‘Costas Tonight’ dives into the dysfunction of college athletics

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As we mentioned in a primer a couple of days ago, “Costas Tonight: Live from 30 Rock” held a town hall/round table style special on the pressing issues of college athletics.

To reiterate the words of Bob Costas, not every angle was covered and not every voice was heard, but a few issues were brought up. Here were the highlights:

Pay for play
By now, you probably know the story. The NCAA originally passed legislation last fall to allow schools and conferences to add up to an additional $2,000 to the value of an athletic scholarship to their athletes. That proposal was met with enough opposition by Division 1 members to suspend it until what is now being reported to be an August revisit.

The issue itself is worthy of an extended deadline. Do schools allow college athletes to be paid their free market value, as ex-agent Josh Luchs suggested in a Sports Illustrated column?* Should there be a compromise and recognition that participating in college athletics is a full-time job that has a zero dollar cap? Or, is the value of an education, books, food, housing, etc enough?

(*that’s never going to happen; I’m just laying out ideas)

Joe Nocera of the New York Times related college athletics to “unpaid labor” and outlined a plan to where programs allowed a multi-million salary cap for teams where a minimum salary of $25,000 was given and select players could get more.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said “athletes deserve more than what they’re getting. What they get is not equal to what they’re giving up.”

CFT’s take: Let’s be honest about paying players. What does it mean and are we okay with the consequences? The truth of the matter is that universities provide ample resources for their athletes, from the educational, to the financial for, say, an emergency trip home. The life of a college athlete isn’t exactly that of the starving student it’s sometimes made out to be.

With that said, playing sports is a full-time job for these athletes. Not a part-time job, a full-time job. And it’s one that offers limited, although not nonexistent, opportunities for compensation elsewhere during the academic year. The question we need to ask is what’s the dollar amount associated with the time that is being put toward the sport vs. what the athletes need. Minimum wage? Skilled labor? That’s what athletes should be compensated.

It’s about finding a middle ground.

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The BCS vs. playoff debate
BCS executive director Bill Hancock said during tonight’s broadcast, as he has said time and time again, that major college football’s regular season is the playoff.

It isn’t, and Hancock knows it. Costas promptly called Hancock on his bogus spin, pointing to teams like Boise State and TCU, which had undefeated seasons in years past and yet no shot at a BCS title. Hancock was speechless. As in, he had no response.

How can I describe it? In the movie “The Royal Tenembaums”, Ben Stiller‘s character accused Gene Hackman of stealing savings bonds out of an account. All Hackman’s character could do was chuckle helplessly and awkwardly in response.

It was like that.

But BCS leaders, to their credit, have listened to enough backlash to understand something needed to be done. So they met. And met again. And will continue to meet until July. And today, we found out that postseason ideas have basically been grouped into four categories, one of which reeks so profoundly of BCS slime that I’m not convinced Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wasn’t just screwing with our heads out of boredom.

CFT’s take: There’s not much that hasn’t already been said. Anything — well, except for the now-infamous Rose Bowl idea — would be almost an immediate improvement over the current system, no matter how small or displaced. To me, there are four individuals who are running away with the oversight in college football. You can probably guess who they are, but just in case, here’s a hint: they run the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. If/when they decide outsourcing their postseason to third parties is tiring, they’ll adapt. And so will the rest of college football.

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Conference realignment
This has been downright frustrating. Driving the scenarios where San Diego State plays in the Big East, Missouri is in the same division as Florida and two conferences fold into one to form a 24-team hodgepodge has been the pursuit of the ever-lucrative TV dollar.

After two years of shifting, moving and near-superconferences, South Florida athletic director Doug Woolard was asked tonight if the realignment craze had gone too far.

The answer, of course, is an emphatic yes, but you can click the video below to see a longer answer. If nothing else, it’s interesting to get the perspective of an AD whose own conference was nearly annihilated by realignment… and then nearly annihilated another conference in the process.

CFT’s take: Realignment is a bittersweet game for us. On one hand, we’re never opposed to the benefit it brings our site, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t make the 2011 season a lot less enjoyable on the field. The worst part is the feeling of helplessness that comes with it. Tradition? Whatever, big deal. Contractual agreements? Nothing more than the paper used to light celebratory cigars following the addition of a new school to a new conference. How can you or I — the common folk — argue with the almighty dollar, no matter how weak it is compared to the Euro?

The short answer is we can’t.

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Other items from the docket tonight that didn’t necessarily involve football:

— ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, new South Carolina coach Frank Martin and former Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie shared their thoughts about the one-and-done rule in college basketball. Bilas, as you might imagine, had zero issue with it, Martin wanted it taken out entirely and Flutie did his best to support staying in school. Martin suggested going back to the rule where freshman must sit out a year before playing varsity sports.

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— Former Mizzou receiver Sean Coffey was part of a panel discussing academics. Coffey said he felt sports operate essentially as a full-time job for athletes, and agreed with Costas’ assertion that academic advisers work to help athletes stay eligible, not enhance the educational experience. I think it’s fair, though, to point out that college will always be what the athlete — or you, your son or daughter  — makes of it.

