Sprints is Long But Filled With Scandal (Gasp!) Today // 04.10.12

One of these days, we'll go like two whole months without writing about this guy.

GATOR-GATE

Bobby Petrino would like to thank Sporting News
Why? Because they are distracting everyone else in the SEC by printing one of the most devastating articles about a former head coach (aside from Joe Paterno, for reasons that I'm sure we don't need to go into here) that I've ever seen. Really, you should read the whole thing, because even the choicer excerpts that we're going to deal with here are just a sampling of a report that leaves Urban Meyer's reputation as nothing more than a heap of rubble.

Such as when he was recruiting Stefon Diggs to Ohio State.

Multiple sources told Sporting News that Meyer -- who won two national championships in six years at Florida and cemented his legacy as one of the game’s greatest coaches -- told the Diggs family that he wouldn’t let his son go to Florida because of significant character issues in the locker room.

You know, significant character issues that stemmed at least in part from players that Meyer recruited to the program. Or, as Sporting News puts it, "were fueled by a culture Meyer created." And they're being kind there.

At one point during the 2008 season, multiple sources confirmed that Harvin, now a prominent member of the Minnesota Vikings, physically attacked wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales, grabbing him by the neck and throwing him to the ground. Harvin had to be pulled off Gonzales by two assistant coaches-- but was never disciplined.

When asked about the Harvin incident, Gonzales -- now offensive coordinator at Illinois -- said, "I think it's a little overblown. I mean, every great player wants his voice to be heard."

Yes, every great player wants his voice to be heard. But most of them find a way to get themselves heard short of choking their position coach, no?

And there's more. And more. And more. Drugs, NCAA violations, roster manipulation, lying about why players were benched for certain games, and breaking gentlemen's agreements in the B1G while simultaneously expecting Florida to follow a deal between Meyer and Muschamp -- all the accusations you could possibly think of being leveled against a head coach are there. Well, short of riding around town with your employee/mistress riding shotgun on your motorcycle.

Your response, coach?

I have been criticized that I have been too lenient on players; that doesn’t concern me.

Ah. Okay. By the way, out of pure curiosity, do you still do that annoying referring-to-yourself-in-the-third-person thing?

"Let me make one thing very clear," Meyer said. "There are no issues with Urban Meyer and the NCAA."

Glad we at least got that cleared up. Again, read the whole article. Even what you've read here only scratches the surface of the piece.

Year2 will also have more on this later today.

PETRIN-UH-OH: FALLOUT FROM A CRASH

The media are surprised that Bobby Petrino has support
Which is a little bit surprising in and of itself. The firing of Joe Paterno -- who was much different than Petrino as a coach but also had a much graver set of mistakes that he was responsible for -- sparked riots in State College when it was announced. Why should it be any different when a coach who arguably had a less severe lapse in judgment is in danger of losing his job?

A group of Petrino backers even started a Facebook page called "Team Save Coach Petrino" and rallied Monday night on the Arkansas campus to show their support for the coach. The group had approximately 7,000 members Monday morning before passing 17,000 by evening. ...

Approximately 200 supporters showed up in The Gardens, a popular tailgating spot prior to football games on the Arkansas campus. Razorbacks T-shirts, sandals and hats were tossed into the crowd, which did its best game day impression by calling the Hogs.

Again, I find this unremarkable but it does give me a chance to expound a bit on two memes or bits of conventional wisdom that are floating around, some of which are echoed by some of the protesters, that I think are way off base. Especially when they're used to defend Petrino or argue that he should stay at Arkansas.

The first is that Bobby Petrino's moral code should not be a reason for dismissing him. Which I find to be one of the most facile arguments of this whole episode. There is, at least in my mind, no question here about whether Bobby Petrino is a role model or is supposed to be a moral exemplar.

Parents are sending their 18- to 22-year-old sons to learn about football and, to an extent, life from Petrino; ask those parents if they think that Petrino's morals shouldn't matter. Unlike some positions where you can argue that morals are insignificant, a football coach is supposed to be one of those people who guides other people's sons through life. His ethical makeup should matter. It would be very hard to be angry at Urban Meyer for the incidents cataloged above but give Petrino a free pass on this one.

The other is that Arkansas knew when they hired Petrino that they were not getting someone of the greatest moral and ethical fiber. And while some, including myself, would concede that Petrino had long ago proven that his life was all about Bobby Petrino, I find that to be a rather bizarre argument.

There are moral differences between leaving your NFL team before the season is over and cheating on your wife. There is actually a large chasm of difference there. There are huge ethical differences between secretly interviewing for a job that your former boss still officially holds and secretly putting your mistress on the payroll of a state institution. Yes, Bobby Petrino has always been something of a slimeball, but let's not go down the mistaken road of thinking that all slimeballs ooze equally.

Bobby Petrino might not have proven that he was an unlikable or unethical person last week. But he did prove that he was more unlikable and unethical than most of us had probably imagined.

ASP captain who responded to Bobby Petrino call speaks
More precisely, he issued a lengthy memo that is interesting simply because we know what it's about. But it does have one piece of foreshadowing that shows the moment when Bobby Petrino probably figured out that his lies were about come crashing down around him.

