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Bags Under the Eyes and a Raspy Voice is a Day at the Office for Wednesday Hub

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Up against it this morning, so not comprehensive...
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String Him Up! Bruins Nation is a rather shrill source where USC scandal (or, as they might say, U$C $candal) is concerned, but Michael Vick's troubles have heightened the sensors to underground dog fighting and the L.A. Times subsequently confirmed a "scoop" of sorts by a BN commenter Tuesday that Trojan running backs coach Todd McNair was convicted on two separate incidents of animal cruelty for chaining dogs to trees and cars in 1993 and 1996. The ex-Chiefs/Oilers running back was charged with 81 counts of cruelty to 22 pit bulls allegedly being trained for dogfights, according to an old New York Times article dug up by "Meriones" and cited by the L.A. Times.

McNair: At least we know he's not a snitch.
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This is either water under the bridge - "We looked into it to make sure we knew what happened," Carroll said. "That was a long time ago." - or evidence of utter shame - "McNair needs to be fired. NOW." - depending on your L.A. loyalties.

Those of us without that sort of interest have to sort out what we think about an employer's obligation re: past convictions of employees. Has McNair paid his social price as a result of the legal conviction, or is it an everlasting black mark on his character? It might be an easier call if he wasn't also implicated in the ongoing Reggie Bush housing scandal.

Mr. Powe's Wild Ride, Redux, Part Twelve...: Poor Jerell Powe: after two years of hemming and hawing, mockery, acceptance and repeated rejection, he finally worked his way into school and Ole Miss practices last week, only to be declared ineligible Tuesday. Again:

The NCAA ruled that Powe can receive "athletically related financial aid to attend classes," but will not be permitted to practice or play until at least the fall of 2008. It also invalidated part of Powe's high school records because he completed a "significant amount of coursework in an unusually limited amount of time - much shorter than the average time it takes students to complete similar courses."

It was the same concern the NCAA expressed last year, when it invalidated seven core credits. Powe's attorney, Don Jackson, said all of the work was invalidated again, including classes he completed at Wayne County High.

The NCAA said in a press release that it remains concerned about Powe's ability to balance school and football.

"The idea for determining if student-athletes are academically eligible to participate in college sports is to ensure that the rigors of practice and competition do not interfere with the primary reason student-athletes enroll in college - to get an education," Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of membership services, said in a press release. "Mr. Powe has not achieved sufficient academic success under NCAA rules to permit athletics participation."

Thus begins Year Three of the `05 blue chip's never-ending oddyssey to the field. The NCAA's fundamental conceit here is its faux knowledge of why "students" go to "college" in the first place. Perhaps Kevin Lennon enrolled in Cornell or wherever to get his degree in embattled non-profit administration, but things work a little differently in the SEC, where football fuels academic success (hell, it fuels everything): a statement released by Ole Miss, athletic director Pete Boone said the university is appealing because Powe has a better chance of acclimating to college if he is allowed to play.

"We think it's important for Jerrell to be a part of the team," Boone said in the release. "In our experience, the support that Jerrell would receive from teammates and coaches would help him succeed in the classroom."

Such pure humanitarianism is only possible motivating factor for the university, which has obviously admitted a student whose qualifications - the ones entirely invalidated by the NCAA - are woefully inadequate; according to the Association, Powe's coursework verges on non-existent, but he apparently will remain at Ole Miss until he finds a way onto the field, come hell or high water, or, I dunno, bad knees. This is the kind of academic environment Steve Spurrier can appreciate.

I will say this for Powe: he and his handlers are persistent, and getting into school is a victory, even if his chances to play are delayed another year. Powe, like everyone, will be better off on a college campus, with a shot at a degree, and he has powerful forces in his corner. Assuming the planned appeal fails next week - again, the NCAA invalidated basically all of Powe's previous work - he's still right where he needs to be to achieve his goals by next fall. At some point, he just has to meet the standard.

