Sprints Is Against Blaming Lane Kiffin's Actions on Anyone Except Lane Kiffin // 01.15.10

IMPORTANT THINGS

Wondy Pierre-Louis' parents safe

"It was better than a national championship," said Pierre-Louis, a native of Port-au-Prince who moved to the states in 2002. "I was waiting all night and the next day until my uncle finally called me at around 8 p.m. (Wednesday). When I heard, I felt so relieved." ...

The tragedy provides Pierre-Louis extra incentive to try to make the NFL as a late-round selection or a free agent. The money would help. Pierre-Louis is currently working out in Gainesville and training with the UF track and field staff.

Best of luck to Pierre-Louis. To our readers: Help here.

LANE KIFFIN / TENNESSEE COACHING SEARCH

When all you have is a hammer ...
Sally Jenkins knows who to blame for the Lane Kiffin disaster: The BCS.

He's a charismatic poster boy for the Bowl Championship Series and the profit-driven sham it's become. He's the darling of stampeded, sheep-off-a-cliff college presidents who are colluding in a competitive arms race, and inflating coaches' status and salaries at the expense of any real values.

Wha? Let's set aside for a moment the column's blatant elitism -- even your humble correspondent, who believes education is essential and is disinclined to defend Boy Wonder, thinks highlighting his degree is a cheap shot -- and actually deal with whatever attempt at substance is here. It's a little bit difficult to follow the column, but I think the link between Kiffin and the BCS is here.

Kiffin is merely a product of the soured professional environment in which he came up. The BCS culture itself is fundamentally dishonest, a cartel of six major conferences and Notre Dame, ungoverned by the NCAA, that seeks to hoard $1 billion in bowl profits. How can we expect the competitors to be ethical? Or sensible?

Okay, so the BCS schools like money, which is apparently a condition peculiar to them among all of American society. And this lead to Kiffin being hired by Southern Cal ... how exactly? There's more of the column, though, so maybe it's explained somewhere else.

The trouble is that too many administrators are unwilling to do the hard work of controlling their costs and their impulses. Hiring Kiffin is an attempt at an easy fix. It's a lot easier than taking the time for a real coaching search, and hiring someone less illustrious who is willing to build slowly, and the right way. Especially if an athletic director is in fear of falling behind in recruiting wars, and their potential effect on the BCS bottom line.

Again, I'm trying to follow a column where the link between evidence and conclusion is only hinted at, but I believe what Jenkins is saying is that Southern Cal is trying to increase BCS profits by hiring a coach that will help them get into the BCS. Which would be an incredibly strong point -- if the Pac-10 didn't join other college football conferences in dividing BCS earnings evenly among its members.

Maybe it's not quite so simple, though. Maybe the athletics directors just want to earn more money by winning. Of course, that only works if the profit motive is true solely for BCS schools. If you lose at Houston, they're still going to buy season tickets at the same rate as if you win. There's more support for that being Jenkins' hidden reason for believing the BCS is the reason for Lane Kiffin later.

According to a recent report from the reform-minded Knight Commission, in the 2007-08 school year, nearly 80 percent of major athletic programs reported operating deficits. Programs in the red lost an average of $9.9 million. NCAA data shows that the rate of increase in athletics spending in Division I is three to four times greater than the rate of increase for academic budgets. There's more: Since 2006 the average budget deficit for 80 percent of athletic programs has risen 11 percent. At the same time, the average salary for head football coaches has increased 46 percent, to $1.36 million. Obviously, college administrators are hoping that coaches will be miracle workers who will bail them out financially.

Okay. One thing that does come through quite clearly here is that "the reform-minded Knight Commission" is a quality source for information and analysis on fiscal matters in college athletics and --

I'm sorry, co-chairs of the Knight Commission -- you wanted to say something.

Playoffs not the answer to college football's financial crisis ...

Whatever its other merits or disadvantages, a college football playoff would not solve these financial problems because without underlying reforms, added revenue would merely translate into higher coaches' salaries, facility expansions and more personnel.

Perhaps Jenkins missed this column? Well, given that it appeared in her own paper and she quotes from it nearly verbatim, you would have to assume that she picked the parts she wanted and left the actual conclusions behind. Because "reform-minded" commissions are so myopic about actual reform.

In fairness, though, the column doesn't say that the Knight Commission doesn't support a playoff like the one proposed by University of Georgia President Michael Adams in 2008. So maybe --

Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Kirwan. You wanted to say something else?

For this reason, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a watchdog group that advocates a shortened playing season for student-athletes, is not backing Adams's proposal.

