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Monday Hub Wishes A Tiger-Free Memorial Day

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Memorial Day has always had a tendency to sneak up on me, in the "every day should be Memorial Day" sort of way. I appreciate but am not an afficionado of the cookout. This year, the day happens to fall a week before members of my own family travel to Arlington National Cemetery for a funeral I really wish I could attend, but can't. This is the only time of year a flag flies in front of every grave there. I've been before in more impersonal circumstances, and it would be right to be there to honor a man who deserves it.

Soldiers are politicized as a matter of course; it can't be otherwise. They are Orwell's "rough men," who stand ready to do violence on our behalf so that we may sleep peaceably in our beds, but we also do a good job in this country of recognizing our fighters as real, breathing people with families and tangible, valuable lives. Patriotism is not always easy to muster, but shouldn't be required to remember them at some point in the day's festivities.

For time purposes, this morning's report will be updated as we go...

Nothing To See Here: Alabama is submitting a report about it, but Cecil Hurt gets some perspective of the futility of the alleged recruiting violations Nick Saban is said to have committed in Florida by getting a little too in-depth in conversation with prospects:

Some of the stories about Saban's possible transgressions this week referred to the fact violations of Rule 13.02.3 are almost always considered "secondary." They don't send the NCAA Enforcement Staff scurrying in search of secret witnesses. They don't trigger lengthy investigations.

Consider this. There may not be a rule in the book violated more than 13.02.3. Coaches complain constantly that other coaches -- and rest assured, that's not just Saban -- bend the rule. I couldn't begin to calculate how many times 13.02.3 has been violated in the past 15 years (and you can't get that information from the NCAA), but if someone said that the total was in the hundreds, I wouldn't doubt it for an instant.

And yet -- and I didn't see a story that mentioned this -- there has been a grand total of one major NCAA Infractions case in which a violation of Bylaw 13.02.3 was cited. That was Colorado's 2002 case, which included a whole laundry list of other violations as well. If it weren't for those other, more serious violations, well, Colorado probably wouldn't have been in the dock either.

The worst 'Bama could theoretically get is a reprimand, and given the murky water here, reprisals will be lucky to amount to an official acknowledgment of bureaucratic rule-bending, the sort of artificial niceties for which Nick Saban definitely does not have time. "Alabama Coach Accused of Recruiting Violations" is a nonstarter until the details of Saban's standard pitch - including, most prominently, a meticulous re-enactment of the Russian Roulette scene in The Deer Hunter - come to light.

Don't Mess With Texas. No, Seriously - You Are Meat: LSU stops at nothing to get what it wants, heeds no barrier, bows neither to cost nor caution to secure the very best. When it comes to replacing Mike V, that search could lead them high, or low, to "anywhere there's an airport" - or just, uh, next door:

Forys said because of its liberal laws concerning exotic animal trade, Texas is a likely source.

"It's probably not going to be very hard to find one," Forys said. "You can go to just about any big city in Texas, and if they aren't in the paper you can look online in classifieds and find big cats and various kinds of hoof stock for sale. "They are continuously bred because there is a market. Tiger cubs can go anywhere from $1,500 to $5-$10,000 apiece, depending on if they were orange or white tigers."

(Emphasis added)

Can we keep 'im, dad? Huh? Huh? Pleeeeease?
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"Various kinds of hoof stock," I can understand, but what is the "market" in Texas for big jungle cats, to the extent you can find one of these endangered killers in the daily classifieds (probably under the category "Bloodthirsty Predators")? I'm moving soon to an undisclosed big city in Texas, and it won't be long, I imagine, before I'm forced to fortify my backyard with a skulking bengal, either to keep up with the Joneses or just with the jungle cat arms (claws?) race. After all, 10,000 tigers live as pets in the United States, more than in the wild, and if everyone else has a gun, shouldn't I have tiger?

