Mike Lantry, 1972
Marques was the first recruit I actually remembered the name of and knew a little about. I was still in HS and I knew nothing of Michigan on the other than a unhealthy love for the football team and being able to watch them on TV. Being from Montana, I often had to defend being a fan, and prove that I knew something. Slocum was my defense. I could drop his name and his story and I grew to becoming one of his bigger supporters, because he had unknowingly provided me the credentials to prove my "fanhood". I remember feeling bad for Marques when the "Fuck Lion" thing came out, because I knew that the internet and UM rivals would eat him up for it. I wathched as UM fans defended him and said that it was just "him being him". Yet we defended him because he was ours. We justified his journey and eventual admittance as a success story, while others just labeled him the Jarrell Powe of the North.
Marques's situation is a microcosm of what is wrong with the NCAA. We as fans, glamorize his preseverence, yet others view it as another jock getting a free pass into school. I know it's been rehashed over and over, but I have yet to "hash" it so just read on. Does the product of the NCAA (that in which we all would kill for) justify the process? I look at Marques and see a kid who had so much sunshine blown up his ass growing up that he never realized it could end. What 18 year old would? Then he doesn't qualify, and no one is there to coddle him. Unlike most kids in his situation, Marques guts it out, on his own, to pursue a dream. Most just quit because its too hard, but Marques continues. As UM fans this is admirable to us, but maybe to others it's still just another kid who will eventually be admitted because he can break through a double team to get to the QB. Either opinion is viable and they aren't really the point. The point is, what does Marques do now? Maybe he realized CFB wasn't what he thought it would be, maybe school is too hard, maybe he's tired. I don't know and won't speculate as too what possible reasoning is behind this. My point to all of this, is that there is none. There is no point, because there is no solution. This will never really change, because it can't. It's not the NCAA's fault, it's not the University's fault, it's not really anyone's unless you want to throw out the generic "society is to blame" rationale because it seems easier to do that then to try to make changes. In the end, Marques is the discharge from a faulty process that produces a near perfect product. If you alter the earlier, it will affect the latter. So enjoy the games, root for the players (both on and off the field) and hope that Marques can land on his feet. He's shown everyone that he can work hard to qualify, but hopefully he's shown himself that he can do things off the field...if he wants to. Thank you Marques and good luck.
Marques is possibly losing the opportunity to go pro in sports for reasons that having nothing to do with said sport. He's not Michigan classroom material, but he is Michigan football field material. His best shot to succeed in life is to use the big stage that Michigan football gives him to make the move to the NFL. However, because he's not cutting it academically -- and it is clear he's trying his best at some real cost to his family for the semesters he attended while not on scholarship -- he is losing that shot.
Yes, he can play for another school, but it will be one with less of a chance to shine on the national stage.
I think the situations are very different. You made a choice -- Marques had his made for him. Should he ever have been offered a scholarship? I don't know. A Division 1 revenue sport coach I talked to says there are guys you take a chance on because they are hard workers and good kids who might not have taken school that seriously. Given the structure and the direction, some of them can make that up.
Playing football at Michigan is a privilege, not a right. Sure, playing football at Michigan will give you a better shot at the pros than playing at Alcorn State. Going to Harvard's law school will also give you a better chance at working at a major law firm than going to Cooley. But there are certain criteria that need to be met in order to do so. Every player on Michigan's team was able to do something that Marques Slocum couldn't do. If he really is pro material, he'll make the NFL.
Keegan, feeling bad for a guy because he won't be a pro athlete shows perspective? Do you feel bad for washed up actors and people who purchased losing lottery tickets as well? What about all the kids with the same upbringing as Marques who aren't athletic? Are they just fucked for life?
Perhaps in your perfect world you don't have a thought to spare for someone who tried hard and yet couldn't make it academically. There are two very different criteria for success at Michigan and Marques had one but not the other. It falls into an area where some of us -- fans, alums, alums who are fans -- can be conflicted.
And in answer to your final question, is that rhetorical or do you really not know the answer?