The Confidential

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Conference Expansion News, June 2, 2016

The Big XII is expanding, a rumor states.  The Big XII is NOT expanding, a rumor states.  The Big XII is getting a network, a rumor states.  The Big XII is NOT getting a network, a rumor states.  The Big XII is going to share a network with the ACC, a rumor states.  No it is not.  And so on.  Also, “rumor” also seems to include targeted media leaks by various Big XII schools with unique agendas, so it is not all Twitter-based fodder.  In the end, nobody has any idea what the Big XII will do.

In calmer seas, fans of ACC schools could simply grab a bag of popcorn and watch this inter-conference schizophrenia unfold.  But the landscape of conference realignment remains concerning, as the ACC has its own vulnerabilities and financial gap.  Also, several ACC schools could be in trouble if conference realignment picks up steam.  And even the no-brainer elite schools want to control their future, not be “stuck” in any conference.

Admittedly, the idea of a joint network with the Big XII and ACC has some appeal.  With very little geographic overlap, the two conferences could supply an ESPN channel with plenty of content.  This might also set the table well for various basketball and football “challenges” between the conference, as well as scheduling benefits.  What the ACC provides in population access, the Big XII adds with the State of Texas and slightly more football credibility.  So perhaps such a venture has some potential to be a win-win-win for both conferences and ESPN (who could also direct some content to the SEC network, if necessary).  Moreover, any strengthening of these two conferences would be a stick in the eye to the Big 10, which may still have some value to ESPN folks.

Of course, how to make money is quickly subsumed by how to divide it.  First, Texas still has the Longhorn Network deal.  Second, Notre Dame has its own TV deal.  Third, Notre Dame has its quasi-membership in the ACC.  Fourth, BYU remains looking as a school to do the same.  Fifth, does the Big XII slide up to 12 or 14 or 15 schools to even the conferences up?  And Sixth, how would money get divided anyway–1/3 to Big XII, 1/3 to ACC, 1/3 to ESPN?  Who knows?  But there are far too many proverbial “alpha dogs” in this mix to think it can all get worked out.

In any event, the Big XII may or may not be doing any number of things.  The ACC schools stay quiet, which is some sort of minor testament to the conference’s stability.  Hopefully.  But this realignment issue never seems to die.  So pay attention.

What do you think?  What is the future for the Big XII, ACC, and networks?

Once Again, Athletics Disappoints

The Baylor football story has been very interesting over the past several years.  From 1996 onward, the program won the following number of wins: 4, 2, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 5, 4, 3, 4, and 4.  From 2010 forward, the program won 7, 10, 8, 11, 11, and 10 games.  In other words, the Bears won 57 games in the 2010’s after winning 43 in the prior 14 years.  Quite a turnaround.  However, news out of Baylor recently shows that, once again, you simply cannot place faith in athletics–there is routine disappointment.

About a dozen years ago, Dave Bliss lost his job at Baylor due to a murder scandal:

After the murder, one of Bliss’ assistant coaches secretly taped Bliss having a conversation with two players, instructing them to sensationalize stories to police to make it seem that Dennehy was simply another African-American casualty of the drug trade. Bliss resigned from Baylor one day after the August 2003 memorial service for Dennehy.

Now, Baylor has lost the football coach that orchestrated the dramatic turnaround, Art Briles, due to a rape scandal:

In the fall of 2015, Baylor hired Pepper Hamilton to review its past treatment of sexual assault claims. Outside the Lines reported last week that some Baylor officials, including coaches, knew about incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence and other acts of violence involving football players, but most players didn’t miss playing time as punishment.

Thus, Baylor is simply moving from one felony scandal to another in this millennium.  Not exactly something to be proud of.

Of course, those looking at athletics for “pride” are often left holding the bag.  How many icons have denied various transgressions (from steroids to tax evasion), only to later have to admit to same when the evidence mounts?  How many icons have squandered their fortunes on vices and foolishness?  How many icons have left this earth far too early, due to an inability to control themselves off the field with anywhere near the diligence of their athletic discipline?  Lance Armstrong.  The New England Patriots.  Michael Jordan’s odd career.  Even prestigious Duke seems to merely be escaping punishment.

