Morning Five: Columbus Day Edition

Posted by RTC on October 14th, 2013

morning5

  1. The month of Midnight Madness celebrations continued over the weekend, with a number of schools choosing to reveal their 2013-14 teams to the public on Friday night. The most prominent basketball school of this weekend’s group was Marquette, entertaining some 4,000 fans at the Al McGuire Center for Marquette Madness. The event trotted out the tried-and-true Madness standards: a three-point shooting contest (won by Jake Thomas), a dunk contest (won by Deonte Burton), etc., but one unique aspect of this version was that the school also handed out a “Lifetime Achievement Award” as part of the proceedings. Chris Otule, a Golden Eagles center who has played a full season in only two of his five years in Milwaukee and was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, was the recipient (see the tribute video here). Otule earned substantial national recognition in 2010 when it was learned that he was playing major college basketball with only one working eye (he’s been blind in his left eye since birth), but he also has become something of a hard-luck case due to the three significant injuries (two broken feet and a torn ACL) that he has suffered during his career at Marquette. By all accounts a genuinely nice guy, let’s hope that his final year in Marquette is productive and injury-free.
  2. News came out last week that longtime Texas athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, will retire from his post overseeing the wealthiest athletic department in all of college sports. The 76-year old’s decision to retire, though, comes at a time when the school’s revenue-producing programs — football, basketball and baseball — are all suffering through relatively tough times. Notwithstanding the football Longhorns’ upset of unbeaten Oklahoma on Saturday, the team had lost badly to BYU and Ole Miss earlier this season, and rumors are swirling about the security of Mack Brown’s head coaching job there. Similarly for basketball, Rick Barnes’ Longhorns were just picked to finish as the eighth-place team in a 10-team league (only ahead of the hoops disasters known as Texas Tech and TCU), raising significant questions as to how a program and coach who makes so much money and has access to so much local talent could have gotten itself in such a mess. Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News examines the political and operational realities of Dodds’ retirement, ultimately concluding that the new AD will certainly have some hurdles to overcome upon arrival at his new job. And apparently, Louisville’s Tom Jurich is not interested.
  3. While on the subject of athletic directors, the AP reported on Friday that a group of 65 ADs attached their names in support of a nine-page memorandum sent to a legal team convening in Chicago later this month to discuss updating the Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA). Tired of dealing with agents, runners and other interested hangers-on associating with student-athletes in their revenue programs, the group requests that the penalties attached to violations of the UAAA contain higher fines and additional prison time. Specifically, they ask that changes to the law must “increase the incentives for and ease of prosecuting violators,” offering a number of recommendations to make it easier to catch the wrongdoers. Perhaps the strongest part of this proposed legislation is the idea of classifying someone as an agent for purposes of the law regardless of whether they are registered as one — although difficult to implement, this could help with the runner/go-between problem that has become all too familiar in recent years.
  4. Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie may have jumped the gun in revealing his school’s latest APR score on Friday, but who can blame him given that his team was forced to miss the NCAA Tournament last season because of prior years’ academic troubles. The second-year coach proudly told the media: ”We got a thousand. If you want to wait until May, you can find out in May. But it’s a thousand.” The “thousand” he mentions equates to a perfect score on the APR metric, which basically means that all of UConn’s student-athletes in the basketball program are in good academic standing and on track to graduate. According to Ollie, the program has emphasized the importance of education through accountability (i.e., players run if they miss class, etc.), which of course is all fine and well. But perhaps more than anything else, this improvement to a perfect score shows that the APR can be gamed like any other arbitrary metric if a school simply takes it seriously and correspondingly incents the players to do the bare minimum in the classroom.
  5. One of the interesting aspects to the NCAA’s new rule allowing practice to start in September is that coaches are limited to only 30 practice sessions in those 42 days between September 27 and November 8. Not only does the extra time between sessions let coaches ease into their practice plans and teaching points a little more thoughtfully, but it also allows teams to do some other character-building exercises that they simply wouldn’t have had time for under the old model. Case in point: Duke‘s four-day trip to New York over the weekend. On Saturday, Coach K transported his charges to West Point, his alma mater and site of his first head coaching job, allowing the Blue Devils to take in the pride and spectacle of the school responsible for educating the nation’s future military leaders. By all indications the players loved the experience, and one might suspect that if the Blue Devils go on to enjoy a great upcoming season, they’ll reflect often on this preseason trip to New York as the bonding experience where things started to come together. Have a great holiday, everyone.
Share this story

Ben McLemore Allegations More Fodder For a Monotously Grating Debate

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 6th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Maybe the most important question is, “is anyone even the least bit surprised?”

