#BEATEMDOWN and Why College Recruiting Matters

Notre Dame 14, Alabama 42

The Crimson Tide summarily dismissed a Fighting Irish team that was over matched from the coin toss in all three phases of the game. At no point was the outcome in question, as Eddie Lacy, AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and the entire offensive line asserted their will and the first half was pretty much Wednesday practice against a scout team. A resounding narrative unraveling on twitter was that Manti Te’o was costing himself millions with every missed tackle, which brought into clearer focus a larger problem surrounding college football: high school recruiting.

Every year, rabid fan bases scoop up magazines, stalk high school fields, and more recently bombard undecided recruits via social media, all based on the hopes that these 17 and 18 year old young men will not only choose their school (alma mater or otherwise) but will carry their school to the hallowed halls of champions. Because this cottage industry of predictions and prognostication regarding the futures of these young men is generating millions upon millions of dollars (while the subjects receive no compensation for the use of their names and likenesses), the aim of the industry shifts from accurately appraising talent, and more about the almighty dollar. Year in and year out, Notre Dame and Michigan (among others) bring in what is touted as ‘top’ recruiting classes, mostly because their voracious supporters will snap up anything that has their team on the cover/front page. While this is somewhat stymied by regional covers, which is more likely to be purchased by a fan of a nation wide brand; one that has the team you support with a top 3 recruiting class, or one that has them with a top 20 recruiting class? Keep in mind, these are often unvetted sources working off of highlight films and local sources, who are in turn paid for their services. Following the money so far? Because these rabid national brands have started affecting preseason polling and in turn, in season rankings.

There is an even bigger smoking gun regarding these doctored recruiting numbers: shifting rankings. Due to the national signing day, we’ve been conditioned to think that these player rankings are gospel, when in actuality, they remain fluid. Often, you will see a player who commits early and does not waver vanish from some rankings, or drop in others. This is to artificially hype up signing day, or do you really think every great player waits until the last second to decide where to go? An easy, enlightening thought experiment is to track 25 players across different recruiting services (try to go with free ones, as this is NOT intended to drive them traffic or money), and watch the rankings or number of stars or number of smiley faces or whatever for one calendar year. See who commits early, and where they are mentioned in certain services. See who is left, and gets ‘late boosts’ ascribed to extra scouting. I attended a football camp at FSU when I was headed into my senior year of high school, and Bobby Bowden said, “If you are good enough to start at a high school in America, you can play college football at some level, somewhere across this country.” I submit there aren’t enough scouts in the world to properly appraise even a significant percentage of these players.

A quick Google search of Notre Dame Recruiting Class shows these past 10 years have been reported as healthy, to say the least, for the Golden Domers. But, could the moving standards of these recruiting rankings be at play? Well, I just watched consensus 5 star recruit, and all-everything linebacker Manti Te’o struggle to get off blocks in the run game, miss at least 7 tackles when he did get off those blocks, and get handled one-on-one by running backs on blitzes. Could the services have been so far off on him? Probably not that far off, but it would appear that his pre-collegeic mystique is at least partly responsible for how touted he was against what can be cautiously called not the strongest schedule where he collected 103 total tackles. Comparatively, Luke Kuechly currently middle linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, recorded 191 tackles for Boston College last year. But, let’s look at this from a more macro perspective: as I noted, the touted recruits have poured into South Bend for years, but since 2001, Notre Dame is 0-4 in BCS Bowls, with a combined score of 158-87. The Fighting Irish haven’t won a bowl game against a ranked team since 1994, and have only won 2 bowl games at all from 1994 until tonight’s mollywopping by Alabama. Either EVERY coach they have shipped to South Bend in recent memory (and there have been a bunch) have been drastically mismanaging the tremendous amounts of talent that they are gifted with, or the players weren’t as good as everyone thought in the first place. The common argument from Notre Dame fans is that they have ANOTHER number one recruiting class. If you think Alabama doesn’t have the top recruiting class every year, you have a concerted rooting interest in another region/school, you’re a time traveler from 1960, or you’re a liar

In closing, circle button.

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Organized Noize Productions

Organized Noize Productions defined the sounds I grew up with. Somehow, I just found this mixtape. 50 tracks blended together. Semi-chronological order. From Outkast to Goodie Mob to Witchdoctor to En Vouge to Ludacris to Backbone to Curtis Mayfield. Download this. Play it loudly. Repeat. You’re all welcome.

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Oh, and regarding my favorite track? I defer to some hip hop legends…

SAMCRO Season 5 Finale

Son.

I just can’t. I was so ready to walk away from this show after last season. Season 4 set up about 10 different potentially explosive plotlines, and at the last minute, they pulled all the potential cards off the table. Chekhov’s gun was pointed at everyone, and it sat all season, collecting dust while the audience stared, and wondered what the hold up was. This year? The gun turned out to be an M16, and EVERYONE got shot.

