NCAA Addressed NIL Compensation Before the United States Senate

College basketball is in full swing! The NCAA and college basketball fans are gearing up for the March Madness tournament.  In the weeks to come, fans will fill out brackets predicting which teams they believe will make it to the Final Four. The NCAA again stands to generate a billion dollars from the tournament, which is the organization’s biggest moneymaker of the year. Fans will relish in the excitement of Cinderella teams and major upsets. The NCAA will undoubtedly be raking in the money. However, the NCAA will also be spending money as it continues its work behind the scenes to preserve the amateur collegiate model. The farce of amateurism is being challenged at every turn. The challenge currently gaining the most traction is those from several state legislatures with name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation bills. 

States with Proposed NIL Compensation Bills

Several state legislatures have proposed legislation seeking to give college athletes the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) and to sign with agents. Last year, the state of California signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. Since then,  several other states followed suit proposing similar legislation. While the Fair Pay to Play Act will not take effect until 2023, two similar bills in Florida may become effective much sooner. Florida currently has two college athlete name, image, and likeness bills before its state legislature. One is before the house and the other one is before its senate. State lawmakers are not the only ones seeking to expand college athlete rights. The federal lawmakers are too.

Specifically, Congressman Mark Walker introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act seeking to give college athletes NIL rights. Senator Chris Murphy released a series of reports detailing the myriad of reasons reform is necessary for college sports. All of these critiques of the current collegiate sports model have put the NCAA in the hot seat. The organization has been backed into a corner where it has no choice but the address the elephant in the room. In fact, the NCAA was forced to address that elephant at a Senate hearing last week. 

Name, Image, and Likeness Informational Podcast

The NCAA is in NIL Compensation Crisis Mode

The college athlete NIL compensation issue has taken the NCAA by storm. The NCAA is in full crisis mode. They have realized that there is a strong possibility that several states could enact different laws to address NIL compensation. The NCAA does not want that to happen. As such, the NCAA has turned to the federal government for help. In fact, the organization has spent big money in an attempt to persuade federal lawmakers in their favor. The NCAA and two conferences spent at least $750,000 last year lobbying federal lawmakers to make reforms that favor the current collegiate model. The NCAA is sparing no expense to preserve amateurism.

Amateurism is the notion that college players simply play for the love game and are not paid. The NCAA purports that amateurism keeps collegiate sports distinct from professional sports. They further purport that if college athletes were paid, fans would lose interest. The NCAA maintains that its rules prohibiting payment help ensure that college athletes are not taken advantage of. As such, college athletes are not allowed to receive any type of payment outside of their cost-of-attendance scholarship or other NCAA approved benefits. However, many feel that the NCAA and the collegiate sports system as a whole are in fact taking advantage of the very athletes they claim to protect.

Why is College Athlete NIL Compensation on the Radar of so many Lawmakers?

College sports are a billion-dollar industry. Coaches, athletic directors, and conferences commissioners receive million-dollar salaries. Conferences receive billions of dollars from television broadcasting contracts. Top ranking NCAA officials receive million-dollar and upper six-figure salaries as well. Meanwhile, the athletes are limited to their scholarship. College athletes keep very strenuous and demanding schedules to perform their sport. Most spend at least 40 hours per week on athletically related activities. Despite their major time investment, they are not allowed to receive a bigger piece of the pie. A scholarship is valuable, however, the athletes deserve a bigger piece of the pie they generate for everyone else. It is for these reasons that lawmakers are working so hard to expand the rights of college athletes.

Last week, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade and Consumer Protection held a hearing on the name, image, and likeness matter in Washington, D.C. NCAA president Mark Emmert attended the hearing where he was questioned on the NCAA’s handling of a number of issues. Most notably he was questioned and criticized the NCAA’s handling of James Wiseman’s case.

Wiseman was suspended for 11 games for money that his mother received from Penny Hardaway. Wiseman’s mother took the money for moving expenses while Wiseman was in high school. At the time, Wiseman knew nothing of the transaction between his mother and Hardaway. The NCAA also ordered Wiseman to pay the money back. Due to the NCAA’s decision, Wiseman decided to leave college and prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft on his own. The NCAA’s unfairly punished Wiseman for something he had nothing to do with. 

