Saturday, February 21, 2009

OVC's bracket busted again

When it comes to the Bracket Buster series, OVC stands for Oh Very Costly.

The conference had a dreadful showing in this year's made-by-TV event, going 3-7. Its top four teams according to the standings -- UT Martin, Morehead, Austin Peay and Murray -- didn't get a win nor did its top three teams according to the RPI (UTM, Peay, Murray).

The only wins the OVC registered came from Eastern Kentucky (over Ohio), Eastern Illinois (over Western Michigan) and resurgent Tennessee State (over Detroit). Jax State surrendered a 30-5 run during the course of its loss to Georgia Southern, a team that had lost eight games in a row.

Since 2006 when every team started participating, the OVC is 15-27 in Bracket Busters. It is 16-29 all-time.

2009 -- 3-7
2008 -- 4-6
2007 -- 3-8
2006 -- 5-6
2005 -- 1-1
2004 -- 0-1

Jax State is 1-3, winning its first experience against New Orleans, then losing to Chattanooga, Georgia State and, now, Georgia Southern. The Gamecocks are 1-1 in the return games, losing to New Orleans and beating Georgia State.

What's it get them; the OVC didn't even get a game on the ESPN family of networks this year? At least it's one less game the league's teams have to go out and find for next year's schedule, two in JSU's case if you count the game Chattanooga still owes the Gamecocks.

What do you think of the Bracket Busters concept, especially for teams, like JSU and Georgia Southern (or even woeful SEMO), near the bottom of their leagues' standings? Should every OVC team continue to play in it? How about half the teams one year and the other half the next? Or, if the league ever expands to 12 teams, how about four different teams over a three-year period?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hard Corps 2, Opponents 0

Meant to get this to you the other day, but got caught up in a couple things (mainly the nice golf weather Sunday).

The Hard Corps pep band got another one Saturday. And this time, the victim seemed to rather enjoy the treatment.

Eastern Kentucky's Colette Cole has been wearing a face guard since taking a pop in the nose against Tennessee State on Jan. 3. Saturday, she went to the foul line in the second half against the Gamecocks and the pep band didn't waste any time breaking into humming the theme from "Phantom of the Opera."

Cole caught on pretty quickly as she couldn't help chuckle as she set up for the shots.

Earlier this year, the band noticed SE Missouri player Lesley Adams had her shorts on backwards for the first half of that game and let her know it every time she came down the floor. The shorts were adjusted at halftime.

I'll say this: The pep band does have some annoying cheers, like their blood cheer ("... Hemoglobin. Hemoglobin. We want blood") and the run ups to when JSU players go to the line, but when they hit the mark, they are usually pretty good.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Walking a thin line

JSU athletic department officials don’t believe they have committed any NCAA violations, but, boy, it sure looks close.

In early January, junior quarterback Ryan Perrilloux appeared at an official team press conference to discuss spring practice and his decision to forgo the NFL draft with a soft-drink company logo displayed prominently on his JSU polo shirt. Then, last week, comments from student assistant Tommy Joe Whiddon appeared in a Florida newspaper relative to his brother Rayce’s verbal commitment to the Gamecocks.

While JSU officials claim no violations in these cases, both situations seem to walk a thin line.

NCAA bylaw 12.5.4 stipulates an institution’s official uniform and all other items of apparel shall bear only a single manufacturer’s or distributor’s normal label or trademark, and applies to just “competition” as well as pre- and post-game activities. It’s one thing for a coach to be linked to a popular product, and JSU strategically places a soft drink in front Crowe during his weekly in-season press conferences NASCAR-esque, but the rules are there to prevent the commercial exploitation of a student-athlete.

Bylaw 13.10.2 prohibits an institution from commenting about a prospect’s ability, potential contribution to the college team or the likelihood of his signing with the school, a violation JSU athletic department officials have accused The Star on several occasions of promoting in conversations with their coaches.

After it was noted in the Walton (Fla.) Sun that Tommy Joe Whiddon and John Houston Whiddon, a senior receiver on the team, both said they hoped to see their brother join them at JSU, Tommy Joe was quoted saying, “I just told him I wanted him to keep all of his options open. He had had a good season and had earned the right to be recruited. I didn't want him to base his decision just on me and John Houston being up here because he had to do what was right for him. It's his life. You only get this decision to make one time."

Sounds like a comment about a recruit.

