Thu May 28 10:10am EDT
• Turning the tide on signing day overdrive. If you asked me which conference would be leading the way against "oversigning" -- signing more recruits than you have available scholarships to give them, with the inherent implication that you'll have to either cut existing scholarship players (i.e. breaking a "contract" with them, though scholarships aren't officially awarded in those terms) or actually root for certain signees to fail so you come in under the numbers -- I definitely would not have guessed the SEC, home of the most visible over-signers of the past two years, Nick Saban and frequent Doc Saturday target Houston Nutt. But there was conference commissioner Mike Slive Wednesday, talking openly about instituting a cap on signing day bonanzas:
DESTIN, Fla. -- The SEC is considering sponsoring proposed legislation to the NCAA that would cap the number of football players a school could sign at 28.
Rules are already in place that limit the number of signees a school can bring in each year to 25. But that hasn't stopped some schools from over-signing in February and then whittling that number down one way or the other by reporting time in August.
"I have not been really concerned about it at the current number," said Slive, noting that most SEC schools had been around the 28 to 30 number in recent years. "But last year, I was really concerned about it when we had one or two that signed a lot of kids. That was a catalyst for these discussions."
For some idea of just how hard this wind was blowing, consider that Nutt, whose 37-man haul in February broke all known records for contemporary hoarding, actually apologized for "any embarrassment the Rebels might have caused the league." Slive said he "wouldn't be opposed" to adopting a league-wide cap at 28 players per class (based on this infamous post, I am under the impression the Big Ten already has a similar cap in place, but haven't been able to confirm that), joining a handful of unnamed athletic directors who said they thought the endorsement to the NCAA would go through.
Also on Slive's agenda in Destin: Bashing Congress for its attempts to reform the BCS, co-sponsored in milder language by Nick Saban. Good to the SEC and Big Ten getting together on something for a change.
• Spin forever. The NCAA's investigation into pay-for-play at Southern Cal is slowly but surely closing in on its targets, and latest reports have even come close to directly implicating Pete Carroll for hosting (or at least turning a blind eye to, or failing to notice) a lavish, agent-filled locker room. But hey, as the coach told a roomful of USC boosters Wednesday night, that's just the price of winning forever:
Q: Both of you have suffered this cloud of the NCAA hanging over you. Can you ever get rid of it?
Carroll: The cloud or the NCAA?
Carroll then went on to recount a discussion he had with his first coaching staff at USC.
"Let’s get so good that everybody comes after us," Carroll recalled saying, before adding: "Be careful what you wish for."
He attributed the NCAA’s attention to the recent successes of the football and basketball programs, claiming USC has "twice as many issues as the rest of the schools (in the Pac-10) combined."
"That’s jut the nature of being on top," Carroll said.
You know, Bobby Bowden completely agrees with that theory, actually. These days, winners can't win for losing (in vague, broadly defined terms, well after the fact).
• What did I say last time? OK, write the opposite thing this time. Joe Paterno, a week after kow-towing to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on the prospect of adding a twelfth team to the conference -- a discussion driven entirely by Paterno's promise to push for expansion and a championship game a week before that -- was allowed back in front of the cameras Wednesday to schmooze with Penn State alumni ... where he promptly called for expansion and a conference championship game. As long as the additional team isn't those damn dirty Irish:
Joe Paterno says he'd like to see either Rutgers, Pittsburgh or Syracuse join the Big Ten.
The legendary Penn State coach also knows which school he wants to keep out: Notre Dame.
He said the Big Ten should add an Eastern team, especially one that plays in the New York media market.
He says there might be pressure to add Notre Dame, which rejected an invitation to join the Big Ten a decade ago. Paterno's view: "They've had their chance."
Indeed. And although they could almost certainly have their chance again anytime they wanted, the Irish invasion is one JoePa won't have to worry about as long as that sweetheart TV deal with NBC holds out.
• Well, accepting the New Mexico State job is a sign of impaired judgment ... When a head coach is arrested, for anything, that's a blaring siren of a headline. So consider DeWayne Walker's weekend arrest for alleged drunk driving duly noted. But given the circumstances --
New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker was arrested for suspected drunken driving last weekend but authorities said the charge was dismissed because his breath-alcohol level was well below the state's legal limit for presumed intoxication.
Police spokesman Dan Trujillo said the charge was thrown out Tuesday because Walker's breath-alcohol content tested at .01 after his arrest early Saturday. New Mexico's threshold for presumed intoxication is .08.
The school issued a statement Wednesday in which Walker said he informed athletic director McKinley Boston and university administrators of the incident.
-- this doesn't sound like anything that's going to haunt him. A .01 is nothing. Walker was reportedly driving the wrong way down a one-way street (no "head coach at New Mexico State" analogies, please), got caught up in a Memorial Day clampdown and failed a series of field sobriety tests on the scene before cruising to victory over the Breathalyzer. We'll take the machine's word for it, but mind those signs next time, huh, coach?
Quickly ... Mack Brown and Jim Tressel headline a star-studded coaches' tour for troops in the Middle East. ... OK, so Mark Richt doesn't care where Georgia and Florida stage the Cocktail Party, after all. (More accurately, after stirring up a round of articles on the subject last week, he doesn't want to be quoted on it anymore.) ... All-world Alabama linebacker recruit Nico Johnson was acquitted of a misdemeanor harassment charge for a "non-physical altercation." ... Ex-TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione will join the growing stable of fired coaches contributing to BusterSports.com, whatever that is. ... Steve Spurrier thinks Tim Tebow will be a fine NFL quarterback. There's plenty of time to overcome that endorsement, Tim. ... Can you really blame Minnesota for trying to forget last November's 55-0 drubbing against Iowa in the Gophers' Metrodome swan song? Or for trying to make reporters forget it? ... And unrelated to football: A brief but insightful article that succinctly conceptualizes some of my nebulous thoughts about life, generally, and television shows in particular.