Tag Archives: college football

Conference Realignment? How About a Southern Ivy League?

College athletics realignment is under way. Superconferences! TV deals! Megadollars! Academics, traditions, and any pretense at ethics be damned.

But I’ll leave the preaching for another day.

The question facing lots of schools – those without rich fanbases and lucrative media markets – is what now? Among those almost certain to be left behind is my alma mater, Wake Forest University, a small private school that’s one of the nation’s elite academic institutions. It’s also a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which in recent days has moved from “endangered” to “on life support.” If the SEC and Big 10 do what I expect them to, five, six or more of the valuable properties will be gone and the league, as we have known it, will be history.

And it’s hard to imagine a scenario where schools like Wake are invited to the party. (Vanderbilt may hang on in the SEC and Northwestern in the B1G because they’re already members.)

wake forest pro humanitate

I don’t care if Wake isn’t part of a crime cartel top-tier athletic conference. What I care about is what I said above: elite academic institution. I’ve said for years I’d be fine if the Deacons dropped to Div 3, but as I think about the coming landscape an idea emerges: what if a “Southern Ivy League” were established? There are schools to build around.

Wake Forest is obvious. If they decided The Show wasn’t for them, Vandy (the Wake Forest of Tennessee) would be a natural. Also Rice, which was pitched to the side when the Southwest Conference folded. Tulane is a top-50 national U with a solid mid-major profile.

William & Mary is a fantastic school that’s established at the FCS level. Who else might you think about? Davidson? Emory is D3 but certainly has the academic profile. And you’re not playing by big-time NCAA rules anymore.

Yeah, “Ivy” is a bit much for any kind of public talk or branding, but it’s a fine idea as an aspiration and organizing principle. I’d be honored to be part of an organization like this. I’m certain not all my fellow Deacs will agree, but being part of the NFL’s minor league system … there’s not much appeal in it.

An open letter to former Colorado football coach Bill McCartney: STFU

On Sunday, the University of Colorado fired head football coach Jon Embree after two seasons. Reaction has been mixed and at times heated. Some point to the results, noting not only the 4-21 record but also suggesting that the program was actually regressing. Others argued that Embree inherited a dumpster fire from previous coach Dan Hawkins and that it was unrealistic and patently unfair not to give him more than two seasons to turn things around. I personally felt that Embree’s hiring was a mistake in the first place and that he was never likely to succeed, given two years, three years or ten years. That said, I have a long, well-established track record of being wrong about CU and its football coaches, so I’m the furthest thing from an expert opinion here. Suffice it to say that I see both sides of the argument and believe each has merit.

Then yesterday, former coach Bill McCartney, regarded by some in Colorado as the Word of God on football matters, weighed in with an open letter on Embree’s firing. As the man who recruited and coached Embree, an outstanding tight end in his playing days, Coach Mac’s position on the subject surprised no one.

I encouraged [Embree] to pursue coaching. He preceded to build a solid résumé.

Finally, CU hired one of its own. Not only that, but with a pedigree that was exemplary. This guy is good.

To short-circuit a five-year contract before two full years is an indictment of true integrity. Webster’s Dictionary defines integrity as utter sincerity, honesty, candor, not artificial, not shallow, no empty promises.

“One of its own.” That was part of the problem, actually – pro-McCartney-era voices “encouraging” the AD into a questionable hire. One local media analyst – the guy I regard as the best and smartest in town, in fact – has really good contacts and insight into the workings of the athletic department at CU; he went so far as to use the word “bully” in describing the process.

The “finally” part is troublesome, too. While Embree might be the first former player hired to the job, the school previously hired a couple of McCartney assistants – fellows named “Neuheisel” and “Barnett” – and those didn’t work out so well, either.

Still, I knew what was coming when I read the word “integrity.” I wasn’t disappointed.

Men and women of Colorado, don’t let this happen. Please weigh in. This is wrong. It undermines the values of the university.

“Values of the university.” Let’s examine this, because the man throwing around all this noble language has a credibility problem.

McCartney’s early years as coach at CU were undistinguished – he only seven games in his first three years, and that third year produced a 1-10 mark. Fine. It’s a university, not an NFL franchise.

