Committing to the Uncommitted in College Football

By: Chad Wilson
Twitter: @gridironstuds

Two days ago I had a vision of Brian Kelly doing an in home visit for LSU watching Notre Dame play a college football playoff game with a recruit and his family.  Soon thereafter he fields a question from the recruit’s mom…. “do you plan on staying at LSU?”  Sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit but that’s actually real life in 2021.

That vision is not what lead me to writing this article.  It was a question I was asked on Twitter by a follower:

The tweet was in response to a comment I made on the following tweet

It’s a really good question and I will share my thoughts on it in this post.  If you have followed me at all on the tweety bird app you have seen my recent obsession with impatience of fanbases and the weak administrations that give way to their carefree whims.  Social media and Twitter in particular,  is a space where anything can and will be said.  As such,  fans say a bunch of things and they say it a lot.  The stadium boos and yells at the TV have been replaced with endless tweets on a Saturday evening as the sting of a loss and missed expectations start settling in.  Who’s expectations were these?

These annual expectations are hatched in the minds of people who work a 9-5 doing something that’s not football.  For certain their 9 to 5 does not put them in the building or practice fields of their beloved football programs.  So on top of not having the general knowledge they don’t have the functional knowledge of what’s going on in the football department.   All they see is what they get on their streaming device on Saturday afternoon.  The real ones know that there’s a lot that goes into the product on your screen.

Over emotional college football fans should not be the lynch pin for what direction an athletic department heads in.  The adults in charge have the ability to ignore the average fan protruding his anger through aggressive screen taps on a social app.  However,  our traditional media have increasingly shown an inability to ignore the circling buzzards and deliver the madness to the feet of the admin at press conferences.  Far be it for me to try and reverse this current trend developed by the fans and the media.  Believe me,  I’ve tried and they just have too much invested in it.   I don’t have an in to the athletic directors and presidents at these esteemed universities so I have to craft my message to you,  the recruits and parents of the recruited.

There was much to consider when my two sons were going through the process.  They both did so within the last decade just to give you some perspective.  Crazy as it sounds,  neither came up in the world of the transfer portal,  NIL and rampant coach ejections.  Sure,  coaches were getting fired during their time but that rate has seemingly doubled since my last faxed in his national letter of intent.  So,  whether or not a coach was going to get fired was on the list but not high up on the list of things to consider.

If they were to enter into the process today,  potential coach firing would be much higher on the things to consider list.  Coaching turnover is an important factor in choosing a school.  There was a time when the biggest worry is that a guy would have success and leave for a bigger job at a bigger school or the NFL.   However,  Nick Saban’s dominance has benefitted Alabama and U-Haul,  everyone else,  not so much.  Coaches are being given very little time to equal the success that Saban has taken a lifetime to build.  Yes,  Saban has been at Alabama for 15 years but to discount what he learned in his journey leading up to Tuscaloosa would be foolhardy.

Fanbases are convinced that Saban has the secret recipe that calls for a sprinkle of this and a splash of that.  If their recent hire by their school does not have that recipe and bake that pie in 2.5 years,  out come the pitchforks.  Some schools like Oklahoma St., Iowa, TCU, Utah and Northwestern don’t pay attention to the crusaders.  Other places like Texas, Florida, Florida St., USC and Miami are virtual voodoo dolls for their Twitter fans.

My strategy to you as the recruit and family getting ready to open the doors to the theater of the insane is to find a quiet seat in the corner. Make it a pledge to survey the landscape and pay attention to the history of the universities in question.  Are they helter skelter and run guys out of town quickly?  Better to avoid them.  There’s one way to make schools behave in college football and that is through the actions of recruits.  Start rewarding the programs that provide the stability for the players that you would desire for yourself or sons.  There’s a logo on that letter of intent but let’s be real,  you are signing it because of what a man told you.   When he leaves,  most of it is null and void.