Where to start? (how about THAT for a lazy writing device to kick off a review?) First and foremost was the specter of Tig’s death that has hung over the show since Opie got his head bashed in. More and more, we’ve watched the gavel change Jax, but once he handed the new dog owner over to be killed, it seemed that Jax had finally turned the corner into being a diet Clay Morrow. He had gotten closer and closer to Pope, learning how to be a more effective business man, using him to leverage Charming Heights and Mayor Fuckface, and even trusting him to advise on internal club matters. Sutter and company swerved all of us there, with Jax using his seeming betrayal not only to get the man who ordered his best friend’s death, but also got to point all fingers (legal and otherwise) at Clay, the man who killed his father (oh, Bobby needs to relax with his judgmental ass on such matters).

Then, ol Kurt Sutter hits the double (triple?) swerve with the Tara-Otto plotline. At first, it looks like Otto’s, um, emphatic rejection of the offer to talk to the feds has all but cleared the way for a finally acting intelligent Tara to get the sweet fuck out of Charming. But of course, queen bitch Gemma tries to threaten her from making her first smart move in about 2 seasons, and the show ends with Tara in bracelets, setting up a great launching pad for season 6. I’m thankful this show bounced back from a lackluster season 4, I’m thankful that the writers seem to have found their footing, and I’m thankful Clay is even closer to being killed.

But mostly, I’m thankful that fuck boy Juice didn’t cry once this week. Truly the greatest gift of all.

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On Jordan Russell Davis via Trayvon Martin

This is a repost from something I wrote April of this year about the Trayvon Martin murder. Sadly, it is still prescient as this happened recently. It sickens me to see these lives snuffed out, yet these ridiculous stand your ground laws persist…

I don’t get what is controversial here. Here are the facts of the case: An unarmed boy (150 lbs.) was walking home in the rain, talking on the phone. An armed man (>200 lbs.) calls 911 thinking that the boy is ‘suspicious’. He is advised by the authorities that he need not follow the youth, but does so any way. An altercation eventually occurs, leading to a scuffle, leading to the boy dead in the street. Here’s where things get unbelievable to me: the man claims self-defense, which he feared for his life. How can a boy beat a man who knows that he is armed so badly, that he thought he was going to die? I’m not even being facetious, please explain this to me. Do you have any idea how hard it is to beat someone to death? Trained boxers stand in the ring 12 rounds and don’t die. I’ve been in a scrap or two in my life, I am not a little person, and I have never ever killed anyone. But this man was afraid for his life. And some people really believe this, so I have to ask, how is it possible? How is the boy so threatening that the only recourse the man had was to lay him down? Logically, it doesn’t work for me.

Think about your life, the things that you have seen. Imagine two men (make them the same size for this exercise) square up fighting; is there any reason why someone would pull the gun if there are no weapons previously involved? No. None whatsoever. And the only reason this is plausible here is that people are considering that it is feasible that a black person could wig out in a fight, and become so vicious that the only choice you have is to kill him. And now, when you say you were scared for your life, it’s true. Which is ridiculous, because when two males are in an altercation, and someone gets shot in self-defense, WITHOUT FAIL there is another weapon involved. Have you ever in your life heard of an issue of self-defense between two men and the only gun that as drawn was by the shooter? People are legitimately buying the self-defense thing; which given the facts is logically impossible. A grown man tracked a kid down (how can you act in self-defense when you are following someone and initiating the confrontation?), and how if this kid is slamming your head on the ground you have the wherewithal to pull your gun and shoot him, but not have the wherewithal to push him off of you? 150 lbs.? This neighborhood might need a more stringent vetting process when it comes to the neighborhood watch if you get beat down like that by a kid. And people ACTUALLY believe this. Unless you have the notion that when it comes time for fighting, that black people get super powers, this is all ridiculous.

And if you do think this, realize you’re not alone.

We all grew up in this country, exposed to the same media, the same advertising, and have the same biases ingrained in us. The problem with this case is people (and the emails I will get) saying, “What if it was a white kid and it was a black man, would you feel this way?”

WHY DO YOU CARE? Why? If it was a black guy who shot a white kid, would you be saying what I am right now? That’s what it comes down to. And why is it about me? I presented an objective, honest truth of the situation, and you’re changing the situation, because this has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.

