Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett speaks at a news conference in State College

Tom Corbett is not the person to be challenging the NCAA on PSU sanctions

21 Comments

Before July, 2012, there was essentially one looming question to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State: how could a serial pedophile be allowed to prey on his victims for years using the university’s athletic facilities without being stopped? That is what the Freeh Report, created by PSU, attempted to answer.

Then, on July 23, the NCAA, and specifically president Mark Emmert, added a new dimension to the Penn State story by introducing unprecedented steps to punish the football program swiftly and severely. Penn State was fined $60 million from the NCAA, subjected to a four-year bowl ban and stripped of dozens of scholarships over that same time period.

By doing so, Emmert and the Association warped a criminal case into a  football one, and the focus of the Sandusky scandal has been wrongly shifted to whether or not 1) Penn State deserved the sanctions and 2) the NCAA stepped outside its jurisdiction. The NCAA’s involvement alone was met with mixed reviews; the decision to bypass the normal investigative script to come up with a consent decree was criticized more heavily.

If anybody’s visited CFT long enough, you know I’ve been one of those critics. The attention should have been, and should still be, on the victims, bringing those who could have done more and failed to do so to justice — Penn State president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley are currently awaiting a preliminary hearing next week on charges related to the Sandusky scandal; Sandusky has been sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison for his crimes — and making sweeping changes to ensure nothing like this ever happens at Penn State again.

The NCAA not only made the Sandusky case about itself, but bent the interpretation of its own rulebook rhetoric to the point of breaking in the process. So I have no problem with the NCAA being challenged for taking action in a case larger than what the organization was capable of handling.

But that task should not come from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. 

Never mind the obvious political grandstanding. That’s way too obvious to merit a response. What Corbett is doing is not only hypocritical, but laughable. Recall this quote from Corbett following the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State:

“The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university.

“Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed today by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”

Five months later, Corbett’s leading a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA and it stinks something fierce.

But the real problem is that Corbett is waist deep (or higher) in the muck of the Sandusky scandal. He’s been accused of dragging his feet in the Sandusky case while serving as Pennsylvania’s attorney general until 2011. It was also Corbett who approved a $3 million grant for the Second Mile, Sandusky’s charity. Sandusky used the charity for years to target his victims and Corbett’s tenure as AG suggests he was aware of some fishiness.

Then, there’s the lawsuit itself, which you can view HERE. If the complaint was filed with only the intent of keeping PSU’s $60 million fine with in-state organizations, then Corbett might have some footing. An attempt to toss the sanctions against Penn State because the NCAA violated antitrust laws could be much harder to prove and could take a long time to do so. The fact is that Penn State signed the consent decree last summer and could still agree to the sanctions moving forward. It should be noted again that Penn State is not involved in this lawsuit.

NCAA expert John Infante, whom we cite often when it comes to matters related to the NCAA, feels the suit will be resolved quickly.

Corbett may have a case against the NCAA, but all current signs point to the contrary. If anything, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. the NCAA may serve as a future example of how to deal with the NCAA at a university level if it ever decides to pursue sanctions in a similar fashion again.

Western Michigan dismisses pair accused of alleged stick-up

KALAMAZOO, MI - SEPTEMBER 4: Western Michigan Broncos fans get fired up before the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Waldo Stadium on September 4, 2015 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Western Michigan has dismissed a pair of players accused of sticking up a female WMU student after committing an on-campus robbery, the program announced Sunday. The players, linebacker Ron George and wide receiver Bryson White, were both freshmen.

The pair are accused of holding the student up with a semi-automatic firearm and a knife. It is not clear which player is accused of holding which weapon. “He had the gun to the back of my head and he slammed the back of my head with the gun,” the woman said.

The woman says the players stole “hundreds of dollars, along with a stereo speaker.”

“I’m so scared. I couldn’t sleep last night,” the woman told WWMT-TV. “I haven’t ate anything since. I’m so scared. I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“This has been a difficult time for our University, community and football family,” head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “With this action we are moving forward and we are focusing our attention on Northwestern.”

George was a three-star signee out of Pittsburgh. White was a walk-on from Ohio.

Western Michigan visits Northwestern Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU).

Texas Tech boss Kirby Hocutt becomes latest million-dollar AD

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 16: Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt answers questions from the media after being named the chairman of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee on January 16, 2016 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s been a good year for Kirby Hocutt. His basketball team returned to the NCAA Tournament, then made a nice rebound hire in Chris Beard when Tubby Smith bolted for Memphis. His baseball team won its first-ever game at the College World Series, then held onto head coach Tim Tadlock when Texas came calling. His football program is positioned for a solid year, with rare stability at the defensive coordinator position and perhaps the most talented quarterback in school history in Patrick Mahomes. He reached a new level of professional currency when he was named chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

That last bit has led to a handsome new contract that pushes his salary to north of $1 million a year.

