Five-Step Drop: The NCAA Responds
1. The NCAA's ears are burning. It has heard the grumblings from every corner of the college football world over the appearance of preferential treatment in the Auburn and Ohio State cases. On Wednesday, the association responded to those criticisms. It said, "Inadequate rules education is often cited in student-athlete reinstatement and other waiver cases (such as inaccurate or misguided academic advising), but it is just one of many factors considered in these types of situations." Got that? You can't just plead ignorance and get away with it, but if you really didn't know, that's a factor in any disciplinary decisions. And as for Cam Newton, "Put simply, had Cam Newton's father or a third party actually received money or benefits for his recruitment, Cam Newton would have been declared ineligible regardless of his lack of knowledge." So it did matter that the NCAA couldn't find any evidence that money changed hands. And why weren't the Buckeye Five suspended for the Sugar Bowl? Regarding bowl games, the NCAA "recognizes the unique opportunity these events provide at the end of a season, and they are evaluated differently from a withholding perspective for student-athlete reinstatement."
2. As we're deep into football's silly season, many coaches find their names connected with jobs whether they're actively seeking a new position or not. New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker is considered one of the game's best defensive minds, but he'd like us all to know he's planning to stay in Las Cruces. "I'm a head coach now," Walker said. "Despite the struggles and challenges we've had here the last two years, that doesn't mean it's not going to work out. I can't control the rumors."
3. Marcus Coker was ready for his closeup. The Iowa running back didn't exactly make the Hawkeye faithful forget the woes of December, but it's clear Kirk Ferentz has found his running back of the future. Coker, a freshman, was electric in Iowa's Insight Bowl victory over Missouri, though guard Julian Vandervelde notes, "He needs to run lower or he's going to get his ribs broke." You couldn't blame Ferentz if Coker spent the offseason walking around Iowa City wrapped in bubble wrap with a nine-person entourage following him everywhere.
4. Thomas Neumann of ESPN.com put together the 100 best sports quotes of 2010 and had the good sense to start with a classically convoluted turn of phrase from Ron Zook. There are plenty more college football gems on the list, but even though No. 76 is not sports-related, it's priceless: "What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell's Angels is unclear." Indubitably.
5. The Ralph Friedgen era ended Wednesday with a resounding 51-20 win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl. Terrapins wide receiver Torrey Smith has decided he won't stick around to find out who the next coach will be; he's going pro. Smith has already graduated and is considered one of the best wideouts available this year, so why not?