NCAA Gives SMU & Head Coach Larry Brown a Heavy Handed Punishment

 

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It has been said that “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” But what does a person say when he/she is fooled a third time?

The NCAA has sanctioned SMU with stiff penalties including a postseason ban for the 2015-16 season, three years of probation, and the suspension of hall of famer Larry Brown, the only head coach to ever win a national championship and NBA championship, for nine games, citing a multitude of violations including academic fraud, unethical conduct and lack of head coach control. The basketball program will also lose nine scholarships (technically 11 since they were short two scholarships last season).

Sanctions were decided at the conclusion of an NCAA investigation into guard Keith Frazier, who was declared academically eligible in August, allegedly with help from a former assistant coach and former administrator. The school is reviewing the investigation to determine if it will appeal the punishment. SMU is projected to be a Top 25 team this season.

While the NCAA may be done with Brown for now, SMU still has to decide what it will do with him.

 SMU’s Ultimatum: Cut Larry Loose or Risk Taking Another Hit?

SMU was once a great team before Brown came along, but up until last season, the team had not made an appearance in the NCAA tournament in 21 years. Also, this is not the first or second but third time a program involving Brown has been hit with sanctions. UCLA and Kansas were also sanctioned after Brown left those programs. However, SMU is no stranger to sanctions either. Years earlier, the football program nearly received the rare “death penalty” for its role in ‘Ponygate,’ in which players were paid thousands of dollars through a booster. The university had a whole season canceled the year after the scandal and its entire home schedule was canceled in the second year after.

So, SMU is now left with the decision of sticking it out with Brown or cutting him loose just like that in his fourth year with the program. Either way anyone looks at it, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they cut him loose, they risk falling back into irrelevance, which could discourage future star prospects from playing there and will lead to a miserable experience for anyone still left including players, fans, and the university. If they keep him, they may have a chance to win a championship, but at the cost of implying that it is acceptable to lie to NCAA investigators and “winning at all costs” is the most important value to teach student-athletes.

 

 

 

 

 

New Look Giants, Still Have the Same Old Problems

 

Congratulations to the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons for their wins against the New York Giants, but once again the Giants have reminded the world that they are in fact still the same old Giants, which isn’t saying much nowadays. After yet another fourth-quarter debacle this past Sunday, the Giants became the first team in NFL history to lose their first two games in a season by blowing double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. Even when they’re bad, they can still make history and that isn’t even the biggest problem on their laundry list of problems. Here is a breakdown of what is wrong with the New York Giants:

What’s Wrong with the G-Men?

 Too many things are wrong with the Giants but for the sake of this post, I decided to only include obvious problems as well as some of my personal observations.

 

  1. Tom Coughlin: By default, Tom Coughlin has to be on this list. Ever since their Super Bowl victory over the Patriots, the Giants have missed the playoffs every season and have gotten progressively worse each season. As the head coach, Coughlin ultimately has to be held responsible because this has occurred under his leadership. Right now, Coughlin is in the same situation that Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith was in when he still coached the Chicago Bears. The problem isn’t that Coughlin can no longer coach in the NFL, but rather that he can no longer coach for this team.

 

  1. Eli Manning: When the Giants gave Eli Manning a 4-year, $84 million extension, they basically sealed their fate for the next four years. They basically told the football world that Manning, a perpetually inconsistent quarterback throughout his career (unlike his brother), is their go-to guy and the football world responded with a laugh. When Manning had to actually play like a go-to guy after the Falcons stole the lead late in the fourth quarter this past Sunday, he couldn’t complete one pass. He either overthrew or underthrew the football to his receivers (some of which were clearly open), but he couldn’t throw one pass on the money. As a Giants fan, I’m thankful for Manning capturing those two Super Bowls during his career, but more often than not I’ve found myself, like many other Giants fans, disappointed for the most part.

 

  1. No plans for the future at the QB position: If you’re a Giants fan or just an NFL aficionado, then you might be aware that Manning is the current active leader for consecutive games started (169). Although that streak should be respected because it means he has always been available to play, it also means that the Giants have not given another quarterback a chance to start a game even when Manning has been really bad, which he has been for more games than anyone could count. Assuming that Manning retires as a Giant after his contract ends, I’m not sure what the team is going to do at the quarterback position. The only other quarterback currently on the roster is Ryan Nassib. By the time Nassib starts (if he ever starts), he will virtually be an experienced rookie and an experienced rookie is still a rookie. Unless he goes on to become the next Aaron Rodgers, the Giants are probably going to stink yet again and will most likely turn to the draft when that happens. Who knows what the QB class will look like if and when that does occur?