The Senate Subcommittee Urged to NCAA to Swiftly Find a Solution 

In light of the NCAA’s poor handling of Wiseman’s case and several others in the past, several Senators did not appear to be overly confident that the NCAA would not drag their feet on the NIL compensation issue.  Emmert stated that he would work with the schools and relevant decision-makers to make a decision as soon as possible. However, Emmert also stated that the NCAA may need Congress’ assistance in developing a uniform manner to address the NIL compensation issue.

The NCAA desperately wants to avoid having several states with different NIL compensation laws. The Senators at the hearing urged the NCAA to quickly offer a solution to this issue. In April, the NCAA is expected to make another announcement about their plans for NIL compensation. Hopefully, it will be something meaningful for the athletes. Given the NCAA’s general reluctance to give athletes a bigger price of the pie, it seems doubtful. 

CFB Preseason Polls are Worthless and Mess Up the Playoff Rankings

Preseason Polls hurt the ranking throughout the season SEC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12

Polls judge everything in college football. Teams are ranked from the preseason till after the national championship.

We all love to discuss the and debate when the College Football Preseason Polls come out. I even do them for Unafraid Show. However, I have come to find a major flaw in the polling system that ultimately affects the CFB Playoff. We all want the four (or eight in a perfect world) best teams playing for the championship. College Football Preseason polls make that nearly impossible to achieve because they distort the rankings and data for the rest of the season. Eleven of the top 25 teams in the 2018-19 Preseason AP Poll didn’t even finish ranked. In 2017, nine didn’t finish ranked. In 2016, 13 didn’t finish ranked. Commonly, those early season matchups that were so hyped up turned out to be nothing burgers, but they did affect the CFB Playoff committee rankings.

What is the purpose of preseason polls if they are so incredibly wrong. The goal is to find the four best teams in the nation and let them fight it out for the national championship. However, that is nearly impossible to get right because the preseason polls give miss information that only further convolutes the process of determining who the best four teams are for the College Football Playoff. If you are not convinced yet, I have proof.

This will be a journey down the rabbit hole so please hang on tight and keep and an open mind. The polls regularly reflect the voters desire to be right about their preseason selections rather than looking at the data objectively. Here are a few glaring examples of the head-scratchers:

The College Football Preseason Poll Proof

1. Wisconsin went into the 2018-19 season ranked #4. In the week four poll, Wisconsin was 2-1 and ranked #18 with wins over New Mexico and Western Kentucky. The team they lost to, BYU (2-1) was ranked #24. And the team that beat BYU was Cal (3-0), who was unranked. How on earth does that make sense?

2. Texas trashed Georgia in their bowl game yet Georgia finished above Texas in the final AP poll. Georgia is talented and was a sexy pick for the College Football Playoff after started #3 in the preseason? They both finished the season with the exact same amount of wins (2) over top 25 teams, and they have a head to head matchup.

3. Northwestern finished 8-1 in the Big Ten and only got 13 votes in the preseason poll.

4. Stanford came into the season ranked #13. They won their bowl game to finish the season 9-4. So how did the Cardinal finish unranked while seven other teams with at least four losses were ranked? Stanford’s only losses were to top 25 teams: Notre Dame, Utah, Washington, and Washington State. Three of those teams finished in the top 14.

SEC Preseason AP Poll Magic

5. Early in the season that LSU had two top 10 wins (Miami, Auburn). Those wins propelled LSU from #25 in the AP Poll to #5. Neither Miami or Auburn finished ranked. So, those two wins weren’t nearly as good as they were portrayed publicly. That eventually set up an “epic top 5 showdown” between Alabama and LSU. Alabama won the game 29-0, and LSU got a quality loss. The Football Playoff Committee then still had the Tigers ranked #7.

6. Now let us look at Florida. They came into the season unranked. At the end of the regular season, the Gators finished #10 in the country but only beat one team that finished in the top 25. In week six they beat the “#5 team” in the nation LSU which we just learned about. The next week they beat 3-4 Vanderbilt and were ranked #9. That set up a top 10 showdown with #7 Georgia. Georgia won, so adding that to their preseason hype only magnifies the SEC table thumping.

