Thoughts of the Day: March 16, 2021

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning:

ENDING THE DEAD PERIOD, TRANSFERS, ETC.

It is being reported that the NCAA Oversight Committee recommend a May 31 end to the year-long recruiting dead period that has prevented in-home and on-campus visits, turning the entire recruiting process into a virtual crapshoot. The end to the dead period threatens to turn the month of June into total chaos at most schools. The Florida Gators might have somewhat of an advantage, however, since Dan Mullen made the decision to start spring football practice in February and end it in mid-March while nearly everyone else will be going full tilt until mid-to-late April.


“We did spring practice a little bit earlier,” Mullen said Monday. “Some of the stuff you would be doing in June with your spring cut ups you’re moving that into April. May, the guys aren’t out on the road recruiting so we’re doing a lot more of our offseason stuff at that point. June’s going to be an onslaught of just non-stop kids desperate to go visit because they haven’t had the chance to visit anywhere. So, it’s going to be non-stop recruiting.”


There are questions that will have to be answered between now and the re-opening of recruiting, one of which will involve camps. Camp season has always been when coaches get more of an up close and personal look at a kid while he’s competing against other high level kids. Additionally, it’s a chance for interaction with coaches and other players already on the team. A kid who might have all the talent in the world might come to campus and prove he’s not a good fit with the coaching staff and potential teammates. Because there were no camps or on campus visits in 2020 due to COVID-19 a lot of schools are going to be dealing with misfits and unhappy kids in the fall, something that might not have happened if there had been camps last summer.


“There’s still just so many questions,” Mullen said. “Is it June 1 and life back to normal? Does it include the summer dead period? Is it official visits, unofficial visits, camps, everything? So, I think the tricky part for us … it’s going to be great to do that and I know kids are dying are excited to get here … the balance of how that works because I think one thing there will be a mad rush as soon as that happens. That’s something we have to be smart and careful about with COVID to avoid a spike, to avoid issues within our team when there’s this mad of kids trying to get to every campus as fast as possible. It will be interesting. Hopefully, they’ll get us the information sooner rather than later so we can have the opportunity to put a strategy in place before it gets thrown to us.”


The NCAA Oversight Committee is also going to recommend a one-time transfer waiver that will allow any athlete in any sport a one-time transfer without penalty. It is a rule that would have been implemented last year except for the disruption of all sports last spring due to COVID-19. If you think pulling the plug on the dead period is going to be chaotic, you haven’t seen anything like you will see the moment the transfer rule goes into effect. The new rule will give a measure of free agency which could cause mass migration. Add that to the fact that 2020 won’t count against the eligibility of anyone who was on a Division I roster and that seniors were able to return for a do-over and roster management will be the source of migraines for coaches and their personnel people.


GATORS REMAIN TOP 5 IN THREE BASEBALL POLLS

Collegiate Baseball Top 25: 1. Arkansas 12-1; 2. Vanderbilt 12-2; 3. FLORIDA 13-4; 4. Texas Tech 13-3; 6. Mississippi State 13-3; 7. Georgia 13-3; 8. East Carolina 13-2; 9. Oklahoma State 11-2-1; 10. LSU 14-3; 11. Louisville 11-4; 12. Arizona State 11-2; 13. Michigan 7-1; 14. Texas 11-5; 15. UCLA 10-5; 16. Miami 8-4; 17. North Carolina 10-4; 18. South Carolina 11-3; 19. Oregon 8-3; 20. Georgia Tech 9-5; 21. Arizona 12-4; 22. Oregon State 11-3; 23. Notre Dame 7-2; 24. Alabama 14-3; 25. Texas A&M 14-4.

D1baseball.com Top 25: 1. Arkansas 12-1; 2. Vanderbilt 12-2; 3. Mississippi State 13-3; 4. Ole Miss 13-3; 5. FLORIDA 13-4; 6. Miami 8-4; 7. Texas Tech 13-3; 8. Louisville 11-4; 9. East Carolina 13-2; 10. Texas 11-5; 11. UCLA 10-5; 12. Georgia Tech 9-5; 13. Tennessee 14-3; 14. Oklahoma State 11-2-1; 15. TCU 10-6; 16. South Carolina 11-3; 17. Notre Dame 7-2; 18. Pittsburgh 9-4; 19. LSU 14-3; 20. Oregon 8-3; 21. UC-Santa Barbara 9-5; 22. Michigan 7-1; 23. Oregon State 11-3; 24. Boston College 9-5; 25. Virginia Tech 9-5.

USA Today Coaches Top 25: 1. Arkansas 12-1; 2. Vanderbilt 12-2; 3. Mississippi State 13-3; 4. Ole Miss 13-3; 5. FLORIDA 13-4; 6. Miami 8-4; 7. Texas Tech 13-3; 8. Louisville 11-4; 9. East Carolina 13-2; 10. Texas 10-5; 11. UCLA 10-5; 12. Georgia Tech 9-5; 13. Tennessee 14-3; 14. Oklahoma State 11-2-1; 15. TCU 10-6; 16. South Carolina 11-3; 17. Notre Dame 7-2; 18. Pittsburgh 9-4; 19. LSU 14-3; 20. Oregon 8-3; 21. UC-Santa Barbara 9-5; 22. Michigan 7-1; 23. Oregon State 11-3; 24. Boston College 9-5; 25. Virginia Tech 9-5.


SIX NCAA ZEBRAS SENT HOME FOR COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

Matt Norlander of CBS Sports is reporting that six well known, high profile NCAA basketball officials have been sent home after one tested positive for Covid-19 and subsequent contract tracing. Among the six are Ted Valentine, John Higgins and Roger Ayers, three of the more highly ranked officials according to Kenpom.com.


