Think of a name, win a prize

Maisel's Mailbag

Originally Published: June 11, 2004
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

I have been inspired by something I read, which is really remarkable when you consider that I didn't read it on the back of a cereal box, or in Ask Carolyn, or in Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake ("Four stars!" Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com), which, to be honest, is the last book I read, at bedtime last night. No, not my bedtime.

But I digress. The Division I-A commissioners are frantically trying to dump the term "piggyback" from the new model for expanding the BCS, because piggyback is just not something you take to corporate sponsors. Kraft Barbecue Sauce, maybe, or the University of Arkansas, but after that, the list gets pretty short.

So coming up with a new name appeals to the snob in me. I mean, mailbag? Mailbag? Seriously, who gets their mail in a bag? I want something refined, something that sounds like I actually graduated from college.

How about Postal Responses?

Electronic Feedback?

Face the Nation? Oh, that one's already taken.

Nocturnal E-Missives? OK, maybe not that one.

I tell you what. If anyone can come up with a better name than Maisel's Mailbag, you'll win a pretty inexpensive prize from the ESPN Store. I say pretty inexpensive, because I'll be paying for it, and having just survived my wife's birthday, I'm trying to get to the end of the month, if you know what I'm saying.

And heeeeerre they are.


I read your piece on the BCS bowls and laughed. Talk about greed and super egos, that bunch of BCS (fellows) sure have it. Hell no, the Rose bowl doesn't want Boise State down there. They might get their asses handed to them. Ahhhhh, the East coast bias is so unrefreshing. UGH! Nice article though, Bud.

Gene Sellman
Boise, Idaho

Gene, did you just accuse the Rose Bowl of east coast bias?

The Rose Bowl isn't scared of Boise State. It's scared of empty seats, and it's scared of failing to protect its status as the American answer to the New Year's Eve hangover.


Does the human race have a collective memory problem or what? The BCS may be changing the formula to eliminate strength of schedule? I acknowledge that last season it was a bit of a stretch to have Championship hopes dependent on the W/L of a bunch of also-rans on the final weekend. But, just a few years ago the big uproar was about teams loading up on the also-rans to pave their way to 11-0 records and high rankings! If I remember correctly, that was one of the things the BCS was supposed to address. I think the conference title issue was a bigger issue last season. I suggest keeping the strength of schedule factor to keep the season interesting and add in a .5 to the formula for a conference championship. That would put additional life into the race for a conference title. Oh,I know, poor Notre Dame. They can't have that much power, can they?

Tom McGuire
Portland, OR

Your first question: is that a trick question? Of course, no one remembers beyond last season. The theory is that strength of schedule will be figured in by the voters and the computers. The reality may be something different, but there's an aversion to adding any more trinkets to the formula, such as half a point for the conference championship. And trust me, Notre Dame doesn't have that much power anymore.


In response to your answer regarding Bama and their greyshirts, it should probably be mentioned that the practice will never catch on too much because big-time difference makers out of high school won't agree to do that. It's the more marginal player -- who may or may not have gotten a scholarship, anyway -- who usually agrees to the greyshirt.

It brings up another interesting dilemma about recruiting -- prep schools. These are basically free redshirt seasons, and give schools that use (and often abuse) the prep school system a big advantage. You could conceivably have a kid go to prep school, then redshirt him, and he is then playing as a 21-year-old FRESHMAN. You are clearly better suited to play at that age than you are as a 19 year-old, especially on either line.

At least at a junior college the player has to earn a degree before transferring. Lots of kids go to prep schools for a year just to raise their ACT score 1 point, and it doesn't cost them any eligibility. Something seems wrong there.

Justin Wear
Knoxville, TN

Now, Justin, if you're going to apply logic to the NCAA Manual, in six months we're going to find you babbling to yourself and eating out of dumpsters.

The prep school outlet, like most NCAA initiatives, had good intentions, and before long, coaches figured out how to exploit it. Before you condemn it too harshly, remember that without their prep schools, the service academies would be at even more of a competitive disadvantage than they are.


Now why is it that CU can be hit with rape charge after rape charge, not to mention those wild recruiting parties, and the NCAA just stands back allowing the program to spiral out of control (lack of institutional control, one might say), and reinstate the coach under whom these allegations have taken place? And meanwhile programs like Alabama, who thoroughly cooperate with the NCAA, get the book thrown at them for lesser offenses? Colorado clearly is a prime example of lack of institutional control, but yet the NCAA hasn't threatened the CU program with the death penalty, nor any penalty. If the NCAA is going to be nitpicky about what constitutes lack of institutional control, they've certainly got blinders on, because CU has about as much institutional control as an ant does over a mountain.

Megan Petty
Springfield, VA

Excellent argument, Megan, which holds up really well in the court of common sense.

The next four letters all come from Boulder, and all comment on the piece I wrote about Colorado athletics. I have a rule whereby I try to include letters from across the country about a story. But given the nature of the Boulder piece, and the intense emotions the scandal has stirred in Colorado, and the fact that the opinions below are about the same story and couldn't be more opposed, I broke my own rule.

Which is the great thing about making your own rules.


As a CU student, let me just say that I have read nary a piece that more accurately described the situation in Boulder. Your article was peerless.

The students of CU support the Buffs with the same rabid fervor of students at any other school; perhaps even more. But the faculty, administrators, and other Boulderites see athletics as a threat to academia. In my opinion, it is a classic case of liberal idealism -- they simply fail to recognize the vital role the football plays in attracting students and money to the university.

