Gregg Easterbrook is very naive

Though commissioner Roger Goodell just led a collective-bargaining negotiation that resulted in NFL players being showered with money and benefits, according to Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison, Goodell is “a crook” and “the devil.”

That’s from his latest TMQ column and, uh, what? The rest of the lead-in to the column is an argument that the real reason the players don’t like Goodell is that the players simply resent that he has the audacity to enforce rules on safety. But setting that issue aside, Easterbrook’s intimation that the player’s should feel indebted to the Commissioner for having “led a collective-bargaining negotiation that resulted” in their “being showered with money and benefits” is just silly. The media had a difficult time sorting through the many moving parts in the lockout, but this kind of White Hat/Black Hat thinking was extremely defeating. The lockout was very simple: The old deal split revenues 50/50. The owners cancelled that deal because they said their expenses had gone up, and proposed a new deal that, among other things, split revenues closer to 60/40 owners versus players. The players balked, counter-proposed, dissolved their union, and sued, all in support of trying to keep the status quo regarding revenues. Many other issues were discussed, but once it became clear that the owners could potentially face anti-trust damages (though the players’ injunction was defeated), the two sides settled on a revenue split of roughly 53/47 owners/players (there is some wiggle in these numbers, as there was in the old CBA). (The veteran players were also able to get comfortable with less overall revenue for players by lowering the amounts payable to rookies and thus grossing up some of that difference with respect to veterans.) There were other bells and whistles, but that’s basically the story: cold hard capitalism; rough and tumble dealmaking, with high stakes (lots of money to divvy up); and plenty of complexity that reduces, like all big deals, to the bottom line.

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End of an Era – Howard Schnellenberger retires

Howard Schnellenberger is retiring. There is a lot to be said — and his persona was… unique — but the bottom line is that this is an important moment. Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno are more famous links to an older era, but they were also institutions at their own institutions; their reach was/is (in the case of Bowden and Paterno, respectively), limited largely to their specific schools. Schnellenberger’s reach across football is almost difficult to fathom from the vantage point of 2011:

  • He played for Bear Bryant at Kentucky.
  • He coached for Blanton Collier (who was Paul Brown’s right-hand man at the Browns before becoming head coach himself).
  • He was Bear Bryant’s offensive coordinator at Alabama (and won three National Championships while there).
  • He was Don Shula’s offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, including for their undefeated 1972 season. He became head coach of the Baltimore Colts, before returning to coach for Shula at the Dolphins, and they returned to the Super Bowl in 1982.
  • He essentially invented, resuscitated and established the championship winning program at the University of Miami.
  • He essentially invented, resuscitated and established the respectable and bowl winning program at the University of Louisville. Howard defeated Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl 34-7; Louisville had almost discontinued the football program before he arrived.
  • He literally invented, resuscitated and established the bowl winning program at Florida Atlantic University. FAU had no program before Schnellenberger arrived; within two years they were playing football; within seven years they were a Division I program; and within nine years they had won the Sun Belt Conference Championship and won their first bowl game. They won their second bowl game the following year.
Howard has had his stumbles — he was fired from his job with the Baltimore Colts and there are few Oklahoma Sooners fans with fond memories of Howard — but in the big moments, when the big, grandiose plans are on the line like having an undefeated season, seeing UM become a national powerhouse, seeing Louisville in  BCS conference, and seeing Florida Atlantic having a football team at all (let alone a pretty solid one), Howard came through. Indeed, Howard just has a knack for the big moments; there’s a reason why he never lost a bowl game.

Smart Notes – Holgo’s O, Boise, Kevin Wilson, Charlie Strong – 8/12/2011

2009 Houston cut-ups from when Holgorsen was offensive coordinator:

I actually expect West Virginia’s offense to resemble this a bit more than Dana’s offense at Oklahoma State. A lot of what they did at OSU was based off their great tailback and great outside wide receiver: last year, Dana ran a bit more than he had at Houston (and more straight ahead runs) and he used that to set up more one-on-one matchups on the outside with Justin Blackmon. As the clip below shows, with Blackmon and Weeden Holgorsen used more of an NFL route tree — go, post, comeback, etc. It all remains to be seen but the roster at WVU seems more like a variety of quick receivers, but not necessarily one go-to outside gamebreaker. But Dana’s good at adjusting to his talent.

- The NCAA has new academic restrictions, which Stewart Mandel likes. I’m not as enthused but I suppose any movement is good.

