Posted July 25th, 2011 by Ross
Filed under: Feature, Football, Recruiting

As we are on the verge of another college football season, the biggest debate is not over who is ranked number one in the preseason polls (looks like OU in 2011), but whose team is going to be on probation. The entire season will be littered with teams that are on probation, dealing with secondary violations or owners of the dreaded lack of institutional control. I believe that we are nowhere close to the brash and blatant cheating of the 80’s, but this season will be scrutinized by fan bases identifying this team as the dirtiest program in college football.

So how do you propose to change it? I do not have all the answers but I will throw up a few for debate.

Do Not Pay Players

I cannot stress this one enough. Most fans want to see college football players get paid because of all the millions of dollars that colleges rake in. People forget that football pays the bills for many college sports including all the Title IX sports. For every great college football player that is glamorized on TV or on a video game there are a host of other no name college athletes that are still getting scholarship money paid for by the school. Not to mention the facilities that the athletes use, the travel that they get to experience and the notoriety that they can obtain all on the schools tab. No regular college kid would ever be able to have that kind of head start after they graduate. Jay Bilas wants kids to have the ability to make money off their name while in school by autograph signings. Do you think anyone wants to buy the Northwestern’s wide receiver autograph or for that matter want the polo teams John Hancock? There is no solution that be can be equally administered or financially viable for all of these universities.

Shine the Light

Have you ever read a college scholarship offer that is signed by these young athletes? I have never seen the verbiage or the rules that it states. How about language in a scholarship that states that if you take improper benefits you will be permanently kicked off the team? Compliance offices are set up to help guide the student athlete on how to handle overzealous fans. How about every season ticket holder going through a course on what is acceptable behavior around student athletes? Let’s shed a light on these contracts that these kids are signing and educate fans on what their jock sniffing efforts will do to their program.

Coaches’ Amnesia

This is the biggest crock of all. Head college football coaches hide behind the fact that they cannot watch their players 24/7. Coaches have immense resources from academic counselors to compliance personnel, other coaches, and their true football leaders in the locker room. The current thought is if it is not reported than it cannot be wrong. Reporting violations while tedious is still the best way to clean up the bad apples before it affects everyone else. If you are worried about Johnny Five Star going out late and damaging the reputation of your program, do not recruit the kid. Former Coach Mike Leach said that coaches are their own worst enemy because they think that they can rehabilitate these kids when they bring them into their environment. Probably the real problem is that head coaches are numb from all the stupid rules that exist. Until the universities that run the league take a hard look at overhauling the NCAA, it needs to follow the rules that are set forth for everyone. It’s time for head coaches and the AD’s to be accountable for the millions of dollars that they earn every year to police their teams and keep the little issues from festering into a lack of institutional control.

Harsher Penalties

I love the fact that Coach Nick Saban calls runners and agents that hang around college football as pimps. (Don’t college coaches do the same thing?) Ask college basketball coaches what they think about AAU programs and you might find a more colorful word for those people. States need to get involved and legislate harsher penalties so that recruiting services, boosters and agents will be met with loss of certification, jail time and financial penalties. Most state governments around the country made money off the tobacco industry. They sure could use another revenue producing vehicle and college football is full of money. Also, please inform the NCAA that taking wins away does not hurt a school at all. The NCAA needs to affect the schools pocket books with the elimination of college bowl games and television appearances.

College football fans will never tone down their fervor for recruiting, daily updates and the need to go to every practice to rub elbows with the players and coaching staff. Since the passion of college football will never be squelched. Universities, state attorneys, and even the television networks are going to have to shine a light on college football to show everyone what is going on. We thirst for more information on twitter, blogs, and the internet. Add compliance notices and simple NCAA rules for the fans to add to their daily intake.

Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at 40AcresSports or follow me at Horns1991. HOOK EM!!

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Posted August 27th, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Football

With the departure of Mike Leach from Texas Tech and the addition of Neal Brown to run Tuberville’s offense, things have changed on offense out in Lubbock.  Some folks think a spread is a spread is a spread, but the differences between the Prairie Pirate’s Air Raid and Brown’s NASCAR is striking.  The best example I can think of is driving a car versus racing in one.  (Side note:  Neal Brown is 30 and his predecessor at Tech was 27, ECU’s Lincoln Riley.  Thought that was interesting.)

First off, they have a common ancestor but are run completely differently.  I think 10 years after OU won the national title using a hybrid version left behind by Mike Leach and refined by Fat Mark, the original idea has evolved so much that it’s now a package for some teams.  The irony is the best example of the Raid in 2010 being a play package probably is OU.  They’ve changed things up quite a bit over the years to cater to talents like Adrian Peterson but can still effectively no huddle an opponent in a snap if they decide to.   If you really want to get into it – look at Case Keenum and Kevin Sumlin’s offense at Houston.  They’ve taken the best parts of the OU hybrid (with an Jenkins-era run n’ shoot receiver at OC), mixed in motion from a bunch of 4.3 40 wideouts jet sweeping and sluggoing you to death, and snap the ball every play when the whistle blows.

Mike Leach’s ideal vision was calling six plays repeatedly out of forty different formations and dreaming of going a full season without running the ball.  Huge line splits and calling “mesh” six straight times allowed Tech to go downfield 62 yards in 1:28 to knock off #1 UT a couple of seasons ago.  Leach’s style and attitude toward his offense fits his personality.  He’d see if a play worked, regardless of coverage, and put a check next to it.  Then he would try another one, and check or cross it off.  Then he’d set off with his improved game plan and try to extend the offense’s number of snaps over a game.  They did run a little more hurry up if the clock didn’t stop but it wasn’t a true hurry up no huddle spread.  He wasn’t going to adjust to beat you – he was more into finding something that worked and then dare a defense to try and shut it down.

Brown’s version is going to look much more like the Houston version than the one seen the past few years in Lubbock.  Every skill position player has a wristband and every play is called from the sideline.  They try and snap the ball within five seconds of the whistle. They’ll run less sets with more plays and try to catch you out of position.  Leach likes shallow crossing routes and spacing the field – Brown likes to burn out corners and runs his guys all over the place.  They’ll run the ball, too – I don’t think Tech has the personnel yet to do it effectively, but can you imagine a no huddle run-first offense?  If it’s clicking and the OL is dominating the front seven on D, damn right Brown will do it.  Troy ran the ball 49 times against MTSU and 45 against UNT, both wins with over 250 yards of rushing offense.

This was a quote from Chris at Smart Football when I asked him to characterize the two: “The Troy offense is a nice contrast: instead of trying to get in the right play, with the right route, and the right concept on each down and constantly getting completions, the theory is more like what Gus Malzahn does at Auburn: come at the opponent fast and furious, use your plays (which are good plays), and force them into mistakes. Leach’s is more probing: find your weaknesses, get in a good play, and keep making you pay.”

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