I bumped into a neighbor who is a reader of these rants and he asked me why I had not commented on the NCAA ruling against “satellite football camps”. He said that he thought the decision by the NCAA was narrow-minded and he was surprised that I had not taken the opportunity to use the NCAA as a punching bag as I so often have done. My answer to him was that at the time it was a “front-and-center issue”, I had not considered it a big enough deal to worry about. My neighbor said he thought it was “a really cheesy move” by the NCAA and that I should go back and look at what they had done.
So, I did. And indeed it was a “cheesy” move. Then again, coming from the NCAA “cheesy” is sort of the center of gravity of what I have come to expect from such pronouncements and rules interpretations. Nevertheless, let me recap this for you.
The NCAA – prodded to a large extent by the folks in the SEC and the ACC – ruled that Jim Harbaugh could not hold a “satellite football camp” in the South hoping to get to know potential recruits there. Then, it went a step further and said that if/when a school holds a camp in its own facilities, coaches from other schools cannot attend that camp or participate in the instruction there – even at the invitation of the school hosting the event.
I can understand the first rule. Indeed, it was a power play by the SEC who have a vested interest in keeping Michigan out of their fertile recruiting grounds. I get that. I do not like it, but I get it. It is the second part of this pronouncement from the NCAA that makes no sense at all. Since this all started with Jim Harbaugh and Michigan, let me use them as the centerpiece of this example:
Jim Harbaugh decides to hold a football camp right there on campus in “The Big House” where the NCAA says he is allowed to do so. He invites a ton of recruits from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and Western New York because those areas are proximal to Ann Arbor.
He knows that all of the invitees will not be of a caliber that he will want at Michigan but he also knows that he wants to “be known” in a lot of communities in that part of the recruiting world, so he brings in lots of potential collegiate players – only some of them will ply their trade at some lower level program.
Then, to help run the event and to maintain good relations with coaches at neighboring institutions at a level beneath Michigan, he also invites the coaches at Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Michigan Tech, Finlandia University and Albion College. [Please note: Michigan State is not invited to this hypothetical event.] Those coaching staffs decide to join in the fun to get to see some potential recruits for their programs (the ones who will not go to Michigan) and to maintain their local networking connections.
The NCAA says those coaches at smaller schools cannot attend or participate.
Surely, those coaches now barred from participation did not petition the NCAA for their banishment. So, what is the purpose here? What sinister and venal motivation had to be held at bay with this ruling?
The NCAA has lots of really serious issues to contend with including the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, the pressures to pay college players in the revenue sports and player safety as evidenced by the Ivy League’s move to ban tackling at practices during the season. The complaints here amounted to not much more than whining by a few coaches and athletic departments who were arguing from a point of transparent self-interest. My neighbor called this ruling “cheesy”. It is really nice living in a neighborhood where the residents are so polite.
Switching gears, in Spanish soccer teams compete in La Liga at the top level of the sport there and at the same time teams compete for the Copa del Rey. I do not speak Spanish but I believe that means the King’s Cup; it is a tournament that has been ongoing for more than 100 years and it is a very big deal in Spain. Perhaps, it is analogous to the FA Cup in Great Britain.
Back in December, Real Madrid – one of the top teams in Spain – was disqualified from this year’s Copa del Rey tournament because it used an ineligible player, Denis Cheryshev. Here is a link to an article in The Guardian that describes why Cheryshev was ineligible and what the ruling was related to his participation. In the end, Real Madrid appealed the ruling but lost that appeal so the club was out. Their opponent in the contested game, Cadiz, went on to the next round.
I have to admit that I had to go back and look up the references here to figure out what happened to Real Madrid in this matter and what the stature of the Copa del Rey was. Spanish soccer is not even close to my wheelhouse. What brought this to my attention was a comment by Brad Rock in his column Rock On in the Deseret News this week:
“Fans of Real Madrid are suing the club president after the team was tossed from Copa del Rey, due to an ineligible player.
“SI.com reports the plaintiffs feel they “had to endure being taunted in cafes and our place of work.”
“In America, that’s called life after losing the Utah-BYU game.”
I wonder if part of the pain these fans nominally had to endure came from fans of Barcelona – Real Madrid’s arch rival – because at the moment, Barcelona is the current holder of the Copa del Rey…
Finally, consider this comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald wherein he channels Carnac the Magnificent:
“Answer: The U.S. team trained in Miami won the World Cup of FootGolf, a sport played on golf courses in which players kick soccer balls into giant holes.
“Question: Whaddya mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………