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Thursday Hub Narrows the Field

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Give Us A Fifth Year Or Give Us Death! Or At Least A Contract Extension: Emotions were disappointingly in check between budding feuders Les Miles and Nick Saban, but while waiting for Bernie Machen's oh so sweet playoff plan, the SEC coaches discussed raising all kinds of would-be hell at the league's annual meeting.

A proposal to support instituting an early signing period, a favorite of Brian Cook's, was of course voted down, because the SEC can't back anything also floated by a partisan of the slow-ass Big Ten, though Big 12 and ACC coaches voted in favor of allowing recruits to sign on earlier than February, and the Pac Ten weighed in against it. Lead opponents in the SEC, citing increased official visits in-season, were Saban, Sylvester Croom and Urban Meyer, who wants to "slow it down" for the coaches' sake:

"Coach [Steve] Spurrier, or someone, made the comment that official visits during the season are out of control. Instead of two, you're maybe going to have 15 kids making official visits on a Saturday. That's awful. Those are hard days. We've done that. We had like 10 kids visit on like Tennessee weekend. You're rolling the dice. If you don't have success it's a bad thing. Then also, you're just beat up on a Saturday night. You don't want to sit [and recruit]."

Whereas Phil Fulmer - "It would save us a lot of babysitting" on verbal commits - and Miles, who had one verbal talked away by Saban, liked the idea:

"I think it's something that the prospects want," he said. "It's something that makes sense. You can script it and guide it so it's reflective what your prospects are. It makes sense for recruiting. It limits exposure to our coaches' travel and would have a cost-saving affect on teams and our schools.

"Everyone says if you want an early signing date you need an early visitation date. What's happening is people who are interested come see your school in the summer anyway. You're making it available to them, it's an unofficial visit. Some guys from the local state sees your school three times on unofficials at games, comes over for every junior day and he's been on your campus five or six times and you know he's going to go to LSU, he isn't going to go to any other place. Why not have him sign on December 1st and have recruiting over for him? Will he still come on an official visit? Yeah, at his normal time, whenever that is on his calendar from that point over."

Not surprisingly, there was far more unanimity from coaches on the growing calls to eliminate the redshirt year with a full-blown fifth year of eligibility, which still rocks the boat too hard to even come up for any sort of official discussion:

"I'm a big fan of it," Meyer said. "We've increased the season by one game with limited scholarships. In the SEC, you get guys beat up. I'd love to see that proposal go through. Every year we do that it gets blown up.

"It just makes too much sense. Sometimes some things come across and I say, 'Yes, absolutely.' And it doesn't happen. I'd like to know who makes those decisions. It's unbelievable."

Four years? But...they were just getting to know each other...
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Sentiments seconded by Rich Brooks and Bobby Johnson, who said coaches will try - unsuccessfully, no doubt - to push the proposal past stodgy presidents sometime later in the week.

Personally - as someone who took five years to get two undergraduate degrees - college is traditionally tagged as "the best four years of your life," usually replacing `four' with a higher number only as a joke, and most academic programs target graduation within four years. Fifth-year seniors often have to get into grad school to stay enrolled, which in most cases is probably not the route they would choose otherwise. Why should football depart from this wider assumption of college as a four-year enterprise? Assuming there has to be cap on eligibility - there does, doesn't there? - how long is too long? Four years is traditional and perfectly appropriate. Coaches are getting a little greedy here, where the concept of redshirting is already a courtesy in their favor. Discuss.

¿Tres quarterbackerios? ¡Cómo es anticlimactica! Sneaky Charlie Weis throws a curveball in the plan to reduce Notre Dame's quarterback derby from four to two by instead narrowing the competition to...three! Thesis statement:

"Each of these three young men brought something unique to the QB competition," Weis said. "Evan ran the operation the best, Jimmy threw the ball the best, and Demetrius made the most plays. For these reasons, they will compete for playing time."

If only they could become one! Notre Dame would have the perfect storm of over-analyzed, inexperienced quarterbacking.

Ousted, as expected, was Zach Frazer who politely declined to indicate whether he was now bound to transfer with virtually no chance of ever seeing the field even in a reserve role.

Meanwhile, the Irish are expressing interest in showing up on Texas recruits' radar in the Cowboys' sweet new stadium playing Baylor.

Quickly: The number of black coaches and administrators are way up in the decade, according to the NCAA, even as the percentage of black athletes is down overall - except in D-I football and basketball ... Saban: "funny" that piddling recruiting violations came from Miami ... Percy Harvin: "Pumped up and going to rush for a bunch." ... Idaho-based Roady's Truck Stop adds its name to the astonishingly undesirable New Year's Eve bowl game in Boise, which will be called the Humanitarian again after three years as the MPC Computers Bowl, if you're keeping score ... Wow - 70 people applied to be the new coach at crime-ridden Montana State. Eleven are finalists ... Wisconsin lands the state's top offensive lineman ... The Ann Arbor News' "Diag" blog breaks down the ten worst non-conference games involving Big Ten teams ... Receiver Jeremy Horne is transferring from Syracuse ... And Iowa State seniors Todd Blythe and Bret Meyer are cool with a team chaplain and have "don't have a lot of patience" for sniveling, liberal, ivory tower elite sticking their heads in football's business.

The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
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Kaluka Maiava would never hit a woman. NEVER hit a woman...
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Hospitalized, briefly, USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava, who was hit Tuesday trying to pull his brother from a large fight in Hawaii. Maiava's stepfather described the brawl as "35 people against five" and denied the linebacker was assaulting anyone, much less a girl, as was apparently rumored. No criminal charges filed against anyone, and "a group of girls" appears to have apologized for whatever went down.

In the same report: speaking of hitting people, paperwork has been submitted to drop an assault charge against Maiava's linebacking mate, Rey Maulauga (who hits like this, remember), for allegedly punching a student at a party in 2005, and Josh Pinkard's blood-alcohol level (0.08) in last week's arrest was likely close enough to California's legal limit to get the safety off with a fine and probation. Lucky Trojans.

Dismissed, defensive backups Lamar Alston and Jonathan Holston, the first players booted from Louisville by new coach Steve Kragthorpe. Reasons are officially undisclosed, with no reports of arrest by the AP or Louisville Courier-Journal, but gory details of horrifying scandal are no doubt mere days away.