Posts Tagged 'terrelle pryor'

NCAA–College Football’s Judge & Jury

College Football has a major problem–check that.  The NCAA has a major problem.  In the wake of several big investigations, including Oregon, North Carolina, Auburn, Ohio State and USC, Yahoo! Sports’ release of their story of the Miami Hurricanes and the cash, jewelry and other debauchery funded by convicted Ponzi Scheme artist Nevin Shapiro is the most recent problem the NCAA will have to review, and ultimately, impose sanctions.

Unfortunately, it is the college programs facing the heat, when the NCAA continues to make extremely questionable decisions.  Case in point, the NCAA’s handling of Auburn and Ohio State’s programs last season, and their ultimate decision to let Heisman quarterback Cam Newton play in the final games of the 2010 season, which included the lucrative BCS title game against Oregon.

What was even more disturbing was their decision to not impose the five-game suspensions on Ohio State’s athletes until this fall, allowing the suspended OSU players to play in last year’s Sugar Bowl.  A Sugar Bowl without Ohio State stars Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey, among others would have resulted in a minimally hyped bowl game with less cash to collect.  The NCAA wanted to make sure that they and the game’s sponsors got to cash their checks before they hammered OSU and their program.

Make no mistake about it.  It all has to do with money, and the NCAA hauls in more than its share–they reported budgeted revenues of $757,000,000 in 2010, the majority of that revenue coming from college football.  The BCS games and fees the NCAA collects for using their logos on many items and games, including the ever-popular NCAA Football games produced by EA Sports have generated the machine that operates the NCAA.

The NCAA allows EA Sports to use their logo and players who have the same size, skill sets and jersey numbers as the actual football players from each school that is represented in the game.

Essentially, the NCAA’s message is loud and clear:  It is against the rules and there will stiff consequences for exploiting college athletes….unless the we ( the NCAA)are the ones making the money off playing the role of pimp for the student-athletes.

The real question we should be asking is where are the checks and balances here?  Who does the NCAA have to answer to?  If it is okay for the NCAA to push nearly $1 billion for exploiting these kids, then how are they any different from the boosters, agents and runners that have created so much damage to schools like USC?

College Football is in a different place, economically and culturally, than it was when many of the NCAA rules were written and instituted, and until there is a committee or governing body reviewing what the NCAA is doing, the playing field will not be balanced, and they will continue to be judge and jury.  If the NCAA is going to deposit the checks from the juggernaut that is college football, then they should have to answer some of the questions and more importantly, they should have to recognize that they must adapt with the changes and nuances that come with a billion-dollar-plus machine.

And if the last 18 months have shown anything, it is that the current system is not working.  Unless something changes, 18-22 year old athletes will continue to drive millions and millions of dollars to their respected schools and the NCAA, but the kids will be punished for reaping a fraction of the monetary benefits they generate.

Why College SuperStars Are Bad for Their Teams and the NCAA

Why College SuperStars Are Bad for Their Teams and the NCAA–by Christian Hon/Contributor. 

What do the following players have in common?  Reggie Bush, Terelle Pryor, Mariuce Clarett, Peter WarrickMaurikce Pouncey, Cam Newton, Rhett Bomar, Lawrence Phillips and to make it interesting – O.J Mayo

Interestingly, they all have several things in common – they were all prized recruits – all, except Mayo, touched or have been within a win of the national championship trophy and all have or will leave their team in worse shape than when they arrived. 

I’m sure you expect this diatribe to steer towards the familiar road of “The Case For Paying College Players” but it won’t.  In fact, you can’t.  The nuances of college sports and what make them great is exactly what prevents you from doing so.  The fact remains however, a super star athlete, especially a superstar football player, at the college level is more often the fuse that ignites a negative PR bomb more than a “get over the hump to greatness” one.

Is USC better or worse off because of Reggie Bush? (google images)

I recently finished reading Tarnished Heisman – How Reggie Bush Turned His Last Year At USC to a Six Figure Job and got to thinking, do I really want my favorite team to get a player like that?  The quick answers is yes.  All college football fans are glued to their TV and computer for national signing day.   Short of our bowl game, it’s the biggest day of the year. 

What ranking we achieve by the recruitment review services is as much of a bragging point with our rivals as our record and/or bowl game finish.  With each star that our recruits receive, more hope springs for the following 4 years.  A thought out answer tells us a different story however. 