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— NCAA president Mark Emmert sat down with Costas for a one-on-one interview. In between a handful of “I agrees” and “you’re rights”, Emmert acknowledged it was time to cut down on “trivial” violations and increase severity of sanctions for major infractions. That’s been the goal for the past year, but nothing definitive has been done yet because, well, it’s not as simple as ripping out the pages of the NCAA’s rulebook.

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Former Iowa State lineman Keenan Forbes signs with Wazzu

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After a brief junior-college pit stop, Keenan Forbes is back at a Power Five program.

Washington State confirmed over the weekend that Forbes has been added to the football program’s 2018 signing class.  The offensive lineman has already enrolled in classes at the university and is expected to take part in spring practice in a couple of months.

Counting 2018, Forbes will have three seasons of eligibility at his disposal.

A three-star member of Iowa State’s 2016 recruiting class, the Florida high schooler chose ISU over his other finalist, Temple.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Forbes opted to transfer from the Cyclones.

Forbes spent the 2017 season at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.

Ryan Day expected to turn down NFL wooing, stay at Ohio State

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It appears Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff at Ohio State will (for now) remain intact after all.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Ryan Day was considering leaving his job as Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach to join former OSU assistant and newly-minted NFL head coach Mike Vrabel as the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.  A day later, one report has Day eschewing the NFL opportunity and remaining with Meyer and the Buckeyes.

Day just completed his first season with the Buckeyes, serving as both co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  He has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.

Given that OSU will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2018, keeping Day on the staff is a significant win for Meyer’s program.

Mark Dantonio brings Don Treadwell back to Michigan State staff

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Mark Dantonio has turned to an old coaching friend to fill a hole on his Michigan State coaching staff.

The football program announced Monday that Don Treadwell has been hired by the Spartans as the football program’s 10th assistant.  As for his duties, the school’s release states that “Treadwell will assist coaching defensive backs and special teams while also helping as an offensive consultant.”  On top of that, he will hold the newly-created title of freshman head coach, a role that will see the veteran work with “first-year players in their growth and development both on and off the field.”

Treadwell was Dantonio’s offensive coordinator at MSU from 2007-10 after serving in the same capacity for the head coach at Cincinnati from 2004-06.  He also had another stint with the Spartans, as wide receivers coach from 2000-02.  Dantonio was on that staff in 2000 as defensive backs coach.

The two also worked on the same staff together at Youngstown State in the eighties.

“He has a wealth of football knowledge, including head coaching experience, so he really understands the big picture of everything that is going on within the program,” Dantonio said in a statement. “Don was a part of our first Big Ten Championship and double-digit win season in 2010 and was the person in charge during my absence that year. He did an absolutely incredible job leading the program when I was gone.

“As a person, he’s extremely loyal and has a strong sense of integrity and morals. He understands the Spartan values that we have in our program from having been here before and knowing our staff.”

Treadwell left MSU after the 2010 season to take over as the head coach at Miami of Ohio.  He was fired after the fifth game of his third season, compiling an 8-21 record during his time at his alma mater.

The past four seasons, Treadwell was on the staff at Kent State.  He was the running backs coach in 2014 and coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015-17 for the Golden Flashes.

NC State lines up home-and-homes with BYU, USF, La Tech

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NC State has lined up a series of home-and-homes with three future opponents, though, as of this writing, the Pack haven’t talked about any of them.

Their opponents have, though.

First up is South Florida. The Wolfpack and Bulls have inked a 2-game series calling for USF to visit Raleigh on Sept. 2, 2021 and NC State to visit Tampa on Sept. 14, 2024.

“We are excited to add N.C. State, a high-quality program that has played in four straight bowl games, to our football schedule,” USF AD Mark Harlan said in a statement. “Bulls football is sustaining a run of tremendous success and we will continue to seek exciting, top-level opponents to challenge during the non-conference season and bring to Raymond James Stadium.”

The two sides have met three times previously, with NC State holding a 2-1 edge and a win in their last meeting, a 49-17 blowout in 2014 in Tampa.

Next up is Louisiana Tech. NC State will actually play three future games with the Bulldogs, also beginning in 2021. NC State will host Louisiana Tech on Oct. 2, 2021 and Sept. 7, 2024, and visit Ruston, La., on Sept. 6, 2025. The Wolfpack and Bulldogs have played just once previously, a 40-14 NC State win to open the 2013 season.

Finally, NC State has also agreed to a home-and-home with BYU, calling for BYU to visit Raleigh on Nov. 9, 2024, and NC State to return the favor on Aug. 29, 2030.

NC State and BYU have never played previously.

The 2030 game is not the furthest out game on the NC State schedule. As per the Irish’s agreement with the ACC, NC State is slated for a TBD visit to Notre Dame at some point in the year 2037. The freshmen in that game have yet to be born.