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P.S.R. Op-Ed

The Arizona State Conundrum

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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  1. Alan says:

    This isn’t confusing to me: There NCAA leaves too much money on the table if it suspends Newton. They won’t do that. No money is at stake whether ASU gets to a bowl, or not.

  2. schedule nit says:

    I think the case against Cam Newton, when all is said and done, must actually be far less compelling than portrayed in the sports media. Not so hard to imagine, is it?

  3. Nick says:

    There are 71 bowl eligible teams, if they were at 69 they wouldn’t have been so quick to say no. My guess is ASU would be bowling if there were not enough bowl eligible teams at the end of the season.

  4. [...] reasons for this.  First, there’s the strange way the NCAA went about its business here.  Paul Myerburg compares it with the quick ruling denying Arizona State’s bowl waiver request, and asks, [...]

  5. Burnt Orange says:

    Merely considering the ethical and logical gymnastics required to justify the NCAA’s sudden reversal of Auburn’s stealth, one day ineligibility ruling wears me out.

    After all, this is a body that historically moves at a glacier-like pace. It is also an institution that sat Steve Alford for a game or two ( including a game with Kentucky ) when he allowed his photo to be published in a calendar being sold to raise money for charity – and the same body that sat a Georgia standout for four games because he sold an Independence Bowl jersey for 1000 bucks. Yet, when confronted with undeniable proof that the father of the Heisman favorite shopped his son for big money and admittedly forced his son to attend a school the son was not interested in attending, (wonder why – you think it was because Bishop Newton was impressed with the Auburn pre-vet program ? ) the same NCAA, in the midst of its investigation, abruptly ignores a pile of direct and circumstantial evidence ( circumstantial evidence is admissable in our courts of law ) and rules Cam eligible. Why did Auburn declare him ineligible if no rules were broken? Why didn’t Auburn announce that he had been declared ineligible ? Why did the NCAA rule so suddenly ? Do you suppose Auburn and the NCAA worked out the “he’s ineligible – now he’s eligible” magic trick ahead of time ? Do you reckon the fact that Auburn is playing a huge game on tv this week and contending for a national championship had anything to do with the magic show and timing ? Where is the SEC while all of this nonsense is going on ? ( no doubt right in the middle of it )

    What a complete farce. No heroes here – just a university,conference,and governing body that cut and ran when it was time to stand tall.

    Alan is on target. The only explanation is money – the same explanation for why the NCAA has sanctioned 35 bowl games. It was a Vanderbilt man who wrote ” Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud.”

  6. Rookierookie says:

    Because this is a completely moot point. There are already 70 teams eligible for bowl play. There is zero chance the waiver could be granted for ASU, unless you want to shaft another bowl-eligible team.

  7. DMK says:

    Stephen Garcia will have a better day both running and throwing than Cam. Alshon goes for over 200. If Lattimore finishes the game in one piece, the Gamecocks win. If not, they don’t.

    Newton’s done as a college player in a few weeks. The whole thing blows up shortly thereafter. He makes millions in the NFL thanks to Jesus. Auburn sinks back into the pigsty whence it came.

  8. Jake Smith says:

    A 6-6 team in the Pac-10 is equivalent to a 7-5 team in any other conference too because of the 9-game schedule.

  9. Zaboo says:

    Ugh, screw the 9-game schedule. The Pac-10 could be looking at 4 more bowl eligible teams without that nastiness…

  10. RS says:

    Wow, that was crap. Did you read that before you posted it? You curiously haven’t addressed the NCAA ruling on Newton all week and then you write this. I guess you and your buddies Thamel and Evans have been stewing too much to string together coherent thoughts on the subject.

  11. Bob J says:

    Oregon played Portland State this year for the same reason A.S.U. did. The schedule originally called for Central Michigan, which at the time Oregon scheduled them, was a good bowl-going team.

  12. blah says:

    Had Arizona State won another game….this would not be an issue. Don’t blame the NCAA for Arizona State’s mediocracy. Just like Oregon saying they got screwed out of the BCS championshiop game in 2001…….if they hadn’t lost they would have been in it. There is no guarantee Arizona State would have beaten San Jose State. Win and you’re in….it is quite simple.

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