July 26, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien speaks during the Big Ten media day at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE
Meat Inspector: Giggle inducing job title or a snarky term for a 'recruiting analyst'?
To me, it's both. I still smirk whenever meat and inspector are in the same sentence, and I'm just not a big fan of listening or reading people breakdown high school recruits.
It's not that both don't have value. Without someone to inspect meat, we'd all be roaming the streets as disease infested zombies instead of watching and blogging and gossiping about them. And without the recruiting gurus, or meat inspectors, we wouldn't have all the info on the latest incoming Syracuse (or any other school's) players.
Still, I hate reading a definitive take on a kid who just got his drivers license. It will forever just feel wrong knowing there are middle-aged men judging kids, these basketball players, football players, baseball players, for their living. But this whole recruiting ugly business can't just be blamed on 'experts.' Coaches, with their endless courting overtures, and fans, with their insatiable desire to learn about everything when it comes to 'their' school are just at fault as anyone.
Really, the entire thing makes me think of a Dome Dog; I don't want to know how it's made, I just know, at times, I'm glad they're available. Meaning, as a college sports fan, recruiting is something I just have to live with.
But then the NCAA slapped Penn State with the-closest-thing-to-the-death-penalty and suddenly I lost my recruiting appetite, again.
Players and incoming recruits at Penn State were being contacted by dozens of coaches and assistants seconds after NCAA president Mark Emmert announced to the world that those same players, ones on campus and ones about to first step foot on, were free to transfer without penalty of sitting out a year (even including transferring in the Big 10).
It's difficult not to feel sorry for brand new coach in Bill O'Brien, a guy who seems like a stand up dude who was put in a really bad situation and now is trying to make lemonade. Then there's the players who are feeling the impact of penalties from a scandal they had nothing to do with.
Any sentiment of sorrow didn't stop programs like Illinois from going full blast, in open forum, after Penn State players. And it's not just Fighting Illini head man Tim Beckman, there are plenty of coaches, assistant coaches, and boosters buddying-up to the Nittany Lions. Actually, Syracuse's own Doug Marrone may or may not be in on the Penn State recruiting action, but at least he called ahead to warn O'Brien he might.
Does Penn State have good to great players that would help Marrone and Syracuse out considerably? (Warning: All caps coming in 3, 2, 1..) ABSOLUTELY! Does it make it a little less dirty that Marrone called O'Brien and said, 'Hey, Bill, just so you know we may try to snag some of your players. We may not. But we may.'? I'd like to say yes, but I just can't.
I can't totally condemn coaches doing things by the book and wanting to win. It's just like my battle with the whole regular recruiting thing, it's ugly but it's apart of the game and it's probably needed. Openly recruiting players from another school isn't exactly 'needed' but it is, at least for now, apart of the game.
(Side Note Rant - If you're looking to make comparisons to the SMU scandal, where coaches from other schools were literally in SMU's parking lot signing Mustang players up, remember that school actually lost football for what turned out to be two years. Penn State still has the program, still has an upcoming season, still has coaches and fans.)
I have respect for Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and Wisconsin leader Bret Bielema in saying they wouldn't go after O'Brien's players. That doesn't mean I don't have respect for Marrone, or the other coaches trying to poach a running back or linebacker, but there is something to be said for going with the team you have.
Running after Penn State players smacks of desperation and cold-hearted sliminess. Especially this close to the season. Consider, not only is Penn State a couple weeks from fall camp, so are the teams going after their players. Doesn't that send something of a message?
"Hey, I love you guys and this team, but Penn State is having a fire sale! I'll see you in a few days, hopefully with a brand new offensive tackle!"
Now you guys could say I'm an idiot and that I would openly welcome a Penn State star coming to Syracuse. And you'd be right on both accounts. I want SU to win and, if legal, I usually don't care at what cost. Not like thist though, especially knowing that any help arriving from Happy Valley wouldn't likely turn SU even into an 8 win team. I'd rather Marrone sit this creepy dance out.
Sometimes you want a Dome Dog and other times you think of how many animals and animal parts it took to make it and you think of giving up meat all together (which never lasts, but still).