Thank you for a wonderful article.

Nate Strauch
Boulder


You must hold some sort of grudge against Boulder. The people who live here are different, and you can take that two ways. You chose the negative side. That is your belief and because you are a writer can print what you think even if it is not fair. In fact, most sportswriting is not fair, I have decided after reading it for 35 years. Maybe if you lived here you would feel differently. You would perhaps change your mind, or maybe not. I have lived here all my life. I love Boulder. I have traveled many parts of the country and have not found but a few places that are as nice, as beautiful, as diverse. The people I know in Boulder except many different religions and skin colors. They accept peoples choices. The people I know in Boulder are less likely to judge another person because he is different. Some love football, some don't. I grew up parking cars for CU games, and watching games in the fall. It is a special place. Too bad you don't feel that way. The CU football program is no better or worse then most of those in America. You probably know this, but that is beside the point I guess. It has problems, and now it has solutions. We are working to make things better here. But nothing you write will ever make me love this place less. I feel lucky to live here. Boulder is not for everyone, but then again what place is? I just get tired of people criticizing Boulder. Trust me, the good by far outweighs the bad. Joe Sciacca
Boulder


It really bothers me to see how no one is guilty (at CU). I agree with everyone's assessment that it happens everywhere at every level of college athletics, but CU GOT CAUGHT!! This whole crisis sounds similar to all the Wall Street scandals we have seen in the media for the last couple of years, where everyone acknowledges something was done wrong, but no one is guilty. I do not want to waste your time or mine, but I lived next to four football players for the past school year and they were nice guys, but they did act like, 'Hey I am a CU football player and that means I can do what I want.'

It is truly tragic that a few bad people within the program bring down a whole school. Just like the corporate scandals of today the upper management seemed to know nothing and did not want to know anything "ignorance is bliss". Athletics are not the primary focus of a university and they should never be, but in today's society we put athletes to the level gladiators were in the Roman times. We obviously as a society have not evolved to far or learned anything from the past. Athletics will not keep the United States as a superpower, but education of our young people will. I like Gary Barnett in general, but someone is guilty of allowing these things to happen, even in the "Peoples Republic of Boulder". Boulder is a different kind of community, but that is what makes it so special.

The saddest thing of all is the women that were assaulted/violated have become the evil people in the eyes of the parents that say Boulder does not back its team. If the only reason their kids went to Boulder is football, go somewhere else then, maybe Nebraska. Those parents should be embarrassed that they put athletics above their children's education, especially since many get scholarships to pay for their school.

I just finished paying off my school loans. Sympathy for the women? Yes. Sympathy for the good people of the program? Yes. Sympathy for the program in general and how it has been run, including the president of CU? Cold day in hell.

Quinn Filla
Boulder


The statements you attributed to me in your article entitled "Boulder an enigma wrapped in the Rockies" did not accurately reflect the comments I made. The way the quote was written made it sound as if I was talking negatively of Nebraska. In response to your question about why Boulder was not supportive of the football team I told you that I was not aware that the community was not supportive of the football team. I said that in my experience, Boulder is not as big a football community as others, like Nebraska which is well known as being very supportive of their football team. As an example, I said that in my observations just as many people are out doing other things like hiking, biking, running, etc. on game days as attending football games.

That last part of my comment, which clarifies my statement, appears in the following paragraph. Please clarify my quote on your web site to more accurately reflect the context in which my statements were made.

Jennifer Korbelik
Boulder

I don't think clarification is warranted. Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. I did not take your comments as being negative toward Nebraska. Huskers are sensitive these days, although not so sensitive that they mind firing coaches who go 9-3.


Loved the article on JoePa. It's too bad most people don't realize how great of a man he is and the values and qualities he gives to everyone of his players. As I just finished up at Penn State, I saw first-hand what he has meant to the university (Paterno Library, his statue outside Beaver Stadium, and what he has turned the university, football program and Beaver Stadium into) Winning is on the way. You can bet on that!

Sincerely,
Michael Fazzi
State College


What I see is a man who feels he can't leave while the program is broken, so he feels he has to fix it. He can't fix it, so it keeps getting worse, and he keeps trying to fix it. I graduated from Penn State in 1982 and can't say enough about what Joe has meant to the University, but that is the past. What the school has now is a football program that will reload and every three or four years to be competitive and maybe compete for the Big Ten title every eight or so years. You know, like Oklahoma State or Texas A&M. That is the reality as long as Joe stays. This four-year extension is the biggest copout the University could have undertaken. I think Joe should have been allowed to go out in style. He lost that when he refused to see that it was time for a change. I remember thinking to myself sadly, "What will Penn State do when Joe leaves?" Now I say, "I wish Joe would leave so the football program could start fresh."

LTC Tom Gregory
U. S. Army
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

I think Joe deserves the chance to bail out the Nittany Lions. That said, it won't be easy in the Big Ten. If we were playing turn back the clock, I know the Big East wishes it would have taken Penn State when it had the chance. Paterno told me that the Big Ten has done too much for the entire university, but he understands football life would have been much easier in the Big East. His comment: "They blew it!" He's right. The Big East blew it by not inviting Penn State. Paterno also said that Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, two of his former assistants, called during the chaos of last year to ask him if the school would consider leaving the Big Ten for the Big East.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at ivan.maisel@espn3.com. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel's Mailbag.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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