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Bernie Machen Shows Thursday Hub the Money

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First Round Playoff Showdown: SEC vs. Big Ten: Florida president Bernie Machen's no fool - fans want a Division I-A playoff, a lot of coaches and players and want a Division I-A playoff, and nobody with any direct say on the matter gives a damn about either one of these not-going-anywhere demographics. What the presidents want to see, of course, is a little sweet, sweet playoff green:

"The big (unknown) is: 'Is there a lot of money that's not on the table?' " he says. "It could be sizable. More than $100 million more than is on the table now."

It's one plank in an argument he'll make to presidents of the 11 other schools in the Southeastern Conference next Friday during meetings in Destin, Fla. Machen also sees a playoff bringing a more equitable split of postseason revenue, which last season totaled almost $218 million -- 86% pocketed by schools in six conferences -- Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pacific-10 and SEC -- and Notre Dame.

Even if the other SEC presidents aren't sold on scrapping football's Bowl Championship Series and moving to a playoff when current BCS contracts expire after the 2009 season, Machen says he's optimistic they'll clear him to take the idea to other leagues.

South Carolina President Andrew Sorensen, the SEC's current president, insists no action will be taken in Destin.

How Machen's pitch will be received is uncertain, says Sorenson, who himself is skeptical: "We've got the 12-game (regular) season. We've got the (32) bowls with the communities that sponsor them feeling passionate about maintaining them. And then we have in many conferences, including ours, a game to determine a conference champion. That's 14 games before you start a playoff, and that's a long season.

"You couldn't possibly add a national championship that wouldn't take at least three rounds. So now you're talking about a 17-game season that's interrupted by the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. ... The logistics are difficult."

The "long season" argument is complete foolishness, or else an intentional red herring. The current BCS consists of five games. A single-elimination, eight-team playoff would consist of seven games. Without even thinking of touching the other 27 non-BCS bowls and their sponsors (and why would you?) or the conference championships, the net extension of the season is two games.

Sorensen's equation of a playoff as a replacement for the entire bowl system, as opposed to only the already roped-off BCS, is frustrating, and so is the article's reporting along the same idea. Machen says $100 million is "on the table" - it would be nice to know from whom. Television? Tostitos? I assume existing sponsors would love their name splashed across a playoff field - and that number is immediately compared to last year's bowl haul, $218 million, so it looks like the potential playoff lucre is only sitting at half the existing profits. But that's for all 32 bowls, and the playoff can't and shouldn't replace all of them. The total payout for all five BCS games, which it can and should replace, was $85 million last year. So $100 million "on the table," before any kind of formal proposal, even, is comparable to say the least.

Anyway, this is only further confirmation of what we already knew about the eventual coming of a playoff: the SEC is open to it, Jim Delaney and the fine sweater-clad, discerning institutions of the Big Ten will not even consider the idea, and the initial compromise will come in the form of a ludicrous, turmoil-magnifying "Plus One" addition before evolving into something with a small but nevertheless neatly printable bracket.

Collisions=Concussions. Nu Metal-backed Film at Eleven: More obviousness confirmed in the virtual pages of the young, color-coded lady, which cites a sixteen-year study that finds hard-hitting sports like football and hockey are more likely to result in injury:

The study, published in a special spring issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, looked at injury data for 15 sports. Information was collected between 1988 and 2004 by the NCAA and the National Athletic Trainers Association.
Among other findings the study reported:
• More than half of all injuries were to the lower extremities.
• Injury rates were two to three times higher during preseason practices than during the regular season.
• Rates of concussions increased from .17 per 1,000 athlete exposures in 1988-89 to .34 per 1,000 exposures in 2003-04. An exposure is every time an athlete participates in a game. Authors attributed the increase in part to improved reporting and identification of concussions.
• Several sports showed declines in game injuries, including women's gymnastics, basketball and field hockey.

Football is far ahead of the pack at 35.9 injuries per 1,000 "exposures," or games played, which means every contest carries a roughly 3.6 percent chance of some kind of ailment. That's double the rate of almost every other sport, except rasslin', which carries about a 2.6 percent chance of injury despite the fact no one outside of the state of Iowa gives a crap (except maybe A.C Slater, no doubt personally responsible for most of the concussions from 1993-96). It's also far ahead of most industrial manufacturing professions as reported to OSHA in 2003-04.

Two questions: what about cheerleading, long cited as the most dangerous per capita physical activity? And what a bizarre picture to accompany a story about the relative dangers of contact:

That's Derrick Harvey on the turf during January's mythical championship game, who delivered the contact against a very (irrationally) concerned-looking Troy Smith on a consistent basis. Florida teammates here "tend" to their sack-master, and pretty effectively: he sacked Smith three times, only making the Heisman winner look the wounded prey.

Quickly: Alabama on Nick Saban's alleged recruiting snafus in Florida: What allegations? ... The NFL drops its suit against Cal and Stanford's "Big Game" ... Iowa fans are undeterred by the Hawkeyes' losing 2006, or 07's weak home slate ... Tommy Bowden gets religious with the Greenville News. Respectfully, and only because they asked ... Remembering Deion Sanders, baseball and track champion on the same day 20 years ago ... Craig Krenzel: still using his brain. For good or evil? Well, for real estate ... Freshman Texas tackles J'Marcus Webb and Roy Watts are transferring for more playing time ... Washington State loses Darrell Hutsona and DeWayne Patterson, both declared academically ineligible ... Dan Hawkins, local marathon man ... The New York Yankees reach out to Virginia Tech with a generous donation - and an exploitive first pitch? ... The natural politician behind JoPa's bizarre team clean-up policy

The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
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Agreed, to pay the family of slain Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata $2 million, an insurance company for the apartment complex the family accused of negligence in the November shooting. The family's lawyers cited obscured lighting ("It was basically pitch black"), dangerous parking near a dumpster, an open gate and lax security in "as reckless and dangerous a situation'' as they've prosecuted, which could be an awful lot of situations if Miami's gun-wielding stereotype is true in any way. The Colony apartments had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to reach a settlement or face a lawsuit.

Fingered, as leader of a cocaine ring formed among Montana State athletes, an unnamed ex-Bobcat identified in court records only by "street name":

The affidavit filed in the Gatewood case, signed by FBI Special Agent Gregory Rice, uses information gathered from two Bozeman informants and pegs the leader of the drug ring as a former MSU football player who used the street names "D," or "DW or "Demetrius." "D" had six drug runners working for him, including the Gatewood brothers and two informants, court records said.

"D" is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator and is not named in court records. Investigators would not say if he has been arrested.
During the summer of 2006, "not long after the murder of Jason Wright (a known local cocaine dealer in Bozeman)," the affidavit said, "DW" told an informant that "there was a lot of 'heat' going on right now in Bozeman."

In late 2006, "DW" said he was going to California and that Rick Gatewood was taking over the cocaine ring, court records said.

On May 11, investigators said Rick Gatewood told them he had been involved in the cocaine ring since the summer of 2005, and that he gave "DW" some of his athletic scholarship money from MSU so he could buy cocaine from a supplier in Fairfield, Calif.

In addition to its "scholarship for drugs" headline, the MSU case includes an assistant coach serving time for possession of crystal meth, which is not necessarily related to the cocaine ring, and, much more seriously, a murder currently attributed to ex-athletes, which most definitely is related to the cocaine ring.