Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jay Bilas on Sampson's illegal phone calls

Jay Bilas (IMO the best college basketball analyst in the business) had this to say in a recent Insider article on ESPN previewing the Hoosiers:

The penalties that were levied on Sampson as a result of the phone calls are still being talked about, and my sense is that they will be talked about all season. Here is the final word from me on the phone call rule, and Sampson's violation of that rule:

I have seen much written about the situation, and precious little of it accurate, in my judgment. While I respect any informed opinion on the matter, it seems like too many are too quick to repeat what they have heard or what has been reported rather than to undertake some independent investigation of the matter. Here is what I know: Sampson has been reported to have made 577 impermissible phone calls. What is not reported is that the 577 calls were for Sampson's entire staff, and they were made over a 48-month period. That adds up to 12 phone calls per month, or three phone calls per week for the whole staff. Less than half of those calls (233 over a 48-month period) were made by Sampson himself. That adds up to five extra calls per month, or just over one per week.

Remember, Sampson and his staff recruited dozens of players. Some of these calls were when there was a lack of communication between staff members, some of them were when a cell phone call was dropped and the call was resumed, some of the calls were when the recruit called Sampson and Sampson called back, and some of the calls were from a lack of attention to detail. Instead of sending a text message telling a recruit to call him (which is permissible), Sampson just called the recruit. It was a violation of the rule, and that is not to be taken lightly, but it was not the sinister plot it is made out to be. This is not to excuse the violation of the rule, but to explain it.

My point is this: These phone calls were not part of some evil effort to cheat. Those who want to cheat the phone call rule will never be caught because they use a cell phone that is not in their name, or phone cards that are not traceable. If the NCAA looked into any program, it is likely that a violation of the phone call rule would be found, perhaps just in lesser numbers. This was a minor violation that has been overblown. The way the NCAA handled this matter had less to do with the violation of the rule than with how Sampson and Oklahoma responded to the matter. Instead of dropping to their knees and giving the NCAA a tearful mea culpa, Sampson defended himself. That is a no-no in NCAA territory, and the Association hit him hard for it. This is not the last time you will hear of this rule; others have violated it, and we will see whether those cases are handled in a similar fashion.

Interesting take from a guy whose opinion I respect -- and who certainly doesn't have a history of looking the other way when he thinks something unethical is going on.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Camping with the kidlets

The kids and I went camping at Jordan Lake this weekend, and I snapped a few pictures. As always, just click on the picture to view the full-sized image.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tyler's Knight

Everyone should have a life-sized knight in their room. It's like khaki... it goes with everything.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Eric Gordon will play for the Indiana Hoosiers!

I have nothing more to add.

Except maybe a Yeeeeee HAW!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wet Blanket: It's hard not to be jaded about pre-season articles

I'm enjoying the pre-season articles, as usual, but with each passing year I get more and more jaded about these. It's fun because everyone's optimistic and everyone talks about how this season is different/better than last season and how great all their teammates look and whatnot. But it's the same thing every season, and it's the same thing for every team. Have you ever read a preseason article where a player said, "It's a relief because our conditioning drills are so much easier than last year." Nope. But if conditioning is always harder than the season before, isn't there a ceiling effect at some point? And of course everyone raves about the new guys (like Stemler and White) and raves about the guys who need to improve (like Ratliff)... but c'mon, I remember the glowing Cem Dinc articles a year ago as well.

It's even hard for me to get excited about the players talking about how much more disciplined Sampson is than Davis. For example:
"I think that is what last year's team lacked, discipline," said Ratliff. "Last year anybody could say something to Coach Davis and he might kick them out but they would be back the next day. I don't think anybody is going to do that to Coach Sampson."

While that's certainly nice to hear, IMO it says a lot less about Sampson than it does about Davis. In other words, it's not Sampson's behavior that's notable in that quote, it's Davis's. While it's certainly a good feeling to know that we have a real coach again, not allowing players to backtalk doesn't exactly make Sampson a strict disciplinarian. It just makes him competent.

Of course even apart from these articles, we fans are the same way. We start to think, "Well, if AJ and Ben Allen play really well... and Mike White and Lance Stemler are big contributers... and Wilmont and Calloway have great senior seasons... and DJ White is an all-american... and everyone stays healthy... man, we could be really good!!" Well, sure, that's true. And while we're at it we could also wish for a pony.

Yeah, I know, I'm a wet blanket.