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Texas deal shows NCAA lacks clout

Fast food for thought

* UB basketball went on probation a decade ago because a former coach watched some high school players practice, which constituted a recruiting advantage. And St. Bonaventure's basketball program was ravaged for almost a decade when a player was admitted despite academic transcripts that failed to make the grade, which can't be allowed for obvious reasons. But it's OK for Texas to start its own television network, thereby providing the university with more athletic revenue than any school in the country while simultaneously creating a distinct recruiting advantage.

Here's what NCAA stands for: No Clout At All.

And this is only the beginning. I see the day coming when the BCS schools form an entity unto themselves -- at least for football purposes.

* You have to wonder if Bill Cowher's market power diminishes as he sits on the television set while the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to make Super Bowls. Is there any doubt that the sum of that organization's parts far exceeds the input of any one coach? Can another franchise justify luring Cowher out of retirement with a record-setting financial package when the Steelers have proven they can keep winning without him?

But the NFL's all about recycling the same cast of characters, which is how Dave Wannstedt goes from being forced out at Pitt to assistant head coach of the Bills.

* Martin Kaymer is up to No. 2 in the world and, in my mind, the favorite to win the Masters.

* Surely James Starks can empathize with the plight of Jay Cutler, the Bears quarterback who's been ravaged by his peers through the "social media" after coming out of Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Starks' toughness was being questioned, too, when a hamstring injury kept him out of training camp and culminated with him being placed on the physically unable to perform list before his late-season activation.

Football's mind-set is that you play unless you're dragged off the field, which quite often clashes with doing what's best not just for the individual, but also for the team. In coming out, Cutler was acknowledging that Chicago's best chance rested with someone other than him. That's quite a noble concession in the ego-driven world of pro sports.

* I'll admit it. I also wondered whether Cutler was bailing rather than attempting to gut it out. I mentioned to colleague Jerry Sullivan on Monday that they would have had to drag Jim Kelly off that field in a similar situation. But as Sully reminded me, Jim Kelly missed playoff games injured. And why is it that an injury that keeps a player out of a game is more easily accepted than one that sidelines him during a game? Good points. I do remember Kelly bouncing on the sidelines when Frank Reich led the Bills on the greatest playoff comeback ever. But did anyone ever doubt Kelly would have been playing if he could have?

* Davis Love III never struck me as captain material.

* I wish the Big 4 schools would get over themselves and put together a December basketball doubleheader in the arena. Given what's transpiring throughout college athletics, where the mighty are getting mightier, it behooves the locals to cease with the pettiness and unite for their common good.

* UB football will trot out its signees next week but let's be realistic. This isn't Alabama or Ohio State. There won't be any five-star athletes of national renown. At this level, it's all about developing players and that's a process. It's not often the Bulls will land a frosh who steps in and has an immediate impact, as linebacker Khalil Mack did last season.


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