Author Archives: cabarnett13

Commitment is Hard These Days: Roquan Smith and the Danger of Not Signing


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For nearly two weeks, Roquan Smith of Montezuma, GA has been in the spotlight of the recruiting world. Not for being a 4-star linebacker, but for being the first big time recruit to refuse to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI).

On February 4th (National Signing Day), Smith appeared on ESPNU holding a pair of UCLA gloves to announce to the country he would take his talents to the Bruins. It was no secret that one of the main reasons the Bruins were able to get the Peach State native to the West Coast was because of his relationship with defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. However, a day after NSD, Ulbrich announced he would be joining the Atlanta Falcons to be their linebackers’ coach. While some may call it luck, perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but Smith had yet to sign his NLI with UCLA, thus allowing him to keep his recruitment open.

10 or so days later, Smith announced he would remain in his home state to play with the Georgia Bulldogs, leaving the Bruins program behind. Smith has been called “revolutionary”, a “hero”, even as far as the “Rosa Parks of college football recruits.” While he is bold, I’m not sure I would put Smith in the same category as the legendary Ms. Parks. If anything, I believe Smith showed the many flaws in college football recruiting.

If you’re a Bulldog fan, of course you’re happy to see another four-star added to your recruiting class. If you’re a coach at UGA, it’s easy to say you agree with Smith’s decision. But what if it were the other way around? What if you were the program banking on this 6’2, 207 lb. stud athlete to join your program, only to find out AFTER Signing Day you were missing a big hole in your defense?

Shouldn’t it scare UGA a little bit, no matter how unlikely, that Smith could pack his bags and head to Texas A&M, Michigan, or even UCLA before summer classes start? Perhaps, college football fans and coaches should think the big picture before encouraging all Top-100 football recruits to not sign the NLI.

As with most things within the NCAA, the NLI can improve in some areas. For example, one of the rules being that once a kid signs his NLI with a program, if he doesn’t enroll with that school; he loses a year of eligibility. Knocking off one of his four years of playing time. It’s even possible a school could release a player on their own between the time of Signing Day and preseason camp, robbing the kid of his scholarship. This is one of the gray areas that could use some changing. The NLI should make reasoning that if under certain circumstances, a player can keep all four years of his eligibility if he feels it’s necessary to transfer.

Smith’s reasoning for not signing with the Bruins was because of the departure of Ulbrich. But what if every recruit in the 2015 class left their school of choice due to a coaching change? Where does that leave these football programs? How can a program prepare for the following season if recruits are not bound to anything and allowed to leave with whichever way the wind blows? It’s the cold hard truth but that is life. Things don’t always go the way we want. Sometimes coaching staffs are fired, sometimes a coach retires, and sometimes coaches take better jobs.

Who is to tell Smith that Mark Richt won’t retire next year if Richt does or doesn’t win a championship? Relationships are an important key in the college football-recruiting world, which has been proven time and time again. As a 17-year-old recruit, perhaps building a relationship with that school, the town, their fan base, should be just as important as the one built with the coaching staff.

Another flaw showcased in the Smith ordeal, is the deception some coaches give players. It appears Smith was completely blind-sided by the job change. Had Ulbrich been upfront about the possibility of leaving, Smith could’ve weighed his options more without all the national publicity. Institutions should make it an option to conceal coaching staff’s contracts before NSD.

Perhaps the real flaw with college football recruiting is that there is too much of a selfish mentality and not enough honesty, from both sides.

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Start of a Duck Dynasty?


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2015 not only marks a new year, but also a new era of college football. On January 1st, college football fans witnessed the first playoff in the history of the game when Oregon defeated Florida State 59-20, followed by Ohio State beating Alabama 42-35. But could it also be the start of a new college football empire?

For nearly a century, the Ducks were irrelevant in college football. In 1983, Oregon’s 0-0 tie with Oregon State was so bad, some fans dubbed it the “Toilet Bowl.” In 1989, Oregon made their first postseason appearance in 26 years after a 27-24 Independence Bowl win against Tulsa.

