Another round of questions and answers.. …
Q: When I look at the major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) it’s clear that those league offices are in control of their respective leagues (ie. set the rules, the schedules, the enforcement, manage all post-season activities, etc). However, when I look at the NCAA “league offices” (particularly College Football) it seems like they have very little control. For example, the conferences and individual schools set the schedules, the Bowl Committees & BCS run the post-season and when I think about the enforcement piece (which I would guess is the supposed value-add of the NCAA) I’m reminded that it was the PAC-10 that levied the harshest penalty when UW got hit with sanctions back in the early 90s. Even the whole injury reporting issue that happened this year with UW, it came to light that there was no uniform policy from the NCAA that regulated reporting injuries. I’m curious as to what exactly is the role of the NCAA when it comes to managing NCAA football?
A: That’s a good question that deserves a better answer than I will probably give it. As simple as I can put it, the NCAA does not have the power to do many of the things you suggest. Two links might prove helpful here for context and background — a history of the NCAA and a mission statement from a few years ago. The NCAA essentially has only the power that the member schools and universities give it, and it has never had oversight over scheduling, other than general things such as limiting the of games, to name one. The bowls have always been separate from the NCAA, as has the BCS. In the kind of things that indicates what has always been a delicate balance between the powers the NCAA wants and what the schools will give it, the NCAA use to have full control of TV rights for football. That changed in 1984 after a lawsuit brought by Georgia and Oklahoma that opened the door to the wall-to-wall TV you see today (details here). Another example of powers the NCAA doesn’t have is that of conference affiliation — the organization has no control over all the expansion and changing lineups of the last few years.
The NCAA does run the post-seasons for every other sport, which is one of its most critical functions, and does enforce rules — rules, though, that are set by the member schools via committees. But you are right that when it comes to college football, in a way there is no “college football” to really oversee everything the way there is an NFL, NBA or MLB (all private businesses). That might make things a little simpler if there was a “college football.” On the other hand, given all the recent controversy over some of the NCAA’s methods, maybe some separation of powers isn’t a terrible thing.
Q: UW has today and in the past had some outstanding tight ends and it baffles me when you have someone like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, why on earth would you not make him the focus of your offense, we know that if he is catching passes, it makes it easier for the running backs to run and also makes the wide receivers more open because of the defense having to focus on Austin so much. UW coach Steve Sarkisian is not the only coach at Washington to not utilize his All-American tight end the way he should during the games. The coaches always say to the press, we are going to really utilize the tight end in our game, and then come game time they seem to forget to throw the tight ends the ball.
A: My answer is probably going to come off as defending the coaches more than you would like. But I find it a little difficult to really criticize them too much for their use of ASJ last year when he caught more passes than any tight end in the country — 69 (here’s the list). And he did that despite playing with a sprained ankle from the Oregon game on — an injury I think was more serious than let on (though obviously they basically stopped talking about injuries so we got little info regardless) and also was a factor in his decision not to play basketball this year.
There’s no question that throwing to a target like Seferian-Jenkins looks really easy when it works leading to the question of why you don’t just do it every down. Obviously, though, nothing in football is quite that simple. But I’d think that with being another year older, what will likely be a better offensive line to let the passing game be more effective, and good health all year, that Seferian-Jenkins could get into the 80-90-catch range and probably win all kinds of honors as the best tight end in the country.
As for UW’s history with tight ends, I think most would think it’s been pretty good. UW simply didn’t throw as much in the Don James era as it does now, so some of the numbers for individual players maybe weren’t quite what they could have been. But hard to argue about too much of what James did. Since then, UW has used the tight end quite a bit when it’s had a good one — Jerramy Stevens and Kevin Ware each put up pretty big numbers in the early part of the last decade. From 2003-08 or so, nothing much really worked right but I’d venture that not using the tight end enough was probably not at the top of the list of ailments. I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying that I think if you break it down, UW’s usage of the tight end has usually been okay.