As detailed by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Hocutt has inked a seven-year contract that pays him a sum of $7.525 million. He’ll earn $1 million in the first year and net raises of $25,000 each year, plus bonuses that could reach as much as $225,000 each year. All told, theoretically, Hocutt could earn $1.4 million by the final year of his contract.

“I couldn’t feel more fortunate to have the support that I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy at Texas Tech University,” Hocutt told the paper. “The leadership continues to be tremendous. I couldn’t be more excited about President Schovanec. The support he provides, that Chancellor (Robert) Duncan provides, I couldn’t be more fortunate as an athletics director.”

Salaries for athletics directors aren’t as easy to track as coaches but, according to the most recent data on file, Hocutt appears to be one of just eight active ADs to earn seven figures — and more than the ADs at both Texas and Texas A&M.

In addition to Tech’s success in the big three sports — the Red Raiders were the only Big 12 program to reach the postseason in football and men’s basketball while also reaching the College World Series — 11 of the school’s 14 other programs also reached the postseason, including Big 12 titles in soccer, men’s tennis and baseball.

Lombardi Award changes criteria so ‘a Johnny Manziel’ can’t win it

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies drops back to pass in the first half during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

The Lombardi Award had a nice thing going. Run by the Rotary Club of Houston, the award had chugged along since 1970, honoring college football’s best offensive lineman, defensive lineman or linebacker. Past winners include the likes of Lee Roy SelmonSteve EmtmanOrlando PaceAaron Donald and Scooby Wright, to name a few current and future College Football Hall of Famers.

Essentially, the Lombardi Award was the Heisman Trophy for players who never had a snowball’s chance in Tempe to actually win the actual Heisman.

Except the Rotary Club this week announced it will open the Lombardi’s criteria to all players…. exactly like the Heisman, therein rendering itself totally irrelevant. And the reasoning makes even less sense after they explain it.

“If someone were to push me in a corner and ask me, ‘What’s the difference between this award and the Heisman Trophy award?’ I would tell you this. The difficult truth is a Tim Tebow could have won this award, but a Johnny Manziel could not have won this award. That’s the difference,” former Oklahoma running back and longtime college football television analyst Charles Tillman told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Ignoring the brain-melter that Manziel himself wouldn’t have been eligible for the Lombardi Award’s stiffarm under the previous system, the character-based system presents a couple questions:

A) Where is the “character” line drawn, and who draws it? As the Plain-Dealer points out, all we knew of Manziel by the time he collected his Heisman in December 2012 were some viral photos of him (obviously) drinking underage in a Scooby Doo costume and a misdemeanor arrest for being involved in a fight and producing a fake ID. That doesn’t make him Tebow, but it doesn’t make him significantly worse than a lot of other talented players, either.

B) Hasn’t the Jerry SanduskyJoe Paterno saga taught us anything? Sandusky and Paterno were exalted as saints among mere mortals until the passage of time exposed them as something far worse. The same could happen to Tebow. It probably won’t, but it could. And that’s the problem: we don’t know these guys. All we know is the image they project. On-field performance never changes, but our awareness of players’ supposed character could irrevocably flip at any moment.

There are dozens of college football awards, each elbowing for a glimmer of sunshine the Heisman doesn’t grab for itself. The Lombardi Award had some of that sunshine. It had history, it had a niche and it had credibility. To render itself irrelevant is already strange, but to do so for such a dubious reason is even more perplexing.

Report: Pac-12 reaches deal with Fox Sports Australia

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 02:  Larry Scott, CEO of the WTA speaks to the media during the draw for the Sony Ericsson WTA Championships at the Pearl conference centre on Novemeber 2, 2008 in Doha, Qatar. The Championships willl take place in Doha from November 4-9, 2008.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

What, you thought Cal was going all the way to Sydney for…. fun? The student-athlete experience?

No, there was always a pot of gold at the end of that transpacific rainbow.

According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News, a good of a source as there is for all things Pac-12, the league has reached a content agreement with Fox Sports Australia to show Pac-12 football and basketball.

Wilner reports that Fox Sports Australia will show 21 men’s basketball games and 13 football contests, with the possibility of other Pac-12 teams heading Down Under in the near future.

Globalization has been a key charge of Larry Scott‘s commissionership. Washington opened the 2015-16 college basketball season by “hosting” Texas in Shanghai last November and, of course, there was Cal’s game with Hawaii Friday night.