Friday, July 27, 2012

07/27 (Olympics) Quickie

How can you not love the Olympics? For what it's worth, I'm immersed in USA Today's coverage of the Games (along with Quickish coverage of the Games), so please visit both (and tell friends!)

I'll try to chime in here with little notes, etc. But it's going to be awesome. It's the first Olympics where my kids really know what's going on, so that's going to make it extra-fun.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

07/24 (Penn State, Cont'd) Quickie

Long term, Penn State football is going to be hurt badly by the scholarship reductions. In the short term, I'm most fascinated by how many players choose to leave.

There might be a quasi-macho attitude of "I made a commitment and I'm sticking it out!" but I'm not so sure that's the rational (or optimal) choice. I've been looking around for an expert take, and Andy Staples' evaluation is as good as any:

If you're an NFL prospect, you should leave. If you can get an offer from a top-level program, you should leave. If Penn State was the best you can do and your next-best alternative is a MAC school and the Little Caesar's Bowl, you should probably stick around. (That said: I can't imagine that even the weakest links of each Penn State recruiting class wouldn't be welcome at, say, Maryland or Rutgers, two nearby programs desperate for a talent infusion.)

If it was my kid? I don't know. That's a pretty awful football experience for the next 1-4 years. If they had NFL aspirations, I'd probably encourage them to see what else was out there. If college football was merely the means to a scholarship and diploma, I think there is a lot to be gained by going through the next 1-4 years at Penn State.

Most of all: I'd want to know that coach Bill O'Brien was going to stick it out with my kid -- if he bolts after next year because the situation is so brutal, what kind of message does that send the kids? If he is in it for the long haul, it's easier to join him. The problem is that even if he sincerely thinks he's in it for the long haul now, what happens when it's a slog two years from now -- with no end in sight -- and an NFL team comes calling with a sweet job offer that comes with no baggage?

There are no guarantees, which is why it is ludicrous for anyone to judge any player who chooses to leave. What is unclear is if the "Can leave at any time without penalty" extends throughout a player's remaining time at Penn State, not just a one-week window to make a life-altering decision. I hope it does include that provision -- I suspect it doesn't.


*Ichiro: I feel for my Mariners friends, but I think all of them knew this was coming eventually. It was nice that the fans could give him an ovation last night, even if he was in pinstripes.

*USA Hoops: If I'm Spain, I'm tanking the game tonight -- lose by 30. Worst-case scenario is that they keep it close (or win) and the US is ultra-motivated for the presumptive rematch in the gold medal game. If I'm the US, I'm sizing up the Gasol brothers and the US size issues -- and playing Anthony Davis a ton. Give the kid a chance, Coach K. He's not Christian Laettner in '92.

-- D.S.

Monday, July 23, 2012

07/23 (Penn State) Quickie

I've seen a few people with the "We were... Penn State" line, and it is entirely apt.

The NCAA has obliterated that program.

The scholarship reductions -- 10 immediately, 20 per year for the next four years (capping them at 15 schollys per year and 65 scholarship athletes on the team, period) -- are brutal. You can't compete with that dearth of depth. Not against the Big Ten, not against the Atlantic 10.

Letting any incoming or existing player transfer without penalty -- no sitting out a year. I appreciate the loyalty of those who stay, but if it was me and I cared about the commitment I'm about to make for the next 1-4 years of my life, I'm leaving. It will be fascinating to see how many leave.

The fine ($60M) sounds huge, but it's a big school with a big endowment and rich donors. They'll put that together in a weekend. And it's $12M a year over 5 years -- hardly taxing for a school that size.

The bowl ban is of a piece with the transfer rule -- it speaks to the experience the athletes will have if they stay. It keeps the team from practicing in December. It keeps them off TV in bowl season.

And then there are the vacated Paterno wins from 1998-2011 -- entirely symbolic, but much more important than typical vacated wins, because of Paterno's place as the all-time winningest coach. That is about humiliation, and it is an appropriate piece of this punishment.

Taken in total, the punishment is as comprehensive and obliterating as any since SMU -- perhaps more. There is an argument that the program will be in tougher shape after this than if they had shut down the program for a year. I think the NCAA knew that.

The entire thing isn't justice for the victims -- not even close. But it is punitive for a football program that deserves it.


*Sucks to be Adam Scott.
*NBA Summer League ends: Damian Lillard is even better than the hype.
*USA Hoops: Needs tests like Argentina yesterday to remind them to stay focused.

This Penn State story will dominate the day -- maybe all the way up to the Olympics on Friday.

-- D.S.