HOOVER, Ala. -- Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips on Thursday pointed out that problems plaguing college athletics are "not just about football and basketball."
He wasn't joking.
"The factors are about all sports," Phillips said during SEC Media Days at the Wynfrey Hotel.
Trying or not, Phillips nailed just one of the flaws in the "Agenda for change" speech delivered Wednesday by SEC commissioner Mike Slive.
You have to give Slive credit for trying to "stimulate a national discussion" on the slimier issues nagging at the credibility of college sports/entertainment; it's a lot better than knee-jerk reactions to every campus crisis from Baton Rouge to Columbia.
But while some of Slive's ideas are excellent, some are self-serving and most have little chance of graduating to actual legislation in the near future -- or before Jadeveon Clowney turns pro.
SEC coaches cannot even agree on some basics in Slive's four primary areas: redefine benefits, strengthen academic requirements, modernize recruiting rules and streamline the NCAA enforcement process.
One of Slive's best pitches: extend scholarships, all currently one-year contracts, to multi-year deals that cancel only because of academic or behavior issues.
That way, coaches wouldn't be able to run players off for not tackling well enough.
Except that Tennessee head coach (and former practicing attorney) Derek Dooley disagrees.
"Universities give academic scholarships all the time and if a student doesn't meet certain requirements, the scholarship is taken away from them," Dooley said Thursday.
He's right, you might know from experience: maintain that 3.0 grade-point average or else.
Unequal is 'fun'
Slive wants entering GPA requirements to rise from 2.0 in core courses to 2.5.
Again, sounds nice and noble.
Except that high school teachers and guidance counselors across America would replace college academic center advisors in the keep-Johnny-eligible hot seats.
"I've never felt like, 'Let's put things back on the high schools,' " Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "Let's make sure we do it on the college level."
Dooley thinks the issue might not need addressing at all, that it is born of football's standing among other sports in the relatively new Academic Progress Rate system used to evaluate college athletic programs.
"Now I guess there's criticism because we're the lowest of the sports in the APR," Dooley said, "but it raises the question, 'When is the lowest enough?' "
He brought up the example of the worst student in medical school winding up as a doctor.
College football is not the homogenized NFL, Dooley said.
"Things aren't level. Things aren't equal," he said. "That's fun."
It's different schools with different academic and athletic missions.
"That's not something we should be ashamed of," Dooley went on.
Slive and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier are among those arguing for scholarships to cover the "full cost" of attendance. But smaller athletic departments across the country cannot afford that, and SEC folks know it.
Fix the NCAA rulebook?
Easy to say when Alabama and LSU are on probation and investigations are ongoing at Tennessee, South Carolina and Auburn.
But the worst fresh example of NCAA rules ridiculousness is at an ACC school in SEC territory.
Georgia Tech had to forfeit its 2009 ACC title for cheating and covering up. But how about all that cash the school made on the way to the Orange Bowl, all those bonuses the coaching staff received?
And C.J. Spiller and his former Clemson teammates want their ACC championship rings.
At least Slive is trying.
But if getting 12 SEC football coaches to agree on reform is hard, wait until The Commish tries to spring his "agenda" on 120 Football Bowl Subdivision athletic departments.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5593.
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.