Are USC fans glad that Reggie Bush is considered a Trojan?  Will his number be retired?  When you thought of Auburn a year ago, what came to mind versus what you think of now? ( Crimson Tide fans please refrain from answering this one – you skew my point )  Is it coincidence that post Bush, USC have lost their dominance?  If so, what about Phillips at Nebraska?  What about Pouncey at Florida? Clarett at OSU? What about the glaring post Warrick years at FSU

Don’t get me wrong, there are several superstars that are never caught up in these media storms – Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, etc.  But if you look at the averages, you can’t deny that the greatest teams are typified by a crescendo of winning years leading to utter dominance, then severe drop off. 

It’s not because the teams can’t replace the talent, it’s because of the shock wave felt once their gone, both from a media standpoint and a game plan standpoint.  You never wondered if Bush was going to get his yards every game but when Joe McNight took over the starting RB job ( McNight was also the #1 recruit in the nation when he came out of high school)

I doubt the other team had a defense, blitz package and spy designed specifically for him from the first play of the game.  Players like these draw attention from the opposing defensive coordinator just as much as they do from ESPN‘s Game Day.  The fact is, superstars make the other players around them better just as hitters benefit from batting behind Pujols, Cris Carter benefitted from the arrival of Randy Moss and (insert Jordan / Pippen, Kobe / Shaq, Magic / Jabbar reference here)

Adding to the headaches of departed stars are the pitfalls they often fall in to while at their university.  All the aforementioned players had significant stories of misconduct to explain away, some of which added to the challenge of replacing them because of the imposed NCAA sanctions. 

Replacing a star is hard enough, replacing a controversial star is impossible.  Without Bush, USC would likely have won their national championship behind Lendale White and the stable of running backs they enjoyed.  With Bush, they lost scholarships , the best recruiter in the pacific time zone,  a Heisman Trophy, a percentage of their fans and the respect of college fans across the country.  (They got Lane Kiffin back though!)

Lastly – We all know how much the NCAA hates cheaters…once their caught.  ( Pre-conviction, the NCAA is rather fond of the revenues brought in by top-tier teams that dominate)  Their unrelenting pursuit of improper benefits is second only to John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted in regards to “hunting down the bad guys.” 

The NCAA is this strict because anything less than severe punishment of any impropriety is a swing in the direction of college football being a business ( which it is) and they can’t have that.  By trumpeting the “passion of the game” and purity of college athletics” their coffers stay full while they 18-22 year olds kill each other in the weight room and on the field for the glorious payment of free tuition, room and board and food.  And for the really good teams, there are goodie bags of portable DVD players and sweatshirts at the bowl game but you better not sell them or you’ll be expelled!

I root for my favorite college team with true passion and live and die with the scoreboard on Saturdays in the fall.  I, as much as any fan, have my favorite players on the team and they are often the players scoring the most points, making the most tackles and featured in an expose by Erin Andrews

With that said, I fear the day that my team gets a true top-level player that can change the outcome of a game by himself.  The more media attention we receive, first place recruiting votes we garner and appearances at the Heisman ceremony we have, the closer we are to the dark days of “rebuilding.”  Can you hear me post Gino Toretta Miami fans?  Ok, ok…post Charles Woodson Michigan fans…no?  Post Peyton Manning Tennessee fans?

Ohio State Black-eye

Jim Tressel will now miss at least five games this fall, but the NCAA may tack on more games when they complete their investigation (google images)

In the wake following the NCAA upholding the five-game suspension of several Ohio State football players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, head coach Jim Tressel promptly increased his self-imposed suspension from two games to five games–at least it’s self-imposed for now.

That could quickly change when the NCAA comes out with their final verdict.  Many fans out of Columbus are applauding Tressel’s move, citing the fact that he will not let his players take a more serious punishment than he is taking. 

Others have to wonder what else could come down.  The players, after all, are being punished for accepting money and tattoos in exchange for giving away clothing and rings that they were awarded for their achievements on the football field.  Tressel, on the other hand, misled and impeded the NCAA’s investigation into the matter.

The real question facing the NCAA is whether or not a head coach should have more responsibility and be held to a higher standard than a bunch of 18-22 year old college kids.  It should also be noted that star Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was suspended for the rest of his junior season in 2009 for lying to the NCAA about having lunch with former NFL player Deion Sanders

If the NCAA was that harsh with a scared college kid who was afraid because his eligibility (and ultimately, his NFL draft stock) was on the line, what should they do to a grown man who is supposed to run one of the most storied college football programs in the country?

The issue isn’t whether the punishment fits the crime–it is absolutely ridiculous that Bryant lost a season because he had a lunch that the NCAA thinks he shouldn’t have.  It has more to do with the NCAA once again painting themselves into a corner.  By hammering Bryant, and suspending several college athletes for selling clothes and materials that belonged to them, giving Tressel a lesser punishment than Bryant received a couple of years ago will only add to the joke that is the NCAA.

