A few thoughts to jump start your Friday morning.
THE ART OF KURT
Listen to Kurt Roper talk and you immediately feel the confidence. He’s a clone of David Cutcliffe, another very smart guy who is so confident in what he can do that it’s easy to believe he’s capable of turning even a formerly stagnant offense into one that is productive. After what the Florida Gators when they possessed the football in 2013, Roper has a blank canvas to work with and it’s easy to sense the growing confidence he has that the Gators are going to be very productive in 2014.
Here are some Roper-isms from the Thursday press conference of Florida’s offensive coordinator:
Job description: “My job is hey let’s go out there and be a productive offense. Productive offenses score points. That’s the name of the game. It’s not yards. It’s not formations or how many catches this guy gets or how many runs this guy gets. At the end of the day, are we scoring points? That’s really what it gets down to. We trying to put together an offense that can just go score points.
Player confidence: “I hope they’re confident. I want them to be confident. I want them to play well, but it’s really a next day, next play mentality. We’re not going to dwell long on anything that we do. If we have a bad play, our mentality is next play. If we have a turnover, we learn from it. Our mentality is next play. You’ve got to let a guy go play. So that’s what we want them to do is play with a plot of confidence, play with the right mindset and let’s go score points.”
Making plays: “We’re going to make plays in this offense. That’s going to happen. There is enough opportunities that will take place. The biggest thing is not beating ourselves.”
What they have learned in the spring: “In 15 days what you want them to be able to understand is what is our base. Who are we? What are we trying to accomplish offensively? I think they have a good start and good understanding on that. So now leading into the summer they can keep growing into that realm and then we have another 29 practice opportunities before our first game next season. So I think in this 15 practices our guys know what we are offensively, who we are offensively and the direction that it’s going to go. They have a good understanding of what our base is.”
DID THE NCAA OVERSTEP ITS BOUNDARIES AT PENN STATE?
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court said Wednesday that the NCAA might not have had the legal right to impose harsh sanctions on Penn State because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. At a hearing for the Corman vs. NCAA case that is about keeping the $60 million Penn State was fined by the NCAA in state, the majority of the seven judges questioned whether or not the NCAA acted within the guidelines of its own constitution and by-laws when issuing its consent decree with Penn State.
Penn State agreed to the harshest sanctions in NCAA history to avoid the death penalty for its football program when Sandusky was arrested and subsequently tried and convicted on multiple sexual abuse of a child charges. In addition to the $60 million fine, Penn State had to give up scholarships and agreed to a bowl ban for four years.
The Commonwealth Court wrote, “The Consent Decree expressly recognizes the NCAA’s questionable involvement in and its dubious authority pertaining to a criminal action against a non-university official [Sandusky] which involved children who were non-university student-athletes.”
Jerry Sandusky got what he deserved when he was given what amounts to a life sentence for what he did to innocent kids, but since he wasn’t a coach and hadn’t been a coach at Penn State for years and the crimes Sandusky committed didn’t involve another coach or student-athletes, it isn’t difficult to see the logic of the Pennsylvania court. With these questions being asked, it’s easy to see the NCAA on the wrong end of even more litigation.
As if the organization doesn’t have enough troubles as it is.
CAN THE NCAA SURVIVE OR IS IT TIME FOR A NEW ORGANIZATION?
The NCAA just raked in close to $1 billion for the television rights to the NCAA Basketball Tournament. You have to wonder how much of that will go to the lawyers who are furiously defending the organization in court on multiple legal fronts. Pete Thamel, the fine writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote earlier in the week that the NCAA is in big trouble and the trouble starts at the top with president Mark Emmert.
Thamel wrote in Sports Illustrated, “The drumbeat for seismic change in the NCAA has never been louder. But the key difference in the potential for change is that there’s a legislative action that could start it. History has taught us that the NCAA only changes when it’s forced to.”
That, precisely, is the problem. The NCAA only changes when it is forced to change. Other than Penn State, which seems to be a clear case of Emmert overstepping his and the NCAA’s boundaries, most of the issues facing the NCAA aren’t new. If anything, they’ve been around a long, long time but they are at the forefront now because years of inaction has resulted in an unprecedented number of lawsuits that promise to plunge one stiletto after another into the heart of an organization that has for too long basked in the glow of its own self-importance.