When that next coach shows up on campus you are at his mercy.  You are at the mercy of his system,  his personality and the promises he makes out on the recruiting trail as he attempts to impress his new boss.  None of that is what you committed to when you fed those papers through the fax machine on an early December of February morning.  Maybe you’ll get a like-minded guy to the one who left but I doubt it.  After all,  they fired that guy remember?

I applaud Penn St. and Michigan St. for recently making long term commitments to their head coaches with 10 year contracts.  That makes it a little harder to dispose of the program leader like an ink pen that deared to not produce a quality stain when used.  Sometimes you gotta give it another try or shake it a little bit.  We teach our young men very little about handling adversity when a 7-6 season following a 10-2 one means you don’t get to finish out the season.  How dare you look at them with squinted eyes when they hit the transfer portal.  It seemed crazy when Jimbo Fisher inked the first 10 year deal for a coach at Texas A&M.   Jimbo’s bringing in a top class to College Station.  Tucker and Franklin’s deals no doubt spearheaded the similar ones given to Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly.   We can argue about the absurdity of paying a coach $100 million but for now,  I take my hat off to the only resemblance of commitment that this game can produce for us at the current moment.

Speaking of commitment,  carefully consider yours when it comes down to it.  At the end of the day,  a life lesson learned now or in the future will be a commitment to the uncommitted typical ends in broken dreams and resentment.  Do it enough and it will drive you crazy and get you committed.

Big Name College Football Programs vs. Long Time Coaches – Who’s Fearing Better?

As we head towards the end of another college football season we are of course embroiled in another daily discussion of who’s going to get fired next and who is going to take the current jobs that opened up.  It’s a cycle that is inevitable and continues to repeat itself each year.  Some schools are repeat offenders when it comes to firing and hiring coaches.  However,  how successful are these programs when they are matched up against other programs that have made extended commitments to their coaches.

First,  let’s start with who are the repeat offenders.  While I am not using all of the programs that have cycled out more than two coaches over a decade long period,  I am using five of the most popular and celebrated programs in college football.  For the purpose of this article,  I am looking at the records for Florida St., Miami, Florida, Texas and USC.  All five of these programs have won championships in the last 20 years and all have had three or more coaches over the last decade.  I will match them up against five other Power 5 programs that are not quite as celebrated but have kept the same head coach over that period of time.  Who those schools are I will discuss in a moment.  First let’s take a look at how the celebrated programs have done over the last decade.

School (record)Bowl recordNumber of coaches
FSU (85-41)(5-3)3 coaches
Florida (79-45)(5-2)3 coaches
USC (77-43)(3-4)3 coaches

Miami (76-49)(1-7)3 coaches
Texas (69-55)(5-2)4 coaches

Note:  Those late to the game would be surprised to see Florida St. with the best record out of all on this list given their recent struggles but believe it or not,  FSU won a title not too long ago.  This joyous accomplishment meant that it would soon by uncool to have Jimbo Fisher leading your football program.

Keeping the above records in mind,  let’s have a look at some far less celebrated college football programs operating in the same conferences as these giants.  These programs have elected to weather some storms with their coaches and keep them in place during the same time the celebrated schools rinsed and repeated their fire then hire cycles.   The schools we’ll look at are Oklahoma St.,  Iowa, Utah, TCU and Northwestern.  These are all worthy programs for sure but certainly not ever mentioned in the same breath as the others I previously mentioned.

SchoolCoachRecordBowl Record
Oklahoma St.Mike Gundy(88-38)(6-3)
IowaKirk Ferentz(81-42)(3-4)
UtahKyle Whittingham(76-44)(4-2)
TCUGary Patterson(72-49)(4-2)
NorthwesternPat Fitzgerald(69-53)(5-1)

At the end of the day,  here’s our full tally as we take a look at the celebrated schools that like to fire coaches vs. the non celebrated schools that hold onto their coaches.

