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Modern Manners (cont.)

Posted: Monday December 5, 2005 11:32AM; Updated: Monday December 5, 2005 4:26PM
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2. ESPN's College GameDay examined Florida State's woeful season on Saturday. Before surprising everyone and wresting the ACC championship from the Hokies, the Seminoles had fallen out of the Top 25 and were in danger of losing four games in a row for the first time in head coach Bobby Bowden's 30 seasons in Tallahassee.

So what was the GameDay gang diagnosis? "Recruiting is the No. 1 issue," said Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso, a former Seminole player, agreed. "They've got to stop gathering players," Corso said, "and get back to recruiting." Corso bolstered -- at least in his mind -- his argument by noting that the 'Noles had had only two first-round NFL draft picks in the last three seasons.


My response: Eck-squeeze me?!?

The 'Noles' Web site acknowledges that Florida State had the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation last season. And that's par for the course in Tallahassee. Lorenzo Booker was the most sought-after prep running back in the country three years ago, Fred Rouse the best wideout not named DeSean Jackson last year and Antone Smith was widely considered the top tailback. Who outside of Baton Rouge, downtown Los Angeles and, maybe, Columbus would not want to trade recruiting classes with Florida State year in and year out?

Only Lou Holtz, who is an old friend of Bowden's, had the temerity to say, "A lot of it is coaching." Holtz, from ESPN's Bristol studios, noted that a year ago not many people paid any mind to Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn or wideout Maurice Stovall, but now both are solid NFL draft picks.

I'm no Will Hunting, but if you consistently get top five recruiting classes and you consistently fail to prepare those classes for the NFL, that's bad coaching. Doesn't mean that Bowden, one of the all-time legends, is not a great coach. It just means that this year -- until Saturday night in Jacksonville -- he and his staff failed to bring out the best in their players.

Speaking of which, here's to the Seminoles' Pat Watkins for one of the best downings of a punt I've ever seen. Football games are won by players making plays, as they say, and that was a prime example.

On the other hand, Virginia Tech QB Marcus Vick should be forced,once a day until spring practice begins to watch the tape of himself scoring and then jumping up and spiking the football. Not only did he draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but he also came up slightly lame. Vick is a solid talent, but he is still nowhere close to being a leader. He has one more year to put it all together.

3. I'm looking forward to Quinn visiting New York for the Heisman Award just so I can ask him how he prepared for, not to mention how he found time to shoot his role in the upcoming theatrical release Tristan and Isolde.

4. I'm still awaiting an injury update from ESPN regarding the hit that sideline reporter Stacey Dales-Schuman took during Friday night's Louisiana Tech-Fresno State game. By the way, you never hear much about the "Schuman" half of that marriage. He's kind of the Stuart Townsend of sports.

5. We've got a Marcus Vick at quarterback at Virginia Tech. And we've got a JaMarcus Russell at quarterback at LSU. It seems to me the natural progression next season would be a quarterback from South of the border who goes by the name "BajaMarcus Gonzalez". Just, you know, hoping.

6. Was there any drama at all on Saturday? Only if you tuned in to the final 15 minutes of Real World, Austin, The Reunion: Tex, Hugs, and Rock & Roll. How could you not love when Nehemiah called out Danny, saying: "You changed, dog. You're acting like Ben Affleck." I disagree, Nehemiah. Danny's acting like -- or at least dressing like -- Kevin Federline. Beech looked up from his U.S. Military Academy Gift Catalogue long enough to be aghast at the cheering in the audience whenever a cast member talked about his or her "groupie drawer" to utter the line of the night: "I'm going to home university my children."

7. The first post-BCS bowl announcements e-mail to appear in my box:

OK, the Big Ten scores two BCS invites? Gee, I kind of thought that conference stunk this year ... Politics as usual and the big money schools like Notre Dame and Ohio State keep getting to screw the Oregons and Cals of the world.

-- Mark, Austin, Texas

As was discussed before, I am not about to argue that Oregon was undeserving of a BCS bowl berth. But here's my question to any loyal Ducks fan: Would you willingly have Oregon alumnus Phil Knight take all the money that he has invested in your football program and instead have invested it evenly among all the Pac-10 schools? Because it seems to me that Nike's support of the Oregon program gives the Ducks a huge advantage over the schools in Corvallis and Pullman, say, when it comes to recruiting players.

But why should you apologize for Knight having attended Oregon? Or for his taking an interest in his alma mater's gridiron success? Hell no, you're not about to give back that 22nd century locker-room or those cool helmets. So why should Notre Dame and Ohio State apologize for having accrued, over the course of nearly a century, a national prominence that the Ducks have yet to attain?

In short, there are a lot of inequities in college football. For example, at the same time on Saturday you could have watched 5-foot-6, 164-pound Navy running back Reggie Campbell and 6-foot-9, 346-pound UCLA offensive tackle Ed Blanton.

8. I don't know if the Fiesta Bowl would have been more exciting if Oregon was in it. What I do know is that Notre Dame-Ohio State will have a hard time improving upon the Class 5A Arizona state championship game that took place in Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night. Two-time defending champion Chandler Hamilton High took a 14-0 lead on underdog Brophy College Prep (this twit's alma mater) early in the first quarter, but Brophy hung tough. Late in the fourth quarter, Brophy went on a 99-yard drive that included a fourth-and-18 conversion and won, 15-14. The winning score against previously unbeaten Hamilton came with 34 seconds left.

But here is what makes me most proud of my old team. Two weeks ago, Hamilton wideout Joe Jackson, a junior, was paralyzed from the chest down after a helmet-to-helmet collision in practice. In the week leading up to the game, Brophy players walked around campus during lunch, helmets in hand, collecting money from fellow students to raise money on Jackson's behalf. In just over a week the Bronco football players collected $2,500.

If you would like to make a donation, contact me and I will try to find a website or address where you can send money.