NCAA (Rightly) Shows Little Mercy to Tyler Laser

Do you know who Tyler Laser is? I doubt it and you shouldn’t. I didn’t until a few minutes ago when I came across this article saying that the NCAA had denied Laser’s appeal for an additional season.

Except, Laser’s circumstance is a bit different. The NCAA states that a player can earn an additional year of eligibility if he plays in less than 30 percent of his team’s games (or equal to).

Laser played in 10 games this past season before he was injured and needed season ending surgery. His school, Eastern Illinois, played 29 games on the year. Thus, Laser played in 34.4% of his team’s games.

And that’s all it took. After waiting a few months to hear the answer to his appeal, Laser found out yesterday that his college career had come to an end.

When I first read that article, I was once again annoyed at the NCAA. It seems every week I find a new article that shows how the NCAA is looking out for its bottom line and not the kids that make them that money. But after further reflection, I don’t disagree with them here.

At some point, there has to be a line. The NCAA decided that line was 30 percent, a pretty reasonable number. You can’t just grant slight exceptions, because then that line becomes meaningless. All of a sudden, it’s 35 percent, then 40 and so on and so on. Eventually, a player will miss five games and be eligible for an extra season.

In the article, Diamond Leung contends that “Laser had played one game over the participation limit [30 percent of the season] that would have allowed him to gain back the additional year.” I’m a bit confused on this. If Laser had played in just nine of his team’s 29 games as Leung suggests, that would still be 31 percent and above the NCAA’s threshold.

If somehow Leung meant that if Eastern Illinois had played an additional game than Laser would get an added season, he’d still be wrong. In that case, Laser would have played in one-third of his team’s games.

Either Laser had to play two fewer games (8/29=.275) or Eastern Illinois would have had to play five more games (10/34=.294). That’s more than just a single game as Leung suggests. It’s heartbreaking for Laser, but the NCAA had to draw a line.

How Bad is the Pac-10?

Oregon knocked off the Pac 10's only ranked team, Washington.

With Alabama capturing the BCS National Championship, the basketball season hits top speed. Today is packed full of marquee matchups in the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big 10, and SEC. There is one major conference I left out of that group: the Pac 10. Washington is the only team ranked in the polls right now, but that will only last until Monday. The Huskies lost to Arizona State this week which will drop them out of the Top 25. 

Arizona State is 11-5 on the season and is 1-2 in conference. I don’t see them entering the polls on Monday. The only other teams that would have any chance of entering into the Top 25 on Monday are USC and Oregon. Those were the only two teams to receive any votes in the polls this past week (not many either). Oregon received just four votes in the AP Poll last week and did not play a game this week. The Ducks were blown out by Missouri and have bad losses to Portland, Montana, and St. Mary’s. They are entering the Top 25 any time soon. 

The Trojans received 46 votes in the AP Poll and 7 votes in the ESPN/USA Today Poll. Well USC has already lost to Stanford this week and faces California later tonight. As with Oregon, the Trojans won’t be breaking the Top 25 this week. 

So that leaves no one. The Pac 10 won’t have a team ranked in the Top 25. Even worse, since Pac 10 teams will almost exclusively be facing each other in the upcoming weeks, there won’t be many opportunities for a team to enter the Top 25. Only Oregon is undefeated in conference so it will have to win for a couple weeks in a row to prove that it deserves inclusion in the Top 25. 

The Big East is strong. The Big 12 has two of the remaining undefeated teams in the country while the other sits in the SEC. The Big 10 and ACC are both having down years, but each has a contingent of strong teams with Purdue, Michigan State, and Wisconsin in the Big 10 and Duke, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech in the ACC. 

When Selection Sunday comes around, I don’t expect to see many Pac 10 teams taking part in March Madness and for good reason.

Why is Kansas #1?

Photo Courtesy of UPI

As I look at the Top 25 College Basketball Standings, they seem to make a lot of sense. The remaining undefeated teams are all at the top followed by teams with 1-loss. Except I still cannot figure out why Kansas deserves to be number one. The Jayhawks are playing at Temple right now, the #19 team in the nation, but this is their first game against anyone in the Top 25. Meanwhile, Texas has beaten Iowa, Pittsburgh, USC, UNC, and Michigan State. Specifically the last two wins, which were both by double digits, are much more impressive than anything Kansas has done. Every one of Texas’s wins has been by double digits.

How about Kentucky? To be fair, I think Kentucky is way overrated and has gotten very lucky this season. Nevertheless, Kentucky has beaten Stanford, UNC, Connecticut, and Indiana.

Purdue proved themselves this week by overwhelming West Virginia, who was undefeated up until that point. Syracuse suffered its first defeat today, but still has wins over UNC, California, and Florida.

So what does Kansas have?

They have a two-point victory over Memphis that was technically a neutral site game, but it was effectively a home game since it was in St. Louis. The Jayhawks won at UCLA, but UCLA is 6-8 on the season including losses to Portland, Long Beach State, and Cal-State Fullerton. Portland defeated the Bruins by 24 points while Kansas won by just 12. Kansas also has an 11-point victory over Michigan, but like UCLA, this is a down year for the Wolverine program. Michigan is 6-6 and also has losses to Boston College and Utah. Continue reading “Why is Kansas #1?”