Thamel wrote that the NCAA’s Sunday press conference in which there was a lot of talk, but no conclusions of action “was a microcosm of exactly why it gets nothing done — too many voices, no leadership and little substance. If change is coming, it’s looking more and more like outside influences will prompt it instead of internal action.”
The NCAA has to change and the changes have to start immediately or else there will be no NCAA in five years. To change, however, the NCAA has to recognize its own black hole of leadership. It’s time for Mark Emmert to go and time for the entire organization to get an overhaul. Either that or some enlightened conference commissioners, athletic directors and school presidents need to form their own organization and use the NCAA as the guideline for what NOT to do.
ADVICE FOR THE NCAA – FROM JOHN CALIPARI
The Wall Street Journal reports that in his new book, “Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out”, Kentucky coach John Calipari writes about the NCAA: “The situation reminds me a little of the Soviet Union in its last years. It was still powerful. It could hurt you. But you could see it crumbling, and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist.” In his book, Calipari offers a 13-point plan to reform the NCAA. Among the suggestions, players should receive a stipend of $3,000 to $5,000; coverage for insurance premiums for players who have a pro future; one round trip ticket home every year and the ability to transfer without having to sit out a year if the coach leaves.” Whether you like Calipari or not, those are solid suggestions. He’s right. If the NCAA doesn’t change, it will cease to exist.
MASTERS: DAY ONE
The Masters has gone Tiger-less for the first time in 19 years and quite frankly, it’s not the same tournament without him. Bill Haas (-4) is the leader and Adam Scott, Louie Oostuizen and Bubba Watson are all right there one shot behind. They are good golfers but they don’t exactly generate a whole lot of excitement. Other than the fact that Augusta National might be the most beautiful golf course on the planet there isn’t a whole lot in the way of excitement to distinguish this week from some tournament in Walla Walla, Washington. Whether you like Tiger or hate him, have forgiven him or still hold it against him that he talked integrity while living a lie, he’s still the one golfer who can inject excitement into any event. With Tiger out and Phil Mickelson (+4) in Augusta but obviously playing golf on another planet, there isn’t much about the Masters to hold my attention this year.
QUESTION FOR TODAY
Today’s question comes from Dave Mica: What kind of infrastructure and advice does UF provide to its athletes, especially those who may get a huge pro payoff?
That’s an excellent question, Dave. NCAA rules won’t allow coaches or athletic departments to directly engage in negotiating with agents or professional sports teams but they do allow coaches to offer advice about agents, lawyers, etc. that they trust. Will Muschamp and Billy Donovan are allowed to make calls to scouts and coaches in the pro leagues to get a reasonable evaluation of what the players needs to work on prior to combines, etc., and also to get a decent expectation of where the player would go if drafted today. On a more personal level, the University of Florida has the Office of Student Development, which was set up by Charley Pell back in 1979 to help athletes academically and personally to prepare for life in the real world. That involves making sure they are engaged in a major that will give them a chance at a real job in case the pro sports gig doesn’t pan out, and to prepare them to make good decisions. The coaches get together with players and families to talk about what’s best for the kid when it comes to staying in school or going, and when it comes to hiring professional representation. To the best of my knowledge, I can also say that I don’t know of a single case where a Florida coach has offered selfish advice. Fans always think that what’s best is to come back for one more year, but Muschamp and Donovan both know the trends far better than any of us and they make sure the kid and his family are the ones making the decisions.
Each day one question will be chosen as Question for Today. Submit your question to: email@example.com
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I am probably as disappointed in The Zombies as I am any of the bands that made up The British Invasion in the mid-1960s. The Zombies came out with two great albums – “The Zombies” and “Odessey and Oracle” – and then the band broke up. They had a really great sound, terrific harmony and nice rhythms. I still think they were a great combination that could have produced so much more music. This is “Tell Her No” from “The Zombies” album that came out in 1965.