"Every time the whole issue of football and postseason play comes up, we seem to add more games," said William E. Kirwan, the co-chair of the Knight Commission and the chancellor of the University System of Maryland. "Lengthening the season definitely has an impact on the students' ability to perform in the classroom."

Hmm.

So the Lane Kiffin situation is caused by the BCS and the solution is to start a playoff because of numbers provided by a group that says that a playoff won't fix the problem.

To an extent, I actually like the playoff debates that crop up in college football every few months. But they're a lot better if the arguments aren't intellectually dishonest or tied to unrelated stories. (HT: SBNation.com, where Spencer/Orson correctly points out that all columnists are entitled to a bad day.)

BREAKING NEWS: CUTCLIFFE STILL GOING TO BE HEAD COACH OF TENNESSEE. EVENTUALLY

Duke University head football coach David Cutcliffe is assembling a coaching staff in anticipation of becoming the head coach at the University of Tennessee, a source close to the negotiations told the News Sentinel late Thursday.

When asked about Cutcliffe, UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said via text message that the university was still in the interviewing phase of the process and that no offer had been made to anyone. ...

Fulmer likes the Cutcliffe hire that hasn't happened yet.

"He’s the kind of person I described earlier in my release," Fulmer said Thursday evening. "The type of person and coach that I thought the team needed, and he fits those parameters to a tee."

And Duke's SID, perhaps forgetting for whom he works, seems to endorse Cutcliffe for the job.

"Given his history, David Cutcliffe doesn’t need to interview for the job at Tennessee," Duke sports information director Art Chase told The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. "He did that for 19 years."

Well, yes, but should you really be the one saying that?

Prepare for more Fulmer intrigue
Given that he has been mentioned as a possible head coach but also as a possible athletics director at Tennessee, I found what Phillip Fulmer didn't say in his statement Thursday more interesting that what he did.

I love the University; I am loyal to my alma mater and am ready to help as the University makes one of the most important decisions in the history of our football program. However, to prevent any misunderstanding, I am not seeking to be a candidate for the head coaching position. [EMPHASIS C&F's]

I'm not sayin', just sayin'.

Let me try

BREAKING NEWS:  I just heard from Jimmy Sexton's secretary that Lou Holtz has agreed in principle to be the next head coach at Tennessee! His clear voice, keen analysis and ability to avoid NCAA sanctions until right after he leaves a school will help UT draw back in the recruits needed to beat everyone except Florida and Georgia. He even has Tennessee ties from having lost to Tennessee every time he faced them as head coach of South Carolina.

The contract will be for $4 million and a new newspaper to tear for each game's motivational speech for two years or until he gets bored. Coach Holtz will keep the current staff on board at least through signing day, and is believed to want to keep them beyond that time.

Welcome to Tennessee, CLH.

That was fun.

Tennessee joke of the week
Not much substance, but the headline alone is one of the best quips related to Cutcliffe's imminent possible certain probable likely hiring.

This is going to be fun until the NCAA ruins it
Rick Neuheisel reminds us of one thing we can look forward to in the Boy Wonder migration.

OTHER NEWS

BREAKING NEWS: GRANTHAM TO GEORGIA
This is the most extensively sourced coaching rumor since ... well, Cutcliffe to Tennessee. (HT: Groo)

A non-denial denial
Really, when this is the best you can come up with as an athletics department, you're better going with "No comment."

In an e-mail to the Banner-Herald before 10 p.m. Thursday, Georgia associate athletic director Claude Felton said that he had not heard Georgia had completed a deal with Grantham.

Alabama getting back best recruiter?
Roll Bama Roll considers potential replacements for James Willis, including Lance Thompson -- whom you might remember Boy Wonder credited for Alabama's 2009 recruiting class.

Maybe he is getting a bit too used to Columbia
Steve Spurrier has always been more honest about his team than AJC columnists with bizarre ideas some others. He dismissed talk of SEC East contention until the Gamecocks show they're not the team that lost 20-7 in Birmingham.

"When we start beating Georgia and Southern Miss our first two games, then we may have come somewhere," Spurrier said Thursday. "But nah, we don't need to talk about anything except trying to beat Southern Miss the first game of the season. After our last performance, we've got a long way to go."

But he's found one title he's willing to claim.

"I like that term, 'state champ,' instead of 'We beat Clemson.' "

There, Georgia bloggers. I've given you the material for your weekly "How far the Evil Genius has fallen" post so you can show how irrelevant you consider South Carolina by writing about it again.

How Obama can get a 60th vote without Joe Lieberman
Just promise Orrin Hatch that he'll work for a playoff system. Because the Utah senator obviously doesn't think there's anything more important to the future of our nation -- or at least he's not acting like it.

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