His fortunes improved dramatically once he decided to…well, put it this way. He and his staff devoted very little effort to making sure their new recruits were choirboys. Commencing with the 1987 season, his teams won 73 games in eight years, including a mythical (and highly controversial split “national title” in 1990. Meanwhile his players were keeping Boulder law enforcement busy. From 1986-89, for instance, two dozen CU student-athletes were arrested on a variety of charges, including sexual assault.

Mr. Character. And a Man of God® – McCartney is the founder of the Promise Keepers, remember. More on that in a second, but now back to that national championship. It wouldn’t have happened save for one of the worst officiating flubs in major sports history. The ref crew, with CU trying to punch in the winning TD at the end of the game, lost track and allowed Colorado to score on a 5th down play. McCartney – the one quoted above making a big deal out of “integrity,” “sincerity” and “honesty,” of course did the noble thing, right?

Ummm, no.

Colorado football coach Bill McCartney, a former Missouri Tigers player, did little to soothe the controversy. Asked whether he would consider forfeiting the game, McCartney declared that he had considered it but decided against it because “the field was lousy.”

Do as I say, not as I do, I suppose.

What else? Oh, right. Promise Keepers. An organization built on principles of female subservience and homophobia.

From a CU podium in 1992, McCartney referred to homosexuality as “an abomination against almighty God” in support of Amendment 2, which prohibited laws protecting gays from discrimination.

Not only did Coach Mac say these hateful things, he did so backed by the CU logo, lending the appearance that the university community agreed with him. Trust me, it didn’t, and he was officially reprimanded for doing so. McCartney was so bad that the school had to adopt official policy prohibiting the kinds of activity he repeatedly engaged in.

All of which leads me back to McCartney’s words in his open letter: “It undermines the values of the university.” And a question: Coach McCartney, what do you know about the “values of the university”? For that matter, what do you know about the values of any university?

In point of fact, everything he stood for, from the recruitment of players who were archetypally unsuited for a university community to his repeated insistence on advocating Old Testament morality in an environment dedicated to progress, intellect and enlightenment, was directly counter to “university principles.”

Dear Coach McCartney: Shut. The fuck. Up. Every time you open your mouth you devalue my degree a little more. You were an embarrassment to the CU community as a coach and when you seize the microphone now all you do is remind us of your hypocrisy and the fundamental corruption of your ideology.

Worse, you taint our opinions of men like Jon Embree. I don’t know much about him as a person, although he struck me as dedicated, hardworking and decent. The more you wrap your forked tongue around his firing, the more I tend to evaluate him in terms of you. In that light, losing his job is only the second-worst thing that’s happened to him this week.

Please. Shut up and go away.

Some final thoughts on this year’s BCS debacle and a possible solution to all our problems

In case you missed it, the University of Alabama defeated LSU last night, winning the BCS national championship best-of-two series by a 1-1 margin. Congrats to the Tide.

Yep, the BS BCS fails again. Which it always does. But not everyone hates it. I mean, all the corrupt people who profit from it love the system. But there are regular fans who defend it, as well. I have a friend, for instance – let’s call him Bob – who staunchly believes that a tournament to determine the D1 national football champion wouldn’t be any better than the BCS. I think he’s nuts, but he’s a very smart guy. He points to the flaws in playoff systems (for instance, for those who hated last night’s rematch, he notes that the most recent NY Giant Super Bowl win was a rematch and that the Patriots had won the first meeting). And we can sit Old Chicago with fine microbrew and argue for hours, I’m sure.  Read more

Joe must go. Today.

It’s the end of the line for JoePa. You can slice it and dice it, wring your hands and tear your hair, chastise and moralize all you like, but in the end it boils down to one word: recruiting.

Penn State has a long and distinguished history, as both a football program and as an actual, you know, university. Its athletics program has never been tainted by any sort of scandal before, and that may well be because they have not, in fact, cheated (as opposed to the method employed by so many other schools, which is to cheat but not get caught). But make no mistake, Joe Paterno’s unprecedented run as head football coach, which dates back to the early 17th century, has far less to do with integrity than it does winning. Read more