Mustard Stain on the Sweater Vest

Just months after hammering USC for violations, the NCAA didn’t even seem to slap Ohio State on the wrist for its players’ involvement in the selling/bartering of sports memorabilia to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor. 

Jim Tressel will be without a headset for the first two games of the 2011 season, and it could be more if the NCAA finds anything else (google images)

Instead of suspending the players right away, the NCAA erred on the side of caution–and TV ratings for the Sugar Bowl–and let the violations slide until the beginning of the 2011 season.  Otherwise, the 31-26 Ohio State victory over Arkansas would have likely been a much different outcome, considering quarterback Terrelle Pryor (one of the players who will miss the first five games next season) took home Sugar Bowl MVP honors after compiling 336 total yards in the game.

Today, a new development was uncovered that head coach Jim Tressel was made aware of the violations in an email last April that several of his players were selling signed memorabilia for money and free tattoos.  Upon hearing the news, Tressel did nothing, and admitted as much in a press conference where it was announced that he will be suspended for the first two games of this season for not coming forward with this information to the administration, and more importantly, to the NCAA.

Things could quickly go from bad to worse for Tressel and Ohio State for two reasons.  1)  The NCAA has already taken plenty of heat for the sanctions (or lack thereof) they issued to Ohio State during the Sugar Bowl and 2)  It turns out that the owner of the tatoo parlor, Eddie Rife, is under federal investigation for drug trafficking, which could easily open Pandora’s box on the program.

Tressel is known for his clean-cut, tie and sweater vest image, but this isn’t his program’s first clash with NCAA violations.  In his 10-year stint at Ohio State, his program produced multiple issues and violations with troubled running back Maurice Clarrett after the Buckeyes won the 2002 National Championship.

As the NCAA is forced to peel back more and more layers to what they don’t know and what they weren’t told, you can bet that college football fans (especially at USC) will be paying close attention to any further punishment that is handed down.

2010 Heisman Race: Entering Week 3

In the preseason, College FootBlog put a list together of Heisman candidates and five Heisman Dark Horses.  Just two weeks into the 2010 season, a couple of those players have lost a lot of momentum, and as is the case every season, there are others who have played their way onto the Watch List. 

In this edition of College FootBlog, we take a look at five players who have increased their stock and five more who could be on the outside looking in, based on where things stand after week 2.

Who’s Hot?

Terrelle Pryor (QB/Ohio State):  Pryor had a big week against Miami last weekend, and that may have him as the candidate to beat.  He will still have a couple of big tests against Iowa and Wisconsin.  Solid performances in those two games could easily seal the deal for the junior QB.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson leads the nation in total yards (google images)

Denard Robinson (QB/Michigan):  Many were surprised to see Robinson take the starting job away from Tate Forcier, but after his second huge game last weekend against rival Notre Dame, the sophomore quarterback leads the nation in total offense with a staggering 442 yards per game.  If he can continue to rack up wins for Michigan, and if he can generate big yardage against Ohio State to end the season, he could be the next sophomore to bring home the prestigious award.

Ryan Mallett (QB/Arkansas):  Mallett has thrown for a little 701 yards and six TDs in the first two games of the season, but his true test(s) will come when he is in the thick of SEC play.  His fourth game of the season against Alabama will likely determine whether or not Mallett stays on this list.

Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State):  The Broncos took a week off after the win against Virginia Tech.  Despite leading his team to a fourth quarter comeback victory, Moore’s Heisman hopes and BSU’s hopes for a BCS National Championship took a huge blow when Va Tech lost to James Madison last weekend.  Oregon State’s opening week loss to TCU also hurt Moore’s chance to play in front of a national audience.

John Clay (RB/Wisconsin):  The bruising running back has been solid so far this season, rushing for 260 yards and four TDs.  As we mentioned in our Heisman Dark Horse article, his true test will come in back-to-back weeks, when the Badgers host Ohio State (Oct. 16) and Iowa (Oct. 23). 

Who’s Not?

Mark Ingram (RB/Alabama):  The reigning Heisman winner already had the odds against him before the season started because he shares the backfield with teammate Trent Richardson.  A knee injury later, and Ingram is effectively out of the race because he has been held out of the first two games.

Christian Ponder (QB/Florida State):  We had him listed as a dark horse candidate, but Ponder received a lot of media attention after he was named the ACC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Last weekend was catastrophic to his chances of making the trip to New York, Oklahoma entered the game with something to prove after struggling against Utah State.  Ponder was held to 113 yards passing and two interceptions against the Sooners.

