A GRIP ON SPORTS
On this last day of January, 2012, I would like to commit to having a chocolate doughnut for breakfast. In a few minutes, however, I may switch my commitment to a glazed one. By the time I'm done writing, though, I may either be back to chocolate or have decided on toast. Read on.
• OK, the lead-in today was silly. But sometimes silly is the best way to illustrate a point. And I'm sure you know where we are going with this: The importance of having more than one type of doughnut in the house at all times. Wait, that's not it. We want to talk with you a bit about football recruiting, obviously irrelevant commitments and how you feel about all this. Over the past few years, the idea of committing early to a college has become all the rage, with high school football players accepting scholarship offers in their junior years – we'll avoid other sports right now (that means you basketball) because tomorrow is mainly known as football signing day – more often than not. But as this practice has evolved, it has become almost irrelevant. Switching commitments has become so common, there are two stories – one by Bud Withers in the Times about WSU quarterback-to-be Austin Apodaca and one from the San Francisco Chronicle about a Cal commit – today that treat kids who stuck with their commitments as almost oddities. And they really are. A kid will call folks who work for the on-line recruiting sites and commit to a school. A few months later, the same kid holds a press conference at his high school and puts on the baseball cap of a different college. A few days later he signs a letter of intent, maybe with one of the aforementioned schools, maybe not. With all of these twists and turns chronicled by the media, of which, of course, I am a part. Yes, blogs like this one are part of the problem and yes there is a problem. Maybe it's just one of language, as the word commitment just doesn't seem to fit the decisions being announced these days – commitment implies the decision has the faith and credit of your word behind it and too often that collateral is bankrupt. The way the system works now, we have wrung all the moral fiber out of the term commitment. It doesn't mean “I've given my word and I'm standing behind it.” It means “Today, I am taking State U's scholarship offer. It's mine. Tomorrow I'm visiting University of State. If they offer me a scholarship, State U is out.” And this is what bothers me the most. It's not kids having changes of heart, seeing assistant coaches or head coaches they like leaving a school so they decide not to attend, or getting on offer from a school they really wanted to attend in the first place. It's the corruption of commitment, the encouragement to renege on their word these kids receive from the adults in the system. They are pushed to make a choice. They make one. And from then until signing day they are poked, prodded and peppered with questions about that choice, whether it be from those who report on the system or those who are a part of it. It just doesn't feel right. … So how do you feel about it? Do you like the way it is now? Or do you feel as if it is too much? You can comment at the bottom of the post.
• Washington State: If you are in the group that likes the way it is now and want to know more, Christian Caple has the information you need in this morning's post. The big news today, the day before the letters of intent can be signed, should be coming from the West Side, when Cedric Dozier announces his decision, with WSU one of his front-running schools. … One of the problems I see every year is folks in this business writing crud that just isn't based in fact. I link this ESPN LA piece for just that reason. If you scroll down to the part about Kenny Lawler, an Upland High receiver who is set to pick between Oregon State and Washington State, you'll find this long sentence: “If Lawler is looking for early playing time, both the Beavers and Cougars are set to return their leading wide receivers from last season, Markus Wheaton at Oregon State and Marquess Wilson at Washington State, but the depth chart is probably a little less crowded in Pullman, Wash.” It is flat-out wrong. Going through the depth chart at receiver for both schools, it's obvious there is more depth – and more quality depth – at WSU than Oregon State, especially with four receivers already committed in the class (OSU has one according to Scout). … We switch gears a bit to bring you something a little more important. SI's Peter King spent time with Steve Gleason recently for a piece that will run on NBC's Super Bowl pregame show. I am torn here. I want to see the story, but, after talking with Steve this season and having spent some time with his mother Gail, I'm not sure I can take it emotionally. … Not sure I wanted to finish this section with that link, so here is one more. It's Jon Wilner's action/reaction blog post, leading with the Cal/Stanford game from Sunday. Wish I knew more about basketball than Johnny Dawkins.
• Gonzaga: Not a lot from the WCC overall, though St. Mary's was given a golden opportunity yesterday when it was announced the Gaels will travel to unbeaten Murray State for a BracketBuster game Feb. 18. It's a chance for the Gaels to cement its national reputation and give another boost to the conference's street cred. … Speaking of brackets, the latest ESPN bracketology has St. Mary's a five seed, GU a six and no BYU. Well, the Cougars are one of the first four out, which could mean the state of Utah would be shut out of the NCAA tourney.
• Eastern Washington: The Big Sky has watched the bigger schools basically it their own. Now the conference wants to stake out a spot that is away from the tumult. … Dave Trimmer has this piece on a former Eagle who is on TV a lot nowadays.
• Idaho: The Vandals lost another assistant football coach and Josh Wright has the news in this blog post.
• Shock: The Arena Football League is making a change with its officiating. … The Shock have signed another player.
• That's what we have today. We're on the radio today at 3 p.m. (PST) and you can listen here. By the way, for my final decision, I ate a chocolate doughnut. Until later …