 CelebratedNon Celebrated
Record386-233 (62%)386-222 (63%)
Bowls19-18 (51.3%)22-12 (64.7%)
# of coaches165

Before you start thinking that those programs have kept their coaches in place for that long because they’ve been consistent winners,  let me hit you with this.  Oklahoma St.’s Mike Gundy has had five seasons where he had less than 9 wins and until his win last week he was on a streak of three straight seasons of 8 wins or less.  Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz had a losing season during this time period and like Mike Gundy had five seasons of less than 9 wins.  He also had a 12 win season which is better than all except Florida St. in our celebrated group.  That 12 win season for Ferentz came one year after being 7-6.   Utah’s Kyle Whittingham opened up this 10 year period with back to back losing seasons (2012 & 2013).  He then followed that up with 9 win and 10 win seasons.  Utah was later rewarded for their confidence in Whittingham when he went 11-3 in 2019.  Utah right now is headed to the Pac-12 championship game this season. TCU’s Gary Patterson,  who recently stepped down,  had three losing seasons before this one (2013, 2016 & 2019).  He also produced three 10+ win seasons (2014, 2015 and 2017).  After four straight seasons of less than double digit wins,  Patterson himself came to the conclusion that it was time to go.   Finally Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald has had four losing seasons including this current one.  However,  he has also had two double digit win seasons (2015 & 2017).  This is more double digit win seasons than both Miami and Texas.

Another thing to take a look at is how did the career of the non-celebrated group begin.  Mike Gundy started his Oklahoma St. coaching career by going 18-19 in his first three seasons.  Pat Fitzgerald started off by going 19-18 in his first three years.  Kirk Ferentz was 11-24 at the end of year 3.  Gary Patterson took over a very successful Dennis Franchione when he took the TCU job.  I am sure that played a big part in him opening up his TCU career with a 27-10 record over the first three years.  Kyle Whittingam inherited a program that was previously run by Urban Meyer.  He parlayed that into a 24-14 record after his first three years at Utah.  All five of these coaches were first time head coaches when they started.  Gundy, Fitzgerald and Ferentz were allowed to “figure it out” and their programs got rewarded with many solid years of performance and stability at the head of their program.

Here’s another tally.  The five celebrated programs have had an absurd 16 different coaches lead their program.  What is happening here is a chasing of the wind it seems by these programs that had success pre the social media era.  While it is constantly preached that social media is not real life,  it seems athletic directors and decision makers have not received the memo.  The fanbases,  media and leaders of the celebrated programs can’t seem to handle adversity.  Everyone of these programs has either fired a coach who had a winning record at the time,  had at least once had a double digit win season,  in the middle of the season or did all three of those things.   All the while,  the non celebrated programs have had coaches with seasons that would be fire worthy at the big time programs and have waited to allow the coach to battle back from the adversity with great results.

With the recent signing of 10 year contracts by Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M,  James Franklin at Penn St. and Mel Tucker at Michigan St.,  it seems these universities have done the same research I have.  Cycling out your coaches in search of the magic formula that will catapult you to top of the hill is not the way to go.  Making a commitment to your head coach through thick and thin while providing him with the resources to go into battle is the true way to obtain consistent success.

 

5 Things Wide Receivers Need to Show on their Highlight Video

By: Chad Wilson 
Twitter: @GridironStuds

The scouting business is all about projections whether that be at the high school to college football level or the college to pro level.  A big part of the projection is size and speed but what should not be lost is the skill level that is needed to actually compete and win on the football field for your team.  When it comes to playing wide receiver there are definitely some skills that are going to need to be present if you are going to succeed at the next level.  With that in mind,  here are five things you would need to include on your highlight video to catch a college coach’s attention.

(1) Route Running Ability

What is route running if it’s not the ability to set up the defensive back,  defeat his leverage and get separation right before the ball is thrown?  It is the primary job 1A for a wide receiver in any offense that has a desire to throw the football.  Your highlight video should have a healthy display of clips where you demonstrate this ability.  All of the clips don’t even have to be of you getting the throw from the quarterback.  It is ok to show clips where you defeated the defensive back on the route but you were not targeted.  If you are in a run heavy offense like a wing-t or veer then you may be forced to include clips from 7on7 events.