What happened at Baylor (again) is not a surprise, no matter how shocking.  All sports fans treasure their athletics.  And perhaps fans do so a bit too much.  Too many fans would rather win while bending rules than win honorably.  Sadly, all fans get for their fandom is memories and a lighter wallet.  It is the players and coaches that actually do the winning.  Nevertheless, modern sports has figured out a way to make fans feel like every bit the “winners” that the players are.  And with money increasing exponentially in even college sports, the ethics will get blurrier and blurrier.

Baylor is unlikely to get the death penalty, of course.  This is 2016 and there would be far too much litigation for it to be worth it.  But a Penn State type penalty may be looming.  Enough to keep the TV money flowing to the Big XII, but also punish Baylor significantly.  And it will likely be deserved.

For now, it is also prudent to await more details.  The first details are not always the true details.  And the reaction to a scandal these days is not always proportionate to the culpability.  Perhaps Art Briles is a good, ethical man.  Perhaps not.  Time will tell.  The foolishness is beginning with a presumption that coaches and players are good men and waiting for them to inevitably prove us wrong.

Syracuse’s Carrier Dome to Be Renovated, Fixed Translucent Roof

No real reason to re-invent the wheel here.  Check out the discussion on the Syracuse blog: TNIIAM.  Pretty exciting news for Syracuse sports.

Syracuse A.D. Mark Coyle Already Leaving Position

Welp, that did not take long.  Recent athletic director hire Mark Coyle is already leaving Syracuse for the greener snowier pastures of Minnesota.  Syracuse.com refers to “family reasons,” which would be a very good reason for such a move.

At Minnesota, Coyle will be able to compete in a division with Wisconsin and Nebraska in football–a step down in competition from Florida State and Clemson.  Of course, the history of Gophers’ sports is not exactly riddled with bowl successes and Final Four runs.

In any event, Minnesota is likely flush with all that Big 10 cash, as that conference shows its true colors by putting money ahead of every decision.  And, in reality, it is only that the Big 10 is simply better at converting athletics into cash than most other conferences.  The same hypocritical agenda is in place in the ACC, as well as all other conferences.  Meanwhile, the sheeple of this world continue to believe that Universities have any morally sound agenda whatsoever.  Regardless, Minnesota has money than Syracuse simply does not.

As for Syracuse, they are still a P5 school that can pay more than most other non-P5 schools.  As the Coyle hire was good, there is reason to be confident that the Trustees will make another good hire.  For the most part, other than (a) not getting joined in a conference with Penn State somehow; and (b) hiring Greg Robinson, Syracuse athletic directors have done a very good job over the past 40 or so years.

ACC Rumor Mill–FWIW

Social media gives every moron–including the moron writing this post–an opportunity to have a public voice.  It is up to everyone else to sift the wheat from the chaff and figure out what to believe or not believe.  At the same time, even a broken clock is right twice a day, while that blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn.  Long story short… when a rumor is spotted, it can be passed along under the “FWIW” tagline.  So here it goes.

From Twitter:

Could have some big news coming from ACC country soon. Should also put to rest any defectors from ACC

ND could be going all in(rumor) and ACCN is going to be announced(rumor but leaning towards fact)

Also ACC could be targeting a school that B12 is talking to for expansion. In hearing Uconn but have heard Cincy from others.

I hate swofford but give him his respect.

16h16 hours ago

ACC leadership is what B12 leadership should be. Quick to act and unified

  16h16 hours ago

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Looking like ESPN is going to invest their B10 $$ into ACC and B12 to keep those brands strong.

If you are an ACC fan, the trinity of accomplishments would be (a) Notre Dame; (b) an ACC Network; and (c) 16-team stability.  So… it is hard NOT to WANT these rumors to have a bit of truth to them.  Are they true?  Who knows?  Time will tell…

 

ACC In the NFL–2016 Draft Update After 3 Rounds

Yesterday, the Confidential recapped Round 1.  There was an error–there were only 31 picks because New England lost its first round pick to whatever latest scandal they were embroiled in.  For whatever reason, having 6 of 31 picks just looks a lot better than 6/32.  Still, it was hard to call Round 1 spectacular with so much Notre Dame influence.  Day 2 did not do much to improve the analysis.  But, upon further review, there is nothing for the ACC to hang its head about.