7. Kentucky finished the regular season at #10 in the nation despite only beating one team (Florida) that finished the season in the top 25

There were so many more examples, but you get the point. This is not a knock on LSU, Georgia, Kentucky, or Florida. All are talented teams that had great seasons. However, they are just prime examples in 2018 of how preseason polls manipulate the rankings and end up leaving the SEC overhyped. They ultimately only ended up judged from games they played against themselves.

Fans Deserve Better: A Great Solution

Imagine a world where there are no preseason rankings, and polls start after week four. There would have been information on teams that came into the season with so much hype. We would have already known Miami, FSU, USC, TCU, Auburn, and Wisconsin weren’t as good as advertised. Teams that beat them would get credit, but wouldn’t falsely rise so far in the polls. Starting the rankings after four weeks would create a much more accurate representation of schedule strength and conference strength. Right now we rank teams before they have played a down of football. We have seen time and time again that a top 5 talented team doesn’t make them a top 5 team.

Also, if the preseason polls were eliminated, college football fans would get much more of what they really want and deserve; great games. Teams would no longer have the luxury of preseason top 5 rankings while playing a cupcake non-conference schedule. You would see many more teams trying to put big names on their schedules early in the season to propel them to the playoffs. Fans would respond to that by eliminating the attendance problems many schools are facing. And viewership who certainly increase. All of which leads to more money for everyone except the student-athletes who are actually generating the money, but I digress.

Get rid of preseason polls and Make College Football Greater.

Horns Down? The Oklahoma Sooners’ hand gesture is in the OU logo

Oklahoma-Big-12-Championship-2018

There are certain things you can’t unsee, and the Oklahoma Sooners might just have a case for throwing “Horns Down.”

From the Oklahoma Sooners to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, players have been flagged on multiple occasions and throughout multiple seasons for throwing “Horns Down” while playing the Texas Longhorns. The biggest issue many have with this is that nowhere in college football history can fans truly recall a situation where a team’s brand is protected to the point of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for “disrespecting” hand gestures.

Was Bowling Green flagged after the “Gator Chomp” back in 2012?

USC’s drum major was prohibited from stabbing the 50-yard-line at the Rose Bowl, and Kansas banned Bevo from the sideline this year. But never in history has an entire conference been put on notice that any misuse of a particular team’s hand gestures will receive penalties, which is why any preferential treatment is laughable.

But for the Oklahoma Sooners, they might just have a real case for using the “Horns Down” hand gesture: it’s in their logo.

You be the judge.

It might seem like I’m revisiting an old issue here, but with Oklahoma playing the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl, it will be interesting to see banter between the two teams. I don’t think we’ll see any hand gesture exchanges–especially with the offensive numbers both teams are expected to put up. But given how ridiculous the “Horns Down” debate has become, if the Sooners can pull off a win, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in some capacity.

Last month during the lead up to the Big 12 Championship game, Sooners’ head coach Lincoln Riley confirmed that the Big 12 put them on notice, and if the “Horns Down” gesture was used, they would be penalized. Most fans in the Big 12–including Texas fans–agree the conference shouldn’t be involved in this, and should let the teams settle this where it matters.

Texas players, however, disagree.

After Texas lost to West Virginia, several Longhorns’ players said the hand gesture was “disrespectful,” and that they didn’t disrespect other teams’ hand gestures, so the issue should be mutual. Considering this is the second consecutive season where teams have been flagged for throwing “Horns Down,” I don’t expect this issue to go away anytime soon, but it’s certainly something to think about, especially with Texas back on a winning trajectory.

In 2012, former Texas head coach Mack Brown had this to say in response to a Texas Tech player throwing “Horns Down:”

Apparently, Texas has spoken to the league about it, because here we are… still talking about it. What do y’all think: Should the Big 12 let players settle the “respect” issue on the field–where it matters? Or should this be an issue conferences control?
If it’s an issue the Big 12 tries to control, then does it only apply in games where Texas is playing? Consider when the West Virginia sideline used “Horns Down” in a play in its loss to Oklahoma State this season:

At what point does the conference decide to focus on things that matter, like expansion and promoting competition to build a stronger overall brand? Until then, we can only speculate why there’s such an emphasis on prohibiting “Horns Down” from the Big 12 playing field, but in any event, it’s still technically in the OU logo, so let’s see if Sooners’ players get creative with it next season.

Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield vs Media: Real Hate Against Oklahoma QBs

NFL quarterback Oklahoma Heisman winner Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield NFL Charley Casserly

It’s not a surprise when Big 12 quarterbacks make headlines in NFL discussions, but for Oklahoma quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, there’s an NFL trend that’s becoming quite alarming. When former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield declared for the NFL Draft, he was met with heavy criticism. Some analysts were discussing the drama surrounding […]

Continue reading

Dakota Allen’s senior leadership should have answered questions ahead of NFL Combine

Dakota Allen Texas Tech NFL Draft

Former Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen’s perseverance through adversity has landed him a spot in the NFL Combine.

Dakota Allen’s career at Texas Tech began as a promising one. The Red Raiders needed stability at the position, and he was, by all assessments, one of the cornerstone players in the 2014 recruiting class. Allen held offers from 12 schools, but it became clear that Texas Tech was where he wanted to play, and so, the three-star linebacker enrolled, with experts lauding his talents up and down the board.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2016 when Allen and two other Texas Tech football players were arrested on charges of burglary and gun theft, several speculated on whether this was the last we’d see of Dakota Allen.

Charges were dismissed, and the rest of that story is history, but it’s safe to say that Dakota Allen has created a legacy of an athlete who was able to make a triumphant return to fulfill the promises he had made to Texas Tech years prior.

Coming off his final and senior season at Tech, Allen has now accepted an invitation to participate and compete in the biggest job interview in his entire life, the NFL Scouting Combine. While this isn’t exactly uncommon territory for Texas Tech players, it is on the defensive side of the ball, making the stakes even higher, and the urgency for Red Raider scouts to build a true defensive arsenal under first-year head coach Matt Wells.

For Dakota Allen, the last few years have been an opportunity for reinvention, but you couldn’t watch a Texas Tech football game telecast without color commentators mentioning Allen’s backstory. Now he gets the opportunity to answer questions from all 32 NFL teams and set the tone for how he’ll be perceived and remembered in the National Football League.

After an injury last season, Texas Tech message boards were almost convinced Allen would sit for the rest of the season, but his commitment to the team quelled most of the rumors and should set the tone headed into the Combine.

The Texas Tech defensive unit as a whole last season made a few improvements, which included finishing No. 26 in the nation in red zone defense. With the NFL adapting to faster-paced offenses, Allen could be particularly useful in red zone scenarios. Allen is 6-1 and 235 pounds, which is slightly shorter than the prototypical NFL linebacker, although, that shouldn’t hinder any abilities.

At the end of Allen’s junior season, many wondered if he would leave Texas Tech and declare for the NFL Draft early, however, his decision to stay should have put to rest all fears from NFL personnel as to whether he had matured since the incident, and was ready for the big stage.

He’s cerebral, explosive, and a natural leader, so in terms of measurable statistics that scouts expect to see from Draft picks on Day 1, Dakota Allen fits the bill. Whether he’d be a Week 1 starter in the NFL is another story, as he needs to work on eying his targets with greater efficiency, and he can’t be afraid to hit or move around the field. If Allen can become more confident in his skills and stay healthy, he has a tremendously high ceiling in the NFL and could provide much needed veteran leadership down the line.

One thing that’s certain, however, is that when he was given another chance at EMCC, he learned very quickly things that take some athletes an entire lifetime to realize and grow from. With how Dakota Allen has learned to tell his story, NFL scouts and general managers can expect to interview a humble guy from Humble, Texas with a track record of working his tail off for people who believe in him.

Want More? Check Out: Dewan Hernandez’s Reinstatement Case Exposes NCAA’s True Purpose

NFL Draft: Why a Team May Take a Chance and Draft Kyler Murray

Don’t be surprised if you see an NFL team take a chance and draft Kyler Murray in the 2019 NFL Draft. Would an NFL team really draft a player who was a top-ten pick in the most recent MLB Draft and got a cool $4.66 million signing bonus? Why would a franchise use a draft pick on a player who may not be playing for them?

The entire NFL Draft is one big gamble

The entire process is a crap-shoot. Each pick is a lotto ticket; you’ve got a chance to hit on a franchise changing player. You could either get a complete bust, hit for a solid player, or you could hit the jackpot and win an All-Pro Hall or Hall of Famer.