That was the first thought that jostled around my frontal lobe after reading Eric Prisbell’s expose in Saturday’s USA Today detailing St. Louis-area AAU Coach Darius Cobb’s admission to receiving multi-thousand cash payments and free-expenses paid trips in exchange for perceived influence and access to Kansas star and likely top-three NBA draft pick Ben McLemore. Cobb reportedly met with various sports agents and financial advisers looking to steer McLemore to the professional ranks after his redshirt freshman season. Even a cursory knowledge of NCAA protocol would lead you to make the following conclusion without much in the way of deep introspective thought: An investigation of Kansas’, and by extension McLemore’s, alleged impropriety could result in the Jayhawks not only losing their Big 12 title and Sweet Sixteen appearance, but having its entire 2012-13 season expunged from NCAA historical accounting. Everything McLemore touched during his college career could be in danger of sheer obliteration. There would be protest and angst and complaints. It would get ugly.

The NCAA ultimately may not be able to find any wrongdoing on behalf of Kansas or McLemore (Getty Images).

The NCAA ultimately may not be able to find any wrongdoing on behalf of Kansas or McLemore (Getty Images).

Or maybe it won’t: thanks to some quick analysis on the matter at hand from John Infante, the internet’s resident NCAA bylaw expert and author of the famous Bylaw Blog, a completely blood-free resolution of the case seems entirely plausible, even historically prudent. Kansas can look through the superficial ugliness of its star freshman shooting guard and nefarious AAU-circuit go-betweens and financial impropriety, yearn for a punishment-free future and not feel totally nervous about the whole thing. The NCAA, as is all too often the case in high-profile impermissible benefits cases (and as was made glaringly evident in the resolution of the Lance Thomas jewelry fiasco), has no legal means by which to force Cobb, alleged McLemore-invested runner Rodney Blackstock or even McLemore himself, now that he’s declared for the NBA Draft, to discuss his muddy past. The only looming repercussion is if Cobb or Blackstock qualifies as an “agent,” which could very well be the case under the NCAA’s new expansive definition, or – as Infante details in much greater and clearer nuance – if McLemore is proven to have had knowledge and willing acceptance of Blackstock’s (or whoever else was involved) services.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Lauding Texas’ Sports Agent Law, a Great First Step

Posted by rtmsf on May 20th, 2011

It’s not often that you’ll hear people lauding the Lone Star State as a bastion of progressive (some might say anti-business) legal thinking, but we’re here today writing this article because of just such a thing.  If there’s one thing that Texans love more than their free markets, it’s collegiate sports.  And if you read the tea leaves of its lawmakers on its latest bill sent to Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday, they’re getting a little sick and tired of the agents, runners and other assorted hangers-on getting their grubby hands on Texas’ amateur athletes and jeopardizing their eligibility.  What’s left unsaid in the name of protecting the athletes is that the public doesn’t like the prospect of UT football or Baylor basketball, to cite only a couple of the state’s many D-1 universities, having to face NCAA-mandated vacations of great seasons down the road if those schools inadvertently use ineligible players because of agents’ influence.  From the Austin American-Statesman:

Texas is Taking the Lead in Punishing Unethical Sports Agents

If Gov. Rick Perry signs it into law, agents who lure college athletes into contracts with improper benefits and gifts that cost an athlete their NCAA eligibility could face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison. [...]  The bill by Rep. Harold Dutton, a Houston Democrat, requires agents to post a $50,000 bond with the state and be certified with a national professional sports association. Agents would be banned from providing anything of value to the athlete or their family before the athlete completes their eligibility.  The bill also requires individuals, not corporations, to register as agents, and includes so-called “runners,” who are sometimes hired by agents to contact athletes or their families on their behalf.