Here is a list of the ACC players taken in Round 2:

  • Kevin Dodd, DE Clemson (Tennessee Titans)
  • Jaylon Smith, LB Notre Dame (Dallas Cowboys)
  • Nick Martin, OL Notre Dame (Houston Texans)
  • Mackensie Alexander, CB Clemson (Minnesota Vikings)
  • Tyler Boyd, WR Pittsburgh (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • TJ Green, S Clemson (Indianapolis Colts)
  • Roberto Aguayo, K Florida State (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  • Adam Gotsis, DL Georgia Tech (Denver Broncos)

After 2 rounds, the ACC had 14/63 picks.   That is 22%.  With 5 major conferences, right about where the ACC should be to maintain par.  However, with 4 of those being Notre Dame, and the fair perception that Notre Dame is not really an ACC football school, that drops things to 10/63, or 16%.  Still, that is not horrible given that 8 of those 63 draftees were not from P5 schools.  10 out of the 55 P5 players drafted works out to 18%, maybe 1 draftee short of where the ACC “should be.”  Certainly not worthy of concern.

Here is a list of the ACC players taken in Round 3:

  • Keivarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • Joe Thuney, OG, NC State (New England Patriots)
  • Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (Washington Redskins)
  • C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame (Seattle Seahawks)
  • Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State (New England Patriots)
  • Justin Simmons, S, Boston College (Denver Broncos)

Of the 98 players drafted in the first three rounds, 20 were from the ACC (including Notre Dame).  That works out to 20.4%.  If you exclude Notre Dame’s impressive six draftees, that drops things down to 14.3%, roughly 1 in 7 draftees being from ACC schools.

The Confidential is of the opinion that the ACC should strive to supply approximately 17% of the draftees each year.  That corresponds to 1/6th of the draftees, with 1/6th also apportioned for the SEC, Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12, and “other.”  As for the “other,” the NFL certainly does not shy away from taking players with potential from outside the P5.  In fact, 15 of the 98 players drafted through 3 rounds were from schools outside the P5.

Here are the “by conference” totals:

  1. Big 10: 22
  2. SEC: 22
  3. ACC: 20 (including Notre Dame)
  4. Other: 15
  5. ACC: 14 (excluding Notre Dame)
  6. Pac 12: 10
  7. Big XII: 9

If you do not include Notre Dame as an ACC school, even an unspectular first three round still has the ACC well ahead of the Pac 12 and Big XII for producing players.  Even adjusted for fewer teams, the Pac 12 and Big XII still fall short of meeting the 1 draftee per school ratio that the ACC meets.  If you include Notre Dame, then the ACC bumps right up behind the Big 10 and the SEC.

The best way to sum up the first three rounds from an ACC perspective is to state that it has been an “OK” draft.  The draft has done nothing to suggest that the ACC is not worthy of every respect as a football conference.  Regardless of whether you count Notre Dame as an ACC school, the ACC is still a solid “third” in producing NFL talent.

NFL Draft Update: ACC Players Round 1

With Round 1 of the NFL Draft complete, here is a look at which ACC schools had players drafted and where they went:

  • With the 5th overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected FSU cornerback, Jalen Ramsey.
  • With the 6th overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens selected Notre Dame tackle, Ronnie Stanley.
  • With the 12th overall pick, the New Orleans Saints selected Louisville defensive tackle, Sheldon Rankins.
  • With the 19th overall pick, the Buffalo Bills selected Clemson defensive end, Shaq Lawson.
  • With the 21st overall pick, the Houston Texans selected Notre Dame wide receiver, Will Fuller
  • With the 25th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Miami cornerback, Artie Burns

Thus, 4/32 picks are from ACC schools… 6/32 if you include Notre Dame (as we do).   By comparison, the SEC had 8 players drafted, while Ohio State alone had five players drafted in the first round.  Not a great first day, but there are six more rounds for the ACC to show itself as a top conference for producing NFL talent.

Among the key ACC Players still left to be drafted are:

  • QBs: Jacoby Brissett, NC State
  • RBs: CJ Prosise, Notre Dame; Shaquille Powell, Duke; Shad Thornton, NC State
  • WRs/TEs: Tyler Boyd, Pitt
  • Offensive Line: Nick Martin, Notre Dame; Joe Thuney, NC State; Landon Turner, North Carolina
  • Defensive Line: Kevin Dodd, Clemson; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; Ron Thompson, Syracuse
  • Linebackers: BJ Goodson, Clemson;
  • Secondary: Mackensie Alexander, Clemson; TJ Green, Clemson; Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, Jeremy Cash, Duke
  • Special Teams/Other: Roberto Aguayo (K), FSU;

It will be interesting to see if and when each of these players gets drafted.

