Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or been in a coma underneath a rock, for the past few days, you’re aware of the videos that went viral of Mike Rice going Neanderthal on his Rutgers basketball players. The shocking clips of Rice hurling both basketballs and homosexual slurs at his players led to the coach’s dismissal and the same fate for athletic director Tim Pernetti, who laughably decided in December a three-game suspension and five-figure fine befitted the crime.
With a move from the American Athletic Conference (née Big East) to the Big Ten looming in July of 2014, some have asked what if any impact the controversy will have on the Scarlet Knights’ jump to the money-green pastures of the Midwestern conference. The short and equally obvious answer? None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.
As Rutgers is not yet an official member of the Big Ten, that conference will not comment on the current mess that is the New Jersey school’s athletic department. Off the record, and while they would obviously prefer this situation wasn’t an issue and do find it troublesome, the conference stands firmly behind a school that, along with Maryland, will become the league’s 13th and 14th members next year.
Simply put, the Big Ten didn’t add Rutgers because it was an athletic powerhouse in general or a football juggernaut specifically. Rather, Rutgers was plucked in one of myriad rounds of expansion musical chairs because of the potential television market it brings to the Big Ten Network — and the millions upon millions of additional dollars annually for its membership — and for its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities — and the multi-millions upon multi-millions of research dollars that brings.
Did the Mike Rice imbroglio and bungled and misguided coverup change either of those two factors? Not in the least, which means the Big Ten will be more than willing to weather whatever type of residual storm may come its way over the next year and a half.
Now, should this fiasco give the Big Ten second thoughts or a minute’s pause? Possibly, but remember, this is also the conference of Bobby Knight and Woody Hayes; it’s used to negative press on the coaching end and riding out the PR storm.
It’s a long time between now and July 1, 2014. A lot of time to make the Mike Rice embarrassment smaller and smaller in the rear-view. Right or wrong, that’s precisely how the Big Ten will allow this to play out.
Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.
Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.
The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.
Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.
The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.
From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”
While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.
“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.
“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”
It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.
While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.
Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.
“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”
The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.
While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.
Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).
Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.
Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.
Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”
Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.