According to an AP report from 2010, some 42 states have laws on the books restricting the contacts and influence that agents can have with NCAA athletes, but the regulations are largely toothless and only rarely enforced.  The report found that Texas was one of the few states that had punished unethical agents, assessing a total of $17,000 in fines during the previous two years, a substantial number to most of us but pocket change to the agent who signs a star athlete to a professional deal.  It’s certainly no secret that the state of Texas is ripe with talent in all three major American sports at the amateur level — football, basketball, and baseball — so agents have a clear incentive to befriend future stars very early in the hopes that they eventually sign with them when they eventually turn pro.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Afternoon Five: 05.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 2nd, 2011

  1. Despite the international breaking news that dominated headlines worldwide late Sunday night, there actually was some college basketball news over the weekend too.  Before we get to that, we threw a bunch 0f our favorite pics and vids from a number of celebratory throngs on college campuses throughout this great nation into our new Tumblr account last night — much love to @notthefakeSVP for encouraging and soliciting these throughout the night.  
  2. George Mason may have lost a coach to the ACC last week, but they turned around and hired one from the ACC over the weekend.  Paul Hewitt, formerly of Georgia Tech and prior to that, Siena, has signed on to become the new head coach of the Patriots.  As John Feinstein writes in the Washington Post, the expectation will not be to build Mason into something it cannot be, it will be to re-create what Hewitt was able to do at Siena and sustain what Jim Larranaga began.  Sometimes certain jobs are simply poor fits, and maybe this is a case where Hewitt will thrive in Fairfax where he was simply unable to do so at the high-major level.  We know this much — he inherits a team that will have great expectations on it to win the CAA and advance in the NCAA Tournament in his first season — $7.2M buyout or not, he’ll have to perform next year to win over the GMU faithful.
  3. In the wake of the tornado destruction that ravaged parts of Alabama last week, Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant and his wife, Chris, have set up the Sweet Home Fund, a relief organization intended to help families who have lost their homes or otherwise suffered major damage as a result of the storms.  This news will get buried this week amidst all the OBL coverage, but over 300 lives were lost last week in several states and many more families are very much in need.
  4. This is a fascinating story about Bobby Ray Parks, Jr., a member of the Class of 2011 from Memphis who verbally committed to Georgia Tech, but appears to already be playing college basketball in Manila, Philippines (where his father was once a superstar at the professional level).  Luke Winn calls him the “lost boy” of the class, and although he ranks #117 in the final Rivals 150, there’s a high degree of uncertainty whether the “mini-LeBron” as he’s known overseas will come back to play in the USA anytime soon.  A number of schools are still interested, but he would need to sit out the requisite one year as a transfer if he decides to return. 
  5. From the if-it-appears-to-good-to-be-true-it-probably-is category, the NYT over the weekend outlined some serious allegations involving a player handler/runner known as Kenneth Caldwell, whom the paper reports delivered several elite recruits to Central Florida this year — Kevin Ware, Michael Chandler, and DeMarcus Smith (football) .  Caldwell, of course, denies any foul play other than “telling someone about a place [UCF],” but the story reads as many others have over the years — all you need to do is to change the name of the runner, his felonies and/or underworld connections, and the players involved.  We really hate these stories. 
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.03.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 3rd, 2010

