bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: College football recruiting is ugly, at least when Dan Mullen is involved

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As much as I love college football, 2014 has not been a banner year for the sport. Sure, the actual game is still good, although my beloved Nittany Lions are struggling through a year that was always likely to be the worst part of the sanctions. Everything surrounding the game, though, is going to hell. The NCAA is coming apart at the seams, much to my delight, with lawsuits out the wazoo promising dramatic change for all of college athletics in the future. Beyond that, the way recruiting is handled, especially within certain conferences, continues to shed a very bad light on what is supposed to be an amateur sport played for the love of the game. The latest example of this comes to us courtesy of Mississippi State University and its head coach, Dan Mullen. This week, he pulled the scholarship offer from a kid who was about to graduate in two weeks and enroll early at MSU.

Kids commit to schools earlier and earlier these days, despite the fact that they can’t actually sign a letter-of-intent until February of their senior year in high school. With the highly recruited kids in particular, we see a lot of decommitments throughout the year. Plenty of arguments have been made for an early signing period, which would cut down on this, but I am not exactly sure who would benefit from that. Seems like it might not be the kids, and if it’s not, I am not sure it would be a very good idea. Some of the conferences, particularly the SEC, sign a lot more players than they can actually bring in on scholarship each year, counting on the fact that some of the kids will not qualify academically when the time comes. If that doesn’t happen, some kids end up being cut loose.

Chason Virgil, a quarterback from Texas, committed to Mississippi State back in May. As kids are doing in increasing numbers, he put himself in a position to graduate a semester early from high school so he could enroll early at MSU and get a jump on his college career. This past week, coach Dan Mullen told Virgil and his high school coach that his scholarship offer for this year was being pulled. The Bulldogs have been having what might be their best year ever, and I guess they are getting a lot more of the high profile kids to listen to their recruiting pitch this time around. With more and better players interested, I guess Coach Mullen wanted to keep his options and scholarships open. I would think that the welfare of this kid might matter a little bit to him, but that might be expecting too much. Virgil was offered a “gray shirt,” which means he could have paid his own way for the first year and then been brought onto scholarship for 2016. Hardly a desirable situation for a kid who had numerous other scholarship offers.

I hate that Mullen did this. I believe that it sends a terrible message to all of the other kids that he is recruiting, and I would hope they would factor that in and tell him to get lost when he recruits them in the future, but I know better. Sure, a five-star kid might tell him to take a hike, but then the five-star kid is going to rightly assume that he will never be put into that situation, so it won’t matter to him. The lower-profile kids will likely feel like they can’t afford to say no to an offer from a school in a big-time conference, so they won’t slam the door on him either. I guess that is maybe why Mullen felt like he could get away with this. He can.

As always, I have no solutions for how major college athletics should be run. I have never suggested that the answers are easy. There has to be a better way than this, though. Yanking a scholarship offer at the eleventh hour like this is just classless and inexcusable. Shame on you, Dan Mullen.

Bad sports, continued:

2) The Oakland Raiders finally won a game on Thursday, beating the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 24-20 for their first win of the season. Something happened late in the game, though, that showed why the Raiders are such a bad team. Linebacker Sio Moore sacked Alex Smith near midfield as Smith was trying to lead the Chiefs down for a go-ahead score in the last minute of the game. Moore jumped up and ran in celebration of his play. Teammate Khalil Mack was right with him, and the two started slapping hands. The problem was that this was happening well behind the line of scrimmage, and the Chiefs were about to run another play. Raider Justin Tuck called a timeout to avoid the penalty that was about to happen. Idiots.

3) LeGarrette Blount was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday after he left the field early on Monday night as his team was beating the Tennessee Titans. Unfortunately, the “punishment” didn’t amount to much, as he was immediately signed by the New England Patriots, for whom he actually started in Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.

4) Jeff Taylor, a forward for the Charlotte Hornets, was suspended for 24 games on Wednesday for a domestic violence incident that occurred last month. He will not be paid during the suspension.

5) If you are the type of person who could forget the date of your own child’s birthday, and you are also quite famous, it would likely be a good idea to not send birthday greetings to said child via Twitter. Right, John Calipari?

6) Last week, recent practice squad promotee Jonas Gray ran wild for the New England Patriots, gaining 201 yards and scoring four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts. I am not sure if his success went to his head in record time or what, but he overslept and missed part of practice on Friday, causing coach Bill Belichick to send him home. Then, on Sunday, he did not play at all against the Detroit Lions.

7) Racism has shown its ugly face once again in the world of soccer. Dave Whelan, the owner of Wigan Athletic in England, not only just hired a known racist, Malky Mackay, as his club’s manager, but he defended the hiring by spouting off some nasty racism of his own. Jews and Chinese people were the targets of his ignorance. Awesome. Warning: don’t read the comments below the linked article. They’ll make you mad.

8) Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, angered by a late touchdown pass by the New England Patriots that he felt was thrown only to run up the score, took a shot at the knees of Patriots defensive lineman Zach Moore during the kneel-down play with intent to injure him. He admitted as much after the game.

Bonus: Yep, it’s Jameis Winston. During a play in the third quarter of Florida State’s game against Boston College, Winston shoved a referee who was blocking his ability to get under center. The ref was doing so on purpose because he was giving the defense a chance to substitute after a substitution was made by the Seminoles. That’s what he was supposed to be doing. Experts seem to believe there should have been a penalty and an ejection for Winston, but as we have all learned, he is allowed to do whatever he chooses at all times without repercussion.

Deep thought of the week: Now that he sucks and is likely to lose his job, can we stop calling him “RG3” and start calling him Robert Griffin? Please?

Good sports:

1) The city of Buffalo was hit with a massive snowstorm last week that dropped between five and seven feet of snow across the area. The Bills had no way to host their game against the New York Jets that was scheduled for Sunday. The Detroit Lions, who were playing away this week, came up big for Buffalo, offering their stadium for the game, which was played on Monday night. Tickets for the game were offered for free to fans.

2) Lionel Messi became the all-time leading scorer in the Spanish League, netting his 253rd career goal (his third of the game) against Sevilla on Saturday, leading his Barcelona club to a victory.

3) Last week, I mentioned a new NCAA Division 1A rushing record that was set by Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin. Well, his record stood for all of a week. Samaje Perine of Oklahoma broke the record on Saturday against Kansas, running for 427 yards. Silly.

4) If you watched the Sunday Night Football game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys this week, you saw what may have been the greatest catch of all time. Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr. made a touchdown grab while falling backward and being held. Even more amazingly, he caught it with only one hand (using just three fingers on that hand!), never bringing the other hand into play at all. Spectacular.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: College football recruiting is ugly, at least when Dan Mullen is involved”

  1. Come on! Calipari only missed by one day! I can be that far off on my own birthday.

  2. Mike – did you tweet it to yourself?

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