- Sad. Arkansas runningback Knile Davis is out for the season with a broken ankle, before it even began. (For what it’s worth, this is exactly what I managed to do before my senior year of high school — broke my ankle four days before our first game. Mr. Davis’s is in a bit of an exalted position, but it’s not fun at all.) Arkansas has a deep backfield and a deep receiving corps, but if you forced Petrino to choose I think he’d rather lose a receiver than his featured back. And the person it probably affects the most is new quarterback Tyler Wilson. There is no better transition for a new quarterback than to step in with all of the firepower from the year before, and having a gamebreaker in the backfield is a huge help to a new quarterback. But Petrino will adjust, as he always does.

- Mike Tanier has his new walkthrough up, and here’s very excited about actual football.

- Ahman Green will retire a Packer.
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Smart Links – Manny Diaz, HGH, Les Miles, Herbstreit – 8/11/2011

Manny Diaz’s fire zones. Make sure to click on this excellent video showing examples of how to teach yourdefensive linemen to “run to daylight”.

- Eleven Warriors is not impressed by Kirk Cousins.

- The Colts’s Anthony Gonzalez thinks lots of NFL players are using HGH.

- Jerry Hinnen has his preseason all-SEC picks.

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Heaven in the Bluegrass State

Heaven for Kentuckians likely consists of nothing but an endless series of basketball courts, but if there’s any little corner tucked away somewhere that’s dedicated to football, it simply must look like this:

Louisville at Kentucky. In a perfect world, this rivalry is always coached by Howard Schnellenberger and Rich Brooks, and the postgame show is conducted over fine scotch in front of a roaring fireplace with hunting hounds sprawled on the floor and tasteful 19th century landscape paintings on the wall.

Smart Links – Manny Diaz, Hitler Beer, Probability – 7/29/2011

Hitler beer:

beer

- Too many things to list, but great stuff (particularly on coverages) over at Brophy’s site.

- Manny Diaz’s Danger (Fire) Zone: Burnt Orange Nation and Barking Carnival both with some solid analysis of new Texas DC Manny Diaz’s defense.

- Maybe it’s my bias, but I’m from the “If you got two then you ain’t got one” school of thought:

A lot of people talk about our quarterback situation saying if you don’t have a starter, you don’t have a quarterback. I disagree. We have two really good quarterbacks. Both of those guys are great players, great people, exceptionally talented, outstanding team players, and really want to win. – Purdue Coach Danny Hope

- This sentence is accurate: “He was fine, but seriously, this cast of coaches is the exact opposite from the polished evangelists of the SEC.” Also, management books and Butch Davis.

- The Senator (and Joe Posnanski) on … well it’s hard to describe; just read it.

- Making the leap: Camp for incoming college freshman.

- Darren Sproles to New Orleans. Swapping out Reggie Bush for Darren Sproles seems to me an upgrade at that hybrid/scatback position for New Orleans. Thoughts?

- Klosterman on the fastest human alive.

- Posnanski on Jeter’s 3,000.

- Jerry Joseph basketball scandal.

- The book review that killed John Keats.

- Old movie plots technology has destroyed.

- The danger of saying what has already been said; a problem that has existed for at least the last 4,000 years.

Discounting future values:
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Certainly makes splitting up the pie much easier

When the veteran NFL players and owners sat down to figure out how to best break up the $9 billion pie (which is all the lockout was about, regardless of what kind of White Hat/Black Hat/Heroes/Villains story the media tells), it was easy to see what group of essentially unrepresented stakeholders would lose: rookies. Both veterans and owners thought the rookies were making too much, and the representatives for the rookies said — wait, nevermind, there were no representatives for the rookies. So of course the result is things like this:

Imagine the bling on Olindo Mare

Carolina instead gave [kicker Olindo] Mare a four-year, $12 million dollar offer. That happened not because Mare went back on his word, but in the intervening months, the NFL veterans decided to rob Cam Newton to pay Olindo Mare. The most important (and player-friendly) aspect of the new CBA was the salary floor, requiring teams like Carolina to spend tens of millions of dollars. Only not on rookies.

. . . [B]etween Mare, Williams, Anderson and Johnson, Carolina has opened the door to spend $155 million dollars on three players who were on the team last year and a kicker. But hope and optimism for the Panthers in 2011 and beyond mainly rests on the drafting of Auburn star Cam Newton. And what will Carolina pay the young quarterback? Roughly 22 million dollars over four seasons, with a team-option for a fifth year.