  1. Your Pitino/Sypher trial update…the biggest news from Monday was that Sypher’s ex-husband stated on the record that Sypher told him that she turned down a plea bargain because she wanted to “take Pitino [down] with” her.  The brilliance of this woman should not be understated, folks — she very well may end up imprisoned and penniless, while Pitino simply continues on about his business coaching his team and making millions of dollars (although she might counter with “15 seconds,” FTW).  To that end, CNNSI’s Dan Shaughnessy believes that Louisville should can Pitino for such a public embarrassment, while Seth Davis implores all of us to consider that, while Pitino is many things — including cad, adulterer and narcissist — he’s also a victim in this mess.
  2. Two former prominent collegiate point guards joined coaching staffs yesterday, with 1995 national champion Tyus Edney returning to his alma mater UCLA to join Ben Howland’s staff; and Duke basketball/Syracuse football star Greg Paulus joining Billy Lange’s staff at the Naval Academy.
  3. The fourth installment of the Flourishing Five finds Texas at #2 on the strength of Mack Brown and Rick Barnes’ programs.  That means that Florida will be #1 when the final installment is released later this week.  How do you guys feel about this?  Certainly we understand that the last five years have been phenomenal for both UF programs (titles in basketball in 2006 and 2007; football in 2006 and 2008).  But now, at exactly this moment in time?  UT hoops is  clearly ahead of Gator basketball, but can we say that UF football is right now that far ahead of Texas pigskin?  Not sure about that.
  4. Believe it or not, but practice has already started…at Kentucky.  And this isn’t some loophole that John Calipari has found in the NCAA rulebook, either.  Since UK is taking a mid-August trip to Windsor, Canada, the Wildcats get ten days to break in all of their new players over the next couple of weeks.  One player who won’t be joining the team on the Canada trip or at any point next year (according to Calipari) is Darnell Dodson, the top returning scorer on last year’s team (6.0 PPG).  Another projected top 25 team taking advantage of this mid-summer opportunity to get better is the Pittsburgh PanthersJamie Dixon’s team is in Ireland at the moment as part of a six-game trip over the next week-plus, and they’ve destroyed the two Gaelic teams they’ve faced so far.
  5. This is an interesting article by Pete Thamel at the NYT about World Wide Wes (aka William Wesley) in his newish role as an advisor for Creative Artists Agency (CAA).  There are questions as to the amount of access WWW will be able to have with blue-chippers now that he’s formally associated with an agency, but if we know anything about World Wide, he’ll probably figure out a way.
Share this story

Dana O’Neil Opens Eyes With Poll of Coaches

Posted by rtmsf on July 23rd, 2010

As we mentioned in today’s Morning 5, Dana O’Neil’s enlightening piece exposing the raw perceptions that coaches have on their peers in the world of college basketball and the sport in general is fascinating stuff.  It’s obvious that she knew it too, as the bulk of the article was filled with direct quotes from anonymous high-major coaches telling the truth as they saw it.  There is a lot of meat to this article — numerous raise-your-eyebrow statements that had us questioning and hopeful for more.  So we thought it might be interesting to cherry-pick the nine quotes that we thought were the most compelling and do what we do (make inappropriate comments and wildly speculate about things).  Enjoy.

Dana O'Neil Sheds Light on Unseen Areas of the Game

Regarding fraternity among coaches:

“It’s sad,” another coach said. “I grew up in this game with an idea of what I thought it was or what I thought it should be. Now I see it’s not like that at all. You have low- to mid-major guys aspiring to move up who will do anything to get there and you have guys who, once they get used to a certain lifestyle, will do whatever it takes to keep it.  There’s less of a brotherhood here than there is in football and that bothers me,” another added. “We have more guys stabbing each other in the back or using you guys [the media] to go after their agenda. That’s a big problem.”

We found this quote somewhat surprising in that we figured that competition among football coaches would be even more intense given the structure of their system, where the pyramid is extremely top-heavy and the small schools have virtually no chance to get there. 

On gender roles:

Along with the coach who called the women, “the gestapettes,” another said, “If the NCAA was serious, they’d hire someone who knew what they were doing, not these women out here trying to get a husband.”

Sexist caveman coaches, for the win!  Dana must have especially enjoyed hearing those quotes as the only nationally-focused female college basketball writer of note in the industry.  Ridiculous, and we’d happily buy her a Cosmo if she would tell us who these cretins were (see what we did there?). 

On recruiting to name-brand schools:

Here’s what I think happens a lot — a team loses a kid to someone else and all of a sudden that someone else is cheating. Every time North Carolina loses a kid, someone else is cheating. It’s like there’s so much arrogance with them; they can’t believe someone would rather go somewhere else, so the other team has to be cheating.

