• Progressin', Academically Speaking: The NCAA released its third annual report on "Academic Progress Rate" Wednesday, hitting eleven mostly smaller Bowl Subdivision schools with scholarship penalties for failing to meet no doubt draconian, bureaucratically skewed benchmarks. Ninety-nine men's programs in all sports lost at least one scholarship, and the Association warned that 40 percent of football programs would have faced such sanctions if not for the "squad size adjustment," which apparently favors larger teams with more walk-ons and will not be part of next year's formula.
The eleven schools hit with scholarship losses in football this time around:
• Buffalo (four)
• Florida International (nine - !)
• Hawaii (one)
• Louisiana-Lafayette (two)
• Middle Tennessee State (four)
• San Jose State (seven - !)
• Toledo (four)
• UAB (one)
• UNLV (three)
• Western Michigan (two)
Taser robberies, brawls and actionably suspect academics, yes, but Ellis T. Jones and A'Mod Ned agree San Jose and Miami are just gorgeous this time of year.
FIU also lost two basketball scholarships, which is the quivalent of about 15 football scholarships, and has the distinction of being the only team on both sports' lists. Note that the two most egregious outliers in terms of losses above include the programs that last year produced notorious bench-clearing brawlers and one of the single most violently felonious players in NCAA history, respectively. San Jose State and Florida International: "Where your student-athlete fails spectacularly on the field, in the classroom and as a functionally humane citizen!" I think the beaches are nice, though.
The real factor in "academic progress"? Money, money, money.
• Quickly: Florida's championship haul: more than $150,000 in the hole. Titles ain't cheap ... The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Terence Moore talks to an "underappreciated treasure" and finds Chan Gailey's word is bond. No word on Gailey frontin' in his ride ... Texas Tech-Oklahoma State in Dallas, "awfully close"? Not so fast, my friend ... Baltimore Sun reporter/blogger Heather Denich, late of the Penn State beat, sympathizes with Antonio Logan El's frustration with Joe Paterno ... Senior Syracuse receiver Taj Smith is a junior again ... Ryan Mallett's coming after all, so ex-Michigan blue chip Jason Forcier is moving home to Stanford ... The Register-Guard runs down the spring news for each of Oregon's `07 opponents ... Georgia defensive tackle Brandon Wood was one of a few young Bulldogs wowing pro scouts ... And it's watch list time! The Rimington nominates half the country's centers, many of them new starters, but Oregon State's Kyle DeVan has the inside track when it comes to laughs.
The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
- - -
Convicted, the abovementioned Ellis T. Jones, since I brought him up, of robbing a pizza parlor at gunpoint last July. This verdict actually came a couple weeks ago, in mid-April, but has fallen through the cracks for a case of such epic niche-related maliciousness. Jones faces five years on that robbery conviction, and still has charges pending for robbery, false imprisonment and whatever other category might relate to the act of luring potential X-Box 360 buyers through Craigslist, zapping them with a stun gun and throwing them in the trunk of a car.
On the bright side, a judge threw out charges of attempted murder and robbery in a home invasion case against Jones in late March, charges that did stick to two of his co-defendants, who were convicted. Why would Ellis T. just break into a home? Where is the challenge in such flagrant, cliched banditry? The subtlety? The soul? Amateurs.
Arrested, for punching a former teammate, ex-LSU receiver Troy Giddens. It's never positive as an officer to arrive at a scene at 2:30 a.m. and find "a large group of people departing the area," as Baton Rouge police did Monday (a school night? No! - ed.), when Giddens was charged with slugging freshman lineman Joseph Barksdale at an apartment complex. The arrest is Giddens' second in three weeks, the first - for burglary and identity theft - having already earned him a dismissal from the team. Now? Just a trip to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, and whatever punishment comes with being a wide receiver who picks a fight with a defensive tackle.
Dropped, charges against Florida linebacker Dustin Doe, as the specifics of his arrest for public fighting with more than two people have proved too ambiguous for police to untangle. Dave Curtis' Orlando Sentinel blog reports Doe "traded punches" with two other men in a parking lot on April but stopped when he was asked to stop, and it's uncertain who instigated the fight. I guess nothing sticks to the champs.
Doe is not to be confused with Ronnie Wilson, the other Gator starter accused a week later of producing a semiautomatic rifle from his car and firing off a clip into the air to impart into a fellow club patron "how it felt to be scared," then continuing this education in empathy via car chase. Doe, on the other hand, was attempting to leave the scene of a good, old-fashioned fistfight involving 25-30 people. Over, as usual, "nothing."