Greyshirting, the NCAA and Gregg Doyel: a twitter exchange

Interesting Twitter exchange between Gregg Doyel of CBS and our very own jubbo, U.P.’s Twitter expert.

Hey @greggdoyelcbs: the NCAA is a crooked and shitty organization. You new to college athletics boss?

@unclepopov Yup. I’m so naive I assume nobody cheats

@greggdoyelcbs I’m well aware you know how the game’s played. Just don’t understand why “college athletics = shady” warrants a new column.

@unclepopov So because college sports are obviously shady, and they are, every time a new wrinkle comes up, it should just be ignored?

@greggdoyelcbs don’t ignore, but help w/ new ideas. You have a platform. No one forced Porter to sign at LSU. He chose hi profile program

@unclepopov You can’t say the kid is to blame here. Please tell me you’re not saying that.

@greggdoyelcbs Of course not, but he was a 3* recruit who looked at a few big schools and a HOST of smaller ones. He made his choice and

@greggdoyelcbs he got burned by a shitty system that allows this type of behavior. Which brings us back to

Now, I am not much into tweeting or whatever the hell it is called, but this seemed like a little spat.  Ironically, the spat was with a “national” sports columnist who once stated that Twitter is leading to the “dumbification” of the United States and did not “have time for it.”  [LINK: Doyel on CNN; go to about 3:00 on the video]

Nevertheless, here are the facts.  Doyel wrote a column related to the story of LSU and their football coach Les Miles greyshirting one of their players.  For those new to the process of “greyshirting,” it is a process where a player is not given a scholarship despite being “promised” one after signing day.  The player then actually enrolls in the spring and is able to maintain his four [well, techincally five] years of eligibility.  Greyshirting typically occurs when a coach signs over his allowed 25 freshmen players, or 85 total.

Anyway, so Doyel calls out Miles and labels him a “bad guy.”  He then proceeds to do the same to Houston Nutt, Nick Saban and Randy Shannon.  All four are trotted out by Doyel and chastised as being “bad.” And while he does attack the NCAA, which allows this process of greyshirting, he primarily attacks these four.

Shannon is bad guy because he is at Miami!

But the way he does it comes across as though he has uncovered something new.  “Hey man, look at these SEC coaches…oh, and one from Miami.  Evil, evil people!  Playing grim reaper with this young kids.”  Blah, blah, blah!  And while I would be hard pressed to believe that Doyel is so naive to think that this process just happened, he does note it as a “new wrinkle” even though Alabama used it under the Mike Shula regime (2003-06).

But the bigger problem; notice the geographic pattern he paints.  Essentially, Doyel insinuates that this is a southern phenomenon.  Oh sure he throws in Randy Shannon, but it is easy to throw “the U” under the bus.  Even his tweet to announce his breakthrough piece suggests that it is just a Southern thang:

My new college football column. I can’t wait to see how many new friends I make in the South!

Shock value; plain and simple.  Because nowhere in his article does he suggest that this phenomenon occur anywhere else in the country.  Yet, just in the past year we have seen this done at Kentucky (still SEC), Nebraska, Colorado State, UCLA, Cal, Oregon State and Washington, just to name a few.  This is where Doyel makes the mistake and it is worth calling him out on it.  Additionally, instead of pushing new ideas, the best he could do is “you’re a bad man, Les Miles and southern coaches…oh, and Randy Shannon.  Bad, bad, bad!”  Oh, shame on you!

Yes, shame on you Doyel.  Not only did you paint the greyshirt phenomenon as solely a southern thing, but you also omit one interesting fact: Florida and coach Urban Meyer attempted to use a greyshirt on incoming freshman Michael McFarland!!!  [They ended up not needing to do that.]  But hey, given your Twitter remarks, you like to stir the pot.  You certainly did that.  Problem is, you still produced nothing new and, given your platform, missed a chance to make a difference.  The only thing you proved is that you like to create a shit-storm and sit back and watch the feast.

The culprit, by the way, is the NCAA and not Les Miles or Randy Shannon or Steve Fairchild.  They are playing by the rules; unfortunately the rules screw the students/athletes.  Do I have the answer?  No, but the practice of greyshirting does need to end and it is here that (I think) Doyel and I are in agreement.  But it is the NCAA that is indeed the bad guy, not those that use the rules designed by said organization.

Look, I have no beef with Doyel.  Hell, he wrote a piece backing Barry Sanders as one of the greatest running backs ever; something that I can get behind.  But his southern coaches are bad piece makes him look like the Chael Sonnen of sports writing; he will write (or say) anything to drive up ratings or reads.

By the way, the Demons of Northwestern State are in Division I [FCS]; Southland Conference; and is located in Natchitoches, Louisiana.  Maybe you were afraid to spell “Natchitoches,” but next time you write a college football column, make sure you look up your shit, asshole!  [And, no, I did not have to look any of that shit up].

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