CFN's Final Thoughts - The Too Busy Offseason
Cam Newton, Chip Kelly & Jim Tressel
Cam Newton, Chip Kelly & Jim Tressel
Posted Mar 11, 2011

From Cam Newton's workouts to Oregon's recruiting services to Notre Dame's new guidelines to Jim Tressel's controversy, it has been a wild and crazy offseason ... and spring ball hasn't really kicked in yet. Before diving into the spring sessions, the CFN writers give their take on all the major issues of the moment by bringing back the in-season Friday feature, Final Thoughts.

Final Thoughts 

March 11

- Final Thoughts  BCS Champ - Auburn vs. Oregon | Dec. 31 - The Big Bowls | Dec. 3
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E-mail Pete Fiutak
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- Yes, the Jim Tressel/Tattoo Five fiasco stinks. Yes, the Cam Newton controversy that took away 94% of the focus on the 2010 season stunk. Reggie Bush stinks. Josh Luchs stinks. The Oregon recruiting practices stink. Bill Hancock stinks. Agents stink. The rules stink. The NCAA corporate greed stinks. The billions being made by everyone but the athletes during March Madness stinks. It all stinks, but it can all be cleaned up by finally turning into the skid and solving almost every major problem in collegiate athletics by doing the easy, the right, the fair, and the rational thing by once and for all letting collegiate athletes take money, gifts and endorsement deals from anyone who wants to provide them. There's no reasonable or rationale argument against this, and if you find yourself trying to come up with one, you're probably pining for a world that doesn't exist. If you really need your sports to be played by amateurs, Division II is waiting for you with open arms.

- Play the Tressel press conference/confessional backwards, slow it down a bit, and you'll uncover his secret message. "Yo, world, I'm Jim (bleep)ing Tressel, head football coach at THE Ohio State (bleep)ing University, and I've won seven in a row over Michigan and gone to eight BCS games in nine years. This is MY program and this is MY butt … pucker up, Sport, and Gee, I want that wax stripped off, then I want them creamed and buffed with a fine chamois. I am WINNING!!!"

- Ohio State president, E. Gordon Gee, was Tressel ever in danger of being fired? "No. Are you kidding me? I just hope the coach doesn't dismiss me." Forget about Tressel; Gee should be in more hot water after that academic integrity-killing quip. Gee might have been trying to bring a little bit of levity to the situation, but all he did was unforgivably make it seem like the university is run by the football program and not the other way around at a time when everyone was wondering which way the windsock was going to blow.

- That wasn't a press conference or an admission of wrongdoing as much it was a statement, albeit a cryptic one, that highlighted just how powerful a highly successful football coach really is. Go ahead and call for the man's head on a platter if you must, and you probably must, but no one knows better than Tressel that all of this will be quickly forgotten if the Buckeyes beat Nebraska in Lincoln on November 8th. The guy absolutely, positively gets it that another win over Michigan wipes away any and all sins among the Buckeye faithful.

- You don't think so? You think that people really do give a flying fig about how a wildly successful college coach makes the sausage? You think that coaches can't get away with stuff like this and come out with the halo sparkling brighter than ever? Two words: Sam Gilbert.

- Fine, I'll be the one to ask. Considering what happened with Reggie Bush and USC, and with Tressel knowing he let players who should've been ineligible play, shouldn't Ohio State have to vacate all its 2010 wins?

- Maurice Clarett might not have been so Chuck Sheen after all. He might have been crazy, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was lying.

- No matter how square, unfair, and unrealistic BYU's ruling on the Brandon Davies situation might be, and no matter what side of the controversy you fall on, it all seems sort of refreshing after the way Ohio State showed how its athletic department and university are run.

- To use the type of blue language normally reserved for the Henricksons, you're full of beans if you think that Davies and his girlfriend are the only BYU students having premarital sex.

- I'm sure a large portion of the BYU athletes really are abstaining according to the school's honor code. After all, if you don't like it, you don't go to BYU. However, I don't believe for a single solitary second that a major college football or basketball coach, and especially the assistants who do all the grunt work during 18+ hour days, are strict on the no caffeine policy. It's simply not physically possible.

- Enough. After Jim Tressel's dopey new book, and the Gene Chizik Old Time Gospel Revival, no head coach at a publicly funded university should be allowed to say the word God unless it's immediately followed by an expletive after the right tackle's third holding penalty of the second quarter.

- Absolutely honest, if I'm-lying-I'm-dying-truth. As I wrote that last blurb my computer crashed and went to blue screen. Oh yes, it's payback time for my footlong Subway cheesesteak on Ash Wednesday and for already whiffing on my Lenten season abstention of all things dessert with a 520-calorie cinnamon chip Starbucks scone.

- Obviously created by the same people who counted up the current number of teams in the Big Ten and the Big 12, as I can painfully attest to after the brutal withdrawal from giving up Diet Coke over the last several Lenten seasons, IT'S NOT 40 DAYS. It's 46.

- While I'm off topic, news stations, considering all that's going on around the world, you're not allowed to put the words Go Nuclear in a SPECIAL REPORT graphic unless an actual bomb has gone off.