(2) Ball skills

Job 1b for the wide receiver is to catch the football.  What good is getting open if you can’t complete the catch? You definitely want to show clips of you making some difficult catches.  In particular,  you will want to show plays where you were covered but made the catch anyway.  The coverage at the next level is going to be tighter.  If you have to be wide open to make a reception then that’s bad news for you.  Show college recruiters that you can win a 50/50 ball when you need to .  Another thing that you will want to display is your ability to catch in traffic.  If you have plays where you made a catch over the middle,  definitely include those as they show your toughness and reliability in tough situations.

(3) Speed

There is no more desired trait in football than speed and no place is that more wanted than at wide receiver.  Not every receiver has speed but if you have it,  definitely show it and do so early in your highlight video.  Nothing excites a recruiter more than a guy that can blow by a defensive back either during the route or after the catch.  Did you have a long touchdown pass where you ran past the defensive back?  Did you turn a short route into a long touchdown by out running the entire defense?  Put that on display on your highlight video and strongly consider making it the first play on your highlight video.

(4) Run after the Catch

Speaking of running away from defensive backs,  having the ability to run after the catch is a highly desired trait.  Doing this does not always require elite speed.  Sometimes a combination of quickness and vision can give you what you need to bake the defense to a golden crust on your way to pay dirt.  If you have clips where you caught a ball and made defenders miss for a long gain,  that’s valuable content on your highlight video.  You can also display this ability as a return man.  So if you are your team’s punt returner and or kick off returner include some of your good returns early on in your highlight video.  The trick is to show all of your capabilities within the first minute or two of your video.

(5) Blocking Ability

Finally,  football is indeed a team game.  It’s great when you score but it’s also great when you help a teammate find the end zone.  A receiver that blocks with pride and full effort shows that he’s a team player who has a keen interest in winning.  If you are not a great blocker then I suggest you work on it.  If you are and have some solid clips of you man handling a defender to help a ball carrier,  don’t leave that out of your highlight video.  This is another way to show your toughness as well as your character.  You don’t need to go overboard with blocking clips but definitely show that it’s a part of your game.

A healthy mixture of these elements in your highlight video is sure to catch the attention of the right people when you start doing a little self promotion.  If you are an underclassman and are missing any of these elements from your current highlight video then it’s time to start working on it.  Better to be a complete wide receiver as it will attract the attention of more schools.  As with anything in life,  the more options you have the better.  Happy filmmaking.

10 Teams That Have Not Won A College Football Championship in Over a Decade but Should

By: Chad Wilson
Twitter: @gridironstuds.com

College football is fun isn’t it?  The week to week battle to see who will outlast everyone to the end and play for the national championship is just soap operaish.  Well,  that’s kind of how it used to be,  not so much lately.  Articles like this one can get you labeled as a hater but I don’t care.  College football is one of those things I am passionate about but less so in recent years.  Call it the rapid changes that have eroded at the fabric of fan loyalty to the centralization of power to one conference and really one team.  Whatever it is,  it sure would be nice to see other programs crawl back into consciousness.

As we all know,  consciousness means either play for or win a national championship.  Over the last 12 years,  one team has won half the titles and we all know who that is.  Combine that with the fact that only four or five teams have really even had the chance to bite the apple and you can see where boredom may settle in for the college football fanbase at large.  This has left us to live in a fantasy world where we create hypotheticals via social media and like I will do in this blog article.

Having watched college football for the greater part of 40 years now,  I have seen a lot of teams come and go in the mainstream.  Some of them have left an unforgettable impression while others were pretty much ho hum.  With that in mind,  here is my list (in reverse order of course) of teams that have not won a championship in the last 10 years but should for the goodness of college football.

#10. Georgia

Not since true freshman running back Herschel Walker dazzled us with his powerful running style,  break away speed and leaps over the pile into the end zone have we been blessed to see the Dawgs raise the trophy.  Last year celebrated 40 years since the boys in Athens could allow their voices to reach max volume.  While they have made a little noise in recent years under Kirby Smart,  the hollering has been more in being able to furnish their house with 5-star recruits and less about hanging trophies on their mantle.  The Dawgs have been the butt of jokes because of their ringless nature.  Wouldn’t it be swell to watch them win one and meltdown in a sea of anti decorum on Twitter?  This season seems to provide one of their best opportunities of late.