We hear this from fans of the major schools (like UNC) all the time.  Seriously – ALL the time.  But it was enlightening to hear it coming from the coaching ranks as well.  We guess nobody is excused from the tendency to blame extraneous factors when things go wrong.  Not even coaches. 

On expense accounts:

One of my players [who left early for the draft] was working out with another top-five draft pick.  They got to talking and my kid said something about not having money or whatever on campus. The other kid said, ‘My coach set up expense accounts all over town for me. Yours didn’t?”

We discussed this one on the M5 and in the comments.  If we assume that the coach in question was talking about the most recent NBA Draft (fresh on his mind), then we’re talking about four schools here — Kentucky, Ohio State, Syracuse or Georgia Tech.  One commenter pointed out that DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors worked out together in New Jersey before the draft.  Connecting a few dots together, we can make some further assumptions about which school was setting up expense accounts and which school wasn’t.  Or, we could just admit that this is nothing more than rumor and means absolutely nothing. 

Regarding phone call violations: 

I get a kick out of the phone calls. Who gets caught with that anymore? It’s a joke. They’re out there catching the guy with the one phone. How about the guy with two and three bat phones?

This quote really makes the UConn assistant coaches and Kelvin Sampson look stupid, right?  Even low-level drug dealers and amateur terrorists  know that you should use burners for any illicit calls. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 02.19.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2010

  1. The twitterati was abuzz yesterday with the discovery of UNC forward Ed Davis’ name and photo as a client on a sports agent’s website.  The site is down now, but  Sports Agent Blog captured a screenshot and PTA Sports Management has given a statement to reporters that suggests there may have been some contact with the player at some point in time, but that this whole thing was a “mistake.”   Color us extremely cynical, but we think we all know what happened here.  And when we find out next month that Davis is submitting his name to the NBA Draft, it’ll make sense.  But one quick retort before it even gets started…  if Davis signs with another agent, it doesn’t at all prove that there were no illegal contacts here.  All it proves is that Davis has enough sense to fire an agent who could be so ridiculously stupid as to put his name and face on their website before he’s formally made the decision.
  2. UCLA’s James Keefe will have shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season, effectively rendering the senior’s career over.  He only averaged 2/2 throughout the course of his career, but Howland was enamored with his defense and toughness, so he played in 111 games in his Bruin tenure.
  3. Seth Davis gives us his weekly mailbag, and he devotes more than a third of it to questions about the ACC.  We have to agree that one thing that really ticks us off about modern-day conferences is the loss of round-robin schedules, but that’s unfortunately true for every major conference except the Pac-10 (oops, we said major conferences, didn’t we) these days.
  4. Answer: USC’s hearing in front of the NCAA Infractions Committee that took place yesterday.  Question: things that are more pleasant than what Tiger Woods will do in front of the world later this morning.
  5. Gregg Marshall of Wichita State can get a little testy at times, and this video where he attacks local reporter Bob Lutz for putting “negativity” in the minds of some Shocker fans is a joy to watch.  The video is below, and you can read Lutz’s original article here and his retort here.  Justified?

Share this story

08.08.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 8th, 2008

So who’ve ya got beating the Redeem Team this time around?  Spain?  Greece?  Argentina?

  • Arkanasas head coach John Pelphrey got a nice raise to just south of $800k per annum and extended his contract one year until 2013.   Maybe he can now afford a courtside seat to the games ($10k per season). 
  • The 2008 Maui Brackets are set – uber-#1 UNC will play Chaminade, Texas v. St. Joe’s, Oregon v. Alabama, and Indiana v. Notre Dame in an interesting Hoosier State matchup.  We’d expect to see UNC v. Alabama and Notre Dame v. Texas in the semis, with UNC v. Notre Dame (who is already practicing in prep for a trip to Ireland) in the finals. 
  • Bill Self gettin’ PAID.  His national title earned him a new 10-year contract worth $30M.  Still think he could have gotten more from Boone. 
  • The NCAA in its eternal wisdom tacked another allegation onto Indiana’s menu (“failure to monitor”), which the school said it will respond to in writing. 
  • Alcohol and college sports?  No way!
  • Get ready for the next OJ Mayo agent/runner scandal now. 
Share this story

