Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, JULY 3, 2019

IN THE NCAA CROSSHAIRS

It’s July and if NCAA vice president Stan Wilcox is as good as his word then the hammer is going to drop on at least two prominent college basketball programs sometime this month. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst are Arizona, LSU, Kansas, Auburn, North Carolina State, Southern Cal and Creighton among many others who are most likely guilty as sin.

This is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel for the NCAA since it has hours of under oath depositions and court testimony at its disposal. That’s critical since the NCAA has no power to subpoena a witness, bank records and other such incriminating pieces of evidence. It’s reminiscent of 2002 when the NCAA used under oath court testimony and bank records used as evidence in a Federal trial to hit Alabama football with sanctions that included the loss of 21 scholarships. This will not be like the case against the University of Miami when NCAA investigators botched a slam dunk case involving rogue booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro. Miami should have been torched but essentially skated because the NCAA’s enforcement and investigative staffs did the worst job since Johnny Cochrane stated, “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Cheating in college basketball is rampant and difficult to detect because most of it is undetectable since it involves shoe companies that spend big advertising dollars with NCAA sanctioned championship tournaments and events. What’s that old saying: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you? Only this time the NCAA has very little choice since it was a Federal investigation into the slime and corruption that goes on largely at the AAU level that exposed the shoe companies for the whole wide world to see. Without the element of plausible deniability, the NCAA pretty much has to go after the college programs and coaches who were fingered in depositions, testimony and incriminating wiretaps.

You can almost bet the farm that the first two that will go down are Arizona and LSU. Arizona has stood by its coach, Sean Miller, but that probably changes when the notice of allegations is served. LSU would have already fired Will Wade but by waiting for the notice of allegations to go with the evidence collected by the feds it can send Wade packing without paying even a dime of a buyout.

Other schools and coaches will walk the NCAA plank by the time the college season arrives in November and it will give the appearance that the NCAA is finally going about the business of cleaning up a mess it could have avoided if it had applied common sense to its rule book. For years both football and basketball coaches have complained loudly that the NCAA rules are complicated to the point that it’s next to impossible to follow them all but instead of simplifying things, the NCAA has piled on more and more rules.

Figure the NCAA will make a big show of things and take a highly righteous public stance when the first proverbial poop hits the fan in a relatively short period of time. Figure also that just because the NCAA acts indignant that basketball will suddenly clean itself up or that sometime soon there won’t be a football scandal of even greater proportions.

It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time.

THE LIST FOR WEDNESDAY

Which SEC teams face the toughest November?

1. TEXAS A&M: November 2, Texas-San Antonio; November 16, South Carolina; November 23, at Georgia; November 30, at LSU

The Aggies end the month with back-to-back roadies in Athens and Baton Rouge. That’s a schedule you’d only wish on your enemies.

Prediction: 2-2

2. GEORGIA: November 2, Florida at Jacksonville; November 9, Missouri; November 16, at Auburn; November 23, Texas A&M; November 30, at Georgia Tech

Georgia pays for a rather easy first two months of the season with a 5-game grind in November that includes Florida and a roadie to Auburn, where they lost in 2017. The game with the Aggies could be rough sledding since it’s the week after Auburn.

Prediction: 3-2

3. AUBURN: November 2, Ole Miss; November 16, Georgia; November 23, Samford; November 30, Alabama

Auburn’s schedule is backloaded with four home games and that includes Georgia and Alabama. The last time Auburn had both the Poodles and Bama at home, both left with visions of an unbeaten season shattered.

Prediction: 3-1

4. ALABAMA: November 9, LSU; November 16, at Mississippi State; November 23, Western Carolina; November 30, at Auburn

There is the annual cupcake game prior to the Iron Bowl, but the November schedule also includes LSU and a roadie to Starkville.

Prediction: 4-0

5. FLORIDA: November 2, Georgia (Jacksonville); November 9, Vanderbilt; November 16, at Missouri; November 30, Florida State

The month begins with Georgia but there is also that game with Missouri, which has been a thorn in Florida’s side (4-3 record against UF) since joining the SEC in 2012.

Prediction: 4-0

6. OLE MISS: November 2, at Auburn; November 9, New Mexico State; November 16, LSU; November 30, at Mississippi State

The Rebels will beat New Mexico State. Unfortunately for them, that’s the only game they’ve really got a chance to win in November.

Prediction: 1-3

7. LSU: November 9, at Alabama; November 16, at Ole Miss; November 23, Arkansas; November 30, Texas A&M

The Alabama and A&M games will largely determine if this is a championship season or just one in which the Tigers make a decent bowl game.

Prediction: 3-1

8. MISSOURI: November 9, at Georgia; November 16, Florida; November 23, Tennessee; November 30, at Arkansas (in Little Rock)

November starts tough with a roadie to Georgia and a homer with Florida but ends with two very winnable games.

Prediction: 2-2

9. SOUTH CAROLINA: November 2, Vanderbilt; November 9, Appalachian State; November 16, at Texas A&M; November 30, Clemson

The Vandy and Appalachian State games should get the Gamecocks bowl eligible, which would be quite an accomplishment judging by the overall difficulty of the schedule.

Prediction: 2-2

10. MISSISSIPPI STATE: November 2, at Arkansas; November 16, Alabama; November 23, Abilene Christian; November 30, at Ole Miss

The only non-winnable game is that November 16 homer with Alabama.