The wind began to shift for the Ducks after a 1995 appearance in the Rose Bowl, their first since 1958. Although Oregon would lose to Penn State 38-20, they began to spark the interest of Phil Knight, a 1959 Oregon Alum and the co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc. The following season, Mike Bellotti was named the head coach for the Ducks. After a bad 1996 Cotton Bowl loss to Colorado State, Knight approached Coach Bellotti and asked what he could do to help take his alma mater to the next level in college football.

Soon after, Knight donated $10 million to the university to ensure an indoor facility was built. Then came the flashy green and yellow uniforms that intrigued football fans to want to watch the Ducks and appealed to teenage high school recruits.

In 2010, Oregon was ranked no. 1 in the AP Poll and BCS poll for the first time in school history. The Ducks accomplished their first undefeated, 12-win season and repeated as PAC-10 Champs. In a game that was the Ducks’ to win, Oregon lost to Auburn in the 2011 National Championship game when the Tigers hit a game-winning field goal with 2 seconds left.

In 2012, one win away from the national championship game and another perfect season, the Ducks laid an egg and suffered a heart-breaking loss to a No. 13 Stanford team in overtime.

With the start of a new college football era, could this be the year Oregon sees their first football national championship trophy? The Ducks survived the first round of playoffs, while being amongst three highly decorated teams in college football. Can Oregon prove they can be one of the Alabama’s, the Ohio State’s, and the FSU’s?

This past season, Oregon witnessed their first Heisman Trophy in quarterback Marcus Mariota. Tonight, Oregon will go against a football program seeking their 8th national title, Ohio State, in the CFP National Championship Game

In seasons before, the Ducks have come short of their ultimate goal, the trophy. While this year may be no different, the Ducks are one trophy away from creating that empire they have long hoped for. Will this be their year?

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Ole Miss and LSU: The SEC’s Most Underrated Rivalry


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As an Ole Miss Rebel, my favorite time of year isn’t the Egg Bowl, but rather the Magnolia Bowl.

Although the rivalry of Ole Miss/LSU doesn’t quite get the attention it once did, my left eye still twitches when I see that combo of purple and gold. I had my first Death Valley experience in 2008. While there, I had a group of LSU fans dump a bag of trash over my head as I was heading towards the bathroom. My Rebels sought vengeance on the field for me when they defeated the Tigers, 31-13.

However, my favorite Magnolia Bowl memory comes in 2009, when the Mad Hatter couldn’t quite manage the game clock.

The Tigers were down by two points with 1:16 left in the game, and had the ball on their own 42. It should’ve been a drive away from an LSU win right? Nope. As the Tigers inched closer to the end zone, with 26 seconds left, Miles himself didn’t even know the play, causing 17 seconds to burn off the clock. Nine seconds remained in the frigidly tense game; the Tigers were hoping to spike the ball, but instead confusion from the chain gang caused the game to the end.

Rebs won, 25-23. Mad House.

“I don’t know what all happened down there at the end,” then Ole Miss head Coach Houston Nutt said. “I just know the scoreboard read 25-23 Ole Miss Rebels.”

Although the height of the rivalry was the days when Archie Manning wore No. 18, I believe Saturday night’s game will refresh the air. It’s the first time since 2003 that both LSU and Ole Miss are entering the game ranked. It’s also the first time since 1961 that the Rebels are ranked higher than LSU when both teams have been ranked.

The media might try to sell other SEC rivalry games, but the Tigers and Rebels have played each other every year since 1945, this Saturday being the 103rd meeting. The Rebs haven’t lost by more than 7 points in the infamous Death Valley since 1995.

While the origin is unknown, I like to tell myself that Rebel fans coined the term “corndog” to describe LSU fans. After all, their shade of gold matches the mustard you put on a corndog.

A Mississippi State fan might tell you Ole Miss is their biggest rival. As for me, my deeper hatred runs for the Tigers. Starting with their colors, to their attitudes, to the way they spell “Geaux”, I’ll be a satisfied Rebel knowing we beat those corndogs.

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-Ashley Barnett

LSU Players Got Stomped by the Bulldogs on Saturday, Literally.


The UGA Vault is giving away a VIP Game Day Experience for the Tennessee/Georgia game complete with tickets and tailgating supplies! Entering the contest just takes two minutes.  Go here to learn more!

 

In college football, there’s a lot of dirtiness that goes on that we may turn a blind eye to just as long as it helps our team to win games.

On Saturday, the Miss State bulldogs marched into death valley and came out with a 34-29 win against LSU. For MSU’s center Dillon Day, he lets his feet do the talking (or should I say stomping?).

The first victim to fall to Day was Davon Godchaux who takes a massive stepping to the stomach AFTER the play was called. I repeat, AFTER the play was called.

So maybe it was just an accident?

Not so fast.

Later in the game, Day spots out Rashard Robinson and decides to jump after the family jewels, which ended up taking Robinson out of the game.

TAKE A LOOK:

How dirty and classless can you be to stomp on not one BUT two LSU players?

Last year, Day was suspended for half a game after stomping on players in the Auburn game.

How he’s still getting away with this baffles me. It’s insulting to the game of football and it brings the definition of playing dirty to a new low.

Here’s what the young man looks like if you’d like to warn your team to look out for him.

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Is Jameis Winston Your Leader?


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Only in college football can a 20-year old boy manage to have full control of a university, if not an entire city.

On Wednesday, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the 1st half of Saturday’s game against Clemson after yelling sexual obscenities in the student union. It appears that once again, Winston has raised his Heisman finger and has managed to escape punishment. He will, again, be able to emerge with just a slap on the wrist.

Others may look at the half game suspension as a fitting punishment, but I don’t. I see it as another opportunity for Winston to overcome more adversity and explain to the public as to why he’s “sorry.”

As a football fan, the storyline for Saturday’s game is very predictable. FSU will struggle some with their backup QB Sean Maguire. They will fall behind or at least be tied with the Tigers at halftime. Come the 2nd half, Winston will come in and sail the Seminoles ahead of Clemson for a chance to become the hero. Then all will be forgiven in the world.

Time and time again, the FSU athletic department, as well as the Tallahassee police department, have had opportunities to properly punish Winston, but denied to do so. Winston is the Seminole darling.

There’s no denying (unless you’re a Seminole fan) that the way that the Tallahassee police department handled the sexual assault case involving Winston was extremely sketchy and disturbing. For any victim that has had the courage to surpass the fear of coming forward about rape and sexual assault, that investigation was just an insult to them. I’m not accusing of Winston of the rape, but I wish there had been a thorough investigation for me to know for sure he was innocent.

Then there’s the infamous crab leg incident that happened back in April. Winston was cited for stealing $32.72 worth of crab legs at a Publix — a “mistake” that happened because Winston claimed he merely “forgot”. Because, you know, normal people forget to pay for groceries. The punishment for Winston? Three game suspension from the FSU baseball team and 20 hours of community service. But absolutely zero punishment from the football team.

Side note: Shortly after reports came out from an incident back in July 2013, accusing Winston of stealing soda from a Burger King. No punishment.

Perhaps Winston is just an immature college kid. We were all that age once. But the difference between him and the rest of us is that he’s a leader of national championship winning football team. As a leader, you should take responsibility for your actions and watch what you say and do. If that’s too much for him, maybe he shouldn’t be a starting quarterback. How many pressers have we heard Winston say he’s sorry and that he will learn? How many times has Winston gotten away with punishment (or lack thereof)? Will this be a continued process until he graduates?

Florida State is still under current investigation by the Department of Education for the way it handled the sexual assault case against Winston. A Heisman winning quarterback should have common sense to not yell sexual obscenities, no matter how popular the phrase.

A Heisman winner is supposed to be the epitome of excellence and integrity. Outside the football field, Winston has failed to meet those requirements. Perhaps the fault is with Florida State, for failing to properly punish Winston and allow him to grow as a man. Or perhaps the fault is with Winston, who fails to see past himself.

 

-Ashley Barnett

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