- I was among the first to suggest that Cam Newton's skill set is so special and so unique that he might be the No. 1 overall pick once teams saw what a freak of nature he is (and I got into major radio show debates about the call). I'm all for taking the shot at the home run pick, mainly because you don't want to be known as the team that passed on a once-in-a-generation talent if, and it's a big if, he develops into the ultimate weapon. However, there's something very, very Shawn Bradley about the way some scouts are now trying to make Newton into a possible can't-miss prospect simply because of his raw tools and because it should work.

- His pro day really was good. Way too much was made about his supposed struggles at the Combine. Anyone who says anything about Newton having problems in Indy didn't actually watch the workout.

- I don't like the song or the singer, so forgive me if I'm not in on the gag, but is Lady Gaga's Born This Way – which is on a non-stop loop in my house - supposed to be a tribute to Madonna's Express Yourself or a rip-off?

- That deafening silence you're hearing is the reaction to yet another home run cut taken by Sports Illustrated in an attempt to blow the lid off of the hypocritical bowl of ick that college football sometimes is. While the sports world is still finishing up its collective yawn after the supposed Josh Luchs bombshell, and after the bowl big-wigs blew their noses on the fantastic piece about how corrupt and ridiculous the bowl business is, the study on the criminal element in college football just flat-out didn't work. Once the six-month study wasn't able to compare the number of convicted criminals in college football to the percentage of convicted criminals in the college student population as a whole, it was all about shoehorning the piece to fit the narrative.

- The monster article could've been summed up in 11 words. College football programs need to do background checks on incoming recruits. That's it? That's it. I've got it, I'm gone.

- That the SI articles didn't get more play and more discussion is a shame because they exposed some of the major problems that need to be addressed. The pieces deserved to be a big step in changing the way the business of college football is run, but the opposite might have happened. Agents, bowls, and the criminal element were all exposed - it's all out there now - and no one really cared. That there aren't sweeping changes proved that it's going to be business as usual with no one in any fear of getting in any real trouble.

- Aw crap. It's not even Selection Sunday and my bracket is already busted.

By Matt Zemek

- Better late than never, Notre Dame. Credit where due. The relevant aspect of this story: People in the upper reaches of administrative power did the adult thing. This is a theme.

- Gene Smith, as Ohio State's athletic director, are you going to make adult decisions in the very near future? And what about you, Gordon Gee? Are you going to display more accountability in dealing with Jim Tressel? Are you also going to consider bolting the NCAA, which power conference schools would be well advised to do?

- Mark Emmert, are you going to be a grown-up? Are you going to realize how hollow the NCAA's rules are, and how they largely serve no grand or noble purpose? If you're adamantly opposed to paying athletes, I can accept that… as long as you allow athletes to make money from products sold in their name (or because of it, or both).

- One more thing, Mr. Emmert: Should the active and widespread purchasing of recruiting services be tolerated in big-time football? Is this something that should occur inside the schoolhouse gates of academic institutions whose head football coaches (in the case of state universities) are often the highest-paid state employees? Is this the wholesome portrait of amateurism you so fervently defend and uphold? Who are we kidding here?

- Lloyd Carr's record OFF THE FIELD compared to Jim Tressel just became a whole lot better. Will the college football world ever give Carr the fullness of praise he deserves?

- When was it determined that it was so thoroughly wrong and unacceptable (and therefore worthy of thousands of man-hours of vigilance from paid NCAA employees) for players to sell jerseys or other forms of (team-based) memorabilia? What's the scandal in that, as opposed to the much more worrisome act of accepting money from agents and runners? I've yet to encounter a truly good answer to that question. Why does the NCAA not allow players to gain a portion of the revenues generated by their considerable football-playing skills?

-This just in: Jim Tressel has been ruled eligible for the 2012 Sugar Bowl. No word yet on whether Gene Smith or Gordon Gee will strong-arm him into coaching that game and then missing the first five games of the 2012 regular season.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

- Has Jim Tressel been fired yet? No? Well, there's still time for Ohio State to catch him in the lies that he told at the press conference, so keep an eye out for that. The way this is going, he'll pull a Neuheisel and get popped for entering his NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket on his University-issued computer.

- The happiest person in the world right now is Chip Kelly. Okay, well maybe not the happiest. But the investigation into Oregon's use of recruiting services sure took a back seat this week when the Ohio State bomb dropped. Don't be surprised if the Ducks' problems linger throughout the summer, and spread to other schools. This isn't an investigation into a specific institution, it's an investigation into the practice as a whole. It explains the stories of the NCAA looking at recruits in Texas, Louisiana, why the Cam Newton investigation isn't officially closed, etc.

- Psst, college football head coaches, if you see any of the Y! Sports staff snooping around your campus, run and hide.

- Get used to analyzing Cam Newton's pro day. The way the NFL is going, it might be a while before he (or anybody) sees the field at an NFL stadium. Is anyone surprised that he looked better at his Pro Day? You shouldn't be. He has a full year of game tape to prove that he can make all the NFL throws - no matter how sloppy his foot work can get.

-It's the time of the year for secondary violations. Georgia self-reported five of them on Wednesday. They're hardly secondary though, more like third-ary (am I right?). Get used to this, because there will be more as the spring continues.

- LSU starts spring practice this weekend, and the quarterback battle in Red Stick between Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee and Zach Mettenberger will be one of the most intriguing position battles in the nation. Les Miles will probably open the season with Jefferson, but don't be surprised if Mettenberger turns some heads.

- If these final thoughts suck, don't blame me, I didn't know who to report them to.