Tag Archives: NCAA Football

Sir Luck Defines “Student-Athlete”

There is a reason why NCAA athletes are called student-athletes, not athlete-students. The student part comes first because that is (or should be) the primary reason for athletes to attend a high level university. Having an appropriate balance between academics and athletics is ESSENTIAL in achieving success in both fields. College is sometimes an important stepping stone for some athletes to continue on their journey to compete at the professional levels or it can be the final act before the curtain closes on a career. Either way, athletics will eventually come to an end. There’s no way around it. An athlete’s body cannot hold up forever (as much as we would like it to), the daily wear and tear is extremely demanding and takes a physical toll. Career ending injuries happen. Physical abilities diminish with age. Athletics will come to an end. Then what? Time to earn a living in some way other than on the playing field, and those opportunities are much easier to come by if you have completed your degree. The camaraderie that is established on a collegiate athletic team is something that is unparalleled. Going through four years with, essentially, the same people and working your butt off to reach a common goal every year can not be duplicated. The challenges of balancing academics, athletics, tutoring, community service, and some sort of social life are shared by the majority of student-athletes everywhere. Day in and day out you are in the gym or on the field pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into fighting to win a Championship. Whatever is best for the team is what you do. But, professional teams do that too, don’t they? Not exactly. On the professional level, money overrides much of the camaraderie that can be built on a team. Many pro athletes are easily disgruntled over a diminished salary, even if it is to make the team better. Many athletes will pick up, leave their teammates, and move to a different part of the country solely to receive more money. I understand the necessity for this at the professional level and I completely get that trades are necessary to keep professional teams running and successful; but in college, it is all about your team, the journey, and the end goal. Nobody is concerned with how much money they have coming in or how much their teammate is getting paid. Nobody gets “traded.” Nobody has their jersey being burned in another city because they chose to play for another team. You are playing not only for yourself, you are playing for your university, your fans, and your teammates. There is nothing like collegiate athletics. Having said this, I think it’s extremely important to finish your degree before continuing on to a professional sports career.

I also understand that staying in school and finishing a collegiate career could potentially provide a physical liability for an athlete’s professional career. What if a student-athlete decides to finish getting their degree before moving on to a professional career and gets hurt in the process? Either an acute or a chronic career-ending injury will have a timely effect on an athlete. What if the athlete’s performance level drops off during their remaining college play? There is a potential for projected success at a professional level to drop with a less than stellar NCAA season. With this, there are, of course, financial repercussions that go along with choosing to complete a collegiate career. The amount of money available or the amount of money a team is willing to play an athlete will fluctuate from year to year, and much of it depends on performance. The same opportunities are not available from year to year, and yes, the window to achieve a professional career is usually very small. But, I’m the kind of person that thinks if you work hard enough and it’s meant to be, it will be. For me, there really is no professional level to my sport… but if presented with the chance to either leave college early and pursue a pro career or stick around UCLA and try to win another championship with my teammates, get a degree, and be a “kid,” I am 99.9% sure that I would choose to stay.

So sports fans, you MAY have heard that the projected #1 NFL Draft Pick for 2011, Andrew Luck from Stanford, has decided to forgo the draft, stay at Stanford, get his degree, and try to win a national championship with the guys he came into school with. Halelujah!  Luck and his classmates committed to attending Stanford and playing football when the Cardinal were in the absolute trenches of gridiron lore at 1-11. With the help of coach Jim Harbaugh, the 2011 senior class will have another shot at being the leaders who instrumented a national championship for Stanford. Even with an incredible 12-1 season and a dominating Orange Bowl win, it’s still not enough for Luck and his comrades. I don’t blame him. Luck has completed 64.4% of his passes, thrown for 5,913 yards, 45 touchdowns, and only 12 interceptions in his sparkling career. He has also rushed for 807 yards and 5 touchdowns himself. That athleticism, poise, and confidence have had NFL scouts frothing at the mouth for months and the Stanford fans screaming with joy for the past three years. Well, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Thanksgiving to the Card. Ya’ll have your main man for another year. I didn’t think it was possible, but Andrew Luck has made the Stanford Cardinal and their faithful followers love him even more.

