Sprints Has No Personal Responsibility for This // 05.28.09

Kentucky Fried Wildcat? All of a sudden, the John Calipari hiring might not be looking like the best decision.

The first and worst news concerns allegations of major NCAA violations -- like, somebody taking the SAT for a player violations -- at Memphis while Calipari was the program's head coach.

Allegations of major rules violations while John Calipari coached at the University of Memphis became public Wednesday night, casting an ominous shadow on what had been his celebrated start as University of Kentucky basketball coach. ...

In its "notice of allegations," the NCAA asked that Calipari be present when its judicial body, the Committee on Infractions, considers the Memphis response at its June 5-7 meeting in Indianapolis. ...

But UK basketball spokesman DeWayne Peevy released a statement late Wednesday night that said Calipari had "received a letter from the NCAA stating that he is not at risk of being charged with any NCAA violations in this case."

That statement was enough for Tru at A Sea of Blue to relax a bit.

I think that should just about put this to bed.  Me as well.  Tomorrow, we can enjoy the tut-tutting from our rivals, and we can make remarks like "Yeah, we got the second coming of the Teflon Don."

Forgive me if I find Calipari to be a little too teflon for comfort. As the Herald-Leader story points out, this is not the first time Calipari has had major violations at his program but avoided any personal culpability. Once is believable. Twice doesn't make you guilty, but three could make a pattern. Kentucky better hope there's no pattern here.

While dripping with bitterness, Geogg Calkins of the Memphis Commerical-Appeal makes the point well.

He just happened to be in charge when the bad stuff happened at UMass. He just happened to be in charge when the bad stuff may have happened at Memphis. ...

Of course he knew [about the SAT]. They all know. It is part of the seamy world of college basketball.

You can't risk the future of a big-time star on something like a standardized test. So you get someone to take the test for the kid. (HT: Clay)

It just seems a bit too convenient. No, that's enough to convict someone, even in the court of opinion. But it is enough to raise eyebrows, and justifiably so.

At the same time, Calipari and Kentucky are receiving what even fans say is well-deserved heat for yanking scholarships to downsize the roster.

I am not happy with the way this has gone, and I do think Calipari could have handled the scholarship situation better.  What he has done is effectively turn UK into an NBA franchise, and while that might be good for wins and losses and national championships, it isn't going to be welcomed everywhere.  Some people are going to be very upset with how this is going down, and they have every right to be. ...

In the final analysis, UK and Coach Calipari will get criticized for this purge of the roster, and they should.  It is a bad thing to do, and I am not going to sugar-coat that aspect of it.

Climer is less kind.

The result has been a scorched earth policy. As is his style, Calipari has recruited like a fiend. Top prospects who previously were headed to Memphis to play for Calipari have now followed him to Lexington. Others have come along for the ride. ...

When a high school senior pledges his or her allegiance to a college program, that school should live up to its end of the bargain - for four years. A new coach should be given time to let the roster regenerate without fear of repercussions.

Getting contrary is really the Mayor's thing, but I have to disagree at least a bit here. There are two competing ideas here, and you either reconcile them or refuse to do so. In this case, while Tru is one of the most thoughtful bloggers out there and Climer raises some good points, the are refusing to reconcile the competing interests.

The interest they are siding with is the feels-right factor, if you will, the idea that we all have an ethical or moral compass that will guide us and let us know if we're doing wrong. In this case, it feels ethically sketchy to essentially cut a college player.

But there's another interest at play here: Basic fairness. In other words, if you allow every college athlete who continues to qualify academically to receive their scholarship, you are extending to them an opportunity that other students on scholarships don't get.

I got some scholarships when I went to South Carolina. Some of them were pretty sizable -- otherwise, I wouldn't have gone to college. They were academic. But I couldn't continue to receive the scholarships just by remaining in good standing academically. I was required to do better than the minimum, to maintain a higher GPA than what was necessary to keep me in school, or I lost the scholarship. Like many of these athletes, that would have been curtains for my South Carolina career, and maybe college as a whole.

Sure, there are lines. If a kid is working hard to fit the system and keeping his grades up, he generally should be allowed to stay. I am uncomfortable with the idea of getting rid of a student just because he doesn't "fit" the system.

But to say doing so is beyond some kind of ethical boundary is to say all scholarships are not created equal and to use a different standard for athletics than for academics. That is also somewhere we shouldn't feel comfortable going.

Meanwhile, Billy Gillispie is taking Kentucky to court over his firing, asking for $6 million and showing that his time in Lexington hasn't hurt his pride.

