Everybody agrees the NCAA has become this bureaucratic nightmare, an organization that seems about to collapse under its own weight. Obviously, changes should be made so here are some things I would propose if I were put in charge of the NCAA.
1. Eliminate playing Division IAA teams in the regular season schedule and instead offer the option of playing a D IAA team in an exhibition game in August. This would give the Division I coaches a chance to see their players in game situations prior to the start of the season and the game would not count against the regular season record for either the Division I or IAA team. The DIAA teams would get their nice payout and wouldn’t have their season ruined by a huge loss to a Division I team. This would force more inter-conference games in Division I and give the fans a bigger bang for their bucks. Also, it would increase the opportunities for the schools in the non-power conferences in Division I to schedule games against big brother and get more TV exposure. They play exhibition games in basketball and baseball, so why not football?
2. Expand the College Football Playoff to six teams. Give the top two seeds a bye and then let seeds 3-6 play an on-campus game with the two winners advancing to the semifinals. This expansion would ensure the conference champion from each of the power conferences would be in the playoff and would add a sixth spot for the next highest ranked team.
3. Allow a four-team playoff for the non-power five schools. Give the non-power conferences a chance to have their own championship while allowing the fact that one of the teams from a lower tier conference might be ranked high enough to play in the Division I championship. If, for instance, Boise State went unbeaten and was considered the sixth best team in all of college football, let BSU play with the big boys for a chance to be a true Cinderella. The next four teams would still have the chance to compete in a championship playoff.
4. Instead of the current 85 scholarship limit, change the recruiting rules so that there is a hard cap of 20 scholarships per year. It doesn’t matter if kids transfer out, lost to academics, booted off the team or lost to injury, it’s still 20 per year. This would eliminate the silliness of “inviting” kids to transfer out or blatantly running kids off to open up roster space to stay at 85. It would also be incentive for up and coming programs that play by the rules and keep their kids in school since they might have 90-100 kids on scholarship.
5. Eliminate all these “plea agreements” for cheating. No more self-imposing penalties for cheating. Eliminate the committee on infractions and hire panels of retired federal or state judges to hear a case and give them a set of sentencing guidelines that eliminate going soft on the bluebloods. Hire former law enforcement officers – preferably FBI or military criminal investigators – to gather the evidence to replace the geeks in blue suits who do such a haphazard job currently.
6. Dock a home game from the schedule for every year of probation. If a school is a repeat offender, dock them two home games for every year of probation. Additionally, for major offenses, eliminate scholarships and each scholarship the school is docked is eliminated for five years. For example, if the panel of judges docks School A three scholarships, that means for the next five years they can only sign a maximum of 17 per year. These penalties might seem harsh, but it would only take a couple of harsh probations for folks to get the idea that it might not be a good thing to cheat. If evidence concludes that a coach cheated – whether head coach or assistant – then make it costly: five scholarships for a head coach and three for an assistant for two years. If the school wants to continue to employ a coach who cheated, double the penalty.
7. Make December 15-January 15 a dead period for recruiting. Kids who plan to early enroll would be allowed to sign their letters of intent but all other recruiting is not allowed. This would give coaches the chance to focus on their bowl games and hiring new assistants at the coaching convention, which is immediately following the national championship game. Move national signing day back to the middle of February or to the first weekend of March. This would give new coaching staffs and newly hired assistants a full month to recruit.
8. On to basketball. Eliminate the Nobody’s Interested Tournament and expand the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams. Seed 32 teams and let the other 64 play on Tuesday and Wednesday nights with the 32 winners advancing. This would eliminate those silly play-in games that involve eight teams and would give deserving conferences an opportunity to get a second or perhaps a third team in the tournament field.
9. Do whatever it takes to get the NBA to pressure the players association to change its stance on this silly one-and-done. Do it like baseball. Allow a kid who’s good enough straight out of high school to be drafted but any kid who enrolls in college has to stay three years or until he’s 21, whichever comes first.
This rule has worked fine for baseball for 50 years. It will work just fine for basketball too and would help the NBA as much as it helps college basketball. I’m tired of seeing kids who have no fundamentals or life skills in the NBA.
10. If the NCAA is serious about expanding the opportunities for minorities in college baseball, then find a way to work with the Title IX people to allow baseball 25 full scholarships. It’s rare that a baseball player gets a full scholarship due to the current, ridiculous 11.9 scholarship limit. This hurts minorities especially. If the NCAA can care so much about who gets to use the bathroom in North Carolina then it can certainly expand baseball to 25 scholarships which would give minority kids opportunities to play collegiately.
11. Because football is the cash cow that pays the freight for all the non-revenue sports, do whatever it takes with the Title IX people to eliminate football scholarships from their equality counts. While understanding the importance of giving women athletic scholarship opportunities, it shouldn’t be at the expense of eliminating sports that provide scholarships for men. For example, if you added the scholarships to raise baseball to 25 on the roster, then give women’s sports additional scholarships either to the sports already in existence in a program or by adding a new sport. Also, if a school can afford another men’s sport such as lacrosse or soccer, then expand the women’s scholarship totals by the same amount or add another women’s sport. There are ways to make it all equal if you take football out of the equation, but football has to be taken out of the equation.
