After the last few days of, "all Sun-Times, all the time," it seems like a good time to talk a bit about some of the other stories of interest in college sports, some Kentucky related and some not.
First off, there is the Wildcats' Canada trip coming up soon. True Blue Kentucky reports that these games will be televised throughout much of the Commonwealth, and as such, we will be having the usual open game threads here on A Sea of Blue to talk about the games. If you think about it, it is really a treat to get to look at the 2010-2011 Wildcats at such an early juncture, even if the team will not be even close to complete due to questions about Kanter and Dodson.
But it should be fun, and even if Kentucky looks really, really bad, it will be a nice distraction from the sports dead zone we are now in.
The second article up for discussion is this article by Ian O'Connor. In it, O'Connor talks about the conflict of interest created if Isaiah Thomas winds up getting to be a paid consultant for the New York Knicks while remaining the head men's basketball coach at Florida International University.
Contra O'Connor, I don't think that David Stern will do much, although I would applaud him if he did. Stern is all about the best interests of his league and its business, and is not much concerned about the effect the NBA has on college basketball. He has proven that over and over again with his comments on the "one and done" rule. So I really don't expect him to forbid this arrangement.
I do, however, expect either the NCAA coaches or the NCAA to condemn the action. The reason is obvious -- the possible impact on college recruiting and NBA drafting such arrangements could have. Trust me, if John Calipari was the guy who was doing this kind of deal, the outrage in college basketball would be of seismic, end-of-the-world proportions. The problem is, if Thomas can do this, so can Coach Cal, Coach K, and Ol' Roy. The lesser-known college programs are not going to be amused.
What does this say about Isaiah Thomas? I mean seriously, everywhere this guy goes, unethical things happen. Calipari gets all the heat, and this guy gets to act as if the world is his oyster, and all's fair in love and basketball. I cannot imagine any high-profile college coach like Bill Self, Jim Calhoun or Jim Boeheim even considering entering into a clear conflict of interest like this, yet for Thomas, it's just another day at the office.
In the end, I see the NCAA forbidding this type of arrangement. I think it would be great if Stern would save them the trouble, but I have zero confidence in Stern to look past his own league's self-interest. That is the pattern in his behavior ever since he was named Commissioner of the NBA.
He really drove a Mercedes-Benz to high school?
Who am I talking about? Former UK recruit and now Kansas signee Josh Selby, of course. Gary Parrish has this article about Selby and why the NCAA has not cleared him, and the most egregious of the many reasons seems to be the fact that Selby drove a Benz to high school a few times at the end of his high school career. Parrish characterizes it thus:
, writing for the New York Times, witnessed and wrote about it last April. The explanation was that it was on loan from a longtime associate and former summer coach, and -- I can't stress this enough -- it doesn't alone prove anything other than that somebody probably should've pulled the family aside and told them that driving that car would almost certainly invite scrutiny. I mean, I could grab a bottle of Woodford Reserve and hold it out my window while driving in circles around the police department tomorrow night, and there's probably nothing illegal about it, but it's a good way to ensure the police are going to stop me and ask questions. [Emphasis mine]
Classic. Not only is it an effective simile, but it is an anti-drunk driving spot and a commercial for good Kentucky bourbon as well.
Seriously though, I was always concerned about all the "flash" Selby seemed to have in his public utterances and even in his game. There is no doubt he is a remarkable talent, but I see a lot of O.J. Mayo in him, and we all know where that went.
Remember when John Wall came to Kentucky and it was revealed that he had a minor trespassing charge? Remember all the outrage, the aspersions cast on his character? Remember also that he was always humble, never flashy, and put his nose to the grindstone the moment he showed up on campus? Seems Josh Selby didn't get that memo.
What's up with Urban Meyer and bloggers? You probably saw this nonsense erupt in the media last week, but I confess, I have rarely seen a coach make such a strong reaction to "Internet people."
There are tons of unscrupulous actors on the Internet, to be sure, but attacking them is not good policy for any coach or athletics department. Not only are these guys read and respected, they are often more read and more respected by serious fans than actual local media writers. They can also make life very difficult for a coach and his team. A case in point here in Kentucky were several blogs that made a living ginning up anti-Tubby Smith sentiment.
Here's some advice to Urban -- coach your team. Let the bloggers do what they do. Treat them like the weather, and you will benefit. Treat them like the enemy, and you will regret it.
College football "oversigning" (where teams offer more players scholarships than they have available) is an unethical practice that has unfortunately become prevalent, especially in the SEC. Gregg Doyel characterizes it thus:
So is Houston Nutt. He's the worst serial offender of this trend known as over-signing. Sounds almost harmless, doesn't it? Over-signing? The "solution" also has a nice little sound to it: a grayshirt. A grayshirt, technically, is a player who doesn't get a scholarship for whatever reason, but has an agreement with the coaching staff that if he stays on campus for a semester, or even a year, he will get his scholarship eventually. Sounds civil, doesn't it? Never mind that the player was promised a scholarship and then he turned down other schools -- and other scholarships -- to sign with a team that, oops, didn't have a scholarship for him after all.
You will recall I objected strongly to Calipari's "encouragement" of several Gillispie holdovers to find scholarships elsewhere. Recall also I gave him a pass because of the coaching change. These football coaches don't have a coaching change to excuse them.
The practice of offering a scholarship and then withdrawing it is unethical and wrong assuming both parties did nothing offensive to the other in the interregnum between the contract and its implementation. In this case, these players often did nothing wrong, yet when they get to campus, they are thanked for their service and promised, "maybe next year."
By the way, there is nothing keeping the school from deciding to change it's mind the following year, either.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive should immediately intervene and stop this process, no matter what the NCAA does. It is a stain on our league and a stain on college sports.
But this might be the worst of the lot, and thankfully, it was not in the SEC but in the ACC:
At Miami, meanwhile, Randy Shannon added two sensational late signees -- two of the best 15 recruits in the country, defensive back Latwan Anderson of Glenville, Ohio, and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul, Minn. -- but found himself over the 85-player limit. So he cut senior defensive end, who had redshirted as a freshman at the coaching staff's request and then had his fifth-year senior season taken away ... just because.
I have one word for this practice: