Thursday, June 23, 2011

Catching up shudders at the thought

Michigan (specifically Dave Brandon) is 'interested in' a mascot: I had postponed writing about this because I was hoping it was just a weird nightmare, like the one I had the other night where I joined the Army. Alas, it was not.

Dave Brandon's thoughts:
"Our history and our tradition is great for those of who were there to experience it, or remember it," Brandon said, "but there's a generation coming up and you've got to connect with them and keep them excited."
No, you don't. Somehow, despite having roughly the attention span of a squirrel, I managed to become deeply invested in Michigan football without having a stupid mascot dancing around the field pretending to bite people's heads and whatnot. I'm cool with the lights and the night game, I'm fine with the not-quite-throwback unis, etc., but this is where I draw the line* and start yelling at the damn kids to get off my lawn. Michigan (by which I mean Brandon since he's making all the important decisions) is dangerously approaching the slippery slope at the peak of We're Just Like Everybody Else Mountain.

Fortunately for my family's safety, nothing is imminent:
"So far we haven't figured out a way to do it. Until we come up with something we love, we don't have a mascot."
But if he comes across "something we love" tomorrow, I will become very stabby.

*I'd approve of a mascot on one condition: It's a live wolverine, like the ones Michigan brought to the sidelines in 1927 (pictured below) and had to return to the zoo because they were dangerously violent. A bad-ass version of Uga that could rip Brutus' throat out in one lunge and therefore has to be carried around in a cage? Sure.

This isn't exactly a new problem: There's a pretty interesting story in "The Daily" (some sort of new-age journalism concept) written by former USC running back Lonnie White in which he admits taking about $14,000 in cash/benefits during his playing career in the early '80s.
According to my father, Elwood White, a two-sport high school standout at Montclair (N.J.) High, it was a problem in the late 1940s when he played at Morgan State, a historically black university that dominated competition under coach Eddie Hurt.

It was an issue when colleges recruited my brother, Tim White, a two-sport All-American at Asbury Park (N.J.) High, in the 1970s, and it was still a concern when I went through the process in the early 1980s.
There's a lot of interesting stuff in there about how easy it was to trade game tickets and stuff like autographs (sound familiar?) for money and how the coaches really didn't know anything about it, which seems plausible, especially back in the day when there weren't 300-person compliance staffs in every athletic department.

And it wasn't just the boosters:
For example, my senior year I had a strong game at Washington State, scoring a touchdown and building up solid kickoff return yardage that left me ranked in the top 10 nationally. The following week, a fledgling agent began to wine and dine me, because he felt I was a sleeper NFL prospect.
This was 30 years ago. For all the "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" outrage the last few months, the fact of the matter is that these extra-benefit shenanigans have been going on since the dawn of amateurism and won't stop until greed ceases to exist, at which point we can all live happily ever after in a communist utopia.

Janoris Jenkins haz home: North Alabama coach Terry Bowden (yeah, that one) announced Wednesday that former Florida uber-corner Janoris Jenkins has signed a scholarship and will be eligible to play this fall. As I mentioned last week, it was between North Alabama, Valdosta State and the supplemental draft (which would have been my choice if I were a near-lock to be a first-round pick but couldn't stop myself from getting high every 20 minutes ).

Given his talent, the level of competition should be mostly irrelevant; he'll dominate and probably still end up going in the first round if he can manage to avoid getting arrested in the next 10 months. As Dr. Saturday points out, there are a ridiculous 28 players on the North Alabama roster who started their careers at FBS schools, including guys like Rod Woodson (Alabama), Bryan Thomas (Florida), Daron Rose (Florida State) and Jarmon Fortson (Florida State), so the scouting will be plentiful.

One agent said Jenkins is also expected to play some receiver at North Alabama, presumably in an effort to show off his extreme athleticism advantage and keep him entertained while he's getting thrown at about twice a game on defense.


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