Thu May 07 10:01am EDT
• You only win by six tonight, Rocket Man. As expected, feds issued eight indictments Wednesday in an alleged point-shaving ring at Toledo, including six former Rocket athletes -- three football players and three basketball players -- and two Detroit-based bookies accused of making 130 phone calls and at least a dozen visits to athletes for gambling purposes from 2004-06. The fearsome Toledo Blade has the complete lineup and the rundown of allegedly fixed basketball games, as well as the actual indictment, which also includes charges for fixing horse races. (Never trust a horse, I told 'em.)
Oddly enough, the football players (running backs James Broussard, Adam Cuomo and Scooter McDougle, whose name first surfaced in the case more than two years ago) are included in the indictment despite no comparable list of games they're alleged to have fixed. ESPN reported last week that court documents indicated an attempt to fix the 2005 GMAC Bowl, but UT -- a three-point favorite over UTEP -- obliterated the spread in that game, 45-13. Maybe they were just terrible point-shavers, or didn't understand the concept, or something. We'll see if that holds up in court.
• Bulls have friends in high places. Everywhere you look today, local papers are applauding or grimly relaying team-specific results of the NCAA's annual Academic Progress Rate report card, which docked scholarships at 13 I-A football schools , including a few "Big Six" programs: Minnesota, as we learned last week, went ahead and withheld three scholarships from its latest class, while Ole Miss -- which needs all the scholarships it can get -- also loses three for the class of 2010; predictably, the Rebels blamed it on the coaching change, which Minnesota should have done, too. As usual, though, the mid-majors were hit the hardest: Bowling Green, San Jose State, UAB, New Mexico State, North Texas, San Diego State, Kent State, Buffalo, Temple, Florida Atlantic and UL-Lafayette all lost multiple scholarships. (If you're keeping count, that's four teams penalized from the MAC, three from the Sun Belt, two from the WAC and one each from Conference USA and the Mountain West ... versus two from the entire ranks of the BCS conferences combined. And you thought your mega-school's academic counseling budget was a waste.)
The penalties don't tell the entire story, though: The worst APR score in the country belonged to South Florida, which was also below par in basketball and baseball, but the Bulls avoided scholarship penalties in football by applying for a waiver ... which they received for the second straight season despite an eight-point drop (909, down from 917) from a score that was already eight points below the mandated 925 last year. Meanwhile, the APR got biblical on Tennessee-Chattanooga: The I-AA Mocs, along with the men's basketball team at Centenary, became the first program banned from the postseason because of poor academics.
• They did, however, put an asterisk next to their vote. Nine of the Big 12's head coaches -- sans the crucial presence of Mack Brown, at home in Austin tending to his wife following wrist surgery -- voted Wednesday to retain the conference's convoluted three-way tiebreaker rule. This is the one that caused so much consternation last year when the process was employed (for the first time) to send Oklahoma to the Big 12 championship, and subsequently the BCS championship, over Texas, despite the Longhorns' head-to-head win over OU, etc. We don't know who voted how, but we do know Brown is on record favoring the SEC's even more convoluted tiebreaker, which employs the BCS standings in a way that would have been favorable to Texas under last year's specific circumstances, as opposed to the unfavorable way the Big 12 incorporates the standings. We'll see how he votes when the current rules break in UT's favor, but for the time-being, it's an outrage!
Quickly ... Undrafted Graham Harrell, most prolific of Mike Leach's parade of record-breaking slingers, has apparently been shut out of a free agent deal in the NFL. ... The Knoxville News-Sentinel has a roundup of opinions on Tennessee's signing juvenile sex offender Daniel Hood. ... Lexus is dropping its sponsorship of the "Lexus Gauntlet" competition between USC and UCLA. ... Ex-Tennessee quarterback B.J. Stephens will transfer to Chattanooga. ... And the Tebow Child shoots 18 with Phil Mickelson, while joining the governor's fitness team and preparing for the most brutal offseason in Florida history. And ... like, nails his finals? Do they still have those?