#9. Michigan

The youngsters of the college football viewing audience world will wonder aloud if Michigan has ever won a college football national title.  Who could blame them,  most of them weren’t alive to see the rose in Charles Woodson’s mouth in 1997.  Hell,  many of them will faintly remember Woodson’s NFL career despite it occurring in three different decades.  Ohio St. has partied alone in the Big 10 for quite some time now.  It sure would be nice for the boys in blue to give the Buckeyes some media competition.  Besides,  only God in Heaven knows what Jim Harbaugh would do if he ends the drought for his alma mater.  He may buy out all of the Dickies in Walmarts nationwide.

#8. Penn St. 

One man and one man alone has led Penn St. to the ultimate in college football.  The late Joe Paterno,  high water pants and plain uniform excellence marked the 80’s and 90’s.  A tarnished legacy because of a wayward assistant coach has been the legend ever since.  Whether you are a fan of Penn St. or not,  you have to admit that having them get back into the mix and win one would be great for college football.  In this era of swag and style points,  a win by the guys dressed in Dick’s Sporting Goods football uniforms would give many something to hate on.  Imagine the chaos if something so plain became so rich!

#7. Oregon

Speaking of style points.  Who bedazzled themselves more than Oregon did in the early 2010’s?  From the 425 uniform combinations with chrome helmets to the ridiculous signs held up in between plays,  the Ducks were different.  For all that pizazz,  Oregon couldn’t quite put the ball in the net but they sure excited us trying.  They are less colorful these days (see Mario Cristobal going looney on a player that earned a taunting penalty last week) but they still carry a card.  The Pac-12 and Western United States football in general could use a pick me up and the Ducks getting bathing in a championship trophy would be soothing.

#6. Notre Dame

The Irish are the catholics you love to hate but you hate them less when they aren’t champions.  Think of the emotions that would rumble inside of you as watched the guys with the golden helmets and their coach with the rose colored cheeks sneering at you with big trophy in hand.  Wouldn’t it just piss you off?  Yeah,  that’s what we need.  Instead of us being mad every week over dismissed players for targeting we can stew for a whole offseason at Notre Dame being at the top of college football again.  In fact,  we could have them be our first ever four loss national champ seeing as though unless they’re .500,  someone important wants to put them in the College Football Playoff annually.  It would be awesome just to have people looking at gothic church structures across the country in disgust simply because the catholic football team is the best.

#5. Texas

Everything’s bigger in Texas including the growing amount of time it’s been since Vince Young danced into a pile of launched confetti in the back corner of the Rose Bowl end zone.  Since the night Vince became a legend and dispatched of the Trojan dynasty,  Texas has ridden the role of coaster.  They had a slight chance to block the Saban dynasty one night but Colt McCoy’s bum shoulder advanced what might have been the inevitable.  Texas has been branded with mediocrity for over a decade now serving up over cooked steaks of rampant disappointment.  Once again there’s a new face in town as the head coach but college football just has a better feel when Texas is threatening to win it all with their wealth of high school football talent.

#4. Oklahoma

Believe it or not,  Oklahoma has not won a title in 20 years.  Hard to believe isn’t it?  They have hoodwinked us with out of this world quarterbacking excellence and multiple college football playoff appearances but yeah,  nothing.  It sure would be nice if all of that horn honking would actually lead to an open lane for celebration eh Sooner fans?  I guess with Lincoln Riley in Norman you always have a shot.  However,  the move to SEC can be regarded as questionable for someone looking to grab the ultimate prize.  Or maybe not.  Putting a dominant year together in the NFL conference could streamline the other Crimson of the conference to NCAA paydirt.  We could trot Barry Switzer, Bob Stoops and the Bozz out in a cut off t-shirt to raise the trophy.