 

Pearl Washington Passes Away at 52

Sadly, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington has passed away.  As a Syracuse Orange fan from birth and one who remembers the early days of Louie and Bouie, there is no doubt that The Pearl was the most important player in converting Syracuse from an interesting regional team to a national power.  Hey, just ask Jim Boeheim.  Although he was from New York City, only several hours from campus, Pearl was a major recruit and promised to bring great things to Syracuse before leaving.

Indeed, he was interviewed during halftime of a Syracuse game and indicated as much.  It did not take long to fulfill that promise:

Yes, one of the greatest moments in Syracuse basketball history.  Unreal at the time.  Unreal today.

In today’s world, words can be meaningless.  It can be said that Pearl had an amazing crossover.  But you have seen a few other ridiculous ball-handlers since Pearl too.  It can be said that Pearl was one of the few players in college basketball who could take on Georgetown and Patrick Ewing–and you would be right.  But, for many, Ewing is a distant memory too–a good to great NBA player, but forgetting how dominant he was in college.

If only his skill could be described.  For any generation, and certainly today’s generation, it would be better to just give you a video.  And ask yourself if you can find players doing these Pearl things BEFORE did them.  Good luck with that.  Anyway, enjoy the video:

As you can see, amazing things with the basketball.  And that does not do justice to his skill set and demonstration of it game after game.  There were few games where Pearl was not dominant–if not scoring, then by dishing the ball.  He certainly made his teammates better– a great compliment.

Pearl will always be remembered by Syracuse fans that were old enough to see him live.  He will be remembered as a “one of a kind.”  He will also be remembered as a great ambassador for the program after his career ended.  Really, it is hard to come up with too many negatives about Pearl.  He was a legend, more than worthy of being called “The Pearl.”

Nationally, he was a player that fueled the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry that helped popularize the Big East and even ESPN.  We might not have ESPN2, much less ESPN3, without those early catalysts from the Big East.  Not a bad legacy.  Although his NBA career was surprisingly underwhelming, Pearl is… sadly, was… one of those great college legends that simply never made it professionally (just like most Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks, in fact).

As you get older, you will find that the age where you say “that man was too young to die” gets increasingly older.  But perhaps there is little dispute that 52 is too young to die.  And it certainly is.  But Pearl used but a few of those 52 years to create eons worth of memories.

On behalf of all college basketball fans, and certainly Syracuse fans, the passing of Dwayne “Pearl” Washington is a reason to mourn.  And remember.

ACC Basketball: League-wide Early-Entry Update

After a dominating March (other than the final game), the A.C.C. was one heck of a basketball conference in 2015-2016.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that so much talent inevitably leads to a departure of such high-skilled talent.  For a few, it is graduation.  For the underclassmen, however, it is the temptation of the NBA.  Here is the latest update on what ACC players are leaving:

      • Abdul Malik Abu 6-8 240 PF NC State So.
      • Anthony Barber 6-2 185 PG NC State Jr.
      • VJ Beachem 6-8 200 SF Notre Dame Jr.
      • Malik Beasley 6-5 195 SG Florida St. Fr.
      • Jaron Blossomgame 6-7 220 SF Clemson Jr.
      • Brandon Ingram 6-9 195 SF Duke Fr.
      • Demetrius Jackson 6-1 194 PG Notre Dame Jr.
      • Chinanu Onuaku 6-10 245 C Louisville So.
      • Xavier Rathan Meyes 6-2 190 PG Florida St. So.

The sad part, of course, is that several of the players on this list are not even likely to be drafted at all.  One can only hope that it is worth it ultimately.  It is easy to criticize, but being able to get paid a living wage to play basketball is not the worst thing in the world either.

There are still a few players to keep an eye on.  Syracuse’s Malachi Richardson and North Carolina’s Justin Jackson had deep March runs and could be drafted in the first round (albeit the latter half).  If you are fans of those schools, you might want to hold off on expectations for 2016-2017 that include them.

If you hear any news before we do, please do not hesitate to share here or on Twitter.