(Hat tip: Ragin' Cajun Rebel)

Mack Brown Is Hypothetically Loaded: These contracts and extensions, they're highly manipulatable entities (ask Mike Shula), but for a guy in Mack Brown's very secure position at Texas, the new deal he signed Tuesday is only a shotgun to scatter the wolves who would lure him from his coop. A shotgun loaded with cash - per the Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte:

Take a look at these ridiculous numbers:
  • Brown will earn a base salary of $2.91 million this season. With incentives, Brown could increase that total to as much as $3.8 million.
  • Brown will officially earn a base salary over $3 million in 2008.
  • Along with raises and retention bonuses, Brown is scheduled to make at least $4.11 million in 2009 and $5.21 in 2010. That includes a $1 million bonus if he stays through Jan. 1, 2009, and a $2 million bonus if he's still at UT on Jan. 1, 2010.
  • Brown will earn a $450,000 bonus if the Longhorns win the national championship.
  • Not that he would ever reach the maximum incentives/bonuses, but Brown could earn more than $45 million through the length of the contract.

Beyond the generosity of the contract itself, Duarte also cites a couple quotes by members of the UT Board of Regents that point to either an offer from another school or some significant, threatening interest:

The way the coaching carousel turns in the college and pro ranks it would be silly to think Brown hasn't been contacted - even if it's just a courtesy call to gauge interest -- about interest in a vacancy elsewhere.

But these two quotes seem odd:

Example 1:

"Mack is in high demand around the country, and it is critical that we have a salary strategy to keep him here." - UT president William Powers Jr.

Example 2:
During a motion, regents member Cyndi Taylor-Krier said they were "wishing to discourage continued recruitment efforts by other entities and an acknowledgement of the competitive market for one of the few most accomplished and recognized coaches in intercollegiate sports."

Complexity? No time for that shit: Nick Saban's 3-4 defense: too complicated? Not if you ask him, or his defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele, who's happy with the complexity of the scheme, but doesn't think it's difficult to learn:

"We have components within our packages that are interchangeable," Steele said, "and we can mix and match to take care of a problem. The last thing you want to do is stand on the sideline and the only answer you have for the players is to say, `play harder.'"

And anyway, it helped the Dolphins finish fourth in the NFL in total defense last year. So get bent.

But from the players, who, you know, have to learn it:

"Well, it is complicated, no doubt," said Simeon Castille, a UA senior cornerback, "I wouldn't say that it is too complicated. You really do have to apply yourself to learn it. But it gives you an answer for everything the offense may be doing." (great save, Simeon! A true ninja shows no hesitation! - ed.)

The perception was created in a Miami Herald article this spring titled, "Dolphins Don't Miss Saban." Safety Yeremiah Bell told the paper that the complex pass defense has "been simplified a lot ... They (removed) some things that were really confusing to the players."...According to Dolphins safety Renaldo Hill, instead of one call meaning three things, "Now it means one thing."

Standards for international law on humanitarian concerns? No time for that shit. We are not ready for Western Carolina!
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Renaldo Hill played for Saban at LSU and therefore worked in Don Nicky's system for five or six years, so his criticism is a very minor red flag. Like, a faded magenta flag.

Anyway, flags, defenses, praise, depth charts, sleep: no time for that shit. The Mobile Register reported "Saban showed for work Monday with a raspy voice and bags under his eyes," and some players seem to have no idea where they stand in the pecking order. Poor Terry Grant sounds like a recently-freed hostage in debriefing after months in blindfolded isolation:

With no favorites, there was no noticeable pecking order in practice. The trick was to keep players from becoming overly discouraged or elated with first- or second-string status. Tailback Terry Grant, for instance, didn't learn he had won the starting job until reporters told him while poring over depth charts released Monday.

"Nobody knew," Grant said. "We'd just go in the order they told us to go in."

This "trick" - is it covered by the Geneva Conventions?