As much as I hate to step on my Twins' draft posting since I really enjoyed writing it, I can't let Patrick Reusse's recent article slide, especially considering the conversations that have already taken place in the comments section similar to Reusse's piece.
It is entitled "Recruiting outweighs academics once again" and, as you could probably guess, bashes Tubby Smith and the U of M for recruiting and signing Royce White. PJS already hit this, but I could not just sit idly by without tossing in my two cents in a couple places.
"Academic mistake. Breaking rules. Gosh, what in the name of (the late) Jan Gangelhoff could that mean?"
Really? These two things aren't even related. The Gangelhoff thing was obviously a black mark on the school, but it was a different time, different coach, and different culture. It's like being afraid to go to Europe because of the plague, or being scared to travel west because of those damn uppity injuns. Old news. Let it go. Tubby is the coach now, with a squeeky clean reputation. Remember, Kentucky wasn't all that far removed from it's own recruiting-based collapse when he coached there. Sure, yes, Pitino was the one who started the return to glory, but the point is valid.
"We are nine years removed from Minnesota becoming the basketball program by which all others compare themselves when it comes to academic fraud."
Yep, nine years ago. Clearly, in Reusse's mind, this means we should only be recruiting A students. Why not become another Northwestern? Hell, why not just pack the athletic department in completely? Don't want to risk it by taking a chance on someone who made a mistake or two, so why not just eliminate revenue sports altogether? Plus, this way the Big Ten has just ten teams again, and everybody's happy. Nine years ago Michael Jordan was retiring for the second time. Nine years ago the Broncos won the Super Bowl the Vikings should have been in. Nine years ago Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela. Nine years ago Napster debuted. Nine years ago was Eric Milton's no-hitter. It is a long time.
"There's no evidence that White's verbal commitment was greeted with hesitation by coach Tubby Smith, or his boss, athletic director Joel Maturi, or Maturi's bosses.
They can't comment on the qualities of recruits before they sign, but certainly it was in Smith's power to tell White, "Let's cool it here until next fall -- make sure you have your act together academically and elsewhere before you make an announcement."
And if Smith wasn't willing to take that stand on White, then Maturi should have ordered his coach to deliver this message: Tell the young man the offer is off the table until he proves himself somewhere other than the basketball court."
Ignoring the idiocy of the whole "He should have to be a top shelf student to come to the U" mentality, how do you know they didn't do something like this? PJS touched on this exact point, but it's really, really horrible journalism. He states there is no evidence they didn't hesitate to take his commitment, and then mentions they can't discuss recruits. All true. But the tone assumes there was no second thoughts, no discussions, no worries put into this. Just as Reusse asserts there is no evidence this happened, there is also no evidence it didn't. We can't know, because they can't comment on incoming recruits. Reusse, however, takes the stance that supports his shoddy article and treats it as fact. I'm actually a Reusse fan, but this is absolutely horrible journalism, and clearly looks agenda driven. I won't presume to know what that agenda would be, but it sure looks like it's there. Expect another, similar article if Rodney Williams signs on.
On White's decision to enroll at Hopkins:
"White could have gone on the rebound to ... how about Minneapolis South? Magnet school. Strong academics and mediocre basketball. If White enrolled there, we could say: "Hey, it's true. Royce wants the classroom and the court to be of equal importance in his senior year."
But Hopkins? He's there to play basketball -- win a state championship"
Well no shit he considers basketball more important than academics. I'd be willing to wager that a very high percentage of high school athletes put their sports ahead of the classroom, and they don't even have the goal of playing for a living someday. If White is guilty of this one, and I'm assuming that he is, he's guilty of no more than being a kid. Ridiculous.
"If White's one season there preps him as well for the Gophers as did the Hopkins experience for Kris Humphries and Dan Coleman, Tubby has a chance -- come the fall of 2009 -- to find himself with a combination of a ball hog featuring inconsistent effort."
Just another example of how poor this article is. I seriously wonder if he wrote this in about five minutes and no editor even glanced at it. Yes, Humphries and Coleman went to Hopkins. And? Humphries clearly had an agenda from the beginning, and Monson lacked the strong coaching to reign him in. Coleman had some serious talent as an incoming freshman, but lacked the heart and desire and didn't get the coaching needed to get the most out of his game. I'd say the two results are more the result of Dan Monson than Hopkins high, but then again, I'm not a professional journalist.
"There is a recent precedent for the White situation when it comes to Gophers basketball. Minneapolis Henry's Brandon Smith already had signed with the Gophers when he was thrown off the team by coach Larry McKenzie in December 2004.
Dan Monson stuck with Smith and he enrolled as a freshman in the fall of 2005. He was academically ineligible for the second semester. He was suspended by Jim Molinari, Monson's interim replacement, as a sophomore. And then Tubby threw Brandon off the team, once and for all, last fall."
One final example of Reusse making spurious links between events, and another one I just can't let go. I fail to see what this has to do with Royce White, in any capacity. Dan Monson recruited him, Tubby Smith tossed him. Thus, Tubby will kick players off for the team due to their academic failures. This is good. Furthermore, Monson took a chance on a kid with poor academics, it didn't work out and he got booted, and yet the program still stands. It was not a huge scandal. There were no sanctions. This is something that happens at many schools, and, while unfortunate, is not a black eye. There is no need to make it one based on an isolated event under a different regime nine years ago.
I generally like Reusse's articles, but this was one of the most poorly written pieces of crap I've read in a long time. His point was academics need to be more important when recruiting, and he them rambled on without making a single supporting argument to back up his opinion. Sadly, I have no doubt a healthy contingent of fans will read this and find themselves agreeing, without seeing how empty it really is. Hopefully, those idiots will stay away from the Barn, and let real fans enjoy a vastly improved product.
I have no problem with fans believing academics should be very important in recruiting. I don't agree with it, but I respect it. I can't respect this kind of article.