Whether the buyout clause in that memorandum of understanding is binding has emerged as the central sticking point between the athletic department and Gillispie, whom the suit repeatedly describes as one of the country's "premier men's head basketball coaches." ...

"When he signed and accepted defendant's written agreement to act as the head coach of the University of Kentucky's men's basketball team, Coach Gillispie was at the pinnacle of a meteoric rise through the collegiate coaching ranks," the lawsuit says.

Wow. A "meteoric rise." What happened?

Kentucky might be asking the same question.

Mark Richt gets tiresome. I have said before that, as a South Carolina fan, it is frustratingly difficult to dislike Mark Richt. He is the coach of the Gamecocks' biggest SEC rival, and yet he goes helping Honduran children and appearing in Christian movies.

But the talking -- can he stop it with the talking?

The complaints about the Georgia-Florida game, which were ridiculous to begin with, are well documented. But now, Richt wants to pretend like they never happened.

"Here's the deal -- I don't know the answer to that, and I'm not going to answer any questions on that because every time I say something it becomes a much bigger deal than it is," Richt said, according to The Palm Beach Post.

"All I can tell you is somebody asked me awhile back, ‘Do I think it's neutral?' I said, ‘I really don't think it's neutral, no,' but everybody is wanting to make a big stink about, ‘Should we change the game?' and all that. I don't care where we play the game, quite frankly."

Huh?

First of all, much like Meyer with the "you're fur us or you're agin us" comments, this is trying to put the genie back in the bottle after he's popped up, taken a few laps around the building and settled down for a nap.

Second, it's a bit difficult to say you "don't care where we play the game" when you've already whined about it. In fairness, Richt's initial comments could be read to say that he didn't think it was neutral, but he'd play there anyway -- but that doesn't mean he's not still trying to give himself an excuse for losing that also serves as measure of how much better his team "actually" is if it wins.

But no, Richt has a better idea. What if another team were to give up a home game -- to play Georgia at the Georgia Dome. Now, that would be fair.

As well as a sign that the accepting coach should be fired immediately for cause.

Who needs Geraldo? I'll give out my strategy myself. Houston, when you pull the shocking upset, you might want to keep things like this to yourself. Then again, Nutt's "secrets" to beating Florida -- avoid turnovers, prevent big plays, score quickly -- aren't exactly an epiphany, or any less useful against the other opponents on your schedule.

Spurrier: Tebow will be fine in the NFL. The Ol Ball Coach continues to leap to the defense of the quarterback at his alma mater.

But Spurrier played and coached in the NFL, so his opinion certainly has merit.

"I think if an NFL team says he's our [quarterback], he'll do super," Spurrier said at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin. "Everybody thinks he's going to play another position. The NFL people seem to think that. I think Tim can certainly play quarterback with the best of them."

Yes, Spurrier did play and coach in the NFL. Except, well -- it didn't turn out so well. He was 0-14 in his first season in the NFL. And we all know the Redskins story. So take this with a grain of salt.

Secret ballot. No card-check for the coaches' poll, as the American Football Coaches Association returns to season-long secret ballots.

Spurrier is among the opposed. You'll never guess one of the coaches who found it appealing.

I think that's good. I don't really have a strong feeling one way or the other, but I think it's fine. I think there's arguments both ways. We all know how competitive things are, whether it be a fan base, whether it be recruiting, whether it be friendships. I think at some point you have to trust people who vote.

That would be the same guy who wants off-the-record booster meetings -- Urban Meyer.

Gallup, in the meantime, says fewer teams should be ranked to begin with. As someone who votes in the BlogPoll, I have to say that this makes more than a little sense. After about 10 or 15, it becomes harder than you might imagine to tease out which 7-3 team should be in 19th place and which should be in 20th.

Play Ball! Word on Scott Bittle's NCAA performance comes today. Hint: He won't be on the roster. That could be a bigger problem for Ole Miss than you might think, based on who they've done without him so far.

Total: 48 innings (averaging 5.33 innings per start), 35 runs, 32 earned: Starters ERA in nine games: 6.00, Record 5-4.

Yeesh. Even the 2007 Rangers pitched better than that.

Wind Sprints. Forget getting rid of basketball players. Arkansas is adding them ... Paterno wants another team in the Big Ten, but not Notre Dame ... The Joe Cribbs Car Wash likes seeing future Auburn QBs touted as possible Heisman candidates. What, Kodi Burns wasn't a finalist last year?

Wind Sprints, Part II. Mike Slive wants tougher out-of-conference basketball schedules. What about football? ... Nick Saban doing it was okay, but Houston Nutt apparently took things too far ... Something to keep an eye on, with any luck in vain ...

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