05.27.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 27th, 2008

Some post-Memorial Day items of interest…

  • Former Georgetown guard Jeremiah Rivers will transfer to Indiana (perhaps he sees immediate PT awaiting in 2009-10?).
  • Who’s coming back? Memphis guard Antonio Anderson, Marquette guard Jerel McNeal and Alabama guard Alonzo Gee declared their intentions to return to school, ensuring that Memphis will have at least one starter back from its national runner-up team. One intriguing name who is still undecided, WVU’s Joe Alexander, described his daily routine in Vegas getting ready for the pre-draft camp.
  • Speaking of which, the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp begins tomorrow. Here is the list of players invited.
  • Frank Burlison at Scout.com has an interesting rumors/tidbits report on where players are likely to land in the NBA Draft – his most interesting takes were questioning Michael Beasley’s true size (6’8ish?) and Robin Lopez getting selected before his more accomplished brother, Brook.
  • It’s official – Mike Jarvis will take over as the head man at Florida Atlantic.
  • There will be no payout for Bill Duffy Associates, the agency allegedly supplying OJ Mayo with money through street agent urchin Rodney Guillory, as Mayo has “restructured” his inner circle by parting ways with his BDA agent, Calvin Andrews.
  • Will the Class of 2008 produce far fewer 1-and-dones than the last two years?
  • We always thought there was something bizarre about the NCAA F4 ticket-request process. Looks like we weren’t the only ones.
  • We’ll end with Joakim Noah’s completely unsurprising evening in Gainesville Saturday night.
Share this story

More Mayo 1-and-Done Nonsense…

Posted by rtmsf on May 14th, 2008

We keep reading all of these arguments in light of the OJ Mayo controversy about how the 1-and-done rule is a joke, about how it punishes the athletes, about how it makes unwitting (or is it witting?) accomplices of the schools in the whole charade, about how peace and prosperity and all things good and holy are tied into the elimination of this silly rule… and we stop and wonder.  Why the uproar?  Actually, what we meant to say is, why the uproar now?

If all of these pundits maligning the 1-and-done rule haven’t noticed, OJ Mayo isn’t the first kid who was being handled by an agent throughout his college career, and guess what, he won’t be the last.  We already know that Rodney Guillory was handling Jeff Trepagnier and Tito Maddox in the early 2000s, well before the 1-and-done rule was implemented.  We know that Reggie Bush played at USC for three collegiate years and the agents still got their hooks into him.  If writers such as this guy, or this guy, or this guy, really believe that by letting the Lebrons and KGs and Odens go pro straight out of HS eliminates the problem with agents and runners contacting and influencing college players, then LOLOLOLOL on them. 

Their complaints aren’t flat wrong, but they’re misattributed.  Why?  Because there are players right now on nearly every major D1 school across the country who have been contacted by and have talked to agents.  Guaranteed.  Some of them have probably taken a few gifts here and there.  Does eliminating the handful of 1-and-dones from college campuses each year solve that problem?  Not at all.  The agents will then just focus on the next tier of college players – the Chris Douglas-Robertses, the Deron Wiliamses, the Jordan Farmars.  The problem isn’t solved, it’s merely shifted.   

 

The Commish Loves the Free Marketing the NCAA Provides

Look, here’s our point.  The 1-and-done rule is stupid for certain, but it’s not stupid because of the OJ Mayo problem.  It’s stupid because it places all of the risk on the players and colleges for the benefit of the NBA evaluation process.  Nevertheless, it’s not going anywhere until 2011, and early indications are that Comandante Stern wants to tack another year onto the age minimum and the NBAPA is unlikely to battle that point.  So then we’ll have 2-and-dones, which isn’t all that dissimilar from the NFL rule currently in existence (3 yrs).  But whether there’s a 1-year rule, 2-year rule, 3-year rule or 4-year rule, the problem begins with the corrupt and criminal AAU basketball system in this country and the agents that feed off of it.  These folks will not remove their grimy hands from the pockets of college basketball until there are no longer players on which they think they can ride to fortune.  In other words, never.  While there have been dozens of players drafted in the first round in the preps-to-pros era (the current 1-and-dones), there were far more early-entry sophomores and juniors over that same period.  It won’t go away, no matter what these people are saying (well, at least one commentator gets it). 

