Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero?
The 2006 Rose Bowl was probably the best college football game that I have seen in my life. The underdog Texas Longhorns, with famous alums such as Laura Bush, Lady Bird Johnson and Alan Bean whom you of course know as the 4th man to walk on the moon, grappled with the indomitable USC Trojans who were no doubt being rooted on by alums Forest Whitaker, Norman Schwarzkopf and former first lady Pat Nixon. With the game in the balance, Texas quarterback Vince Young willed the Longhorns to victory, much to the chagrin of Trojan faithful like Jerry Buss. Since then, both quarterbacks have gone on to the pro ranks and have had varying success. Vince Young won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and was named to a Pro Bowl, but since then has struggled. Matt Leinart has pretty much done nothing since he was drafted. Both players were benched in 2008 in favor of two geezers. Despite Young's early success, I would argue that Matt Leinart is better off. You see, Leinart stayed all 4 years in college while Young left Texas for the pros right after that Rose Bowl game. Players leaving college early makes no sense to me and if it were up to me, all players would have to go to college for 4 years in order to play pro sports.
Why do athletes leave college after their sophomore or junior years to jump to the pros? The short answer to this question is money. Players have people telling them that their "stock is at its highest" or they have family situations that necessitate money immediately. In my opinion, this is no reason to leave college early. If a player's "stock" is that high to begin with, what makes them think that it is going to drop significantly if they wait another year? If you look at Matt Leinart, he won the Heisman, the National Championship MVP, the Unitas Award and most importantly of course the National Championship in 2004. From a scouting standpoint, his stock was probably never higher. Yet he decided to stay, led his team to an undefeated regular season record again in 2005, but lost in the Rose Bowl to Vince Young's Longhorns. His stock plummeted all the way down to the 7th pick in the draft and a 6 year,$51 million deal. What an idiot! He could have been the 5th pick and gotten even more money than god!
The other monetary argument is that the athlete needs money immediately for his family. I will send this argument out just as quickly as it came in; selfishness on all sides. Maybe things are different for promising athletes, but I would imagine that it is just about every parents dream to see their child graduate from college. I don't think any parent out there says "My dream is for my son to go to college for two years, then break the bank as a pro and buy me a new house." If so, that child should be forfeited to social services. Moreover, if you are so sure that your child is going to be a pro athlete, why not take out a loan? Lebron's mother did this and I'm pretty sure she can pay it off now. Moreover, if you have been able to survive for 19 to 20 years in your family's current economic state, is 1 or 2 more years really going to be that difficult? I don't know, maybe I'm being shortsighted here but it seems to me that the money will be there. There is no need for these kids to jump out and get it early. Any reason they have for doing so is a cop out.
Another argument for leaving college early to go pro is that an athlete might get injured in his junior or senior year and wants to avoid that. That is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Who's to say you won't get injured your first day in NFL camp and get cut immediately? Then you have no pro prospects and no education. Players can not base their decisions on fear of injury. They gotta go full tilt, full time like Tedy Bruschi and Mat Delano.
My last argument for staying in college is this; what is so bad about college? College athletes are completely above the law. They can do whatever they want (within reason) and are pretty much protected by their coaches and the university. Have you seen the video of Tyler Hansbrough jumping off the frat house balcony into the pool? He is a legend. I bet Tim Tebow or Matt Leinart could hook up with any girl at Florida or USC if they wanted to. College is fun, especially when you are the big man on campus. I don't see any reason why these athletes would want to leave being a big fish in a small pond early to become just another cod in the pro ranks.
Leaving college early to go pro does not guarantee you anything, except the forfeiture of your education. I have only heard of a few instances of players going back to get their college degrees out of the rapidly increasing ranks of early defectors. If you check out a favorite site of mine nbadraft.net you will see that out of the top 14 guys projected to be drafted this year, not one is a senior in college. If you take a look down the whole list, you will see Darren Collison at #21 and Tyler Hansbrough at #24. These are the guys I will be rooting for next year. Do you think they have any regrets about staying in college? I don't think so. Kudos to guys like them. They, along with Ferris Bueller, are my heroes.