 

  1. Defense: The Giants’ defense has many question marks at just about every position. Even so, in the two games it has played, it looked decent overall. However, when it mattered most in both games, it gave up game-winning touchdowns. One occurred when rookie linebacker Uani’ Unga basically let Jason Witten run straight to the endzone (he literally ran to the back of the endzone and waited for Witten to put both of his feet in the endzone) and catch a touchdown pass to cap a 6-play, 72-yard drive. The other one occurred when the Giants thought it would be smart to put CB Prince Amukamara one-on-one with elite WR Julio Jones. Everyone saw how that ended. I can’t get on the defense too much though because it still looks better than the offense.

 

  1. Late-game shenanigans (penalties) in close games: Late in the fourth quarter of the season opener against the Cowboys, the Giants’ offense got called for a penalty (I think it was a false-start penalty), which stopped the clock and gave the Cowboys the ability to keep one of their timeouts. Late in the fourth quarter of the game against the Falcons, the offense was hit with a delay-of-game penalty, which turned a manageable 3rd & 7 into a much more difficult 3rd & 12. Those were both key mistakes that contributed to their losses. Hopefully, the offense will be on the same page down the road when the game is on the line. This problem can be considered minor since the season is still relatively fresh, but it will continue to kill this team in the future if it doesn’t stop.

 

  1. Reliance on the pass interference penalty: Seeing this problem make the list, I know what you’re thinking: Why is something so trivial such as this on the list? My answer: If you’ve paid attention to this team for the past few years as I have, you will know that this is something the Giants have abused and will probably continue to abuse. Way before the pass interference rule was changed from a 15-yard penalty to a spot-of-the-foul penalty, the Giants heavily relied on this penalty to move the ball down the field. I have seen too many instances where Manning heaved the ball down the field with no regard to the result of the play unless the penalty was called. Once again, look at the Falcons game. On the Giants’ final drive, the only time the ball moved down the field was when the penalty was called. Reliance on this penalty makes the Giants appear as if they’re more concerned with getting the penalty called rather than actually making a play.

 

While some of these problems can be corrected with discipline, others cannot be corrected simply because of the people at the helm of this organization. Many fans (including myself) respect Coughlin and Manning for their contributions to the team, but I realize that their time with the team has to end sometime soon if the Giants do not wish to end up like the Cleveland Browns or the Oakland Raiders or some other team in the future that either signs a big-time free agent or puts all of its’ hopes into the NFL draft and is consistently disappointed.

Eagles Release Tim Tebow: Is Tebow-Mania Done in the NFL?

Tim_Tebow_Tebowing

photo by Ed Clemente Photography  via Wikimedia Commons


 

When the Philadelphia Eagles traded Matt Barkley to the Arizona Cardinals Friday, I’m sure everyone including Tebow thought he would be the third-string quarterback. The problem is that head coach Chip Kelly, the supposed smartest guy in the room wherever he goes, didn’t think so. Instead, Kelly brought in undrafted rookie Stephen Morris to fill that role. After yet another cut from an NFL roster, one has to wonder if Tebow and all that comes with him are done in the NFL?

How Tebow Could Stay in the NFL

 The misunderstanding about Tebow is not that he can’t throw (just look at his college stats), but that 32 NFL teams don’t think he can throw well enough to stay on the pro-level. And let’s be honest, when legends in the NFL like John Elway and Bill Belichick as well as wacky mastermind Chip Kelly tell you you’re not good enough to play quarterback on their team, they may just have a point.

One of Tebow’s biggest problems isn’t that he doesn’t belong in the NFL, but that he doesn’t belong in the NFL as a quarterback. At 6’3 and somewhere around 235 pounds, he definitely belongs in the NFL. Tebow is an athlete after all, but no coach would know for sure where to put him. He is too big to be a running back, too small to be a tight end, has never played as a linebacker, and would be too prideful to play fullback or any of the other positions mentioned. If he made the transition to another position today, I don’t see why any team wouldn’t give him an opportunity. Then again, if you read the title of this post, you are at least aware that there is a mania that comes with Tebow, a mania that cannot be explained but is very much alive. The irony is that most (if not all at this point) of it is brought upon by the media, not the player. Teams would probably give him a practice squad position at the very least but they aren’t interested in the ‘circus’ that comes with Tebow. His only chance of staying in the NFL and staying relevant right now is if he proves he can play another position effectively.