Prediction: 3-1

11. TENNESSEE: November 2, UAB; November 9, at Kentucky; November 23, at Missouri; November 30, Vanderbilt

After a rough October, the Vols face a much easier schedule in November but it won’t be enough to get them bowl eligible. The Vols will be sitting home for a third straight year.

Prediction: 2-2

12. ARKANSAS: November 2, Mississippi State; November 9, Western Kentucky; November 23, at LSU; November 30, Missouri (Little Rock)

Three of the November games are in the state of Arkansas and even though it’s not all that tough, it won’t matter much. The Hogs will be barbeque by the time this season ends.

Prediction: 1-3

13. VANDERBILT: November 2, at South Carolina; November 9, at Florida; November 16, Kentucky; November 23, East Tennessee State; November 30, at Tennessee

Other than the Florida game, the schedule really isn’t that tough. Still, Derek Mason’s job might very well be in jeopardy by the time this season comes to a merciful end.

Prediction: 1-3

14. KENTUCKY: November 9, Tennessee; November 16, at Vanderbilt; November 23, Tennessee-Martin; November 30, Louisville

The Wildcats finish the regular season with four winnable games that should send them to some exotic location like Birmingham or Shreveport for a bowl game.

Prediction: 4-0

Thursday: The Mount Rushmore for each SEC team

SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR WEDNESDAY

From Jeff Passan of ESPN on Jasson Dominguez, the 16-year-old center fielder who the New York Yankees signed to a $5.2 million bonus:

“In the tight-knit world of baseball in the Dominican Republic, the legend of the kid spread quickly. He was a switch-hitter with world-class speed, an arm nobody would challenge and the body of a man. Someone called him El Marciano, and the nickname stuck. The Martian, it meant. Because there was no way he was from this world.”

Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco speaking to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic about the difficulty of playing quarterback:

“Pitchers are on a mound,” he says. “We’re not on a mound. They operate in an absolutely closed environment. The position that I coach is the most open environment skill in all sport. Golf and bowling are closed environment sports. Basketball is a semi-open, closed environment sport, meaning they can do all sorts of stuff but they can’t jack you in the jaw, and the basket is not gonna move. In hockey, they can check you, but the goal’s not gonna move. We’ve got to drop back, eyeballs downfield, throw the ball to a moving target, and those targets are being guarded. All while four or five maniacs are trying to rip your balls off your body.”

SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF

Offensive lineman Kamaar Bell, part of Auburn’s recruiting class of 2019 has finally completed all his classwork requirements needed to enroll in school. Bell promised that his academic problems “won’t happen again.”

Georgia freshman QB D’Wan Mathis, who had emergency surgery to remove fluid on his brain back on May 22, has been cleared to begin working out per his dad, Terence Mathis.

Texas A&M defensive lineman Ondario Robinson is fortunate to be alive after an 18-wheeler suddenly pulled out in front of him as he was speeding down a Texas highway at 65 miles per hour.

Former Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen remains in ICU receiving dialysis and treatment for other heart and kidney issues.

Former South Carolina quarterback Anthony Wright is recovering at a Concord, North Carolina hospital after suffering multiple gunshot wounds from the former boyfriend of his (Wright’s) girlfriend.

Tennessee redshirt freshman forward DJ Burns (6-9,257) has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal.

Brad Calipari, son of UK coach John Calipari, will finish out his college basketball career as a grad transfer to Detroit Mercy, where he will play for former Indiana head coach Mike Davis.

THE HIGH PRICE OF MEDIOCRITY

“It isn’t the high price of stars that is expensive; it’s the high price of mediocrity.” – The late Bill Veeck, who at one time owned the St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox

My British friends would say the NBA has gone blinkin’ loopy if they studied the latest free agent signings. I don’t blame the players for taking the money but the owners obviously have more money than brains to pay out these ridiculous contracts. Here are a few examples of what some of the non-stars will be paid:

Cory Joseph (6.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists) got a 3-year, $37 million deal with the Sacrificial Kings.

Tomas Satoransky (8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists) got a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Chicago Bulls.

Richaun Holmes (8.2 points, 4.7 rebounds) got a 2-year, $10 million deal with the Sacrificial Kings.

Ish Smith (8.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists) got a 2-year, $12 million deal with the Washington Wizards.

Frank Kaminsky (8.6 points, 3.5 rebounds) got a 2-year, $10 million deal with the Phoenix Suns.

Maxi Kleber (6.8 points, 4.6 rebounds) got a 4-year, $33 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks.

Seth Curry (7.9 points, 1.6 rebounds) got a 4-year, $32 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks.

Wayne Ellington (10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists) got a 2-year, $16 million deal with the New York Knicks.

Patrick Beverly (7.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists) got a 3-year, $40 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Serena Williams, who has won Wimbledon seven times, got off to a 6-2, 7-5 straight sets first round win over Giulia Gatto-Monticone of Italy at the All England Club … UConn basketball was placed on two years probation and former coach Kevin Ollie was hit with a 3-year show cause by the NCAA on Wednesday. The show cause effectively confirms that UConn fired Ollie with cause, therefore nullifying his $10 million buyout … ESPN’s Dan Graziano is reporting that talks to work out a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) deal between the NFL and the NFL Players Association will take place July 17-19 with the hope of reaching a new CBA prior to the 2019 season. The current deal expires in 2020.