Tough “Luck” for the Carolina Panthers though, who would have most likely obtained Luck in the 2011 draft. (But, if I’m Luck I would want to stay in sunny California rather than snowy Carolina, anyways!) Cynics are quick to point out that USC’s Matt Leinart lost millions of dollars when bypassing his chance at being the #1 overall pick, but to each his own. And hey, since he was this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up… there should be no deliberation who will be the front-runner next year. Option A: Stay in California and probably win a Heisman trophy. Or Option B: Freeze your butt off in Carolina and get pummeled all season. I think I would go with A too, Andrew. Thank you so much for defining the term “student-athlete” and standing by what you really want to do. I respect you more than you can imagine. But please, oh please… don’t burn the Bruins 35-0 again next year.

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Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gon’ Do?

Earlier this year the Pittsburgh Steelers starting QB Big Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student while at a bar in Milledgeville, GA. The accuser claimed Roethlisberger encouraged her and her friends to take numerous alcoholic shots before cornering her in the ladies room and assaulting her against her will. Obviously, Roethlisberger denied all accusations. The case proved to be messy, but in the end Big Ben was not formally charged on any accounts, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for the first six games of the 2010 season for violating the NFL’s “personal conduct” rules. The comish had said he would consider reducing the suspension if Roethlisberger attended league-mandated counseling sessions, adhered to league rules, and stayed out of trouble. Today that six-game suspension slapped on Big Ben Roethlisberger back in April has now been reduced to four games.

I THINK THIS IS OUT-FREAKING-RAGEOUS. I can’t tell if Roethlisberger is actually a rapist or if he is just stupid for getting himself into this kind of situation, but either way I think the six game suspension should have stood. “Oh, you didn’t jump on any women in the past six months? Great job Ben! You get to play two weeks earlier!” Are you kidding me? For any regular person in this kind of situation they are absolutely going to jail and for Big Ben… well, his suspension gets reduced which, to me, is sending yet another message that an “entitled” athlete can get away with murder. Letting him off is just enabling him to continue his demeaning attitude towards women which, apparently, he has been doing since his college days. WAKE UP CALL BEN! You’re a professional athlete (AND A HUMAN) in the spotlight, that kind of behavior is unacceptable. I just have never gotten a good vibe from this dude and now he’s getting rewarded for “behaving.” On another note, during his four game suspension Ben is not allowed to practice with the Steelers, attend games, have contact with teammates/coaches, or represent the team in any way. I’m thinking that unstructured, free time away from football is probably not going to be the best thing. Big Ben doesn’t have problems on the field, he has problems off the field. But, what do I know, right? Oh, by the way, Roethlisberger was also accused of sexual assault in 2008… Does anyone else see a creeptastic trend here, or is it just me?

On to Badboy #2: Jeremiah Masoli. The University of Oregon’s starting QB was dismissed from the team this past spring after being arrested for possession of marijuana. Masoli was still on the team despite previously pleading guilty to burglary, but after the weed incident and driving with a suspended license, head coach Chip Kelly had had enough. Masoli transferred to Ole Miss as a graduate student who had one year of athletic eligibility remaining. Under NCAA rules if a student-athlete transfers from one university to another following a dismissal, they are required to warm the bench for a year. Masoli submitted a waiver to the NCAA this summer on the grounds that he was entering graduate school at Ole Miss and that his major was “not offered at Oregon.” Initially, he was not granted permission to play for the Rebels in the 2010 season, but today the NCAA overruled themselves and made the decision that Masoli is immediately eligible to play. I’m sorry… didn’t you get DISMISSED for being arrested, TWICE? It’s not like this guy was unhappy at Oregon or was looking to move closer to home, he got kicked off the team! But yeah, you’re right NCAA, this badboy should definitely get to play. Frustrating!

Badboy sidebars:

  • The Washington Nationals’ centerfielder Nyjer Morgan has been suspended eight games and fined an undisclosed amount on top of his previous seven game suspension for three wild incidents over the past week. 1.) August 21: Morgan intentionally throws a ball at a fan in the stands. 2.) August 31: Morgan runs over a catcher, when a slide was the obvious choice, and separates the catcher’s shoulder. 3.) September 1: Morgan charges the mound after a HBP and having a ball thrown behind him inducing a bench-clearing brawl. After the vicious dogpile was taken apart he was lead off the field with his jersey ripped open and arrogantly taunting the crowd. Come on man, control yourself. I know you’re a little guy, but come on man, figure out a different way to portray yourself as tough.
  • At least twelve UNC football players are suspended for the Tar Heels 2010 season opener due to misconduct regarding professional agents and allegedly turning in papers that were written by tutors. So much for a promising season.