Evidence that supports my theory includes Jacksonville Jaguars teammates and former quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Nick Marshall. Robinson plays RB/WR while Marshall plays CB. Both knew at some point in their careers that they wouldn’t cut it in the NFL if they stayed at that position. Both are now currently on an NFL roster because Robinson was basically a RB (a really good one) playing QB at Michigan and because Marshall actually played CB before becoming a quarterback at Auburn. However, Tebow has only ever played QB so even if he did change positions, there is no guarantee that he would instantly be able to play that position on a pro-level.

Tebow’s Options for Returning to the NFL as a QB

All hope for Tebow ever playing in the NFL as a QB isn’t lost but his window of opportunity is closing. Nonetheless, it isn’t impossible for QBs in the NFL to get injured. If some team just runs into a string of bad luck and has three QBs go down during the season, Tebow could be getting a call. In fact, Kelly himself would be the first to call back if it happened to the Eagles. Realistically, however, Tebow should consider the CFL.

Let’s be honest, the CFL is the land of castoffs from the NFL or college. If it were compared to baseball, it would be somewhere between AAA and the MLB. Still, it is a professional league and it serves as game tape for NFL scouts. If Tebow went there and proved that he could play the QB position as it is meant to be played, he could return to the NFL. It worked for Kurt Warner (with the only difference being that he played Arena Football), why wouldn’t it work for Tebow? Tebow-mania would be a thing of the past for any NFL team if Tim Tebow could prove elsewhere that he is a QB and nothing else.

Barrett vs. Jones: Whose Side is Meyer on Anyway?

 

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With Ohio State’s 2015 college football season starting next Monday, head coach Urban Meyer has decided that he will not name a starter until the regular season opener against Virginia Tech. After defeating Oregon and capturing the national championship last season, many thought Meyer’s QB situation going into next season was the best problem a head coach could have. Although Braxton Miller, former Heisman trophy candidate and Meyer’s original quarterback, made a transition to wide receiver back in July, having to choose between two quarterbacks is still a difficult situation for any head coach especially when both quarterbacks are capable starters. Meyer recently stated that he plans to use both J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones at quarterback this season, a decision that has both its ups and downs.

Advantages of Having Two Starting Quarterbacks

  • Preparing against Ohio State’s offense gets much harder: Barrett and Jones play two different styles of quarterback. Barrett is a dual-threat QB while Jones is a prototypical, traditional pocket passer. Spending a whole week to prepare against one of these quarterbacks is difficult enough, but if Meyer decides to use them in the same games, defensive coordinators will have nightmares.
  • (In this case) The QB battle is actually a friendly competition: The QB battle between Barrett and Jones may be intense, but not as intense as one may think. Barrett and Jones have claimed to be fans of each other and are rooting for one another. Apparently each QB is okay with the other becoming the starter if Meyer chooses them.

Disadvantages of Having Two Starting Quarterbacks

  • Preparing for two different quarterback styles can be a challenge for other offensive players on the team: While other offensive players on the team may not struggle nearly as much as their opponents, it can still be challenging to prepare for two extremely different styles. In all likelihood, the offensive linemen will struggle the most because the blocking schemes may vary depending on who is in the game.
  • If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks: Now this is a saying that applies more to the NFL than the NCAA. Still, having a definitive quarterback is more than just having a position player. On any given team, the quarterback has to at least be one of the leaders if not THE leader and I can’t recall a team having more than one quarterback as a leader of the team at the same time. Locker rooms can become divided and teammates could end up taking sides even though they are all trying to accomplish the same thing: winning.

 While Barrett and Jones are both talented quarterbacks, naming one to be the permanent starter could solve those problems mentioned in the disadvantages list. In recent memory, the last time I’ve seen multiple quarterbacks successfully play at the same time was at the University of Oklahoma when QBs Landry Jones and Blake Bell still played there. Jones actually played the position while Bell was used as a Tebow-like battering ram in short-yardage situations. It did indeed work out for the two quarterbacks but Barrett and Cardale Jones are much too talented to be limited to a Blake Bell type of role. Using them like that would be insult to their abilities.