Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

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Friday May 29, 2009

Somehow the coaches’ poll survived for years without transparency, and I imagine that it’s not exactly going to be the Wild West doomsday scenario now that the transparency has been taken away. It’s not a move in the right direction of course, but it’s not the end of the world either. If bias is a concern, and it probably should be, maybe the two highest and lowest votes for each team could be discarded.

Anyway, the coaches’ poll isn’t the only imperfection among the BCS components. The Harris poll has its own problems, and the various computer polls operate under their own shroud of obscurity. The idea of a selection committee to seed the BCS has been floated before, and that might be the best solution to put polls back into the trivial role they play in other sports. A selection committee would have its own affiliations and biases of course, but they’d at least be sorting out the teams face-to-face.

I understand why Mike Slive wants the SEC football coaches to play nice. His product is the SEC, and real dollars are at stake these days. But as much as “we’re all in this together,” the livelihood of those 12 coaches depends on their ability to outperform the other 11. The pressure to find and exploit an advantage is tremendous, and self-preservation can be a powerful motivator. Slive’s threat of a fine might drive the sniping out of the public eye, but it will just continue to simmer underneath the surface in the underworld of recruiting where negative recruiting is a way of life.

I kind of liked having the tension bubble up into the public eye. Of course it was good fodder for fans, but on a more serious level a peer calling out another coach brought to light some of the tactics and outrageous behavior that goes on in recruiting and elsewhere behind the scenes. If transparency is good for the polls, it can also counter and shame coaches behaving badly. The “pumping gas” row was a great example – it forced a coach out from the shadows to address and defend his recruiting methods in a way the media never could. Those derogatory comments will still be made to recruits, but the ability to confront something like that in a direct way has been diminished.

If there’s one lesson from this Memphis cheating scandal (other than Calipari’s ability to stay one step ahead of trouble), it’s the absolute mockery made of the one-and-done rule. In order to become eligible and get that one year of college at a high-profile program, Rose allegedly not only had someone take his SAT but also had grades changed at his Chicago high school. It might be to the detriment of the college game, but these one-and-done guys have no business in college, and it’s ridiculous that the NCAA – with all of its PR about the “student-athlete” – would be a party to it. Let them go pro, head to Europe, or commit to a college for three years.

Every time I see an article about a “Rooney Rule” coming to college sports, I ask myself, “don’t these colleges already have hiring procedures in place?” Our institutions of higher learning pride themselves on their diverse faculty and student bodies. If anything, they’re sometimes criticized for going too far in the interests of promoting diversity. So to me this seems like an issue of capitulation on the part of college administrators. If diversity in the coaching ranks is a priority, administrators should hold their athletic departments responsible for following the same hiring process as the academic side where you hear much less complaining about a lack of minority representation. Or maybe it’s easier to wait for action to be taken at the conference or NCAA level so that the administration doesn’t run the risk of being seen as meddling in athletics.

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