NFL teams have been preparing for the 2019 NFL draft since the last pick was announced in 2018, if not sooner than that. Most, if not all, of them, are looking for the best player available in this draft not playing this sport right now. Like Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham who were college basketball players.  It’d be unconventional for an NFL team to draft Kyler Murray who will be playing in an MLB team’s minor league system. But unconventional thinking is what often leads to brilliance.

When/if a team does take Murray, he’d be under contract with the A’s. So he would need clearance to sign with an NFL team. Next, if a team drafted Kyler Murray and wanted to hang onto him in the hopes of a return to football, they’d have to sign him to a rookie contract. If Murray didn’t sign by the 2020 Draft, his rights would become draft-eligible once again.

Like Bo, Kyler Knows

Look at Kyler Murray’s lone season as the starting quarterback of the Sooners, and you’ve seen a TON of brilliance. He led Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma offense, which ranked #1 overall in the nation. Murray showed he is arguably the most electrifying athlete in all of college football. He did all of this on the gridiron AFTER hitting .296 for the Sooners baseball team, adding 10 HR, 47 RBI, and ten stolen bases. He can hit, play solid defense, absolutely fly, and he’s got a cannon for an arm. He’s an ideal fit in center field while batting at the top of the order. Think Mookie Betts for the Boston Red Sox.

Kyler Murray Wouldn’t Be the First

This situation played out in 1986-87 with Auburn legend, running back Bo Jackson. Like Murray is now, Jackson was a top baseball prospect while also a top football prospect. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held the first overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft and wanted Jackson. But, Jackson told Tampa Bay he didn’t want to play for them, wouldn’t sign with them. Jackson believed they intentionally got him to break NCAA rules which made him ineligible to play football at Auburn. So, he said he would play pro baseball if they selected him. Tampa Bay still went ahead and gambled on Jackson changing his mind, only to see him do exactly what he said he would, which was not sign and play pro baseball. The Buccaneers had nothing to show for their first overall pick in 1986, and the Raiders ended up drafting Bo Jackson in the seventh round of the 1987 Draft.

Another similar gamble would occur about a decade and a half later with Drew Henson. In 2001, he left college before his senior season, to sign a 6-year $17 million contract with the New York Yankees. Henson was most likely going to be a first-round pick if he were in the 2002 Draft, with there even being serious talk of him being a potential number one overall pick. In 2003, the Houston Texans used a sixth-round pick on the former Michigan quarterback and current struggling New York Yankees third base prospect. The Texans later flipped Henson for a third-round pick in a deal the following year, sending Henson to the Dallas Cowboys, who were searching for Troy Aikman’s replacement still three years after his retirement. That gamble, unlike for the Bucs, paid off for the Texans.

On the flip side, there’s one gamble that followed the same model just in reverse order. That would be Jeff Samardzija, a current major league pitcher and former two-time All-American wide receiver for Notre Dame. He was on track to be a first or second-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. But before any team in the NFL had a shot at a selecting Samardzija, he pulled his name from the Draft after signing with the Cubs in January of 2007. Today, Jeff Samardzija is in his eleventh season in the major leagues and according to Spotrac, has made approximately $88.6 million.

The predicament Kyler Murray finds himself in is a difficult one. There are guaranteed contracts in baseball and less wear on the body. Would he give up baseball for a chance to be ‘the next Russell Wilson,’? Wilson still gets the best of both worlds. Every offseason he attends spring training for the team that owns his right. This year, after having his rights traded to the New York Yankees he even played in a few games.

Kyler Murray is electrifying on the football field, and he’s good enough at baseball for a team to bet almost $5 million on him. The Oakland A’s have said they drafted Murray and signed him to the contract they did with the understanding that he’d play one last season of college football before turning his attention to baseball full-time. In a recent piece by Julian Williams of The Athletic, Murray was, when asked about his future in baseball and football, quoted as saying his “future is already decided as of now” but that he “would love to play (both professionally) if that was possible.”

We Know What Kyler Wants, as of Now

Teams have four months or so to decide whether or not to spend a pick on Kyler Murray. Murray, if selected in the fourth round, he’d be looking at a four-year deal worth (approx) $3-4 million and about a $700k signing bonus. In comparison, his signing bonus in baseball would be close to seven times as much as it would be in football. That’s a lot less money for a lot more damage to your body. But an NFL team could strike gold in Murray, and the possibility of gold could be too much for a team to pass up. Murray’s immediate future seems to be on the baseball diamond. But that is, in the words of Kyler Murray himself, “as of now.”

