Auburn’s Tainted Title: Victims, Violations and Vendettas for Glory (via Roopstigo)

Mike McNeil can detail how the culture of big-time football works in a fast-growing community of 53,000 under the thumb of its major industry: Auburn University athletics. In an economic impact survey by the school in 2007, the report stated: “a conservative estimate of Auburn football’s direct visitor expenditures is more than $79.6 million during seven home events. That spending generates some $173 million in economic impact.” The university tentacles reach everywhere as the leading employer in Lee County. Chris Hughes, the judge who is scheduled to sit on the bench at Mike’s trial next week, is an Auburn University alumnus. According to his website, he once worked at the university coliseum and his sister is an Auburn University professor.  The school is a massive construction zone these days thanks to public funding and the largesse of wealthy alumni, many of whom sit in luxury boxes at Jordan-Hare Stadium, seating capacity 87,451.

As part of the BCS-dominant SEC, Auburn athletics feeds off the more than $3 billion earned by the conference through network and cable TV deals and will be part of an incoming stream of millions more with the SEC TV Network set to launch in 2014. “They recruit you by telling you what you want to hear: You’re family; you’re like a son to me,” says Mike. “But the reality is your class schedule is planned around football, not the other way around. It’s a business and there are players on the payroll.”

McNeil is not alone in understanding how Auburn football operates as an underground society beneath the NCAA’s radar. “Auburn does whatever Auburn wants,” says Thorpe. In interviews with more than a dozen players from the BCS title team, a portrait emerges of a championship tainted by allegations suggesting a program going off the rails. … Read More

(via Roopstigo)

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Topsy Monday

As noted, last Saturday’s college football games featured a number of games between top-ranked teams. As discussed in this space before, every game generally is going to end with one team on the winning side and one team on the losing side, games being athletic events between two teams. This means that a bunch of ranked teams lost this week, and boy did they.

Keep reading…

From champs to chomped: How Urban Meyer broke Florida football (via Sporting News)

The uproar and controversy of Urban Meyer’s stunning recruiting coup at Ohio State settled in and Stefon Diggs, still on the Buckeyes’ wish list, was debating his future.

Diggs, the second-highest rated wide receiver in the country, had narrowed his list of potential schools to Maryland, Florida and Ohio State. For more than a week following National Signing Day on Feb. 1, and before Diggs eventually signed with Maryland, Meyer relentlessly pursued Diggs.

Multiple sources told Sporting News that Meyer—who won two national championships in six years at Florida and cemented his legacy as one of the game’s greatest coaches—told the Diggs family that he wouldn’t let his son go to Florida because of significant character issues in the locker room.

Character issues that we now know were fueled by a culture Meyer created. Character issues that gutted what was four years earlier the most powerful program in college football. … Read More

(via Sporting News)

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Urban renewal: Once Meyered in the Swamp, a Buckeye nut returns to his roots

Urban renewal: Once Meyered in the Swamp, a Buckeye nut returns to his roots

I met Urban Meyer once, about a month after we won our first title with him at the helm. Through a series of very fortunate events, I actually got to have an uninterrupted conversation with the guy for about 20 minutes. In that time, it became obvious that February 2007 Urban Meyer only cared about two things: winning football games, and spending time with his family. And it was clear that, notwithstanding all the success on the first front, he was pretty upset about everything he was missing out on at home.

Which is why, 2 (and then again 3) years later, when he claimed he was leaving, at least in part, on account of his family, I believed it. I really think that was a big deal to him, and I think he has, by and large, taken great advantage of the time off to see his kids. But he loves coaching football, so seeing his inevitable return come a little quicker than I expected is understandable.

Given all that, I’m having trouble being mad at him. Sure, he said some ridiculous things about how he couldn’t step away and then end up coaching somewhere else in a year or two; how wrong that’d be. I’m sure he felt that way at the time, and I appreciated the sentiment. But he obviously can’t come back to UF now, and tOSU is his alleged dream job, so I don’t begrudge him moving on. If he raids our coaching staff, as has been rumored, that’s another story. But until we see that confirmed, best of luck buddy.

My feelings about the way UF handled the Urban Meyer situation over the past two years are a little different. I understand that he had a ton of leverage when we negotiated with him, but our AD, Jeremy Foley, basically let Urbz walk all over him. As I understand it, he had a $500,000.00 buy out, on a deal that paid him millions of dollars over a very long period of time. Even worse, a month after his second, longer-term retirement, we still paid him a $1MM bonus that he was to earn if he was still the coach as of January 1, 2011. So we essentially gave him a cool million to take a year off while he waited on what is reportedly a 7 year, $40MM contract. Money aside, the guy also got to keep an office on campus, and was a continued presence in Gainesville. It made for a challenging transition, and probably didn’t make Will Muschamp’s job any easier (though I’m not going to begin making excuses for this season).

As for how this hire plays out for tOSU, it’s tough to predict. Call us bitter Gator fans, but from discussions with fellow UF grads over the past week, the consensus seems to be that the Buckeyes might not be getting their money’s worth. The Urban Meyer that won national championships had great assistant coaches he could rely on. Even then, he was a workaholic. If he’s truly found a work-life balance, I think we’ll see a more even win-loss balance as well. I’ve heard more in depth analysis about why he’ll have trouble succeeding, but I’m not an Xs and Os guy, and I can’t begin to give a good explanation. Surely they will improve on this year’s record, but questions of how many years before he can win a national championship are a little premature. In terms of recruiting, I’d assume tOSU starts getting more national recruits than they have in the past, but I’m praying that kids from the state of Florida still think of Ohio in the same way I do: Cold, gray, ugly, and irrelevant for decades.