That’s right: over the next four years, Carolina will pay their 38-year-old placekicker 12 million dollars and their franchise savior 22 million dollars. Newton’s contract looks even worse when you consider that Carolina can hold him for a fifth season, making it difficult for players to renegotiate until after they’ve completed three seasons.

Right. And, as Chase explains, this is not just limited to Carolina, but instead was out of design:
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Combining Tom Osborne’s Nebraska offense with Chip Kelly’s Oregon offense? The stuff dreams are made of

Our system [at Oregon] isn’t necessarily unique. I always compare it with what Nebraska used to run, the option, when I was there. When I was in school, a lot of teams tried to run some of the option stuff we ran, just like a lot of people try to run what Oregon runs. It’s not any kind of fancy scheme that nobody else understands or knows about. It’s just the system. What we do is run a complete system. It has answers for everything a defense can throw at us. I think when you just try to run a piece or two of a system, and you don’t have the complete thing, it’s hard to get really good at it. It’s hard to have answers when people have answers for what you’re doing. That’s really the beauty of what Chip does. We’re 100 percent sold out to do what we do. We’re really good at it, and we know all the adjustments no matter what’s going on with the defense.”

. . . “The big thing is this: It helps greatly when an offense has a definite mentality to it. It helps greatly when you have a defined personality and set of standards. When I was at Nebraska, our calling card was we were a tough, physical team. Everybody knew it. We knew it. We were proud of it. We embodied it. We embraced it. We loved the fact that we were going to try to completely beat up a defense. Nobody wanted to play us because of the physical nature of our team.

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Eighth Circuit rules in favor of NFL on Norris-LaGuardia argument

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit sided against the players and in favor of the NFL in ruling that the players’ lawsuit seeking an injunction against the lockout was barred by the Norris-LaGuardia Act. Of course, several news outlets erroneously said the Eighth Circuit “rules that lockout is legal” — it did no such thing (sorry Doug), but instead simply said a suit seeking an injunction could not be brought. Indeed, one of the significant aspects of the ruling was that it left open the possibility that the players could potentially sue for actual antitrust damages at some point down the line, just not right now.

This fact helps point in a direction every fan wants: For this ruling to be relatively meaningless because a settlement will soon be in place. I hope so too. But it’s worth revisiting briefly what was at stake in the actual ruling. As I previously summarized the issue (while predicting that the owners would win this case, as they did):

[T]he NFL’s argument is a straightforward textual argument: No injunctions may issue in cases involving “labor disputes,” and … this sure sounds like a labor dispute. The players’, by contrast, say that you have to read the Norris-LaGuardia Act in context; this language did not drop out of the sky and the NFL’s argument is not at all the way that the Act was intended to be used. [T]heir argument is one about the Act’s purpose and history.

The Norris-LaGuardia Act was passed in 1932, at a time of great strife between employers and organized labor. The principal draftsman of the Act was Felix Frankfurter, a Harvard Law professor who would go on to become a Supreme Court Justice. The problem the prohibition on injunctions was intended to remedy was that employees would go on strike and employers would frequently file a lawsuit requesting an injunction and often judges, who were perceived to be “in the pocket” of employers, would often grant them without hearings or without much process. Even if overturned later, these injunctions forced employees back to work and destroyed unions’ negotiating leverage…

Indeed, this is what I find so interesting about the case: Here we are, in 2011, talking about a dispute between — of all things — football players and owners of football teams, and the key legislation was designed to protect union workers back in 1932 who were being routinely jobbed….

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Smart Links – 7/11/2011

Linkery:

- This tattoo is very special, and is very Alabama.

- Bill C. talks Texas Tech and baby faced OC Neal Brown.

- How is Law School like the NFL draft?

- Matt Waldman watches a lot of tape on Broncos receiver Eric Decker. But who will throw to him, if Orton is released or traded?

- Another good bit by Waldman: Evaluating the evaluator. Good outsiders’ perspective on how the heck to do evaluate talent well.

- Ohio State: Keep the ring, but I’ll give back this trophy. Don’t worry about me. Really.

- Will we drive self-driving cars? I’d happily outsource driving (assuming I won’t die).

- Guided by Lit.

- Mexico is doing better than you think.

- Great Ken Auletta piece in the New Yorker about Cheryl Sandberg of Facebook.

- Digital Love.

- An old article, but a fantastic look at Karl Popper and the world (however bizarre and sheltered) of ideas.