Sunday, February 17, 2008

May this be the last word on the subject

Pete Holiday at Fanhouse has produced this response to the now-protracted debate about Alabama's oversigning of players. As we have noted, this has been a very passionate, and lately, downright nasty debate between Alabama fans and, essentially, Michigan fans lead by Cook. Lots of pixels have been darkened in angry invective, which makes it all the more appropriate that Pete's commentary has a nice, calm, reasoned tone in spite of putting down Cook for his ... uh, rather purple prose.

But once we're past the Fanhouse Baby, Pete gets to the point:

The crux of Brian's argument is that if, come August, a team has more than 85 players who should be getting football scholarships, the overage will need to be unceremoniously dumped to come within the NCAA's limitations. This is an undeniable fact. Brian would have you believe that makes him right and everyone else stupid, but there's more to it than that. First, it's a hypothetical situation which has not yet come to pass and is far from a certainty. Second, there's a lot of room for reasonable people to differ on "who should be getting [a] football scholarship[]."

The responding posts by Alabama bloggers tend to focus how the 86+ scholarshipped class will not come to pass. One factor for which Brian did not originally account was non-athletic scholarships. He attempts to dismiss this by asserting: "Anyone on scholarship and on the football team counts against the 85 limit."

This, of course, is false. Take, for example, Bryant Scholarship players (the Bryant scholarship is given to sons and daughters of his former players), as demonstrated quite clearly by The Capstone Report (whose author continues to butcher my last name) by simply citing the NCAA rule. The gist of it is this: non-athletic scholarships don't count until "the student athlete engages in varsity intercollegiate competition." So, with all due respect to Mr. Cook, he needs to take another read through the NCAA Bylaws.
Pete's essential argument boils down to the same one I made earlier, only fleshed out considerably. I said, "Let's wait and see what happens," and Pete is saying not only that, but, "Here are some of the ways Alabama could get around the problem of having to dismiss qualified players." That makes a lot of sense, and I know at UK we have been able to offer some of our players scholarships in other sports, academic, or hardship scholarships. All of these are perfectly valid and not at all a sign of abuse, scofflaw, or moral or ethical turpitude.

I think Pete is exactly right in his analysis. Brian is correct in asserting that this is a situation where abuse and unethical behavior are certainly a possibility, but he seems to be saying that there is no ethical way out of this situation. That seems patently false to me, and surely Brian is smart enough to know better. If he isn't, well, at least Holiday is attempting to enlighten him.