Paul Dee

Another day, another diatribe aimed at Paul Dee


Rightly so, Paul Dee has been skewered by both the media and fans — and in one case a conference commissioner — in the days since Yahoo! blew the lid off alleged rampant corruption involving current and former members of the Miami football and basketball programs.

Dee was the athletic director during most of Nevin Shapiro’s eight-year run of booster benevolence that began in late 2001/early 2002 and could end with program-shaking sanctions.  Dee was also the chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions that slapped severe sanctions on USC because of allegations so serious it forced Dee to chastise the university with his infamous “high-profile players demand high-profile compliance.”

As it turns out, USC wasn’t the only institution on the receiving end of one of Dee’s sanctimonious sermons served from his bully pulpit.

Long Beach State president F. King Alexander found himself, along with other university officials, in front of a Dee-led COI hearing in 2007 to answer allegations of irregularities in their basketball program.  The president recalled the hearing to the Long Beach Press-Telegram recently, saying that his group was the subject of, as the paper writes it, a “lecture… in a most condescending manner” from Dee.

“Dee told us, `You have to put in place the kind of institutional control we have at Miami‘,” Alexander said, a thought the Press-Telegram notes was relayed with irritation.

The Dee anecdote was just one of many from a diatribe by Alexander on the current state of the NCAA.  Hell, even Nebraska wasn’t safe from the president’s pointed words, all of which come back to just two: nauseating hypocrisy.

“And one of the other members of the NCAA Infractions Committee in that hearing was from Nebraska. On that same day, six Nebraska athletes were arrested for illegally selling sporting apparel,” Alexander continued.

“The hypocrisy of the NCAA makes me sick. To allow institutions like Miami and Nebraska to chair and oversee its infractions committee is like putting foxes in charge of the henhouse.”

Interestingly, Alexander also has somewhat of a connection to the current Miami mess.

“You must understand that in 2005 when I was president at Murray State, I fired our football coach, Joe Pannunzio, because of numerous incidents that occurred in our program under him that were quite bad,” Alexander said. “Well, Pannunzio immediately was hired by Miami, and he’s one of the coaches who’s been prominently mentioned by Shapiro in the current scandal. He’s now the head of football operations at Alabama.”

Pannunzio was named in the damning Yahoo! report as someone who, while an assistant coach at Miami, “had a close relationship with Shapiro and facilitated the booster having improper contact with recruits.”  Shapiro refused to speak on or off the record regarding the Pannunzio allegations uncovered by Yahoo!.

Another former Miami assistant, Jeff Stoutland, is also on Nick Saban‘s Alabama staff, serving as the Tide’s offensive line coach after being hired in January.

Saban addressed Thursday the two new members of the program allegedly involved in the South Beach scandal, and said the two were thoroughly vetted prior to their hirings.

“I know what goes on in this program and I know that we do things correctly,” Saban said. “We do have people in this organization, who worked there (at Miami). Before those people were ever hired here we do an NCAA check to make sure they pass all compliance criteria and that they don’t have any red flags relative to compliance history.

“We certainly did that in both of these cases. Now, if any of these people had any wrongdoing, I’m sure the NCAA will investigate it in due time and, if they did anything wrong, I’m sure they will get the appropriate punishment, which we would do if we had any internal problems in our organization. But we’re going to continue and control and manage what we do in our organization and do it correctly, and that’s basically all we can be concerned about.”

Getting back to the broader issue of NCAA hypocrisy when it comes to enforcement and the individuals involved with levying sanctions, the bigger question becomes how to clean up the rightly-held perception of that part of collegiate athletics.  What seems to be the only option also happens to be the best: the NCAA needs to hire independent arbitrators to replace the current members of the COI — who, like Dee, are employed by individual institutions as their full-time jobs — and allow them to independently conduct the hearings that determine sanctions.

Simply put, a Paul Dee-led NCAA COI slamming sanctions on an institution like USC simply cannot happen again, especially when one of the member’s own athletic house was allegedly in disarray at the time.  The NCAA is rolling in enough hypocrisy because of that case and the subsequent fallout at Miami to last a lifetime, and it needs to ensure that’s never again an issue.

(Tip O’ the Cap for the Alexander link to Jon Solomon)

Georgia reportedly hires Kirby Smart as head coach

Kirby Smart

Sometimes the rumors really are true.

Seemingly since he arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007, the worst-kept secret in college football was that Kirby Smart wouldn’t jump from Nick Saban‘s perch until the Georgia job opened.

And now, one day after Mark Richt said goodbye in Athens, multiple reports say that’s exactly what will happen – Smart will be the next Bulldogs coach.

Outside of Houston’s Tom Herman, Smart was the only target UGA athletics director Greg McGarity truly targeted and, barring a major turn of events between now and the SEC championship, he’ll have landed him.

Hailing from Bainbridge, Ga., Smart played safety for Georgia from 1995-98, then returned in 2005 as running backs coach. In between he made stops at Valdosta State, Florida State, LSU, the Miami Dolphins and, finally, Alabama, where he helped the Crimson Tide to three national titles and never produced a defense ranked lower than 18th nationally in yards per play defense.

This year’s Crimson Tide defense ranks second nationally heading into an SEC title game date with Florida. If, as expected, Alabama wins and, as expected, Smart is introduced as Georgia’s next coach, he would have to decide whether or not to pull a move much like Herman last year and work double-duty through Alabama’s run in the College Football Playoff. Or he could rip a page from his predecessor’s book and dump Alabama to drive straight into the Georgia job.