ROSTER TURNOVER IN NC STATE’S GOTTFRIED ERA

GottfriedWith the news last week that NC State would lose 3 of their key players from this past season, the tactics of coach Mark Gottfried were once again called into question. It’s become a pattern now. Every year, the team finishes better than expected with one player leading the way, but it’s the exodus of talent that follows causes fans to pause. Why are so many players leaving, year after year? Let’s take a look at the roster turnover in the Gottfried era

.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.46.56 AM

Gottfried’s first season in Raleigh left nothing but high expectations for the next one. A young team that certainly overachieved lost very little headed to the next season. CJ Williams graduated, but the duo of Brown and Leslie looked promising to the next season. Raymond and Harris played very few minutes, so their transfers aren’t a huge deal, but Painter’s departure was curious. He quickly announced that he was transferring to be closer to his family, but that did little to stop the speculation that followed. It still seems like a legitimate reason, but skeptics will point to this being the beginning of a trend

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The second year is what many point to when they criticize Gottfried. For perhaps the only time in his career at NC State, he actually had all the pieces. He had a deep roster with plenty of talent, but yet suffered an early exit from the NCAA tournament. Losing an 8/9 game usually isn’t too disappointing, but the way this team ended the season left many wanting more. The disappointing season and disfunction among the team made the draft announcements from Brown and Leslie a little less surprising. The bigger surprise came from Rodney Purvis when he announced he was going to UConn. The freshman probably didn’t play as much as he would have liked, but you would assume with six players leaving he could expect more playing time in the future. Thaey’s transfer is a whole other issue, one that Sports Illustrated already covered. Still, each of the three early departures were out of the blue and leaving fans  confused.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.47.47 AM

The cupboard looked pretty bare with Brown and Leslie gone, but T.J. Warren quickly changed fans’ perception of the team. Warren was no slouch his freshman year, but as he moved into his role as the Wolfpack’s star player, he showed his true potential. Of course, that got the NBA interested, and to Warren’s credit, he’s made a solid pro career to this point. The transfer to Tyler Lewis to Butler was also understandable, as the sophomore saw fewer and fewer minutes as Anthony “Cat” Barber blossomed into the star point guard he would become in years after. Overall this year was probably the least surprising of any. Sure the two departures were a bit sudden, but both seemed reasonable.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.48.02 AM

Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey was the supposed to be the key addition and the shooter that NC State needed. He turned out to be all of that and more. Essentially, Lacey became TJ Warren part 2. His similar playing style gave him a similar role on the team. Barber and Anya found their roles, and other players like Lee, Turner, and the Martins contributed for a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Next year seemed promising, with most of the talent returning. Yet, Lacey quickly declared for the draft and soon after, Kyle Washington transferred to Cincinnati. Both were unexpected, and while the verdict is still out on Washington, Lacey hasn’t made  much of his pro career.

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A down recruiting year along with the late departures of Lacey and Washington left NC State with just 12 players on the roster. This will probably be considered the worst team of the Gottfried era, since they didn’t make any tournament and finished very low in the ACC. However, the one bright spot was Cat Barber. One year removed from being a supporting member, Barber took over the ACC as one of the conference’s top players. With little support, the team didn’t win many games. After the season ended, Barber announced he would enter the draft and while he hasn’t singed an agent, sources indicate that he’s likely gone. It’s a little puzzling, seeing as Barber would likely be a frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year, but he’s likely taking a cue from his former teammates (Warren and Lacey). Shortly after that announcement, news came that the Martin twins intended to transfer. This was the strange announcement. Most reports say that Cody was going to see less playing time due to incoming transfers, and wanted to find somewhere where both brothers could play. Still, you’d think they’d at least wait a year to see how their playing time is effected. The new transfers are anything but sure things, and it’s quite possible both brother could’ve seen lots of minutes. Abdul-Malik Abu is also reported to be exploring his draft options, but most feel that he will return.

Final Thoughts

So where does this leave us? Well, throughout Mark Gottfried’s tenure at NC State, we’ve seen a troubling trend of top talent leaving early. It’s sort of a “glass half empty/full” situation. On the bright side, Gottfried has been exceptional at replacing talent and bringing in new stars. The fact that there is a new star each year is impressive, and a testament to his recruiting ability. On the other hand, why are these players in such a hurry to get out? If any of the players had stayed just one more year, they’d be paired with another star to make an exceptional team. But maybe it’s a good thing, maybe Barber would have taken points away from Lacey. We’ll never know, but it’s clear that Gottfried can bring talent in, but can’t seem to hold on to it. Next year will be a very pivotal year. If the newcomers are as good as advertised and the team makes another tournament run, then we can revisit if this “strategy” is working. If these newcomers struggle, then you have to start questioning whether Gottfried is the right man for the job. What are your thoughts? Is this just another example of one-and-done’s hurting the college games? Why are so many NC State players leaving?

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