Quizz Rodgers (RB/Oregon State):  Week 1’s loss to TCU hurt the electric running back’s chances, as he only managed 75 yards rushing.  A couple big games could get him back in the hunt because he did not play poorly and managed to find the end zone. 

Dion Lewis (RB/Pitt):  Like Rodgers, Lewis had a rough week one, losing to Utah.  And like Rodgers, Pitt’s explosive back only managed 75 yards and a touchdown in week one.  He will get a couple more shots to throw his hat back in the ring, when Pitt takes on Miami and Notre Dame in the next few weeks, but after the Utah game, he has some catching up to do.

Jake Locker (QB/Washington):  Although his stats have been great (555 yards passing and five TDs through the air and another touchdown on the ground), Locker’s team will have to finish with at least a .500 record for him to get any support from the voters.  The Huskies lost their opener against BYU and must take on Nebraska next, where they are 4 point underdogs.

Heisman Dark Horse Part 5

In the fifth and final breakdown of our Heisman Dark Horse Candidates, College FootBlog takes a look at our last impact player who is not getting the Heisman hype of the usual suspects–Mark Ingram, Terrelle Pryor, Jacquizz Rodgers, etc.  In case you missed it, we covered Florida State’s Christian Ponder, West Virginia’s Noel Devine, Miami’s Jacory Harris and Wisconsin’s John Clay in our previous four dark horse articles.

Here’s a question for all of you college football buffs–Which Heisman finalist from last season finished third in the nation in total yards with the following stats:  3,579 yards passing with 30 TDs and only eight INTs, with another 506 yards rushing with eight more TDs rushing…..no, it wasn’t Colt McCoy….not Tim Tebow, either.

Most people outside the Big 12 didn't notice that Jerrod Johnson put up over 4,000 yards of offense last season (google images)

In our final edition of 2010’s Heisman Dark Horses, we take a look at why Johnson is still not getting the hype this season, and more importantly, what needs to happen for him to get some love from Heisman voters this fall.

Johnson Needs at Least Two Signature Wins in 2010:  Despite shredding one of the most dominant defenses in the nation (Texas), last season, the Longhorns ultimately prevailed in a 49-39 shootout at College Station last season.  Two weeks before that, Johnson was stifled by a dominant Oklahoma defense that held him to 115 total yards, as the Sooners thrashed the Aggies 65-10.  Johnson will get his shot at redemption against both OU and Texas, and he will also get a shot at yet another top-tier defense when Nebraska comes to town on November 20th.  If he wants to be taken seriously, he must perform in all three games, and really needs to lead his team to victory in two of them.

Will it happen?  Unless the Aggies’ defense improves tremendously, it won’t happen.  Despite getting the Sooners and Huskers at home this season, there are no real signs of significant improvement in a defense that gave up 33.5 points per game last season.  A&M finished 105th in the nation in total defense, so there is really nowhere to go but up, but in an offensive conference like the Big 12, first-year defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter will have his hands full.

Unless the Aggies can produce an average defense, they will be a .500 team again this fall, and by all indications, that’s what they will be.  Unfortunately for Johnson, quarterbacking a .500 team will leave him at home again in 2010, instead of making the trip to New York.   On the flip side, if DeRuyter can work his magic and keep A&M in the game against OU, Texas and Nebraska, it will not only give the Aggies a chance to win, but it will give Johnson an opportunity to lead his team to huge, upset victories, which will only bolster his chance at a Heisman Trophy.

Johnson Must Put Up the Same Stats as Last Year, If Not Better:  If Johnson can match or break his 4,000 total yards he put up in 2009, that will force Heisman voters to keep him on their radar.  If those numbers drop, it will effectively kill his Heisman hopes because winning the Big 12 South will be next to impossible for the Aggies to pull off in 2010.  Even though OU and Texas must replace key contributors from the 2010 roster, each program has loaded up in recruiting for the last several years, and each team will make a case for a Big 12 Championship, which will likely leave A&M on the outside looking in when the dust settles in December.  If Johnson can maintain the pace he had last season, facing three of the top defenses in the nation, he deserves to be a Heisman finalist.

Will it happen?  His overall numbers should be very close to the 2009 stats.  How much better or worse they will be depends on how he performs against the big three Big 12 opponents mentioned above.  Despite the difficulty of facing Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, the rest of the 2010 opponents aren’t exactly defensive juggernauts–the Aggies open with FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin and the out of the other remaining opponents, six of them finished 60th or worse in total defense last season, including 119th ranked FIU on September 18th.