For real, people? Just because you’re an athlete doesn’t mean you get to act like a total bonehead. If anything you should be more aware of your behavior because being in a constant spotlight everything you do or say is looked at under a microscope. Plus, people look up to you! You are given an amazing opportunity to be a role model, USE IT FOR GOOD, NOT EVIL!

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Pigskin Promise in Westwood?

The UCLA football team held their annual fall scrimmage at Drake Stadium yesterday evening in front of 5,500 fans who came out to support their beloved Bruins (myself included). Now, I may be a little bit biased… but I mean, you can’t blame me. I’ve spent a large part of my college career hanging around these guys, so obviously I want them to succeed, and us Bruins gotta stick together! But anyways, these Bruins gave me a glimmer of hope last night ya’ll! Following an improvement of advancing to the Eagle Bank Bowl last season, I personally, am hoping for even greater improvement during my last football season as a student-athlete! Monday morning treatments are a little better for everyone on a Monday morning following a win at the RoseBowl. The training room just seems a little bit brighter!

The offense seemed to be chugging away pretty solidly, even without starting quarterback Kevin Prince who has been suffering through some training camp nuisance injuries. Second stringer Richard Brehaut came in and tossed 11 completions out of 16 for 186 yards that included 3 touchdowns and one pick which made me feel more comfortable about our back-up QB spot. Besides getting visibly barked at by head coach Rick Neuheisel following an illegal formation, Brehaut seemed much more comfortable in the pocket last night than in his limited appearances last season to which he credited the other “11 guys out there doing their thing.” Returning starting receivers Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario each roped in a touchdown pass, which is obviously promising. Finishing with 80 yards, Rosario had a spectacular one handed catch along the sideline that got the crowd fired up. The Bruins’ tri-headed competition for starting running back composed of Jonathan Franklin, Derrick Coleman, and true freshman Malcolm Jones heated up on Saturday night. It will be interesting to see who gets that starting job, but my money’s on Jet Franklin. He was extremely efficient last year until he seemed to unfortunately catch a case of the butterfingers, which is why he could often be seen carrying a football around campus during the off-season (as instructed by his teammates).

Star safety Rahim Moore was quiet on Saturday night but his comrades, Dalton Hilliard and Tony Dye, each had an interception during the scrimmage. With Moore, Hilliard, Dye, and linebacker Akeen Ayers on the Bruin sideline I am expecting a high number of interceptions this season, even without Alterraun Verner who is now playing for the Tennessee Titans (and starting tomorrow night, go Al!).

With 2009 Lou Groza place kicker award winner Kai Forbath at the healm, the Bruins’ special teams appeared on cue as usual and left no doubt that the Groza could very likely be making back-to-back trips to Westwood. After nursing a groin injury through a large portion of camp, (Kai, if you’re reading this I hate to say I told you so) Forbath drilled field goals from 37 and 42 yards after uncharacteristically missing from 39. Wait, he makes mistakes? Weird. Credit to his long snapper Christian Yount and holder Danny Rees as well who complete the field goal unit. Trust me, they would throw a fit if they weren’t mentioned as they are integral to Forbath’s success, yet often publicly under appreciated! Red shirt sophomore starting punter Jeff Locke was dropping bombs with his average sitting around 43 yards per punt while redshirt junior wide receiver Josh Smith showed promise returning punts with consistent speed and accuracy.

Unfortunately for the Bruins starting center Kai Maiava was taken off the field following the third play of the scrimmage and suffered an ankle fracture that will require surgery and most likely cause him to miss the entire season. Neuheisel, offensive line coach Bob Palcic, and fellow teammates were visibly upset with the loss of Maiava calling him both a physical and emotional leader on the field. After losing Maiava, the Bruins are currently without the five guys who started on the offensive line last season. Yikes, that is of some concern to me, but hopefully with left guard Ryan Taylor likely moving to center and Darius Savage filling in at the left guard position the O-Line will start to reconvene. Get well soon Kai!

On a lighter sidenote: Tobi Umodu, Glenn Love Jr., Christian Ramirez, and Tony Dye were all rocking almost Sisqo style bright gold hair Saturday night.

And on another sidenote: Again, I may be biased, but I think our blue and gold uniforms are the sharpest and classiest looking in the game. That’s just how we do things at UCLA: sharp and classy.

I’m really excited about this team, their talent, and their heart and I can’t wait to get out to the RoseBowl for the first home game… there is absolutely nothing better when you bleed blue and gold. Let’s go to work boys, I have my eyes on ya’ll!

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