#3. Florida

Forget how you feel about the Gators at the moment (yes I’m talking to you Canes and Seminoles).  You have to admit that it was downright fun when Steve Spurrier was funnin and gunnin in the Swamp.  Beating Tennessee and then using snazzy quotes to let the humiliation of the loss linger for weeks was gold.  You can’t tell me that you didn’t like seeing the Gator brand advanced with the awesome talent level that was possessed during the Urban Meyer years.  Sure,  it gave your blood another reason to boil.  We need that high heat again.  The state of Florida is producing talent at a high rate but it’s benefitting all of the colleges that reside outside of the sunshine.  Imagine the turmoil within the state if Florida could reach the mountain top while the other two major programs are holding Twitter coaching searches.

#2. USC

Since Vince made  the Trojan wince,  it just hasn’t been the same in Los Angeles for the team that rideth upon a horse.  When Pete Carroll took his show to the Great Northwest,  he apparently took all the movie stars with him.  There’s nothing on the USC sidelines now but missed opportunity and despair.  It sure would be nice to see Marcus, Ronnie, Snoop and OJ (snicker) back on the SC sidelines again.  We all know there’s only one way that’s going to happen.  When the Trojans win a championship it’s a show.  It’s a show unlike anything we would see from Iowa, Kansas St. or Northwestern.  I think you catch my drift.  It’s just more fun when the Trojans have the gun.

#1. The U

Nobody did it better than the Hurricanes.  For every celebrity sighting on the Colosseum sidelines in Los Angeles,  there was a whole team walking off the plane looking like they raided an Army Navy Surplus.  For every dominant Alabama performance in the last decade plus there is an on field celebration by a Hurricane that would make a grandma clutch her King James version.  The establishment hated the Canes so much that they literally legislated them out of college football consciousness.  That level of hate and emotion could only serve to bring even more interest to the game of college football.  No doubt Miami were the trendsetters in the game.  If allowed to drink from the golden cup once more the Canes could restore the joyful feeling that only a first down hip thrust can illicit.  While it seems more like a pipe dream at the moment,  it would be an absolute nightmare for the powers that be if it did happen.  I’m all for seeing the hardened face rulemakers scrambling once again to stop the spread of 305 excellence.  Aren’t U?

 

Underrated Studs: Deville Dickerson – Lompoc, CA

By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @gridironstuds

Don’t kick the ball to Deville!  You’ve been warned.  If quickness and speed are the traits you are looking for then you have found them in this prospect.  Dickerson flashed in his junior campaign by running down players on defense and running by defenders on offenses.  This season he has added elite return man to his resume.

Three games into his senior season and Dickerson has six kick return TDs (4 punts, 2 kickoffs).  Both of the kickoff returns have been to open the game putting Lompoc’s opponents behind the 8-ball right off of the bat.  Dickerson may remind some of another Lompoc High School graduate by the name of Napoleon Kaufman.  Kaufman was also a tad undersized as a high schooler but was a total menace on the gridiron.  He would take his talents to the University of Washington and then to the Oakland Raiders.  Much like Kaufman,  Dickerson has the speed to strike from anywhere on the field.

Dickerson lists himself as a defensive back but I am not so sure that he isn’t an offensive weapon at the next level.  Lompoc certainly gets the most out of him by using him on offenses, defense and in the return game.  If there’s one thing he’s going to do,  it’s make a play.  Dickerson’s torrid pace to rewrite the kick return record books may hit a snag along the way as I am certain that teams are going to elect to stop kicking to him.  If and when they do,  you can bet that Dickerson will always be a threat to send the ball back where it came from.  He is definitely a high level talent that should make noise on the college football gridiron in years to come.  Idaho St., San Diego St. and William & Mary are his current offers with more certainly to arrive in the coming weeks.

Check out Deville Dickerson’s profile on the GridironStuds App – Click here.