Look for the A&M coaching staff to leave Johnson in for the long-haul against the inferior defenses to help pad his stats this year for two reasons:  1)  Having a Heisman hype around Johnson will bring some much-needed attention to a program that consistently loses recruiting battles against intra-division foes OU and Texas and 2)  The coaching staff is well-aware that touchdowns could be hard to come by in the NU, OU and Texas games, so Johnson will need to rack up as much as he can against the weaker defenses.

Given the weak out of conference schedule and the likelihood that Johnson should put up arcade numbers against those defenses, A&M just needs to get upset victories against Nebraska (which would not be a shock at all) and either Texas or OU, which could happen, but not with last year’s defense.

College FootBlog wants your feedback.  Who else deserves to be on our list and why?

Heisman Dark Horse Part 4: John Clay

In Part 4 of our Heisman Dark Horse candidates, College FootBlog takes a look at Wisconsin running back John Clay.  In case you missed it, we have highlighted three other dark horse candidates, Florida State QB Christian Ponder (see link), West Virginia RB Noel Devine (see link) and Miami QB Jacory Harris (see link).

Each of these candidates has two things in common–they have put up big numbers last season, they appear to be poised for an even bigger season in 2010, and finally, the major media outlets are not giving any of them the attention that the bigger names like Mark Ingram or Terrelle Pryor are receiving.

John Clay and his massive offensive line will look to improve on last season's impressive statistics (google images)

Wisconsin’s punishing running back John Clay certainly qualifies for this criteria.  Despite entering the 2010 season as the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and rushing for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2009.  Two other factors point to even bigger numbers in 2010, with the emphasis on “BIG.”  Clay enters two-a-days a few pounds heavier, as he is reportedly tipping the scales at 255 lbs., versus the high 240’s that he played at last season. 

The other key factor that will only help Clay’s quest to become the third Heisman Trophy winner in Wisconsin history is the stacked offensive line.  Senior LT Gabe Carimi anchors an O-line that returns all five starters from a season ago that averages 6’5″ and 325 lbs.

In order to be in a position to get the invite to New York a couple of key factors must work in Clay’s favor.  College FootBlog uncovers these factors and breaks down the likelihood that Clay will be in the running for the coveted award at season’s end.

Clay Must Get His Carries Against the Weak Teams:  The Badgers again have somewhat of a laughable non-conference schedule, with only Arizona State as a decent opponent.  The other games are against UNLV, San Jose State and Austin Peay.  In last year’s soft schedule, Clay only carried the ball 15 times against Northern Illinois and just 12 carries against lowly Wofford.  In the Wofford game, Clay rushed for 70 yards on those limited carries, but could have gone for much, much more, and he left the game without scoring a touchdown when the Badgers took full control over the game.

Will It Happen?  Yes, but head coach Bret Bielema will have the difficult task of balancing stats vs. risk of injury this season, but even though Clay is not as much on the national scene as he should be, he is recognized in the Big Ten as a legitimate threat for the Heisman.  Bielema knows that more carries (particularly against weaker opponents) will get Clay closer to 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, which would force the Heisman voters’ hands when they turn in their ballots.  Look for Clay to get a minimum of 20 touches against each opponent this season, regardless of the score.

Clay Must Show Up in Conference Showdowns:  Clay’s numbers would have been even more impressive, and perhaps the national media would be much more on board with his Heisman run this fall, if he had produced against conference foes Ohio State and Iowa.  In 2009, the bruising running back only managed 134 yards and zero TDs combined against the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes, while averaging under 3.3 yards per carry.  Once again in 2010, Clay will go against OSU and Iowa in back-to-back weeks, and each game has a great shot at being nationally televised.  If he can eclipse the century mark in yards in each of those teams, who will each have dominant defenses again this fall, he will be on everyone’s radar.  If he is neutralized in either (or both games like last year), he can probably kiss the Heisman goodbye.

Will It Happen?  The numbers should improve, and he will likely go for 100+ yards in at least one of those games.  We also believe that behind that massive offensive line, he will get into the end zone at least once in each game.  If he does rush for 100+ yards in one game and if he can get to 75-80 yards in the other game plus a couple of TDs, he will be right in the thick of the Heisman talk.  Getting 100+ yards against two of the best run defenses in the country two weeks in a row is a tall order for any running back and O-line combination, and the odds will be against Clay again this season.

If Clay can get more carries, especially against the weak opponents on his schedule, and if he can go for 100 yards against Iowa and/or Ohio State, don’t be surprised if the Big Ten finally endorses him–he wasn’t even voted as the preseason offensive player of the year, despite winning the award last season–and the voters will take notice as well.

Look for College FootBlog’s fifth and final Heisman Dark Horse Candidate later this week.


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