What sort of program will Smart run? Other than the Process-based enterprise seemingly microchip implanted into the brain of every Saban aide, it’s hard to say. Smart only spoke to the media three times annually.

But here’s one guarantee: he’ll need to nail his offensive coordinator hire. Saban’s former offensive coordinators — Jimbo Fisher and Jim McElwain — have thrived, while his most prominent defensive coordinator-turned-head coach protege — Will Muschamp — failed mightily at Florida because he could never conquer the other side of the ball.

Smart will be expected to win, win big, and win quickly. You don’t fire a coach with 145 wins in 15 years and 19 victories in the last two for any other reason.

Why Steve Spurrier retired, as told by Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier

When Steve Spurrier abruptly retired in October, most stopped to reminisce about a true college football original’s career come to a sudden, but not unexpected end. But others pointed out that Spurrier essentially quit on his team in the middle of a tough season. It was an easy take and, hey, it’s not like the Old Ball Coach himself wouldn’t have said something if Mark Richt had done something similar.

In a letter provided to The State, Spurrier reasoned his retirement truly was better for the team, that the team played better without him around and that his presence would’ve generated speculation that would have suffocated the rest of the season.

Considering the Gamecocks lost to The Citadel, one has every reason to doubt that claim. But it’s the one Spurrier is going with.

The letter in full:

In the last few years when asked how much longer I plan to coach, I have said often that if our team is going in the wrong direction I need to resign and allow someone else to take over as head coach here. After six games, we were 2-4 with two blow-outs by Georgia and LSU. We were behind at halftime against UCF (a team that went 0-12 this year). We were definitely going in the wrong direction. I felt that I was doing a lousy job as head coach and a change would help our team become more competitive.

I told our team after I resigned that they needed new leadership, new enthusiasm and a new plan. By stepping aside, this allowed Shawn Elliott the opportunity to change our direction, change our attitude, and hopefully, he could be named head coach after the season. If this happens, some of our assistant coaches would be retained, and this was a major reason for me to get out of the way. Also, by resigning, I forfeited the buyout clause in my contract that saved our university three million dollars.

I certainly believe, as the media has said, that our team played better after I resigned. Shawn Elliott did an excellent job getting this team prepared to play with enthusiasm and effort the rest of our season. Unfortunately, the close games turned into close losses.

When I mentioned I may coach again, I meant possibly as a volunteer coach at a high school. After thirty years as a head coach, I positively know that my head coaching career is finished.

I understand the critics have asked why I didn’t announce I was retiring at the end of the season, as some other coaches have done. I felt that if I had done this, I would have been a distraction throughout the remainder of the season about my last game everywhere I went. I did not want a “Spurrier Farewell Tour.” The players deserve to be the story of each game. Also, it would have prevented Shawn Elliott, a coach that has loved the South Carolina Gamecocks his whole life, from getting the shot to be the interim head coach, with the possibility of becoming the Head Coach here.

When a coach gets fired, the change is often good and helpful to the team. Miami was 4-3 when Al Golden was fired, and the interim head coach went 4-1. Randy Edsall was 2-4 at Maryland when fired and his replacement got the team playing better. Clay Helton, the interim coach at the other USC, was recently named head coach as they went 5-2 under his watch.

Our university was not going to fire me, so I thought it was best for our team that I basically fire myself by resigning. The players have enjoyed playing for Coach Elliott and again the media has said the team has performed better after I resigned.

Thanks to all Gamecocks for allowing me to be your coach for over ten years. My wife Jerri and I will always be thankful and appreciative to the University of South Carolina for this opportunity.


Steve Spurrier

Top four remains same in penultimate College Football Playoff rankings

Bob Stoops

The penultimate College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night and the top four remained the same from last week. Michigan State sits at fifth, meaning Saturday’s Big Ten Championship is officially a national quarterfinal.

Stanford, heading into this week’s Pac-12 Championship, checked in at No. 7, while party-crasher-to-be North Carolina jumped from No. 14 to No. 10.

Ohio State checks in at No. 6, but Stanford seems primed to pass the Buckeyes with a win over No. 20 USC. Getting into the top four, however, would require a loss by No. 1 Clemson or No. 2 Alabama. No. 3 Oklahoma is seemingly in the playoff with a completed 11-1 regular season.

TCU moved one spot ahead of Baylor after a rain-soaked double overtime win over the Bears on Friday night.

Houston, USC and LSU moved back into the rankings, while Tennessee joined the party for the first time this year.

Tuesday night’s release was the final dress rehearsal of the 2015 season; the next time we hear from the CFP selection committee will be to announce the four semifinal selections.

But while these are the second-to-last set of rankings, we can ask 2014 TCU about how much they ultimately mean.

The full rankings:

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma
4. Iowa
5. Michigan State
6. Ohio State
7. Stanford
8. Notre Dame
9. Florida State
10. North Carolina
11. TCU
12. Baylor
13. Ole Miss
14. Northwestern
15. Michigan
16. Oregon
17. Oklahoma State
18. Florida
19. Houston
20. USC
21. LSU
22. Temple
23. Navy
24. Utah
25. Tennessee

Dabo Swinney wins ACC Coach of the Year award

Dabo Swinney

When you go undefeated, people tend to give you awards.

In the wake of Clemson’s first perfect regular season, its first since 1981, head coach and pizza party patron Dabo Swinney was named the ACC’s top coach on Tuesday.

Swinney received 27 of the 50 available votes, edging North Carolina’s Larry Fedora (21). Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi each gobbled up one of the two remaining votes.

Aaron Brenner of the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier notes Swinney is due a $25,000 bonus for winning the award.