Lazy Media, Herd Following Fans Creating Bubble Prospects

Like many college football fans out there,  I catch wind of a recruit through social channels occasionally.  When I do,  I am excited to dig deeper into the prospect to see what he’s working with,  gauge his skills and access his potential.  After all,  I run a whole recruiting business over here.  Not too long ago,  I decided to take a deep dive into a prospect that had been picking up steam for quite some time and was getting many an article written about him.  To my surprise but not to my shock,  there wasn’t much there and it’s a growing trend.

First off,  I am going to tell you in advance that I am not going to name the player and I am going to be very vague about things that could identify him.  I am not here to tear kids down and what I speak of in this article is not at all the fault of the player.  My readers can go about guessing who it is but I’ll never tell.  I have a couple of “sports reporting” related apps on my phone and I get bombarded with notifications.  I am not complaining but I will point out that with increasing quantity,  I am getting notifications related to what I call “simple foolery”.  That is a notification with a 10 second video of an athlete doing something crazy like working out or running or jumping.  It’s amazing when you see an athlete doing these things because like what else would an athlete be doing?  Please recognize the sarcasm in that.

I don’t know who we blame for this.  Was it Odell Beckham’s one hand catch that scarred media coverage on athletics forever?  Whatever the case may be,  the media frenzy to provide content to push out on their apps, blogs and social media accounts has detonated the senses of people who actually have knowledge of the sports for which they root.  As such,  “reporters” (term used loosely) have placed a premium on athletes that play the media game.  I guess this has always been the case.  Players in the past who were quotable or antic filled ala Jim McMahon, Brian Bosworth or Deion Sanders have seen themselves become celebrities.  However,  with the advent of 24 hour news cycles and social media,  this phenomenon is on steroids.

There was a time when these quotable,  antic filled athletes felt a duty to work hard to meet the hype.  There was a time when the reporters following the players made an effort to see if the players were indeed worthy of their top billing.   There was a time when the fans being exposed to the athletes demanded it.  Those times have evaporated like a stimulus check at a casino.  Today’s athlete feels no such pressure and why should they?  Lazy reporters no longer dig deep to access the quality of an athlete’s play.  The only metric is how many followers they have.  If he has followers then we’ll have followers when we talk about anything he does.  “Did you see him throw an accurate pass to a wide receiver in that workout!! Could he be the next Brady?” That’ll get us 25k likes at least.

Make enough social media or blog posts like that and combine it with enough push notifications to millions of fans’ phones and soon that player is all they know.  Is he actually good though?  What’s that have to do with anything,  people clicked the heart button.  I am not sure who’s leading who here.  Is it the fans’ frenzy over the ordinary that has propelled the media to cover it or is it the coverage of the media forcing the fans to consume it?  Whatever the case may be,  it is creating an athlete bubble.

More and more,  I am seeing mediocre players hyped into oblivion because they are 5 star with the camera.  Media outlets are so thirsty for content that they will fall in love with any athlete that gives it to them.  Our attention spans are so low now that we will accept all the 10 second bursts of content and convince ourselves that this gives us the total picture.  Fans will even accept one paragraph articles on a website or a one paragraph article spread over 10 pages for advertising purposes. With proper graphics,  soundtrack and camera angles,  eating a steak bowl at Chipotle can catapult a kid into the Top 100 for his recruiting class.  When the love flows in for moves like that,  it only stands to reason that the focus will shift from self improvement for the sport to leveling up on getting exposure.  If I can do very little and get seen a lot why waste my time pressing all that weight,  watching all that film and running all those sprints.  My camera guy and my untrained trainer trump my coaches.  After all,  coach doesn’t post me on his Twitter account everyday like SuperSportsFreakPigskin does.

The toothpaste is already out of the tube on this one so I don’t expect to see it stop.  I can scold the reporters but they don’t give a damn,  they are chasing a check and notoriety like the players are.  I can tell the fans to wake up but many of them have been pulled away from their other true life interests by the football media who courts their attention at every turn.  So I will make my plea to the athlete.  The trip up the ladder of fame is fun but when they are done hyping you,  if your performance can’t come close to expectations,  they will take even greater delight in sticking a nice little pin in your bubble and watching you pop.  Make sure there’s more inside your balloon than hot air.