Kyler Murray is a Perfect Example of Why the Teenage Twitter Police are Predators

Kyler Murray Tweets Heisman

If you wait to bring people down in their in their shining moment, you are a predator.

Kyler Murray wins the Heisman, and on a night he is celebrated, the teenage twitter police wanted to tear him down. Y’all are going to have to stop trying to hold people’s feet to the fire for things they tweeted while 14-15 years old. People evolve and grow from stupid teens. Kyler Murray is now 21 years old. Consider the things did and believed to be true at 14 versus the things you did and believed at 21. Now stack that on top of the things you believe and do now. There was likely a ton of evolution of thought and maturity there.

Our need in society to tear people down in their greatest moments is sickening. Whoever unearthed Kyler Murray’s tweets from when he was 14 and waited to bring them out publicly should be embarrassed. The first click bait article about it 10 minutes after the Heisman ceremony was over. When somebody makes statements, tweets, or remarks that may be perceived as racist, sexist, or disparaging against someone’s sexuality it is fair for people to ask them about it. However, for someone to screenshot deleted tweets and hold on to them until your moment in the sun is wrong. Lying in wait to attack is predatory behavior. This is no different than showing up at someone’s housewarming and asking them about the time they got arrested for shoplifting or asking someone at their wedding reception about the time their child died.

After I said this on Twitter and Facebook a few people asked me would I feel differently if Murray’s tweets had been racist by a white person. I said no. In fact, this did happen multiple times in 2018. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen had racist tweets surface right before the NFL draft. Also, Milwaukee Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo had tweets come out immediately after he was named NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. I don’t know if either one of them is racist, but I realize that even if they were things could have changed from 14-21. They must be judged by their actions and character now. We cannot reasonably expect teenagers to tweet responsibly when adults find it a tough task.

Change Happens

When I was at  Oregon, I played with a guy who grew up with the skinheads and Aryan Nation crowd. I knew him for years, and even though we weren’t particularly close, his racist perspective wasn’t obvious. During my redshirt sophomore year, we sat down and had a very real conversation. He told me about his past and how coming to college was the best thing for him. He saw how wrong the people were who taught him falsehoods about people of other races. His college experience with friends and teammates showed him there were two kinds of people: good and bad. He learned that character was most important, not skin color. I’m not sure if that moment was where his epiphany happened or whether he just wanted to share it.

So, I hate to give him the only true test of racism. I asked him would he have a problem is one of the “good Black guys” married his daughter would he be ok with it. His honesty was, and vulnerability was admirable. He said it would be hard because an interracial marriage would cause so much tension within his family and community. However, if he treated her great, I would be happy and accept him and defend him.

The entire time I was sitting there in shock at what I was hearing. At 20 years old, I would have expected to hear this from a kid from the south or middle America, but not a kid from the melting pot that is southern California. My conversation with him did teach me a valuable lesson. We have to allow people room to grow, mature, and change. Everyone must be accountable for their words and actions, but we cannot be shortsighted enough to permanently label them racist, sexist, and homophobic. Imagine if there were social media and smartphones around to capture the ridiculous things you did and said as a kid. I can raise my hand and honestly say I would have a lot of questions to answer. So why on earth would people try and hold someone’s teenage tweets against them?

Let’s be wary not to tear people down in their golden moments. We have to judge people for who they are, not who they were.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley named as Eddie Robinson Award finalist

Lincoln Riley

Oklahoma Sooners’ head coach Lincoln Riley has been named as a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award.

Just two seasons into his first head coaching job, and Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley has certainly had an impressive run. And now, on the cusp of a back-to-back trip to the College Football Playoffs, Riley has been named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. The award is presented by the Football Writers Association of America in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Lincoln Riley was one of eight finalists announced on Wednesday. The entire list includes Josh Heupel (UCF), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Jeff Monken (Army), Nick Saban (Alabama), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), and Jeff Tedford (Fresno State). Brian Kelly and Nick Saban are the only finalists named to have won the award in previous seasons.