Share this story

Another Culprit in the Mayo Mess

Posted by rtmsf on May 13th, 2008

In the effluvia of the OJ Mayo report from Outside the Lines (you remember, he took money and gifts from street runner Rodney Guillory, acting as a proxy for the Bill Duffy Agency) the other night, there has been a cacophany of predictable kneejerk reactions from every corner of the media universe. 

Tim Floyd and USC are to blame!

The NBA’s 1-and-done rule is to blame!

The NCAA’s lax enforcement is to blame!

AAU basketball, or even worse – the system - is to blame!

There’s a lot of culpability being thrown around by the various pundits, and with good reason on many counts, but we’d like to proffer another culprit that few in the MSM have been willing to indict - their own 4th Estate, the so-called watchdogs of the community.  We in the blogosphere have been told repeatedly by those in pedigreed positions of media power that what separates us from them is the simple concept of access.  While we can riff on the same televised game that a USC beat writer for the LA Times can, he has a level of access to players, coaches and administrators that we do not (from our parents’ basement), thereby rendering his reporting more valuable than ours.  Or so the story goes.

 

While we completely agree that level of access of which the MSM has to sports figures makes our job different than theirs, there also must exist a certain amount of responsibility for said journalists to follow up on rumors, whispers and innuendo that such access enables.  Because of the difficulty for a blogger to gain entree into a circle of coaches willing to speak off the record to a trusted journalist, we expect that the writer will not simply wink and nod with the rest and ultimately let it slide into oblivion.  After all, isn’t the journalist’s role to not only report the news, but investigate it? 

Gregg Doyel wrote nineteen months ago that USC should be wary of Mayo due to his relationship with Rodney Guillory – that’s a great start.  Did anyone else follow up on this accusation of impropriety?  Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times recounts a conversation with two prominent coaches he had about recruiting Mayo during his prep days:

“It’s not even a consideration,” one coach said.  “You don’t even understand how many problems that could cause,” the other said.  Back then, there was much fear about Mayo’s large circle of friends. There were whispers that he had already been bought, a common rumor about prep basketball stars.

If there were whispers among prominent coaches about Mayo, and the writers knew about it, why didn’t anyone investigate it?  Where was the local watchdog, the award-winning LA Times investigative staff on this story?  It’s not like outing Mayo, the “next Lebron” at one time during his HS career, wouldn’t have been a prime catch.  How hard could it have been? – the Big Lead even gave the MSM a roadmap in March 2007 - you have Mayo associated with Guillory; you know that Guillory is a runner for an agent who already got USC player Jeff Trepagnier and Fresno St. player Tito Maddox in hot water several years ago; and you know the weird circumstances of Mayo’s “recruitment” to USC.  What more do you need to look deeper into this steaming hunk of  brown mess??

And yet, to our knowledge, until the OTL piece on Sunday by ESPN’s Kelly Naqi after Mayo’s college career was all-but-finished, the MSM’s inertia effectively made certain that Mayo will never face any sanctions over this scandal.  As for USC… well, we’re still waiting to hear their penalties from the Reggie Bush situation a few years back.  Just keep in mind among all the yelling about blame this week that if someone, anyone, in the MSM had been doing their job a year ago, Mayo would have never suited up for USC in the first place.  The NCAA plans on watching college basketball recruiting a little more closely, but given its limited enforcement resources, perhaps all the doomsday rhetoric being thrown around as a result of this fiasco will inspire our MSM friends to include a little more self-awareness of their watchdog role next time. 

Share this story