The Bulldogs picked up their fourth commitment in the Class of 2014 earlier this week, and it came from a big prospect (figuratively and literally) in Carrollton DT Dontavius Russell. Of course, we are a long way from February 2014/National Signing Day, but the expression “it’s early” is less valid now than ever before. Sure, commitments come and go, especially when they occur this early in the process, but, in this day and age, you better be doing serious work from February to February or you’re more than likely falling behind. The time when schools like FSU could sit back, relax and close strong with nationally ranked classes on Signing Day has past.
Anyway, getting back to the Bulldogs, they’re off to a great start to this recruiting cycle, with commitments from top in-state prospects like Russell, Peachtree Ridge S Nick Glass and George Walton RB Stanley Williams. Better yet, all four of Georgia’s verbals call the Peach State home, making the wretched de-commitment less likely in these specific cases.
As for Russell, his pledge was a huge one for Georgia. At 6-3, 298 pounds, he has the potential to fit perfectly at the NG spot in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme, he plays a position of big need, and he represents one of the top interior linemen in the South, where the Bulldogs do most their damage. Russell also displays impressive athleticism, lateral agility and playing strength, just a few of the reasons he sports offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, FSU and USC, in addition to an obvious one from Georgia.
In the end, this class will largely be judged on whether the Dawgs can land Gainesville’s all-world QB DeShaun Watson (currently “85% committed” to Clemson), but the team’s sitting pretty with the State’s top RB (Cedartown’s Nick Chubb) and has done a nice job building important momentum relatively early in the process.
Rutgers and Rice
The inappropriate actions and subsequent dismissal of Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice has at this point been well documented. With that said, I don’t care to rehash those details in this setting. There are, however, a couple things that need to be made clear.
First, Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti did NOT fire Mike Rice. We did. The tape capturing Rice’s behavior was given to Pernetti in November. At that time, Pernetti decided to suspend Rice and fine him $75,000 and that, of course, means he decided NOT to fire him. Since then, nothing new has surfaced and, quite honestly, nothing new was needed. The tape, and the tape alone, was more than sufficient evidence and cause for dismissal. Again, Pernetti had that in November of 2012. Worse yet, on Tuesday of this week, before the court of public opinion could officially cast its verdict, Pernetti went on ESPN’s Outside the Lines and defended his decision to “rehabilitate” rather than fire Rice. Only when Pernetti’s pitiful judgment was thrown in his face and ridiculed by literally everyone made aware, including NJ Governor Chris Christie, did the AD decide to do what’s right. But that doesn’t count. You don’t credit for doing something that was forced upon you. For knowing what went on, and doing not nearly enough to stop it, Tim Pernetti made himself an accomplice to the crime and must be fired.
Second, Rutgers President, Robert Barchi, should follow Rice and Pernetti out the door. On Tuesday, Pernetti claimed Barchi had in fact seen the film of Rice and that together they agreed on a punishment as well as on the need for a secondary investigation. Sine then, Barchi has said he did not view the footage until this Tuesday, and it was at that time he realized Rice needed to be dismissed. I’m not sure I believe Barchi here, but I also don’t think it really matters. If he didn’t view the tape in November, he’s at the very least terrible at his job and guilty of absolute neglect.
When an AD tells a college President that his basketball coach is guilty of violent and inappropriate behavior towards his players, that this behavior has been caught on tape and that serious action must be taken, how does that President not at the very least ask to see the tape? This is all rather simple. Barchi either needs to be fired for watching the tape and deciding to do nothing about it, or he needs to be fired because he didn’t care enough to watch the footage in the first place. Either way, Rutgers has to distance itself from this issue in a big way and, to do so, has to cut ties will all parties involved. After all, they were complicit in a collegiate institution’s egregious failure to develop and protect its student athletes.
Griner to the NBA…You Can’t be Serious
If my headline is your first exposure to this story, let me start by saying it’s true…unbelievable, but true. On Tuesday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he would consider drafting Brittney Griner, the 6-8 female center from Baylor.
"Right now, I'd lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it," Cuban said. "You never know unless you give somebody a chance."
Interestingly, Griner responded to Cuban’s comments in an affirmative tone, claiming via twitter that she would “hold her own.”
First, I should at least acknowledge that I believe this is mostly a publicity stunt by a Cuban, an owner known for his outside-the-box approach to management. From Cuban’s perspective, he can draft Griner in the second round, one usually filled with journeymen and washouts, and let things play out from there. At worst, Griner becomes a national story - like Michelle Wie, Danica Patrick and Annika Sorenstam before her – attracts fans to usually unattended summer league games, and increases Maverick franchise revenue all before she fails. At best, she does all that and more, finding a way to shock the world and actually stick around.
With all that said, though, anyone who actually believes a 6-8 female center can hang in the NBA is absolutely nuts. And legendary Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma agrees:
"I think it would be a sham," he said. "The fact that a woman could actually play right now in the NBA and compete successfully against the level of play that they have is absolutely ludicrous."
Really, Auriemma said it best, and he's as close as anyone to the women’s game. Griner doesn’t have the skill, athleticism or physical aggression to hang with NBA men and it isn’t even close. And if a woman were to ever make that jump, she would almost certainly play the PG position, one that relies more on finesse, skill, vision and leadership than the others. But Griner plays center, a position home to the NBA’s biggest and strongest, and couldn’t even dream of wrestling down low with the Association’s baddest. In fact, matchups with guys like Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins and Omer Asik could get ugly enough to be deemed illegal.
What do you guys think? Should Pernetti and Barchi face similar fates as Rice? Is this Griner-to-the-NBA discussion a complete and total joke, or something more?