Riley has taken the Sooners to back-to-back 12-1 seasons with back-to-back Playoff berths. Oklahoma has one of the nation’s top offenses behind quarterback and Heisman hopeful, Kyler Murray. Finishing at No. 4 in the College Football Playoffs final rankings, the Sooners had been a fringe team throughout the second half of the season. With a Texas Longhorns team that had been improving throughout the season, Oklahoma’s playoff implications rode on the Big 12 Championship.

In the Red River Rivalry–the Sooners’ only loss on the season–Oklahoma didn’t play as physically on defense, which raised some red flags as to whether the second year of the Lincoln Riley era was about to unravel. With the firing of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, the defense was still an issue under interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill. With the Longhorns on the schedule again for the Big 12 Championship, this was a must-win game for the Sooners for a Playoff berth, and the game to catapult Murray into the top of the Heisman discussion.

Not only did the Sooners, win, they became the first Power Five team to win four Conference Championships outright in a row for the first time since Florida in the mid-’90s. Moreover, the win showed that Oklahoma is capable of applying some defensive grit, as the Sooners shut UT out of the endzone throughout the entire fourth quarter.

Oklahoma is still 108th in the nation in total defense, but offensively, the Sooners are the No. 1 team in the country through 13 games. In 859 plays this season, Oklahoma has amassed 7,513 total yards of offense, averaging 8.75 yards-per-play. An even more impressive statistic is that the Sooners are averaging 577.9 yards-per-game. To draw contrast from other Eddie Robinson finalists, UCF is third in total offense, while Clemson is 5th, followed by Alabama at 7th, Notre Dame at 28th, Fresno State at 49th, and Army at 81st.

The No. 4 ranked Sooners will face Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Saturday, December 29th. With back-to-back seasons where Lincoln Riley’s quarterbacks are turning pro, it will be interesting to see how he develops the Sooners’ new gunslingers in the future, which have helped Riley create a fluid identity during his head coaching career.

The 2018 Eddie Robinson Award will be announced on Thursday, December, 13, with the official presentation reception on January 5, 2019, in San Jose, Calif.

Want More? Check Out: College Football: Before You Fire Your Head Coach Take the US Coaching Test

College Football: Before You Fire Your Head Coach Take the US Coaching Test

Coaching Test

Tis’ Firing Season

It is abundantly clear that many schools do not make good decisions when it comes to deciding whether to retain or fire their head coaches. So I am here to help. I have come up with a simple, absolutely genius, and foolproof Coaching Test to determine whether or not your head coach needs to be fired.
Thanks to social media, fans, and boosters that scream about wanting their coaches fired are now heard. More often than not get their wish granted. As of November 29th, there have been 12 FBS head coaching jobs that have come open. None of these coaching changes were unexpected, but sometimes coaches are fired prematurely. Often, coaches are on an extremely short leash and are expected to win now despite the dysfunction they inherited. Fans and boosters want Clay Helton, and Gus Malzahn fired at USC and Auburn. But should they be gone as well?

2019 Coaching Changes

Coaching Test
With some coaches having large buyouts, there are obvious financial ramifications to firing a head coach. In addition to financial ramifications of firing the coach, there is often a lot of uncertainty when you don’t know who the next head coach is going to be. Many fan bases that have called for their coaches to be fired are learning a hard lesson. You may get your wish with your coach being fired, but your new coach may be from the “scratch and dent bin.” There are good coaches in the scratch and dent bin, but they aren’t perfect and have some unsuccessful times in their history. But you got what you wanted, a new coach. Take Kliff Kingsbury for example. After Texas Tech fired him, his phone started ringing off the hook with job opportunities. Tell me if you think Kingsbury should have been fired after you take the test.

Unafraid Show Coaching Test

Every head coach needs to be reevaluated every season. It does not matter whether the coach went undefeated and won the championship or went defeated and zero games. You only need to answer two questions two know whether your coach needs to be fired or not.

Number one:

Is there a coach that is guaranteed to take your job that is better than your current coach? Example: James Franklin is the head coach at Penn State. He seems to be doing a good job, but anyone clearly would fire him if Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban would replace him. Often coaches are fired, and the schools have no clue who will replace him.
I believe that is part of the reason USC did not fire Clay Helton. How many established, and winning head coaches would be willing to leave a successful program to go to USC. Coaches are more often valuing the stability at a top 11-25 job rather than jumping at the chance to coach a top 10 team.

