Collage 3
The Dawg-gone Blog
Official Sponsor of "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate" Since 1981
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
With signing day being so close, the anticipation of having the next great player ink his name to your University of choice is almost unbearable for some fans. Me personally, there are kids out there we are very lucky to have and there are kids out there that will eventually be labeled as “busts.” It happens with every recruiting class since we started doing the whole thing and it will keep happening until the end of time. Two-star players will step up and play like blue-chips, blue-chips will fall flat on their face, and some people will live up to the expectations (or lack thereof).

Everyone knows how I like to rail on grown men and women who treat 16-17-18 year old kids with such disrespect when they decide that a school is not right for them. Today, I’d like to rant about something else that bothers me a little bit. Namely, what should a kid be allowed to do when a coach of his choice leaves to go to another school?

Currently, the NCAA allows players to transfer, but barring any redshirting opportunities, the player must forfeit a year of eligibility and then play the subsequent season. The only difference in this is when a player transfers divisions (I.E. Black Barnes), he is eligible to play immediately. I’m not sure if it matters whether a player transfers up or down a division, though. I’ll have to check into that, or if you know the answer already, please leave it in the comments section.

Anyway, I digress. What bothers me is when you have kids like those at West Virginia who are stuck at a school that used to run a system particular to their needs like the Spread, who now face a new coach who may or may not run the same system. The same works vice versa for kids like Ryan Mallet, who ran a Pro Style offense at Michigan and had to transfer, because he doesn’t fit into the beloved Spread that Rodriguez runs.

Is it fair for Mallet to have to sit out a year because he was promised one thing and it didn’t turn out? The kid can’t run, but he’s got the tools to be a great quarterback. Should he be penalized a year of playing time because the new coach basically comes out and says “You’re too slow to be my QB. Find another place to play" when the first coach he was recruited by said "I like your arm, your mental toughness, and your ability to throw in the pocket."

Now I know that life isn’t fair, but sometimes you sign up for something and it turns out to be completely different than what you thought it was going to be. It happens in the real world all the time when people look for new jobs, break up with their significant others, or change majors in college. Some kids go to a school because they care about the school itself. Some kids go to a school for the coaches. When schools hire a well-known coach, it’s naturally assumed kids will join the program just to play under said coach. An example would be South Carolina’s undying assertion that Steve Spurrier is setting them up for a MNC and getting kids in the program that are the next big thing. The Cocks are wrong, but hey, we’re talking about the idea, not the results.

So, when a kid’s coach leaves, should he be allowed to leave as well without penalty? If a coach breaks a contract with a school for a better opportunity, shouldn’t the kid who’s given his word to the school also be allowed to “break the contract?” Personally, I think he should, but I think I’m in the minority here by a long shot.

I ask the question, because I’m also trying to decide where I want to fall on this issue. The problem with this scenario (much like trying to migrate into a playoff system) is that you constantly have to ask yourself, “where do we draw the line?” Do you limit it to when a head coach leaves? If you don’t, is it a major assistant, or just any coach on the roster? With hardcore coaching poaching (that was fun to make up) always happening at certain schools, what keeps a second-teamer from packing his bags and saying “My coach left. I’m gone too” at the drop of a hat?

That leads us to the real crux of the issue when we ask “should the rules be changed to better suit the kids, or hold the coaches’ feet to the fire?” Wouldn’t it be easier to hold coaches to the contracts they sign? If Charlie Weis loses more games next year than he wins, do you really think Notre Dame’s support will be as strong as it was when they signed him to that ridiculous deal when he was an unproven coach leading someone else’s talent onto the field? I know for a fact it won’t, but since a contract was signed, shouldn’t Notre Dame hold itself accountable for inking him into that deal?

The college football landscape has created this monster with the establishment of the “mega coach.” Coaches like Nick Saban, Tommy Tuberville, Bobby Petrino, and Rich Rodriguez have found ways to effectively use their leverage at certain schools to get raises where they’re at, or leave for much larger paydays. In the mad-dog climate we’ve created for college football, what if kids were leveraging schools to see which one gave them the better car or a nicer place to live? Essentially, if the shoe was on the other foot, would we sit idly by and accept what the kids were doing?

My immediate answer would be “no.” We can’t have kids calling the shots right? Of course not. But shouldn’t they at least have a say about their future? However if we say “ok, a kid can transfer” or “the coach has to sit out a year first,” doesn’t that put coaches and kids on the same level? Is that really what we want to do is empower young men like we empower these blowhards who renege on their signed word?

Again, I say no, but I have no concrete answer for this. It’s not so cut and dry. There are so many x-factors that a true decision is not that easy. I guess that’s why I don’t work for the NCAA and create their rules for student-athletes to abide by.

I do know one thing, though. Fair or not, I don’t think the current system we have in place works. Kids should not be penalized because the coach decided that $4 million was better than $3 million, regardless of what contract is in place. Contracts should be legally binding documents. Not recruiting tools for coaches on the hot seat.

Just my thoughts. What are yours?

Until next time kids.

Be safe.


Blogger Brett said...
I have said it before, and I'll say it again. Neither the integrity of the game nor the well-being of the student athlete is at the top of the NCAA's list of priorities. It isn't fair to the students to ask them to stay around. But the NCAA, quite frankly my dear friend, doesn't give a damn.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great analysis and something that I've been thinking about too. It's not even close for me--I think the kids should be allowed to transfer without losing a year. I'm ok with making them sit a year, but I wouldn't deduct that year from eligibility. IOW if the kid has 2 years left and he transfers, he sits a year but then he still has 2years to play. The idea is to keep transfers low so you need a dis-incentive and that's I'd sit them, but I just don't think that taking a year of playing time away is fair.

One other rule I would put in place is that they can't transfer to the school where the former coach is going. That would just set up very badly for the outgoing coach to poach the team he's leaving.

BTW I would let them transfer if either the head coach or their position coach leaves.

In the end I think most of the kids would stay, particularly if they are close to graduation, grew up fans of that school's team, are entrenched as starters, or just want to be close to home. That's 4 good reasons to stay put.

I also think that outside of quarterback, most of the other positions would not object as strongly to a change in coaches. So in the end, I don't think there would be a big exodus and we don't need to penalize kids who think they aren't suited to that team any more (like Mallett).