The NCAA-approved package of recruiting reforms, also known as the Willie Williams Orgy Reaction Act, should inject at least some element of common sense to the recruiting process. But, in typical NCAA form it went too far in some areas while coming up short in others.
I fully support the elimination of private transportation for official campus visits. Chartering a plane to fly a prospect from Miami to Tallahassee or Charlotte to Gainesville when there already exists direct commercial flights is asinine. This rule change will inject much-needed perspective into the process and will also save a bunch of money. Schools where many prospects drive for their visits, such as Florida, will benefit as will schools less than an hour from major airports.
The losers in this one are schools in relatively talent-poor states and those in areas far removed from quality commercial air service. As a result, I expect to see more visits taken in August, and during the fall when planning is easier and quality time on campuses might be better as well.
I would love to see an early signing option for football so that student-athletes whose minds are made up can enjoy the piece of mind that athletes in all other sports are able to acquire by putting the recruiting process behind them. It frustrates me to no end that the powers that be at the NCAA continue to have different rights for different sports.
The other reforms make sense, especially requiring on-campus "escorts" be student-athletes or students who are designated to host ALL prospective students, not just athletes. No more groups of attractive co-eds organized to serve as eye candy for incoming jocks, in other words. I wonder, why weren't there groups of handsome male students organized to accompany female student-athletes on their visits? Talk about your gender inequity!
One reform in recruiting the NCAA should have added was allowing schools to pay the travels costs for one parent/guardian to accompany the student-athlete on the visit. Frankly, that reform would have made almost all the others completely unnecessary.
GEORGIA APPEALS WRIST SLAP
Let me get this right. Georgia sends money to prospects to pay their bills, allows student-athletes to run up more than $1,500 in phone calls and gives academic credit for classes that weren't attended. They get four years probation with no ban on post-season or television… and THAT'S too harsh?!
One scholarship for each of the next three years is the only tangible penalty for the 'Dawgs who voluntarily took themselves out of last year's NCAA Tournament. Yet new Athletic Director Damon Evans is appealing the sanctions as being excessive. He should be buying flowers for the committee for letting the 'Dawgs play in next year's NCAA Tournament…. Although looking at that roster, the chances of them qualifying seem pretty remote.
BIG-TEN GOES TO THE REPLAY
In a move that might have changed the outcome of last year's Florida/FSU game, the Big Ten is readying for an experiment with instant replay review this fall. However, the way they are doing it is about as stupid as the day is long. A replay official will watch the game on television using TIVO technology to look at a play a second time. He will not have access to other replays and other angles in making a decision as to whether or not to change the call.
Can you imagine that? A replay official overruling a touchdown call based on the first view, even though subsequent replay angles might confirm the accuracy of the original call. If college football was going to experiment with this, I would prefer something similar to the pro system where the coach must issue a challenge and then the play is reviewed. I would change two things about the NFL rule, however:
- If your appeal is successful, you get that appeal back. Why should you lose the option to challenge a play later because the officials blew a play earlier in the game?
- Let the replay official make the call. Is there anything dumber looking than the referee on the field getting under the tarp to watch the replays? That guy has a vested interest in the accuracy of the original call so he should not be his own judge and jury.
BOWDEN: MEN MUST DISCIPLINE PLAYERS
FSU Coach Bobby Bowden ruffled a few politically-correct feathers when he stated today's athletes need discipline from men rather than their mommas because so many grow up without a man in the house. While Bowden has made his share of verbal gaffes - not remembering which of the Darling brothers died tops the list - the FSU Head Man is right on target here. Absentee fatherhood is perhaps the greatest social problem facing the black community and everyone, from Bill Cosby to Bobby Bowden who raises the issue, has the potential to help the problem.
It would carry even more weight if Bowden would spend a little less time praying for misdemeanors and wasn't so quick to reinstate players who fight with police officers.
SUMMER OF DISCONTENT IS OVER
I love living in Gainesville, but summers in this town are the worst for a sports guy. The Gators hit the practice field on Monday and for the rest of the month, our columns will focus on our views of what we see on the practice field along with tidbits from elsewhere.
Soon will we be ending this column with an e-mail question and answer... So write in whenever to me at email@example.com - I'd be glad to hear from you. If you want a response that's private, please specify. And of course, you can always call me Sunday nights between 6 and 8 on Gainesville station WSKY (877 / 975 - 9825).
See You Monday.