Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Big Ten Tidbits: 5/10/2011

Syracuse Isn't an Elite University Either! No, Syracuse isn't in the Big Ten (yet...</Delany cackle>), but news of its impending departure from the Association of American Universities should be a salve to offended Nebraska fans. Syracuse was one of the primary targets of the Big Ten's search and is an unquestionably strong academic institution; their failure to live up to the AAU's expectations says as much about the AAU's biases as it does about the school.

This is a bigger blow for Syracuse than it is for Nebraska, however, since the latter will be receiving gobs of money from the Big Ten/Committee on Institutional Cooperation, while Syracuse will not. But as I said before, the AAU is increasingly irrelevant. Its main function is to reappropriate federal grant money given to one institution to the rest of the group. Think of the AAU as an insurance policy against the possibility that the school won't get as much government money as hoped in a given year. Add in some cultural bias (no self-respecting academic wants to live in yucky upstate New York--especially not the cities--just like they don't want to live in Lincoln) and you've got the Incredible Shrinking AAU.

Pat Fitzgerald Was Wealthy, Is Now Wealthier: Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reports that Fitzgerald's contract with Northwestern has been extended through 2020 for $1.8 million a year. The length of the contract is somewhat meaningless, since all that matters is the buyout cost (unknown), but the dollar size puts Northwestern squarely within the meaty part of the Big Ten coaching salary bell curve. It also makes any attempts by other schools to wrestle Fitzgerald away that much more difficult.

Bonus LOLs come on twitter as the Tribune-based Greenstein fights with Sun Times editor Chris LeDuca and  writer Joe Cowley. Greenstein sometimes gets a little too far ahead of stories but generally does a solid job on the college sports beat; Cowley is a hack who has had his baseball MVP voting credentials revoked for being too hacky and pioneered such stories as "my friend AJ Piersynski is good at defense because he can throw me out at second base", while LeDuca is the editor who employs said hack and, until recently, employed Jay Marrioti. No conflicted loyalties on my part in this fight.

Investigators Question Tressel about Smell Coming from Crawlspace: OK, that hasn't happened yet. But Ohio State's already overworked compliance department is now fighting another fire, this time about some potentially shady car deals that Ohio State athletes have procured over the past few years, including one deal for the low, low price of $0. There could be a lot of explanations for that, including some that are entirely innocent, such as tax fraud on the part of the car dealer (innocent to Ohio State, that is; the car dealer would be screwed).

Then again, maybe Ohio State's compliance department isn't overworked. Adam Jacobi makes the persuasive case that a finding of violations here would be especially damaging to Ohio State's NCAA enforcement apparatus and could result in the dreaded "lack of institutional control" label being applied. Meanwhile, Jim Tressel had no idea that the omelete he had for breakfast was made of condor eggs, and he's looking into rumors that former players have recorded Indians games without the express written consent of Major League Baseball.

Quick bits: Gabbert the Younger leaves Missouri; Indiana is an intriguing possible landing spot. Penn State basketball lands Dayton transfer Matt Glover, who will be eligible for 2012-13, while Michigan State gets Valpo transfer Brandon Wood for next year through the grad student exemption (loophole?). Do journalists have a macro that inserts "Tubby Smith" into every coaching vacancy story?