Rayce officially joined his brothers Wednesday, signing with the Gamecocks on national signing day.

The NCAA, in an e-mail response to The Star, said it couldn’t state whether there was a violation in the apparel case unless it had more information. As to the recruiting comment question, it directed any questions to JSU.

JSU sports information director Greg Seitz explained away the shirt Perrilloux wore as “it’s our team shirt.” He said earlier this week when the question was revisited, “it’d be like him wearing a FUBU shirt. He could wear a Coca-Cola shirt. It’d be no different than wearing an OVC shirt.”

Of course, the Ohio Valley Conference doesn’t stand to make a buck by having one of its teams’ star players appear with its logo on his shirt or throw support toward the program to have the logo displayed on team wear whether the player is (improperly) compensated or not.

Seitz explained Whiddon’s public comments about a recruit as “He’s (Tommy Joe) a student. We don’t have graduate assistant coaches.” Still, he works in/for the football program, and you’d figured the rule would apply to everyone in a program’s staff regardless of their status.

Since the school claims no violations, these two circumstances become nothing more than a thing to make you go hmmmm.

To the Gamecocks’ credit, it has been said they have had fewer than a dozen secondary violations since moving to Division I. But these two instances should sound an alarm.

The solution? The NCAA should tighten some potential loopholes in its rules or JSU, especially now that university president Bill Meehan is on the NCAA Board of Directors, needs to steer clear of even the slightest appearance of impropriety.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Two new players in the mix?

For a while there it looked like two more teams had entered the realm of possibility for JSU's second guarantee game in the 2009 football season, but in the end, athletic director Oval Jaynes said he was just trying to get a rise out of the reporter in the room.

Speaking at JSU's signing day announcement Wednesday, Jaynes talked about who the Gamecocks might play in the much-aniticipated game most everyone expects will be Florida State. He spoke of how he discussed the latest with coach Jack Crowe and said he asked the coach which team he'd rather play, Syracuse or Rutgers?

So are they two new teams in the mix? Other teams discussed at various times during this soap opera that has become the JSU schedule include Florida State, Houston, Illinois, Clemson, Central Arkansas, Northern Illinois.

It all hinges, it seems, on the ACC and ESPN putting together their TV packages. Some have suggested the ACC is trying to position itself for the best possible exposure during the first three weeks of the season.

Miami has moved all its non-conference games, which clears the way for an FSU-Miami game on Labor Day. FSU plays Maine on the date in quesiton, and there's some serious money involved if the Black Bears (who reportedly turned down an alternate matchup with Houston) don't get the game.

The date JSU is looking at is Sept. 12. So now maybe it's Rutgers or Syracuse, both of whom are looking for a game?

"I said that just for your benefit," Jaynes said. "We have had not one conversation with either one of them. I just said it to see if you were paying attention. We're just sitting waiting."

A decision "isn't as far" as it had been, Jaynes said, "but it ain't close yet."

Jaynes said the Gamecocks will play 11 games this season regardless if the FSU/ESPN thing materializes. The ACC is expected to announce its TV schedule Monday.

"We could end up going in another direction," he said. "There are some FCS teams that are available, Division II. I don't think I want to go that route. We've had people call and ask about it, but right now I don't think I want to play a D-II team.

"I want to get something done, but I want to get done what I want done, not just take what's out there. We could have signed a game three or four weeks ago, but I'm trying to do what's best for Jacksonville State, not just going out there and grabbing the first thing out there."

Monday, February 2, 2009

What a guess

Just as The Star projected a few days ago, Jacksonville State will play at Georgia Southern in its Bracket Buster game.

The game will be Feb. 21 in Statesboro. The return game is next year in Pete Mathews Coliseum.

Jax State is currently 9-11, while Georgia Southern is 7-12. It was about the closest game between like teams the Gamecocks could draw.

The Eagles are No. 203 in the latest RPI, while JSU is No. 227

The other matchups invlving OVC teams include: Austin Peay (12-9) at Drake (14-9), Eastern Illinois (10-11) at Western Michigan (7-13), Ohio (10-10) at Eastern Kentucky (13-9), Morehead State (13-10) at Kent State (10-11), Louisiana Tech (8-14) at Murray State (10-9), Northern Illinois (6-13) at Southeast Missouri (3-20), Detroit (6-15) at Tennessee State (6-15), Tennessee Tech (11-10) at Ball State (10-9) and Missouri State (9-13) at UT Martin (14-6).