NCAA rewards some athletes who excel as students
The 2012 college football season cranks up as early as tomorrow (Thursday) for several teams, with the opening games really getting heavy on Saturday. There are even a few games Friday, Sunday and even Monday, so the season is upon us, ready or not.
If you’ll quickly scan our Fearless Forecast for this week, you’ll notice a bunch of mis-matches — that is, prominent football powers playing teams from much small institutions and conferences.
This Korner believes there are several reasons these season openers are scheduled like that: (1) It gives the prestigious strong teams an easy opening game; (2) It gives the fans and alumni of these schools verification of the bragging they have done all summer; (3) It gives the smaller schools who are usually drastic underdogs a big payday, which is very necessary in operating a college football program. I call these contests “sacrificial lamb games” where players rick life and limb to help balance their school’s football budget.
Anyhow these games are necessary evils for most small schools. Our Southland Conference has most if its members playing an opponent this weekend that will probably bruise their bodies as well as their egos.
McNeese and Lamar are playing at schools (Middle Tennessee State and Louisiana-Lafayette, respectively) where they have a good chance of winning. But I don’t think Central Arkansas will beat Ole Miss, or Nicholls State will compete with Oregon State, Or Northwestern State will get the best of Texas Tech, Or Southeastern Louisiana will upset Missouri or Texas State will stay on the field with the University of Houston.
But these SLC teams will be around next season fiscally sound because of these games where they travel to these Division I-A campuses.
While doing a bit of research of the upcoming college football season, I ran across an article on ESPN.com about the rookie who will be the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.
Of course the concern of many area fans is the Seahawks’ defense because of our All-Pro native son Earl Thomas, who just seems to get better with each game at his safety position.
But getting back to Seattle’s winner of the starting quarterback job, his name is Russell Wilson and he was a third-round pick of the Seahawks in the 2012 draft in April.
Wilson, a native of Richmond, Va. loved to play baseball as much as football in addition to being named the 2005 Richmond Times Dispatch Player of the Year as a junior.
That season Wilson threw for 3,287 yards and 40 touchdowns while rushing for another 634 yards and 15 scores. His team compiled a perfect 11-0 record and won the state title.
In 2006, he was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” for his state title performance after completing 21 of 37 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 30 times for 223 yards and three more scores in a 38-17.
His senior year was just as remarkable with Wilson passing for 3,009 yards, 34 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 1,132 yards and added 18 touchdowns and earned All-State honors again.
Wilson played shortstop on the baseball diamond and batted .467 as a senior, enticing the Colorado Rockies to begin following him to wherever he decided to play at the next level.
North Carolina State University really wanted him as a quarterback, but agreed to let him play baseball in the spring, too. And Wilson excelled in both sports for the Wolfpack.
At quarterback he set several school records, connecting on 682 of 1,180 passes for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns and piled up 9,628 total yards in total offense and was responsible for 93 touchdowns.
He also did real well playing baseball and was drafted in 2010 by the Rockies after earning a bachelor’s degree in communications at NC State. He played in high Class A that summer and still had a year of football eligibility remaining.
However NC State didn’t offer a suitable graduate program in his field, so he chose to attend Wisconsin for his final year of eligibility and “tried out” for quarterback and easily won the job for the Badgers.
Wilson was allowed to make the move to Wisconsin and play immediately, taking advantage of the only NCAA rule that actually rewards student/athletes for taking care of the “student”side of the equation.
Wilson could play football immediately because the NCAA allows a one-time exception for graduate students that eliminates the sit-out year that accompanies most transfers. As long as Wilson enrolled in a graduate program at Wisconsin stat N.C. State didn’t offer, he was allowed to play in 2011.
The graduate student exception is the best rule in the books because it is the only one that offers a positive incentive for athletes. If an athlete takes care of the business in the classroom, he can earn one period of free agency that allows him to play a year or — if he really bore down in class — two at another school.
College coaches always talk about wanting to graduate players and this rule applies only to the players who make getting a degree a priority.
In Wilson’s one year at Wisconsin, he complete 225 of 309 passes (72.8%) for 3,175 yards, 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions, adding 338 yards on 79 carries and six scores compiling an NCAA record 191.7 pass efficiency.
During his entire collegiate career Wilson started 50 consecutive games, throwing 379 consecutive passes without an interception to establish an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record.
Perhaps that’s the reason the Seattle Seahawks made him the 12th pick in the third round (75th overall) in the 2012 NFL draft. He was the first quarterback drafted under Head Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider and the highest quarterback selected by the franchise since Brock Huard was taken in 1999.
And going into the final week of exhibitions, Carroll announced Sunday that Russell Wilson will be the Seattle Seahawk’s starting quarterback for the 2012 NFL season. Carroll also added that the Seahawks released Terrell Owens, whose NFL comeback attempt lasted less than three weeks.
KWICKIES…The Houston Texans first team played well enough to tie the New Orleans Saints first team 24-24 in the first half of Saturday’s exhibition game in the Louisiana Superdome. However, Houston’s second team wasn’t as good as the Saints’ reserves and ended up losing 34-27. The kicking battle between the Texans’ fifth round draft pick Randy Bullock and veteran Shayne Graham would have been won by the young Texas Aggie star, but Bullock’s torn groin muscle put him on the injured reserve and save Graham from receiving a pick slip from head Coach Gary Kubiak. Incidentally, Graham didn’t miss a field goal or extra point the entire training camp.
It’s almost unbelievable the amount of press coverage given to Roger Clemens and his crazy idea of thinking about making a possible comeback at age 50. The Houston Chronicle had pages of stories about the Rocket pitching Saturday night for the Class A Sugar Land Skeeters. The publicity did sell out the Skeeters’ game in about an hour last week, which was great for that independent minor league team. Clemens fastest pitch was clocked at 88 mph, which is still harder than some major league pitchers throw. But don’t expect Clemens to un-tretire and join some major league team or even the rag-tag Houstons Astros.
I just returned Monday afternoon from a day of fishing the Sabine River and Sabine Lake and saw something rather unique at the DuPont outfall where fishermen usually net their live bait. We were fishing near the outfall and saw no fewer than 25 alligators feeding on the thousands of bait fish in that little cove. Most of the gators were leaping out of the water and landing on their belly probably to stun their prey. It was really the highlight of the fishing trip that included Bob Hood and P.J. Morris. We caught some speckled trout, redfish and flounder, but probably won’t eat as well as those gators.
JUST BETWEEN US….The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is elated about the tremendous improvement the defense has made during training camp. The Pokes will take on the defending world champion New York Giants in next week’s season opener at the Meadowlands after finishing the preseason without the first team defense giving up a touchdown. The Cowboys have clamped down on troubled wide receiver Dez Bryant with a strict set of behavioral rules that include a prohibition on alcohol and strip clubs, a midnight curfew and mandatory attendance to twice-weekly counseling sessions. Bryant will be driven to practices, games and team functions by a rotating three-man security team that will be hired by the players adviser, David Wells.