Today is the beginning of the early signing period for college basketball. There is lots of sturm und drang about national letters of intent going on in the college basketball world today, and the beginning of the early signing period seems to always draw laments about the NLI and college basketball recruiting in general. Matt Norlander of College Basketball Journal has a rundown of good links for signing day, and I particularly like this piece by Marc Eisenberg at Money Players. I don't necessarily agree with all the points he makes, but none of them seem specious to me.
Meanwhile, Scout's Evan Daniels gets a write-up from Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal. It's a bit of an inside baseball look at the high school talent scouting game. Daniels and his mentor Dave Telep get more press in this C-J article by Jodie Demling looking at the recruiting classes of Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky.
For the record, I have heard that Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer will be inking during the early period, but I don't know about Marquis Teague and Michael Gilchrist.
Dick Vitale debates Calipari's strategy of reloading with "one and done" talent every year with Larry Vaught, and is taking the popular position that you really can't win national championships that way. Obviously, Calipari disagrees, and I am not so sure myself. For a fact, it has never really been tried on a consistent basis, so I think it makes sense to revisit this question after a few years.
I am extremely pleased to see one of my favorite basketball blogs, the Bylaw Blog, reappear on the Internet, and in the most surprising (or, well, maybe not so surprising) place -- on NCAA.org, the NCAA's official website.
Back in the summer, some enterprising and unethical LSU blogger was able to discover the identity of the anonymous compliance officer (not so anonymous now, as he is John Infante of Loyola Marymount) and outed him publicly on his blog. Infante immediately shut down the Bylaw Blog, which had been providing invaluable insight into NCAA compliance from an insider's perspective, something most of the college sports world applauded, but a juvenile dweeb with whois and Google forced into silence.
Well, the Bylaw Blog is silent no more. Check out one of Infante's more recent posts in response to articles by John Gasaway of Basketball Prospectus and Jay Bilas of ESPN.com (subscriptions required for both).
I found this a very cogent point:
It’s not that allowing agents and outside compensation just ruins the amateurism ideal. Whether student-athletes are truly amateurs still is a point on which reasonable people can differ. The same goes for a debate about the degree to which welcoming third parties into the structure of the NCAA would further damage efforts to promote the amateur ideal.
It’s that allowing, even legitimizing third parties who seek to make a quick buck by getting an athlete to leave school early, the ability of the NCAA and its member institutions to promote a college education is also harmed. And while paternalistic arguments are tougher to defend, its important to note that many times the student-athlete leaving based on the advice of those people is to their detriment.
Without having read either Gasaway or Bilas' articles, and therefore being incapable of accurately refuting their points, I will simply say that I agree with the above two paragraphs. I do believe that the ideal of amateurism that the NCAA promotes is an antebellum version, and should be updated, but I do not believe the best way to do that is to allow third parties with money on their minds unfetter access to wheel and deal during college.
I have always opposed paying players, because I don't think it will help. The stars will always contend that they aren't paid enough, and seek supplemental income. They fact that they are getting paid at all would merely allow them to easily rationalize rules violations to bring their compensation up to what they think they are worth, and that would make the situation even worse than it is now. But detailed discussion of this subject will have to wait for another article.
UPDATE: Mike Miller has thoughts.
John Feinstein has a new WaPo article out, and for once he doesn't dump on Kentucky or elevate Duke to a pedestal. I think Feinstein makes some good points about Duke, and I am somewhat skeptical of the Blue Devils even as I acknowledge that picking them as the top team in the pre-season makes plenty of sense.
The Cam Newton thing just keeps getting more and more horrible. Do consider the source for this latest report of FBI involvement. MSNBC reports that the NCAA is still actively investigating the matter, and there are now allegations that Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen leaked the Newton claims, and finger-pointing is also turning south to Gainsville.
Will Auburn and Newton come to a bad end? Stay tuned.