Thoughts of the Day: May 1, 2020

CHAOS, CHAOS AND MORE CHAOS

Thursday was just another day at the office in the world of sports. The NCAA Division I Board of Directors says it doesn’t back any change to the current transfer waiver process, potentially torpedoing a May 20 vote in which it was expected that the main body of NCAA institutions would vote to approve a one-time, no-waiver transfer for athletes in every sport. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey threw out the idea on 1010-XL in Jacksonville that maybe not every SEC school would field a team in the fall. Big 12 commissioner Bruce Bowlsby expressed fear that the COVID-19 virus would come back in the fall and eliminate a playoff. Iowa president Bruce Harreld said he anticipates the Hawkeyes will be on campus, ready to resume training on June 1. Matt Hayes, the senior football writer for Bleacher Report, told Buddy Martin that college football needs a czar to oversee the sport and the right guy for the job is Jeremy Foley.


Got all that?


Let’s start with the NCAA, which, if you are old enough to recall, Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth once deemed “The National Communists Against Athletes.” Just a week after the Transfer Waiver Working Group recommended the full body of the NCAA vote to give every athlete in every Division I sport the right to transfer once without having to sit out, the Board of Directors voted to keep the status quo, once again proving the NCAA is absolutely clueless.

Coaches can leave any time they perceive there is a better opportunity. They aren’t penalized for leaving but the kids they recruited and left behind are more often than not. It’s only right that kids have the same option for a one-time transfer without penalty.


The smart thing to do – I realize it’s the NCAA that we’re talking about so smart might be a rather poor choice of words – would be to vote to change the process but do it a year from now. Instead of rejecting it, tweak the wording a bit. Make the rule apply to the 2021 season, therefore giving plenty of time to take a pro-active stance for coming up with a set of guidelines that actually work.


By keeping the current waiver rule in place, we’ll see more kids like Justin Fields who can afford a good lawyer get a waiver just by threatening to take the NCAA to court and more kids like former Georgia tight end Luke Ford, denied a waiver even though he wanted to be close to his ill grandfather. So, once again, when faced with a situation that actually helps kids, the higher-ups at the NCAA vote status quo.


* * *

During his conversation on 1010-XL in Jacksonville, Sankey stated that it might not be necessary for the SEC to cancel its entire season if perhaps a couple of schools can’t field a team.


“It there’s a couple of programs that aren’t able, does that stop everyone?” Sankey asked. I’m not sure it does but the ability for us to stay connected will remain important.”


What Sankey was alluding to is the fact that not every state may be open for business in the fall due to decisions by state governments to remain on lockdown and of course, the possibility that some schools might delay the start of their academic school year beginning until January or even later. As strange as it might seem to have football minus certain SEC schools, there are 14 in the league so there is room to adapt.


Maybe it’s a bad example, but the Southeastern Conference operated just fine without Kentucky basketball in 1952-53 because of point-shaving scandal and discovery that Adolph Rupp played ineligible players even though Rupp and his coaches knew they hadn’t made grades. So, could the league get along if maybe Arkansas or Kentucky football were not allowed by their state governments to play? Absolutely. It would be strange, but it could work.


* * *

Bowlsby brought up a legitimate point about the COVID-19 virus perhaps making a comeback. Bowlsby’s big concern is in the months of November and December when the weather is colder and conditions are conducive for the virus hitting pandemic levels again.

“If the virus comes roaring back in the traditional flu and virus season in November, December, through March, I wonder if we’re going to get basketball seasons in,” Bowlsby said. “I wonder if we’re going to get the [College Football Playoff] in; I wonder if we’re going to get the NCAA Tournament in.”


Bowlsby also says that a split schedule fall-spring for football is being looked into but says that is a “fallback position.”


***

Meanwhile Iowa president Bruce Harreld has targeted June 1 as the date to get his school’s players back on campus and practicing. He thinks 6-8 weeks of practice and conditioning needs to take place before games can be played although he’s not at all certain if games should be played with fans in the stadiums.

Thursday evening Harreld did say “first priority is the health and safety of our student athletes and fans.”


As a state, Iowa has never been under a stay at home order.


Finally, Matt Hayes thinks college football needs its own czar to take charge during troubled times. His candidate for the position is former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.


Personally, I think college football needs someone who is not from the NCAA to direct things. I would like the see college football free itself completely from the NCAA and operate as a separate entity. The NCAA does not control the College Football Playoff so why should it make the rules for Division I? If the lower divisions want to remain under control of the NCAA, fine, but let Division I set its own rules and regulations without the NCAA to interfere.


Of course, if that were to happen, it’s highly likely that Division I would shrink. A 100-team model would work just fine. Go to an 11-game regular season schedule, eliminate games against D1AA and add an extra week to the playoffs.


As for Foley, he would be an ideal czar. I’ve said for years that for the many things Jeremy did for the University of Florida during his 25 years as the athletic director, the best thing was running as clean a ship as you were going to find anywhere in college sports. Florida went from a school where it was perceived anything goes to one that complied with the rules.

Put him in charge of college football and Foley would run a tight, clean ship and there is something to be said for that.


UF HOOPS: CASTLETON OFFICIALLY IN, KOWACIE REEVES COMMITS

Thursday was a good day for Florida basketball coach Mike White. Michigan transfer Colin Castleton (6-11, 235, JR) signed his papers so he’s officially a Gator now and White got a commitment from 4-star wing Kowacie Reeves (6-6, 175, Macon, GA Westside).

Unless the NCAA voting body overrides the vote of the Division I Board of Directors, Castleton will have to sit out the 2020-21 season. Whether he plays this year or next, he will have two years of eligibility remaining.


Reeves was long expected to choose the Gators. When he pulled the trigger on his commitment Thursday, he selected Florida over the likes of Stanford, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Stanford, Clemson and Georgia Tech.


He is an outstanding scorer with good range out to the three-point line and the ability to put the ball on the deck and get to the rim. Reeves is the #35 player in the Rivals.com rankings and #67 in 247Sports.com.


Florida’s next serious target is Warren Lynn Kidd (6-10, 220, Gainesville, FL/Bradenton, FL IMG Academy), ranked #82 nationally by 247Sports.com.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Wake Forest Gump wasted little time replacing Danny Manning as head basketball coach. The choice is Steve Forbes, who was 130-43 in five seasons at East Tennessee State. Forbes was an assistant to Bruce Pearl at Tennessee and won a national juco championship at Northwest Florida State before working a couple of years for Gregg Marshall at Wichita State … The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t draft Joe Burrow with the intention of sitting him, which is why the Bengals are talking to the Jacksonville Jaguars about trading Andy Dalton. Given the choice of Gardner Minshew III and Dalton, the Jags need to stick with Minshew. I’ve seen enough of Andy Dalton to believe you can’t win with him … NASCAR will resume racing May 17 at Darlington, minus the fans, of course … The Little League World Series has been canceled due to COVID-19 … I still think Major League Baseball should have stripped the Houston Astros of their 2017 World Series … I think LeBron James is a great player, one of the ten best to ever play in the NBA. I don’t think he’s as good as Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain though. In my mind those are the two best and nobody else is close.

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