12. Graduate transfers. If a kid has done the hard work in school to graduate and still has eligibility remaining, then he or she is a free agent and should be allowed to transfer to the school of choice. None of these silly restrictions placed on them by coaches.
13. Coaching changes and transfer rules. A coach can switch schools any time he or she wants without penalty other than a buyout clause. Give players the opportunity to transfer too, but if they transfer out without a legitimate excuse (family for example) they lose a year of eligibility. So instead of being able to play four years of college football they only get to play three. There is an ongoing problem of poaching recruits both in football and basketball when a coach leaves and there is a way to eliminate it. If a kid signs an LOI but the coach leaves and the kid wants out so he can follow the coach, give the kid his release immediately but when he follows the coach to the new school, the new school is docked one scholarship for the entire time the kid is enrolled.
Now these proposed changes wouldn’t eliminate all that’s wrong with college sports, but they would certainly help. The problem with these proposals is they make sense and common sense and the NCAA are like two ships that pass in the night.
STATE ATTORNEY WON’T CHARGE BRANTLEY PRIOR TO DRAFT
State attorney Bill Cervone won’t decide until after the NFL Draft starts on Thursday whether or not to formally charge Caleb Brantley with misdemeanor simple battery for allegedly punching a woman in the face and knocking her unconscious. The Gainesville Police Department has charged him with misdemeanor simple battery but Cervone and his staff will decide if there is sufficient evidence to proceed in court.
Brantley’s attorney Amy Osteryoung disputes the charges, claiming that Brantley was accosted by a group of women who made lewd suggestions. Osteryoung says the woman in question punched Brantley in the mouth and that Brantley “put out his right arm in an attempt to push away his attacker. His hand made contact with her face due to his reflex action.”
None of this is likely to help Brantley with the draft. He was projected either a late first or early third rounder prior to the charge. Since it is a misdemeanor charge he probably gets drafted but probably in the later rounds.
GILLISLEE WILL BE A PATRIOT
The Buffalo Bills will not match the New England Patriots offer to former Gator running back Mike Gillislee. Gillislee will get $4 million up front and $6.4 million over the two years of the deal. The Bills original offer to Gillislee was for one year and $1.797 million.
It’s likely the Patriots will re-sign LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 1,161 yards and scored an NFL-high 18 touchdowns.
GATORS MOVE UP TO #8 IN USA TODAY BASEBALL POLL
By taking two out of three from South Carolina over the weekend, the Gators (27-13, 10-8 SEC) moved up two spots in the USA Today poll. In the D1Baseball.com poll, Florida is now ranked #9. The Gators are #11 in both the Baseball America and NCBWA polls.
Next up for Florida is a three-game road trip to Georgia (16-25, 5-13 SEC).
UF SOFTBALL IN NCAA STATS
After three straight shutout wins over Ole Miss, Florida (44-3, 18-2 SEC) will most certainly hold onto the #1 ranking when the softball polls come out on Wednesday. The Gators lead the nation in ERA at 0.70 and fielding (.986, only 17 errors in 47 games). Florida has shut out 29 opponents.
Led by national leader Kelly Barnhill (20-0, 0.17 ERA), Florida has three pitchers in the top 10 in ERA. Aleshia Ocasio (8-0. 0.86) ranks fifth and Delanie Gourley (14-3, 0.94) ranks seventh. Barnhill is tied for third in complete game shutouts with 10, while Gourley is tied for 11th with eight. Barnhill ranks #1 in strikeouts per seven innings at 13.1 while Gourley ranks 10th at 10.1 per game.
Kayli Kvistad ranks second nationally in walks (51 in 47 games) and is third in on base percentage (.590).
Last year Jim Harbaugh took Michigan to Bradenton to do a week of spring football practice at IMG Academy. This year, Harbaugh has taken the Wolverines to Rome … Italy, not Georgia. The Wolverines will practice while in Rome, but they will also take in a service delivered by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.
North Carolina’s Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Tony Bradley have all declared for the NBA Draft but none of them will hire an agent. Of the three Bradley is the only one who could go in the first round.
Oregon, meanwhile, is losing Tyler Dorsey, Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell to the NBA Draft. All told, the Ducks are losing seven players from their Final Four team.
Mike and Maurkice Pouncey and Brandon Spikes were among the former Gators who attended the private funeral of Aaron Hernandez. A Massachusetts judge has ruled that the district attorney has to provide the Hernandez family with the three suicide notes Hernandez left before hanging himself in prison.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
If you were in charge of the NCAA, what change would be your top priority?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
On Youtube today I found a recording of Bob Dylan’s concert in Luxembourg back on Saturday (April 22). Dylan is 75 years old and recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature for the poetry of his music.