Coach Petrino asked if passenger information was required and I said that all we need to know is the passenger's name and address.

That was on April 2. That was a day before the infamous press conference where Bobby Petrino told the media that he was alone on the motorcycle. Why he thought he could get away with the lie is astonishing. Maybe he didn't. Maybe he just wanted to get one more normal day before everything blew up.

OTHER NEWS

Ronald Powell done until at least August
When you're trying to figure out how much improvement to factor into Florida during your preseason rankings, put a huge question mark at arguably the team's most important defensive position. Because Ronald Powell is out for at least four months and as many as six with a torn ACL.

Powell plays the Buck, a hybrid end/linebacker position, that is important in Will Muschamp’s defense. Powell struggled at times to pick up the position last year, but seemed to have turned a corner and was consistently cited as the defense’s best player during the spring.

There are several players that could step up for the Gators, but none of them instantly look as promising as the guy who won't be there. And, as Alligator Army points out, the official date for Powell to take the field again might not matter all that much.

Powell missing four to six months would put his timetable for return at the beginning of fall practice in August at best and the beginning of Florida's October slate at worst, and he could be far from 100 percent for the fall even if he can return to the Gators swiftly.

The SEC East looks more and more like it's going to come down to a race between Missouri and Vanderbilt. I'm only half joking there.

Yahoo! Sports: Math is just too hard
I agree with most of what Yahoo! is saying here, that it's somewhat depressing to see an increase in the number of FCS games in the schedules released by BCS schools. However, one thing is a little bit confusing and Yahoo! decided to go for simple math on the measure of conferences instead of doing the terribly difficult division problems (ooh!) that would have given the numbers actual meaning.

Both of the complaints stem from this observation on the SEC:

There are 15 games against FCS opponents, three more than last season and the highest total in the nation; each league school has at least one such game and Texas A&M has two.

First, if you read that very carefully, what you essentially have is this: Texas A&M and Missouri are coming to the SEC this year. They have three FCS games between them. The number of FCS opponents in the SEC has increased by three. EASY SCHEDULING COP-OUT HAS REACHED AN ALL-TIME HIGH IN THE SEC!!!111!!11111!!

Unless, of course, the figure for 2011 doesn't include Texas A&M and Missouri, in which case Yahoo! has simply uncovered that the SEC has added Texas A&M and Missouri. Which we knew. Really. There were news stories about it and everything.

The other headliner, of course, is that the SEC is playing MORE GAMES AGAINST FCS OPPONENTS THAN ANY OTHER POWER CONFERENCE IN THE COUNTRY. Which is distressing enough for fans of those teams, but would probably be more distressing if the SEC didn't have, you know, more teams than any other power conference in the country. If you actually do the math, that comes out to 1.07 FCS opponent per SEC team, which is slightly below the rate of the ACC (1.08) and the Big East (1.13). Though the Big East can sort of be defending, seeing as how they are essentially an FCS conference to begin with.

The point here is not to defend the SEC practice of scheduling too many FCS games; I personally think that inter-subdivision games should be abolished, especially when there's such a gap between most AQ schools and most non-AQ schools in the FBS.

But the article is certain to be once again gobbled up by partisans as evidence that the SEC is the worst, when it's actually third-worst, or at least comparable to half the other AQ leagues when the math is actually done correctly.

It's understandable when people who are trying to score conference bragging-rights points are lazy about the math. It's less understandable when a credible news source is too lazy to take five minutes to put the numbers in a spreadsheet and provide meaningful context.

Trent Johnson officially named the men's basket-ball coach at TCU
I know that many of you were surprised over the weekend to learn that LSU had a men's basket-ball program. But the coach has now left and taken the job for TCU, so the third most important coaching position in Baton Rouge (maybe) is now available.

When Michael Adams thinks you're arrogant ...
The UGA president offered his reaction to the B1G's "third semifinal" Rose Bowl proposal to the Wall Street Journal. (Which raises the question of why the WSJ cares about this, but that's neither here nor there right now.) In short, Jim Delaney and Co. can take that idea and shove it.

"This is not 1950, or 1960," Adams said during the interview which appeared in Friday's paper. "There are great schools in the [Atlantic Coast Conference] and the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12. I think it's time to put everybody on an equal footing. I just reject the notion that the Big Ten and the Pac-12 ought to be treated differently in this process."

I would disagree slightly with Adams' statement that "there are great schools" in the ACC, at least if we're assuming that he's talking about football and not basket-ball or academics. Aside from that, he's right; until the B1G and the Pac-12 realize that they no longer deserve to be seen as the nations' best conferences because they are the B1G and the Pac-12, it's going to be difficult to get anything done on the playoff front. Which is just fine by me. But I don't think most college football fans are going to be happy about that.

Georgia State to the Sun Belt Conference (officially)
This actually gives Georgia State something of a recruiting advantage on Georgia Tech, since as a Sun Belt team the Panthers can credibly argue that they'll average more annual games against SEC competition than the Yellow Jackets. Conference President Dr. Jack Hawkins:

For the Sun Belt Conference-- the best is yet to be!

Which is almost certainly true, but has to be some kind of record for setting the bar low.

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