The Arizona State Conundrum
By Paul Myerberg // Dec 4, 2010
On this one thing the N.C.A.A. has proved inflexible: if a team has two wins against F.C.S. competition, it cannot reach bowl play unless it has at least another five wins against B.C.S. conference competition. On this standard the N.C.A.A. will not budge — you can ask for a dispensation, but don’t get your hopes up. As for that other thing… you know, the paying a player’s family and friends, the ineligible-on-Monday-eligible-by-Tuesday thing: the N.C.A.A. reserves the right to ignore years of precedent when making its decision.
Yeah, I just equated Arizona State’s postseason conundrum with the ongoing Cam Newton investigation. Well, not quite. Arizona State’s case is of far less importance to the N.C.A.A. than the potential missteps occurring in the SEC — as one would expect. Still, there exists a slight degree of hypocrisy in the N.C.A.A.’s rapid-fire response to A.S.U.’s query.
No. An emphatic no. Arizona State made its case Thursday night, winning at Arizona to finish the regular season 6-6 — 4-6 against the F.B.S., to be fair. The N.C.A.A. bowl committee’s ruling was quick and one-sided: congratulations, but we’re not interested.
One can only hope that the N.C.A.A. doesn’t regret this decision in say, a week, when the respective bowl committees — all 35 of them — find themselves short of 70 teams with at least a 6-6 regular season record. Would the governing body reconsider its position should the options be Arizona State, 6-6, and Oregon State, which will likely by 5-7?
I’m just confused as to why the N.C.A.A. has put its foot down so forcefully in this case while dragging its feet, making excuses and throughly embarrassing itself with the Newton investigation. Why take this simple matter — whether A.S.U. can participate in bowl play — so seriously while acting so wishy-washy on a far more meaningful matter occurring at the same time?
According to the N.C.A.A., each investigation into a player’s eligibility must be considered on its own: there is no black-and-white when it comes to a case like Newton’s, merely various shades of gray. In shutting down Arizona State’s bowl hopes, the N.C.A.A. is ignoring evidence that plays strongly in A.S.U.’s favor: the Sun Devils had scheduled San Jose State — yes, part of the F.B.S. — but the Spartans opted to drop that game in favor of a bigger payout in a trip to Wisconsin.
Without any F.B.S. options left to choose from, the Sun Devils had to add an F.C.S. team; that gave the program two F.C.S. foes on the schedule, as noted. Can Arizona State be held responsible for S.J.S.U. backing out of a contracted game? I wouldn’t think so.
It’s just confusing. That’s all. Say hello to the N.C.A.A.: the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. It doesn’t matter if your family has taken vast amounts of money — allegedly — during your recruitment; or if the facts of your case for bowl eligibility demands further examination. Don’t worry, remain calm, all is well: the N.C.A.A. is on the case.
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Tags: Arizona State, N.C.A.A. violations
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