Number Two:

Is there still hope? Can your current coach go into the living rooms of 17-21-year-old kids and sell them and their parents on the fact that the future of your program is brighter than the past? Can you make them buy in, believe, and go all in with you?
If you can’t answer both of these questions in the affirmative, then you need a head coaching change. The Unafraid Coaching Test is a simple and foolproof test. If Athletic Directors and administrators answered these two simple questions every season, they wouldn’t consistently mess up their programs. This method of determining whether to keep or fire your coach is an easy explanation to the boosters and other influential people around your program. It will keep the waters from being muddied by people with personal agendas and faulty reasoning. When Athletic Directors and administrations listen to the mob of angry fans, they mess up their programs by firing a coach too prematurely, or they rely on their gut/pride and keep the coach too long.
The angry mob of fans and boosters change their minds like the wind; their opinions cannot be trusted in the short term. Think about this.  Last year Florida State fans couldn’t wait to get Jimbo Fisher out and Willie Taggart in. Now, they would happily take Jimbo back. Texas fans were unsure about Tom Herman’s prospects as head coach. Now the Longhorns fanbase is smiling.
Here are a couple of common questions I got when I explained this on #UnafraidShow:

What if the coach is winning, but he can’t recruit?

If your coach can’t recruit, then he can’t win long term. If he can’t win, there will be a loss of hope. When the loss of hope happens, fire your coach. Don’t fire a winning coach!

What if the coach recruits well, constantly goes 8-5 or 9-4, and can never get you “over the hump”?

This is clearly referring to Kevin Sumlin at Texas A &M last year. TAMU was able to get Jimbo Fisher who has won a national championship. So, firing Sumlin was a good move. If they had missed on Jimbo, the Aggies would have ROYALLY screwed up. A coach who recruits well and consistently stays in those win totals is really close to breaking through. If you miss on the big fish, you will wish for him back two years from now.
Next time you get into a discussion about whether or not the coach of your favorite team needs to be fired refer to the Unafraid Coaching Test.

Kliff Kingsbury to USC? Here’s what we know about Texas Tech’s former HC

Kliff Kingsbury

Former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury could be headed to Los Angeles as the USC Trojans’ offensive coordinator, but other teams could also be in the mix.

When former Texas Tech head football coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired following the Red Raiders’ loss against Baylor to close the season, it was pretty much guaranteed he would not be returning to Lubbock as its head coach in 2019. The following day, in a somber tone, Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt made the official announcement, and shortly thereafter, rumors of Kliff Kingsbury sightings in Los Angeles started to emerge. What’s more interesting is that despite the up and down news cycle in the past five days, there have been no other rumored sightings of Kingsbury elsewhere.

A USC Annenberg Associate Professor of Professional Practices, Jeff Fellenzer dropped this bomb on Twitter earlier today:

The news began Thursday afternoon when this started making the rounds:

This source has been wrong in the past, and in any event, we should always take caution when news breaks, especially if it’s not a primary source or corroborated by secondary outlets. Moreover, While the NFL season is still ongoing, according to many sources, Kingsbury has “firm offers” from several NFL teams, and NFL analysts such as Ian Rappoport have cautioned against any conclusive moves involving USC and Kingsbury.

In a Tweet by Bruce Feldman, Kingsbury’s agent said this in response to the news, “Pump the brakes on the Kliff Kingsbury to USC talk. His agent Erik Burkhardt just told me. ‘It’s premature to say that any decision (by Kliff) has been made.'” This could mean a number of things. It could very well mean that the in-principle deal outlets are reporting as factual are not true, or parties are still negotiating. It could also be a method agents employ when they want to drum up more leverage, considering Kingsbury will take a pay cut by going from making just north of $3 million a year at Texas Tech, to somewhere in the ballpark of $1.5 million. When former USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin was signed to an extension this past February, the details of his contract weren’t disclosed, but considering USC just wiped most of its staff, I’m sure Kingsbury and Burkhardt are being very meticulous about this.

Regardless of if or when terms are met, it’s important for USC to find its next coaching staff, especially with early National Signing Day on December 19.

We’ll be sure to update this as more information becomes available.

Want More? Check Out: Unafraid Show’s College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 14: CFPlayoff Chase