These are wild times for your humble correspondent, both here at Dawg Sports and elsewhere in life, so I beg your pardon for delivering this to you in the form of a rundown, but, as you will see, it has been quite busy in these parts of late and it's all I can do to keep up; viz.:
- Sometimes it's hard to tell around here, but, yes, the University of Georgia does field varsity teams in sports other than football! My thanks go out to NCT for pointing out that the men's tennis team won its second straight team indoor national championship and retained its No. 1 ranking in the most recent Fila collegiate rankings.
- While we're on the subject of Georgia sports that are not football, yes, I am aware that the Diamond Dogs defeated Mercer in Macon to claim their first win of the season by a 6-5 final margin this evening following a rain delay. I would have covered it, as I did the Red and Black's first three games, but I wasn't able to locate an operable real-time feed for following the action live. My bad.
In his defense, CW told me I'd be hopelessly out of touch until I got a D.V.R.!
- Burnt Orange Nation called it "The Great Debate," which may overstate the case, but Sunday Morning Quarterback and I have exchanged good-natured volleys over whether to have a Division I-A college football playoff. SMQ has fired the latest salvo, to which I will respond when the opportunity arises . . . although, regrettably, that may take a few days. In the meantime, you are encouraged to continue the conversation in the comments, both at SMQ's site and at mine, where some fine observations from first-time commenters like Red Blooded and 5th and minus 1 have made this effort worthwhile. For his part, The Realist has chimed in at SMQ's place and at his own, and Senator Blutarsky remains on the case, as always.
- In the wake of Jim Delany's recent remarks and Michigan's subsequent scheduling of Appalachian State, I offered a few observations, which brought down the wrath of The Lawgiver. I still had some questions, though, so I am glad that The Blue-Gray Sky had some answers. Like the recurrent playoff debate, the squabbling between the Big Ten and the S.E.C. over academic standards is nothing new, as evidenced by this passage from John Sayle Watterson's College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy:
While subsidies and work programs flourished in the East and Midwest, southern athletic departments had opted for a different approach. In 1929 the Washington Post commented that "the South today seems inclined to adopt a 'ho, hum,' and 'well, what of it?'" attitude toward subsidizing athletes. Schools in the South had become less inclined to give athletes jobs or provide partial support through loans and under-the-table payments.
In the Big Ten, still the citadel of the amateur supporters, other schools threatened to follow the Southeastern Conference's example. Rumors circulated in 1936 that Wisconsin was prepared to offer athletic scholarships, but it did not happen. In truth the Big Ten schools had no need to give athletic scholarships and might actually have found them expensive and unnecessary, since Big Ten players already had access to easy jobs. One All-America lineman for Northwestern later recounted that he had worked as a night watchman at Northwestern's Dyche Stadium, a job that he described as more boring than taxing. He related that he had received payments to help him with his expenses, though he never knew who provided this assistance. These jobs and payments were not precisely athletic scholarships because they did not constitute a "full ride." While many athletes at big-time schools got a combination of aid in the form of school jobs, summer employment from alumni, tuition "loans," and some money under the table, athletic officials still believed that they stayed within their definition of amateur athletics. To round out this aid, fraternities often provided not only jobs but also free room and board for big-time athletes.
Obviously, subsidies did not stop with campus jobs. At Ohio State the athletic department managed to get jobs for the leading athletes, such as the sprinter Jesse Owens, at the nearby state capitol; Owens ran an elevator, and others served as pages for the legislators. Governor Martin Davey of Ohio in a press conference tried to deflect questions about the employment by joking about how athletes fit into state hiring practices. In a shaky conclusion the conference commissioner, John Griffith, like later masters of "spin," insisted that the players received the same rate of pay and had the same chance for employment as nonathletes.
Jim Delany claims that "winning our way requires some discipline and restraint with the recruitment process," with "discipline and restraint" being defined as signing 20 players per Big Ten school instead of 27 players per S.E.C. school. It behooves us to remember that, when the S.E.C. invented the athletic scholarship as an alternative to under-the-table payments and bogus no-show summer jobs, Delany's predecessor thought 20 athletic scholarships per Big Ten school were 20 athletic scholarships too many.
Oh, if only the Big Ten's heritage of healthy relationships between disciplined coaches and amateur athletes had not been sullied by the shameful introduction of scholarships!
- Keep your eye on Pitch Right, where you can find some interesting ruminations on Division I-A matchups with Division I-AA teams and a breakdown of major college football's most obscure teams. It's a site you need to be dropping by regularly if you aren't already.
- Peter Bean has directed the blogosphere's attention over to Corn Nation, the first of the SportsBlogs Nation weblogs to receive the site upgrades that eventually are expected to be implemented network-wide. As SportsBlogs Nation continues to improve and expand (adding a New York Giants weblog even since the additions of three other new blogs), these fan-friendly refits will find their way to Dawg Sports, as well, so you are strongly encouraged to offer your feedback on the look and feel of Corn Nation. What do you like? What don't you like? What did we forget? Let us know, because we are committed to providing quality content and a reader-involved community here at SportsBlogs Nation . . . which means we need to know what you think.
For instance, if a reader tells me he wants to see a picture of Mary-Louise Parker, well, then I'll do my best to give him one! (If you like a little exposed midriff, too, I can accommodate that, as well.)
- There are other noteworthy developments forthcoming here at Dawg Sports, above and beyond the scheduled site upgrades, so please stay tuned for a couple of changes that I believe will be to your liking. Unfortunately, these positive events remain on the horizon and have not yet been finalized, so I will have to remain vague for the moment, but trust me when I tell you there's some good stuff coming your way . . . including, but not limited to, the soon-to-be-announced plans for Bloggerpalooza '07, assuming, of course, that Doug Gillett and I can get organized enough to keep this year's festivities from becoming quite the fiasco that last year's were. G-Day is April 7, folks, so save the date, 'cause it'll be here before you know it.
- There are events of interest upcoming this weekend, including the Diamond Dogs' three-game series with Purdue and the Gym Dogs' home meet against Auburn. (I hate Auburn.) My reports on these contests, like my reply to SMQ, may be delayed by intervening obligations, for which I apologize. While the official athletics site and the invaluable Dawg Bone are sure to keep you informed in the interim, I would encourage you to keep checking back here at Dawg Sports, where much is going on and almost all of it is good.