Big 12: Hell No, We Won’t Go: The SEC has decent, playoff-lovin’ folks like me all a-twitter with its playof talk, but the Big 12’s spring meeting ended last week with a firm opposition to anything beyond an insipid "plus one" model:

"(The board) has always said it is open to consideration of perhaps a "plus one" (format), but that there were a number of criteria that would have to be satisfied before the board would be enthusiastic about that," Perlman said. "We haven't seen any (plus-one) plan that satisfies those criteria." The criteria specified by the Big 12 board for a plus-one system includes no more than 14 games in a season, including postseason play, no games during finals week, no reduction in regular-season game and compatibility with the bowl structure, Perlman said.
If the 12-game regular season is not reduced, the national champion in a plus-one format would end up playing 15 games if it comes from a league, such as the Big 12, that has a conference championship game. The number of games in a season could stretch to 16 or more games under a playoff system that includes multiple rounds.

The expansion to a twelve-game regular season is going to be a sticking point, assuming playoff-concerned universities are in no hurry to drop the bonus cupcake lucre, and conferences are even more resigned to scrapping their very profitable, well-exposed championship games. Minus that initial round of the postseason, a three-round, eight-team playoff would come very close to meeting Perlman’s requirements:

• The two teams in the championship game would be the only ones to break the 15-game barrier. If the conference championships are scrapped – again, not a likely scenario – the teams elminated in the first round would play thirteen games (same as now) and the second round knockouts fourteen (the Big 12’s hypothetical limit).
• Most finals take place in about the middle of December, during which a few teams are preparing for and playing in bowl games now. The addition of a fifth game basically made the BCS a two-week event last year, beginning New Year’s Day and ending a week later. Under that timeline, a first round on Christmas would avoid finals week.
• The bowl structure is under no more threat from a potential playoff than it is now from the roped-off BCS. Just make the current big money bowls the playoff games – it’s still the Fiesta Bowl, still the Orange, etc. Go tradition! Whatever you have to do.

Quickly: More than 100 people have signed a petition opposing Gene Chizik’s plan to appoint a team chaplain at Iowa State. Many public schools already have this position, including my alma mater ... Jim Harbaugh has the Ann Arbor News asking: Too many academic breaks for Michigan football? ... Ryan Perrilloux: nothing but a headache, according to Scott Rabalais ... A dozen newcomers to watch in the Big 12 ... Lots of preseason attention for the Oklahoma offensive line ... The Atlanta Journal-Constitution catches up with Bulldogs old (on-field stroke victim turned mortgage banker David Jacobs) and not even new yet ... Clemson commits near double digits ... Trials and false starts on the scheduling beat ... Florida State lands a verbal from "elite" Pennsylvania back A.J. Alexander ... All in the family (or close) at Cal ... Rick Minter isn’t coaching, but he is back in Cincinnati ... Ex-blue chip George Bell is leaving Virginia Tech... And incredibly boring new unis at Michigan State.

The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
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Not looking so great this weekend across the SEC:

Charged, with very serious first-degree burglary, Kentucky recruit Duran Jefferson, who appeared in court after allegedly weighing the options and deciding his best bet rested with breaking into a home with a couple of his boys and stealing "several guns, including a 12-gauge shotgun and three .22-caliber rifles," later recovered during an investigation of another, unnamed crime. These weapons are presumably very real and lethal (see below), and could get Jefferson 10 to 20 years.

Rich Brooks: "monitoring the situation closely," as one might expect. Now get the hell out of his office.

They are doing amazing things with toy weapons these days...
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"Really happy," Phillip Fulmer, about the acquittal of Tennessee cornerback Marsalous Johnson, accused last summer of waving a gun at an off-duty sheriff's deputy on the interstate. An "Uzi submachine gun" was indeed found in Johnson's car, but it was a harmless toy replica. Jurors apparently found this behavior well within the American tradition of phony gun-wavin' and cut Johnson some slack.

The aggravated assault charge cost Johnson the first four games of last season before it was downgraded to a misdemeanor in November, and however much empathy his coach feels for the "heartache and emotion" his player's family has endured, he can't get those games back. The Vols' brittle secondary depth does have Johnson projecting to start this fall.

Changed, the grades of two Mobile-area Auburn signees, Nick Farley and Ryan Williams, whose transcripts are under investigation by the NCAA and the Mobile County School System. Possible explanations for the changes - made last June, significantly, prior to either player's commitment to Auburn - range from the up-and-up (extra credit) to the completely fraudulent, depending on one's personal allegiances.

The Tigers already lost two other players, starting linebacker Patrick Trahan and "out of shape" defensive tackle transfer Greg Smith, to grades last week. So the possible return of Trey Blackmon is a wash on that front at best.