The six officials arrived in Indianapolis Sunday night to check into their hotel, but when their rooms weren’t ready and there was no food, they were given permission to leave the hotel to go to a steakhouse. When they returned to the hotel and took their Covid-19 tests, one tested positive.


Valentine, Higgins and Ayers are all exceptionally good officials so losing them is a blow to the NCAA Tournament. With four play-in games on Thursday followed by 16 each on Friday and Saturday, that means the NCAA is starting out with a pool of 144 zebras for the first three days. I wouldn’t have been the least bit disappointed to find out that Jamie Luckie, Tony Greene, Bart Lenox or Ron Groover had been sent home.

COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY, HIGH MAJORS BASKETBALL EDITION

Extinct Species List

Jim Christian, Boston College: The new guy is Earl Grant, who has had a good run at Charleston.

Pat Chambers, Penn State: Chambers “resigned” back in October. He will be replaced by Purdue assistant Micah Shrewsberry.

Archie Miller, Indiana: Archie will have $10.3 million with which he can drown out his sorrows. Alums want IU to go after former Bob Knight assistant Chris Beard, who is the head ball coach at Texas Tech, or Brad Stevens, formerly of Butler and now of the Boston Celtics. Keep an eye on former Butler and Ohio State head coach Thad Matta or former Michigan coach John Beilein, either of whom would say yes after Beard and Stevens say no.

Richard Pitino, Minnesota: Rule No. 1 when hiring coaches. Just because your daddy is famous and can really coach doesn’t mean you can. Richard should have learned how to be a head coach at a mid-major instead of starting at a power conference school with expectations that exceed reality. Minnesota will make a play for Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, whose dad was once the head ball coach at Many Sodas. When that fails, they probably go after Utah State head coach Craig Smith, who grew up in Minnesota and cut his coaching teeth next door in North Dakota.

Paul Weir, New Mexico: Weir was a horrible fit. The UNM athletic director is Eddie Nunez, who played high school ball for Frank Martin at Miami High. Frank and South Carolina are trying to work out an amicable divorce. Ray Tanner is already on the hook for more than $15 million to pay for firing Will Muschamp. He can’t afford another buyout but he wants a new basketball coach. Frank Martin can either hang on another year or take a parachute to New Mexico.

Dave Leitao, DePaul: Athletic director DeWayne Peevy, who was at Kentucky for years, wasted no time pink slipping Leitao. Look for former John Calipari assistant Kenny Payne, now with the New York Knicks, to get the first call. Second call will go to Porter Moser at cross-town Loyola. He already knows Chicago very well.


On Life Support

Sean Miller, Arizona: Zona has a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA and the carnage will be significant. Expect Sean to be coaching at an NBA team near you quite soon. The Arizona job will be attractive even though it might involve a couple of years in the NCAA jailhouse. Former Zona All-American Damon Stoudamire is the head coach at Pacific and just the right guy to take over.

Steve Prohm, Iowa State: Everybody at Alabama was disappointed when Avery Johnson was hired in 2015 instead of Prohm, who was at Morehead State. There are times you should rejoice in your disappointment. This is one of them. Iowa State wants him gone but his $5.3 million buyout is a killer. If a rich booster forks up the cash, however, Prohm is a goner.


Endangered Species List Will Wade, LSU: He would already be On Life Support except for his buyout. If LSU fires him prior to the NCAA Notice of Allegations, they have to pay him. If they wait for the NOA, they can fire Wade without owing him a dime.

Bruce Pearl, Auburn: All indications are that Auburn will stand by their man. They’ve self-imposed sanctions with the hope that will keep the NCAA at bay. Bruce, meanwhile, is doing a very nice impersonation of Sargent Schultz (“I know nothing! I saw nothing!”) when it comes to his former assistant Chuck Person.

Greg McDermott, Creighton: It’s bad enough that Creighton is implicated in the college basketball recruiting scandal, but McDermott got suspended for making insensitive remarks about the “plantation” to his players.

Mike Brey, Notre Dame: He’s the winningest coach in school history but the last time in the NCAA Tournament was 2017. The natives are restless.

Jim Larranaga, Miami: The Hurricanes had a losing record, haven’t been to the NCAA since 2018, haven’t advanced past the first round since 2016, and Larranaga is 71 years old. Other than that things are just ducky down in Coral Gables.

Chris Collins, Northwestern: Four straight losing seasons and six losers in the eight years he’s been head coach. It’s only a matter of time before he’s a goner although it may take another year for the folks in Evanston to smell the coffee.


Saved by the Buyout

Bruce Weber, Kansas State: Everybody loves Bruce, who is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Who was it that said, “Nice guys finish last”? His buyout will keep him around another year.

Larry Krystkowiak, Utah: He hasn’t delivered Pac-12 titles and they really would like to snake Mark Pope away from BYU, but it would take nearly $7 million to buy Krystkowiak out.

Jamie Dixon, TCU: He hasn’t had a winning record in two years. They would love for Dixon to go someplace else because they can’t afford they buyout.

Mike Hopkins, Washington: He’s 20-38 in his last two seasons, 5-17 this past year. He has two years remaining on his contract. Given the Pac-12’s lack of revenue and UDub’s financial hit they won’t fire Hopkins. This year.


ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: Back in June the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, put three years of sanctions and a one-year ban on postseason play on Oklahoma State for the sins of former assistant Lamont Evans, the same guy who has South Carolina in hot water. So why is Okie State a four seed and playing in the NCAA Tournament starting this weekend? Because the Cowboys appealed the sanctions and by not declaring an emergency to hear the appeal, the NCAA is forced to allow Okie State to play. If you needed one more reason to believe the NCAA has outlived its usefulness, this is it. It is past time for the power schools to leave and form their own organization minus the cumbersome rules, inept bureaucracy and the failed leadership of Mark Emmert.

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