, it’s successful and turning a profit. Naturally, when you have a rival, what do you do? You go after it’s biggest asset (in this case Ohio State) and you try and destroy it. You rip apart the Big Ten’s top dog and devalue the product. All those negative reports on ESPN, senseless investigating, reporters calling former players and asking if they wanted to talk about “you now, anything” the all-out smear campaign ESPN analysts have put on Ohio State since this whole tattoo situation started, is it starting to make a lot more sense now? I would kill to be a fly on the wall when negotiations for a new Big Ten tv contract with ESPN/ABC come up at the expiration of the current deal in 2016. Things may be a little tense at the tables!

Maybe move on?

Don’t the Big Ten and ESPN need each other? Not really. Let me explain. According estimates based on the current deals with the SEC and PAC-12, the Big Ten deal with ESPN in 2016 would range anywhere from 8-10 billion dollars. That is a lot of money for ESPN to be losing out on, as clearly they feel they’d make double that in profit or they wouldn’t offer it. But now that deal, and possibly any major deal, with the network and the Big Ten could be in jeopardy. The Big Ten Network is turning a profit. It’s getting into the right homes and the conference has just added Nebraska which expands strong interest to the St. Louis market all the way west to potentially as far as Colorado and Wyoming. In short, it works. FOX Sports has already outbid “the worldwide leader” for the rights to the Big Ten title game and the PAC-12 title game. The significance in that winning bid is that it shows FOX is willing to spend money to cut into ESPN’s chokehold in the lucrative college football money market. You don’t think ESPN put all its cards on the table to get those two championship games, especially after just signing a new deal with the PAC-12? You bet it they did! And they lost!

Back to the whole “need” thing. I think the Big Ten can survive without a major deal with ESPN. Thinking out loud and outside what some may see as possible, but really follow me here, what if Delaney brings the Big Ten to FOX in five years? What’s to stop them from signing a deal that would put the Big Ten on FOX nationally every Saturday afternoon and prime time? Couldn’t you see a FOX “Big Ten game of the week” at 8 after regional matchups at 3:30 or noon? FOX also has the Fox Sports Net affiliates to broadcast regional games so that the people in southern Indiana can see the Hoosiers take on Illinois on their FSN affiliate while the national broadcast shows Michigan v Penn State. And don’t forget the Big Ten Network, which is part owned by FOX. This now puts real games on the BTN in prime slots. We could a Saturday prime time lineup featuring Ohio State v Wisconsin on FOX national and Nebraska v Michigan State on the BTN both at 8:00.

As for the “mother ship” over in Bristol, they’ll be fine. They’ll just dump more money into the SEC, PAC-12 and their new University of Texas Network. They’ll continue to slam Ohio State when they can and likely even when it’s not warranted.

The bigger question may be, with all the laughing and finger pointing being done our conference rivals (I’m talking to you scUM) how will they respond when they reach a level of success and ESPN comes after them? Because if you think this thing exclusively applies to Ohio State, oh fan of the stinky fanged rat, you are gravely mistaken! go ahead and win a Big Ten title or two, get into some BCS games regularly and watch the hounds at ESPN start invading your campus digging for anything they can find. You’re no exception. Nobody in the Big Ten should let their guard down to ESPN. They want to ruin Ohio State first, but they’ll take you as soon as they can get it.

Metallica track of the week
"Orion" no lyrics neccessary, just pure power and melody. If you've never listened to this masterpiece, you truly don't know what you're missing!

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