Good blog goes bad

One of the best football blogs around, MGOBLOG, has decided to go on the warpath against Alabama and Nick Saban. Unfortunately, the attacks have little to do with reality and more to do with a misunderstanding of the rules and business of major college football.

It began with a post calling Nick Saban a Snake Oil Salesman.

The post was repudiated by Pete HOLIDAY (edit: mea culpa. no excuse making that mistake twice!) also over at AOL’s fanhouse.

Numerous Alabama blogs commented on the situation including the influential Roll Bama Roll, the always on-top of things Tide Druid, and the interesting Third Saturday in Blogtober.

Today Brian Cook responded on his MGOBLOG.

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Cook tries the play the aggrieved commentator, who was attacked while only trying to enlighten us fools from Alabama. He resents the attacks on his commentary, but then hurls insults—Alabama fans can’t think logically.

I don’t see any substantive points in the posts at Third Saturday in Blogtober, the Capstone Report, or Tide Druid and won’t address them directly. Since they’re all chock full of personal insults and insights into my “obsession” with a guy who coached Michigan’s third-biggest rival a decade ago, let me point out that each of the above-linked posts is a tribute to Alabama’s fine educational system and its constant focus on things like grammar and knowing how to use spell check. Gentlemen, there are typos and there’s you.

That’s actually a good criticism. I NEED to do better. I’ll put a copy editor on my shopping list for the coming months. However, Cook uses the old Internet standby of belittling an opponent in lieu of addressing the actual points.

Blogs aren’t the pages of the august New York Times. You can’t expect fans who blog because they care to be the expert wordsmiths of a real publication. The Internet in general, and blogs in particular are about the exchange of ideas—communication, discussion. Sure spelling and grammar are very important, but come on, Cook uses a cheap Internet trick instead of a crafting a substantive response.

Later, Cook goes on to attack the Roll Bama Roll post in more detail. One point was this exchange:

From Roll Bama Roll:And that is even if you don’t consider the fact that Wesley Neighbors may very well end up on a Bryant scholarship — since he is most likely not going to play in his first two years on campus anyway — and therefore he will not count against the scholarship limit this year. If that is indeed the case, as many expect, this class suddenly goes down to 29 players.

From MGOBLOG: Anyone on scholarship and on the football team counts against the 85 limit.

Not so. An academic scholarship is treated differently. A player only counts against the 85 limit when they play. So it isn’t an immediate mark against the 85. Additionally, as long as Neighbors doesn’t play during the first year, he doesn’t count against the limit, per NCAA rule Football or Basketball, Varsity Competition. In football or basketball, a student-athlete who was recruited by the awarding institution and who receives institutional financial aid (as set forth in Bylaw granted without regard in any degree to athletics ability does not have to be counted until the student athlete engages in varsity intercollegiate competition (as opposed to freshman, B-team, subvarsity, intramural or club competition) in those sports. For this provision to be applicable, there shall be on file in the office of the athletics director certification by the faculty athletics representative, the admissions officer and the chair of the financial aid committee that the student’s admission and financial aid were granted without regard in any degree to athletics ability. (Revised: 1/16/93 effective 8/1/93, 1/11/94, 6/20/04)

Unless I’m reading that wrong, and I must confess I am not a lawyer or NCAA compliance expert, academic aid like the Bryant Scholarship doesn’t count against the 85 rule.

Cook goes on to show his outstanding vocabulary.

The fucking point is that fucking Alabama is going to kick kids off the fucking team for no fucking reason. The point is not that violating the NCAA’s made-up limit is evil. The NCAA limit is there because the NCAA would like you to not kick kids off the fucking team, but for various reasons the rule’s pretty easy to skate around. The issue is not 32 > 25. The issue is that 70 + 32 > 85.

The fucking point is the NCAA allows non-renewal of grants-in-aid. There are specific rules for that. And you don’t really know how many student athletes will be back next year. Additionally, your point the NCAA doesn’t want you kicking kids off the team is a very large assumption. If that were so, the scholarships would be for longer than one academic year.

A college coach can’t just toss players aside because he must recruit again next year. Do you think other college coaches wouldn’t use this against Saban? Of course they would.