Rookie QBs Shine; NCAA Death Spiral Continues

The hype around 49ers’ first-round draft pick Trey Lance is pretty astounding.


Judging from the news reports emanating from the 49ers' practices and first pre-season game, you'd think he was the second coming.


Yet Lance, irrespective of his seemingly limitless potential, is a guy who played only one game last year and never lined up against top flight Power 5 Conference competition.


This writer felt the Niners should've taken Justin Fields of Ohio State with the third pick in the draft. Fields moves as well as Lance, has a very accurate arm, and played extremely well against the best teams in the country.


Hopefully, both players will excel at the pro level. Only time will tell relative to who is the better quarterback, but both had bright moments in their pre-season openers.



Lance started with a bang, throwing an 80-yard TD pass in the first quarter. He ended the day with 5 completions in 14 attempts. He had three dropped passes, so that would've changed the line to 8 of 14. He also had two poor throws that could've easily been intercepted. So other than the long TD, nothing to write a headline about.


Fields, meanwhile, rallied the Bears from a 13-0 deficit to a 21-13 win over Miami, throwing for one touchdown and running for another. He completed 14 of 20 for 142 yards. I think he’s going to be a winner.


Where's Jimmy? Meanwhile, the 49ers’ current starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, is the forgotten man. It wasn’t that long ago that Garoppolo was a media darling. But now he’s usually described as an “injury prone” has been who choked in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.


It seems Jimmy has been put on notice...”we like you, pal, but you're just keeping the seat warm until Trey is ready.” In last week’s exhibition with Kansas City, Garoppolo completed all three of his passes for 26 yards on the opening possession, but the drive stalled after an offensive interference call.


That was the last we saw of him. Most game stories either didn’t mention him at all or gave him one sentence at the end.


My, how quickly things can change.


NCAA Woes Continue: We’ve written on several occasions about the almost incomprehensible lack of competence, leadership, and forward thinking at the NCAA.


Its hypocritical, nonsensical obsession with the facade of “amateurism,” resulted in a string of legal losses, $79 million in fees owed to the winning parties, a 9-0 rebuke by the Supreme Court, and a grudging acceptance of compensation to student-athletes for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL).


After providing no leadership and national guidelines on how schools should deal with the COVID pandemic, the NCAA was also AWOL in providing NIL standards.


It has absolutely no role or involvement in the most important national championship, the College Football Playoff, or conference realignment.


And its once-sterling reputation for organizing national championships (other than football) took a severe hit this year because of the inequitable treatment of men’s and women’s teams in the NCAA Basketball tournaments.


Things got so bad that the overpaid, underperforming NCAA President, Mark Emmert, last month suggested a smaller role for the NCAA and proposed that conferences and individual schools assume a much bigger role in governance and decision-making.


It seemed things couldn’t get any worse, until last Wednesday, when the NCAA basically punted on the Baylor sexual assault scandal, announcing that its long-awaited investigation wouldn’t result in major sanctions against the University, because the “egregious moral and ethical failings” in its handling of sexual and interpersonal violence didn’t violate any NCAA rules.


The report came five years after the scandal shocked the college sports universe, leading to the firing of football coach Art Briles and the removal of the school’s athletic director (Ian McCaw) and president (Ken Starr), and three years after the university received its notice of allegations.


The NCAA’s seven-member panel said that Baylor’s campus-wide culture of ignoring sexual violence was so rampant at the time that it was outside the realm of the NCAA Constitution because football players couldn’t be deemed to have received special treatment.


Think about that for awhile.


Ironically, the school did receive minor penalties—four years of probation, a $5,000 fine and some recruiting restrictions—for providing impermissible extra benefits to recruits. It seems a predominantly female group of hostesses, known as the Baylor Bruins, were "kind of at the disposal of football recruits in a very inappropriate way.”


So in the NCAA’s twisted universe, it’s okay for football players to sexually assault people and get away with it on a technicality, but it’s not okay for female hostesses to sleep with football recruits.


This investigation, along with the other examples cited earlier, makes it quite clear that college sports governance needs a major overhaul.


The NCAA is irrelevant, incompetent, and gutless. The organization has proven time and again that it can’t enforce its own rules. That it can’t levy penalties in a logical, consistent manner. That it can’t provide national leadership on important issues. That it clings to outdated models of amateurism. That its legal staff is overmatched. That it has no control over conference realignment or the college football playoff. That the “same rules for all” approach across 1200 member schools who have different competition levels, sizes and financial realities doesn’t work anymore.


It’s time for the NCAA—assuming it can correct the unacceptable gender disparities at this year’s basketball event—to simply run non-football national championships and cede everything else to the conferences and schools.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com