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Jumbo Package: Participation Trophy Edition

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No, I'm not talking about the Big Twelve.

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

The arms race begins.

Alabama's cost of attendance stipend will rank among highest in nation - CBSSports.com

Alabama football coach Nick Saban has called cost of attendance a "nightmare" because of varying numbers by schools and concerns the figures could be fudged. He even suggested the NFL's salary cap could be a model to cap stipends for college players, missing the point that the Ed O'Bannon ruling won't allow such collusion and the NFL salary cap gets negotiated by a players union that doesn't exist in college sports.

Don't feel too bad for Saban, though. As it turns out, Alabama's cost of attendance stipends will rank among the leaders nationally at $5,386 for out-of-state players and $4,172 for in-state players, according to information the university provided to CBSSports.com.

Saban is correct that we need some transparency in how cost of attendance is calculated. However, he is incorrect in that there should be a cap analogous to a hard salary cap. The reason is fairly simple: institutions calculate their own estimated cost of attendance (room, board, books, supplies, etc.) Capping that number on the basis of level playing ground for football is either going to grossly undervalue the true expense (looking at you Tuscaloosa, and your ridiculous post-tornado housing market,) or it's going to grossly overstate the true costs of basic staples (looking at you, Auburn formula.) It is impossible, impractical, and seems peevish. Besides, that's what a bagman is for.

However, this whole CoA initiative is fishy as hell and has always been. Don't think for one second, in the SEC especially, administrators won't tweak this formula to benefit a legal pay-for-play scheme. To wit: I, like you, am absolutely stunned that Tennessee and Auburn top the SEC in CoA stipends.

The financial arms race that I and many others predicted (and hated) has arrived, adding one more level of corruption to recruiting. Fortunately, from an athletics department standpoint, Alabama can outbid damned near everyone in the country. You wanted this, P4P folks, and now you're seeing the first domino fall.

Speaking of recruiting

Nick Saban reaches out to former Wisconsin running back signee | AL.com

Alabama is one of several schools who have reportedly reached out to Jordan Stevenson, a Wisconsin signee who did not meet the requirements to enroll at the school. Stevenson, a four-star recruit in the 2015 class from Dallas, Texas, did meet NCAA enrollment standards but not Wisconsin admission standards.

There is no mistake that Alabama is in serious need of depth at RB, with the loss of Altee Tennpenny (transfer,) Bo Scarbrough (injury,) DeSherrius Flowers (ineligible,) and Tyren Jones (f'n idiot.) The consensus four-star Stevenson has narrowed it down to Alabama and Nebraska.

HCIW update

Florida wide receiver Alvin Bailey charged with failure to appear in court | NCAA Football | Sporting News

The hits keep coming for Florida as another player lands in hot water. Wide receiver Alvin Bailey was arrested Saturday afternoon after he failed to appear in court, according to Hillsborough Country records. As of Saturday night, he had yet to post his $5,000 bond and was still in jail.

If you're keeping track at home, McElwain has had three players arrested in a week, signaling that he is the right man to lead the Florida Gators back to the Eastern promised land. Also, UF did get three commitments after its "Friday Night Lights" showcase for recruits in the Swamp this weekend. That sounds like a really cool premise, and I am very jealous.

Tom Brady is the worst monster of history.

NFL to conduct random football inflation checks - UPI.com

Each team will supply 12 primary and 12 backup footballs to the game officials 2 hours and 15 minutes before each game. Previously, the visitors had to supply just 12, though they could have supplied up to 24 for outdoor games.

Here's what we've come to: random ball checks. The Patriots are the Auburn of the NFL: they molest rules until the referees whimper.

Enjoy this, because I'm about to piss you off.

Alabama visual NFL roster includes 55 players | AL.com

Alabama visual NFL roster includes 55 players slideshow.

An excellent slideshow of all 55 Alabama players presently in the NFL. Cast as news, this is really AL.com with a nice bit of Alabama agitprop. #BuiltByBama.

Everything is awful

Video: HBO's Real Sports goes inside Participation Trophy Culture

"We lost almost every game this season…. but we had a heck of a good time doing it!" "It’s not even a trophy for effort or trying, it’s a trophy for participation," says one expert. "It sets the bar pretty low."

I must be getting old. When I was a kid, and our teams sucked, we went and got pizza with our teammates at season's end. It wasn't really a party, per se. Coach(es) would always mentor us with some hard life lessons that sometimes things don't work out the way you want. And, yes, when we failed because of lack of commitment, preparation, or generally just not doing what we were supposed to, we got called to account -- not to the coach, but to the team.

To me, those seem good lessons, and the ones that we ought to honor from youth sports in general, and from parent figures like coaches specifically. I am a better person for it. When you grow up, people will rely on you and your effort and your word. You get some perspective on how hard you must work, and, even if you excel, you may still keep getting knocked down, or, god forbid, fail. If we can't teach children exceptionalism and resiliency and that "the real world" doesn't generally reward failure, I'm not sure about the fate of this republic.

Seriously, I am not criticizing how you were raised, nor how you parent. And, if there are contrary, reasoned opinions, please leave them below and I will happily discuss this with you. But, I decidedly come from the "buck up, kiddo" camp of child-rearing (as were most of us raised in the South, I would suspect.) It needn't be an angry, disapproving, or callous discussion -- but, yeah, sometimes through no fault of (or very much) our own fault, we fail and ours is not a society that rewards failure. OFF MY LAWN!

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That's it for today. Go forth and do evil.