[Bryon Houlgrave/The Register]
The question (posed by Brian):
Leonard Fournette sitting out the bowl game was one thing, since he might be injured. A hale and hearty Christian McCaffrey getting out of Dodge before the Sun Bowl seems like another. How do we feel about this?
Seth: First let's take as a given that "hale and hearty" for a football player is relative.
Brian: I mean sure. I just kind of... I don't want to be Old Man Newspaper here but I find myself bothered by this despite being pretty woke about player compensation issues.
Ace: I’m totally fine with it. While McCaffrey may not be hurt, he’s carried a hell of a workload. 290 offensive touches this year, 385 last year, plus returns, and his teammates—at least publicly—are in full support.
This isn’t even the Rose Bowl like last year. It’s the Sun Bowl. If his teammates are cool with him missing a glorified exhibition to get ready to actually get paid for his work, I’m not one to argue.
Brian: Is there a line above which you would be bothered? Where is that line?
Ace: If there are stakes.
Brian: Okay, so Sun Bowl can GTFO. Citrus?
Ace: Honestly, I can understand a player of McCaffrey’s caliber skipping any non-playoff appearance.
Brian: Dude! So Stanford's in the Rose again and you're totally fine with him dropping his pants on An American Institution?
Ace: I don’t blame the kid for that. I blame him not getting paid. The incentives are all kinds of messed up. That’s not McCaffrey’s fault. Plus, the Rose Bowl will still have the parade and the bands at halftime and that gorgeous stadium. It’ll be fine.
Seth: There's also a place where you can be disappointed at the guy without treating him like he is violating the Constitution. One of the first things I noticed was the level of vitriol and who it was coming from. When you find yourself on the same side as the guy talking about the "me first" generation you wonder if you're on the right side.
Ace: I’ll admit part of my stance is predicted on always being on the other side of the people screaming “DAMN MILLENNIALS."
Brian: I do kind of like that it puts the NCAA's total lack of leverage on display.
But... I mean... if Peppers peaced out before the Orange Bowl you wouldn't be disappointed?
Ace: I’d be disappointed, sure, but I still wouldn’t get upset at Peppers about it.
Seth: Things like Wilton Speight and Devin Gardner playing against Ohio State, or Robot Chad Henne vs MSU, are extraordinary because that is a stupid decision they're making on our behalf. If that is the norm then why appreciate it? Gardner sitting out the Copper Bowl was a no-brainer, because it’s the Copper Bowl. Playing in The Game meant something, even at the end of a breakdown season, because it’s The Game.
Brian: I still like to think that there's a romantic THE TEAM THE TEAM THE TEAM heart to this. Ed Reed!
I think it would be shitty to your teammates.
[Hit THE JUMP for shattered dreams of kinds]
Today's recruiting roundup covers a spate of new offers, Wilton Speight, and several things that don't sound like "spate" at all.
Wilton Speight: Part Cyborg
Signing Day 2013 is over, as for the most part so is our discussion of it here—probably for the best, given that the dominant post-NSD story centered around what Reon Dawson may or may not have said about his childhood favorite school. Brian and I did an extensive breakdown of the class on this week's podcast (coming soon) if you haven't had your fill, and I'll update the recruiting class rankings today.
Meanwhile, Michigan got a jump on the 2014 class with the Signing Day commitment of VA QB Wilton Speight, who was profiled on his school's website—he described the injury that caused him to reclassify:
“It was an option-read,” Speight said of that fateful play late in Cougars’ opener, a 34-19 victory over Trinity Episcopal. “I got past the defensive end and linebackers. There was one man between me and the goal line. I tried to jump over him. As I was in the air, he caught my feet, which flipped me over. I tried to break the fall with my elbow, but (the impact) shot my shoulder up.
“I walked to the sideline hoping it was a stinger. (Athletic trainer) Shannon (Winston) moved it around. She felt crunches. I heard it crunch. My collarbone was broken in two places.
“Looking back, I probably didn’t have to make that play, but when you’re competitive, it’s hard to just step out of bounds.”
While Speight had complete confidence in his surgeon, Dr. “Moose” Herring, he knew that fulfilling his dreams was now dependent upon his own perseverance, strength of will, and self-discipline.
Speight's injury woes didn't end there, despite the best efforts of Dr. "Moose" Herring, who by virtue of name alone I would entrust with my life, let alone my collarbone. After dealing with a partial MCL tear in basketball season, Speight's collarbone took another hit during lacrosse season, and as a result he's now part cyborg:
“I had the ball and came around the cage,” he recalled. “When I shot, a defensive player brought his stick down on my (right) shoulder.
“He hit it hard enough that the part of the bone not covered by the plate broke off the metal.
“It was a clean break, thankfully. Dr. Herring was able to open it back up and put in a six-inch plate with eight screws that covers my whole collarbone.
“It will definitely prevent anything from breaking up there again.”
I, for one, welcome any and all cyborg athletes willing to aid Michigan's quest for
world domination a Big Ten championship.
Also of note: cyborg QBs apparently recruit a little, too.
[Hit THE JUMP for the 2014 Rivals100, a bevy of new offers, and my take on Lawrence Marshall committing to Ohio State.]