Thursday, December 2, 2010

Has Pay-for-Play officially arrived to the 2011 signing class?

Isiah Crowell. I want him to play for UGA. I watched him play against my own highschool team (LaGrange Grangers GO BLUE!) on ESPN a few months back and I really liked what I saw. He has size, speed, good lean, good balance, good vision - all the things you want in a back. He was at UGA-GT wearing Georgia gear (no REAL surprise...what's he gonna wear in Athens, Bama colors?). For months, the speculation has been that he'll choose either Georgia or Alabama.

Until recently.

Auburn has suddenly entered the mix. Amid all of the accusations about the Auburn program and the lengths they may/may not be willing to go to get star talent, Crowell suddenly adds them to a list of potential players in the mix for his services.

For months, Crowell has said he will declare his college choice after the State Championship game, which he is hoping to win with his Carver team-mates.

Until today.

Today his coach announced that Crowell will now wait until National Signing Day to make his decision. The reason cited?
“Isaiah and his family want to make the best decision for his future and they feel that taking his five official visits will give them the best opportunity to evaluate and assess what they are looking for in a school,” McGee told the AJC. “They want to give each school a fair opportunity.”
So, whereas he previously believed he had it all figured out, today it comes out that he needs another two months to make the decision. They want to give each school "a fair opportunity." To do what? The kid has 50 offers. Schools have been working him for YEARS. So now, at the 11th hour, he suddenly wants to give five schools the opportunity to do something. What is that something? I don't know....but I think everyone reading this knows what's circling my brain.

I hope I'm wrong in thinking the timing of this announcement and the NCAA decision on Cam Newton are not coincidental. Look, I'm not saying Crowell is looking for a pay-for-play situation. I don't know him, and truly know nothing of him other than the fact that he is a stellar talent. It's simply interesting to me that the NCAA basically doles out permission to parents and other possible assigns of a student athlete to basically get into negotiations with boosters and high-powered alumni just so long as there's plausible deniability on the part of the university and the student himself, and THEN, a day later, one of the highest-profile recruits in the SEC suddenly opens his recruiting up a bit.

This is NOT a character assassination. I wish God had blessed me with enough talent and ability for schools to have competed for my services. Not so. I let my brain get me into a school I loved, and then I walked on. If players of Crowell's caliber have read the writing on the wall and now are seeking their own monetary fulfillment, I say more power to them. These kids are now learning at 18 that if everyone else is gonna make big money because of your abilities, you should be able to cash in too. They are learning that they should get it while it's good, because the opportunity isn't promised tomorrow. Think of kids who blew out knees as juniors and their draft status suffered. Think of kids with career-ending injuries, who were betting their livelihood on the draft, but then were forced to use a degree in "interdisciplinary studies" to get a job at State Farm Insurance. Why not grab a quick few hundred thousand and toss it into an interest-baring account? Or hey, since all we have to do is claim that the kid didn't know, why don't we just be more overt about it and buy him a new Escalade with the "money we found?"

Tony Barnhardt said today that the NCAA "got it right" with the Cam Newton situation, and I can understand his position. A kid shouldn't be punished for the alleged actions of his father and a booster - especially if that kid is, as a result, up for the Heisman, contending for an SEC title and possibly a National Title. With that kind of success, there's no reason to punish him - especially since there's no way he knew about it, right?

Here's my problem with it - if we're going to continue to pretend that we're holding some kind of righteous place in our sport for "Amateurism" then the NCAA needed to rule in a different manner. Perhaps they will at some point. Perhaps they will, after the BCS title game, decide that there is enough evidence "at that time" to condemn the actions of Auburn, MSU, and Newton. At that point, the most electrifying player in the country will have brought more ratings and more revenue to the sport - the NCAA and SEC will have gotten as much out of his playing career as possible (He's in the 2011 draft for sure) and they can rule harshly.

The only negatives at that point become a vacated mythical title, and the future careers of a bunch of high-school kids who thought it was suddenly OK to go shopping for contracts.

Like I said before, I certainly hope I'm wrong. I hope that Crowell's decision is based solely on the fact that he's a high-school kid who knows that he doesn't have it all figured out. I hope he has made his decision based on the realization that there are many schools where he might fit in, and he should really examine them all to decide which one is the BEST fit. I hope he has made his decision based on what will be best for his long-term future, and in the end, I hope he makes the decision to come to Georgia.

I just hope he hasn't made the decision that we need to pay for it. Cause I don't think we will.

Go Dawgs.


ThePetis said...

"You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor... and would have different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO."

Let's give the kid a break. Maybe Auburn came into the picture because they are competing for a SEC, and potentially a National, Championship. You see it every year... the hot teams get a boatload of the top recruits.

It's an idea that never crossed my mind though. I hope you are wrong, though.

I'm not going to lie. the Cam Newton story has become the new Brett Favre story for me. As soon as it comes on the tv, radio, etc. I change the channel. I just don't care. I do care about the consequences, though. And I do agree with you that the NCAA is retarded and just made a horrible decision, not to mention an unfair decision when compared to the AJ Green ruling.

In conclusion, the end.

Kelly and Brad said...

Hey Dukes,
Off topic but was Tereshinski around S&C at all when you where there? Any thoughts on how big a factor these moves really are?

CP said...

I think you're onto something, Dukes. The fact that we even have to think about it is an indictment of the league.

Forget the NCAA since no one knows what they'll decide day-to-day. The Conference (SEC) response to this Newton thing is laughable. They say he's eligible because his family didn't actually "receive" money from MSU. However, the bylaw clearly states that if they "agree to receive" compensation it's grounds for ineligibility. By actively seeking money, you have obviously agreed to receive it.

Why should we give Cam Newton a break? Why not give a break to all the other NCAA, SEC players and schools who have been sanctioned by the league and conferences? Didn't Reggie Bush's mommy and daddy do it? Is it fair to them to let this one slide because the team is undefeated and he'll only be around for a year anyway?

It compromises the integrity of the whole recruiting process and makes a mockery of the rules if they don't end up doing something here and declaring him ineligible. And doing it after the season is the chump way to do it.