Commentary and answers to very important, time-sensitive and critical questions…no one has actually asked me…
Q. So much going on in college football…Spring camps starting earlier than ever…what did you think of National Signing Day? Recruiting in general?
A. I always find it incredibly amusing when 17 and 18-year olds have the grown-ups literally hanging on every word, text, tweet, etc. It never ceases to amaze me these kids will stand at a podium with three caps in front of ‘em, one for each school they allegedly have narrowed their final choice down to…only to pull a fourth cap out from underneath at the moment of truth and announce they’re going THERE instead. GOTCHA! Seriously, if that isn’t the epitome of taunting and bad sportsmanship I don’t know what is. What a great memory to leave us all as you start your collegiate career. I always hope a referee will bounce on stage and throw a flag in their direction for unsportsmanlike conduct. College football’s National Signing Day is one of the best examples we have how ridiculously “important” the sport has become. What would our economy look like if hard-core college fans didn’t have all these web sites and television programming covering high school players 24/7? There is even talk of a 24/7 national high school network in the works. All high school…all the time. I am expecting to see chatter about forming a Pee-Wee (not Herman) Football Network any moment now.
It’s also amusing how the adults act during all this. Greg Schiano, six days before the “Day”…left five of his assistants at a Jersey high school wondering why he hadn’t joined them to meet a couple of their recruits. That would be because he was resigning his position as Rutgers HC to become an NFL HC. We’ve had discussions here before about the morality of coaches (oxymoron) and their obligation – or not - to student-athletes. We also had LSU HC Les Miles trashing heavily recruited QB Gunner Kiel when he finally decided to stay closer to home at Notre Dame, questioning his “chest and ability to lead a program.”
I question grown men who act like…well, the very kids they are recruiting. Selfish and impulsive.
And as for trying to evaluate how these children will do once they arrive in the big-time…and which school has a better incoming class of freshmen than another…I leave you with a quote from none other than ESPN Recruiting Analyst Tom Luginbill (courtesy of USA Today), who is one of those devoted to the daily endeavor of making high school football something we all should be urgently concerned with…
“It’s a fan-driven entity that is the most inaccurate and subjective portion of what we do. If there’s one area of my job that you said, “Hey, listen, you can do away with one thing. What would it be?” I’d say class rankings, and there’s not even a close second because it’s not accurate. It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.”
Q. I have seen a few college HC’s speak out against the Graduate Transfer rule where a student-athlete who has gotten his degree can attend another school and use a final year of eligibility immediately if the school he is leaving doesn’t offer a program he wishes to study elsewhere? Why would they complain about that?
A. Did you see my comment above about grown men being selfish? Wisconsin basketball HC Bo Ryan probably was the loudest voice heard to-date on this subject, saying he wouldn’t allow a graduate student to come to his program. Ironically, that very rule allowed Quarterback Russell Wilson to attend Wisconsin this past fall and lead the football Badgers to a Big Ten title. You have your diploma in hand, you’ve more than fulfilled your commitment in my mind, which is more than most coaches do. If you have a year of eligibility left, go anywhere you please. In addition, how about we let any college athlete go anywhere they want and play right away whenever their HC bolts for a better offer…after promising Mom and Dad they’d take care of their child every step of their way?
Q. How are your local pro teams doing? Sixers, Flyers, Eagles…hey, the Phillies are starting Spring Training. Quick thoughts on the Philly pro scene?
A. I have been hesitant to jinx the Sixers by writing about them. The whole season so far has been a blur…partly because there’s a game every other night…partly because the Sixers have been blowing the doors off the opposition. HC Doug Collins could be Mayor of Philadelphia if he was so inclined. Funny, because early in the year big man Spencer Hawes was leading the team in most categories. When he got hurt…the team didn’t skip one beat. Team play with a capital “T.” Some folks in town – including yours truly – remain cautiously optimistic this team will continue the roll. I think they have taken advantage of the compressed schedule with their youth and enthusiasm. I believe they can win their Division and a first-round playoff series. Whether they go further depends on if they gamble on tinkering with things at the trade deadline. Depends on who is available. Hey, maybe Dwight Howard wants to leave Orlando…?
The Flyers have lost Chris Pronger. Jagr moves like Jagger. The goalie is signed for LIFE and he’s playing as if he’s lost. My post of September 16th, 2011 may be the best pre-season”predicting” you’ll ever see on this site. Especially since I don’t do a lot of it. They’re in full-blown free fall now. I know the NHL regular season has as much meaning now as…well, the NFL regular season…but it really is time for Flyers fans to panic in Philadelphia. Another early post-season exit is in the offing. Ilya Bryzgalov’s contract has the long-term potential to be the hardest “check” this franchise has ever been hit with. Believe me, if that thing didn’t stretch out almost a decade they’d actually be of the mind to look for a net-minder come their trade deadline. Kimmo Timonen called this team out. When your Scandinavian players start calling the team out…
Andy Reid is still in charge. His offense turned defense coaching assistant Juan Castillo is still here. (I got chills typing these last two sentences) Not much has changed in Eagle Country. Certainly not what I wanted to change. Everything is great. We’re “so close” to a World Championship. The worst thing that could have happened did…the Giants won it all. Not because they are nearby, hated rivals…but because we were “so close” to them last season. When my anger subsides I may have more to contribute…that being said, a shout-out to someone who covers the team whether anything has changed or not…Philly Sports Muse. She deserves your time for all things Eagles.
The Phillies…remind me of the Eagles. You have to know when to hold ‘em…but also when to fold ‘em. This franchise is also standing firm in their resolve no major changes are required. They won a ton of games last year, but some in the first half of the year were achieved purely with smoke and mirrors. Think on this…no NL team scored more runs than the Phillies in the second half of 2011…mainly because Ryan Howard “awoke” as he usually does once the weather gets warm and the middle of the batting order starts turning up the heat on opposing pitching staffs. Where did they finish overall in NL runs scored for the season? Seventh. Eighth in home runs. Ninth in batting average. Ryan Howard is now hurt to start the year…and how will he do when he returns? Chase Utley’s tendonitis troubles have to be monitored, likely for the rest of his career. Seven starters return from their post-season roster…a post-season where those starters couldn’t hit a lick. Let’s just hope the best starting pitching in baseball doesn’t also suddenly feel the need to wait for the weather to get warm. That group will dictate how this year goes. Just like last year. When you make no changes, expect little different. Except, of course…if Howard can’t play. Or Utley gets worse. Then, you’ll see something quite different.