Let’s say that I’m only mad because he’s black, let’s say that’s true. So? If these are my biases, good thing we’re not talking about me. If these are my biases, does it make it okay that this kid is dead? Anyone walking through a neighborhood at night does not deserve to be accosted just for walking, especially by someone who isn’t police. There are different rules for dealing with the police, I get that. I don’t like it, but hey, they got the power, and I get that, cause what am I gonna do? But, as a citizen, I have to be deferential to anyone who runs up on me, asking me for my freedom papers? Hey, no matter where I am, if I don’t know you and you run up on me, I should have the right to say FUCK YOU. But I don’t. Because that might get me shot. Because you legitimately feared for your life. Someone once said, “I will not apologize for your fear, or my blackness.” But we do. And that’s the real rub here; it’s like my people have this burden upon us; be as non-threatening as possible, so these nice people won’t have to shoot you. Black men reading this are nodding, because we can never just be. There always has to be an explanation as to why you are somewhere, what you’re doing, how long will you be? Have an answer ALWAYS about who you are and what you’re doing. I was waiting for friends at Turner field yesterday, and jokingly texted, “I’m in front of will call; I’m the one making all the white people nervous.” It was funny because it was true. Why can’t we just be?

And now I have to sit back and watch a campaign as to why it doesn’t matter that this kid is dead. People bringing up his suspension, he was suspended for a bag of weed; definitely suspension worthy, but are we tripping over kids smoking weed now? He posted ignorant stuff on Facebook and twitter, which further proves that he is a teenager and American. He might have posted some not so nice things about women, which further proves that he’s American. But make no mistake; all these ‘facts’ that are coming out about the dead boy are for one concerted reason: to make him a statistic, average, a nobody, a stereotype of an angry black man. Because once he’s a stereotype, he becomes a statistic, he stops being different from, ‘the others’ and the question becomes, why do you care?

Why do you care? It’s actually an interesting question on multiple levels, because America as a whole doesn’t care about individual black lives. I mean, the practice of the nation was not to care in general until 1964, but we still don’t care about the black life in the specific. We’re conditioned not to. Look at the numbers of reported missing children and rate of recovery, and the large racial discrepancy. Which is why while there are earnest people really crying for justice, I think there is an element of guilt mixed in (just an observation) and I know someone will say, “Well, look at black on black crime!” This isn’t that argument. When we have that argument, trust, I won’t say, “Well, what about George Zimmerman,” so get out of here with that mess. The issue here is why this kid was followed and accosted by someone who isn’t a police officer, and why it took 2 months to bring up charges. Because, looking at this, it’s open season on scary black people, as long as you can say you were afraid. Because a lot of people have the same fears and dispositions of George Zimmerman, and are thinking that ‘but for the grace of God go I,’ and just making up ANY REASON IN THE WORLD why it doesn’t matter that this boy got killed. Because, in the end, why do you care? All the smear campaign is finding a reason you shouldn’t care, and why his death is no big deal.

The backlash on all of this has been astounding, and it struck me: the worst thing you can call (some) white people in America is a racist (while others revel in it), and if they see an issue where they could be construed as such. It’s nice to think we live in this place where there is no black and white and ‘all you see is gray’ but that’s not America. It’s just not. But what we’ve done is say that policy has changed, I don’t see myself as racist, so it isn’t an issue. It is. Because as opposed to discussing the roots of this racism and predispositions lie, or even what they are, we sweep it all under the rug and sing some kum-by-yah, without EVER discussing why we’re singing. People will say they don’t see race, that it isn’t an issue. All that means is that you have chosen to ignore it. When I close my eyes, the world is still out there, everything doesn’t vanish just because I opt not to see it.

I don’t know how to end this, because I know this isn’t over. Charges aren’t a conviction, and the anger expressed by those who have reflexively defended Zimmerman, asking for more facts (?) is stupefying. Roll through the comment section of a Fox News article about this; it’s enough to drain your sense of hope and actual change can be affected. I know we need discourse, but it frustrates me as someone who likes to have an answer for EVERYTHING and is left shrugging his shoulders at this. I want justice and I want peace and I want the country to be open and honest with ourselves regarding the perception of and prevailing sentiment about race in America. But, I’ll just keep getting followed through shopping malls and asked what I’m doing and catching stares just for being while y’all keep telling me that there are no racial components to this case and pretend that we solved race in 1965.

Where to start…

I suppose the beginning is as good a place as any. Once upon a time, I thought of myself as a writer. Even kept a sports blog for a while (http://dpalm66.blogspot.com) that was read by about 30 people, but the writing was fun. Then I got busy/lazy/conflict-of-intresty and stopped. The universe spun on.

But, I kept getting bitten by the writing bug, and found reasons to avoid it. This here, this right here is my attempt to do the words thing again. It won’t be just sports, but I’ve never been self indulgent enough to keep a journal (also, I’m not a 13 year old girl). Basically, it is whatever I want it to be at the time. I have ideas as to how to move forward with this and other mediums I want to try out, but as I said, this is the beginnnig. Thanks to everyone (Nez) who read the old site, and everyone (you!) reading this now. Hopefully, all my wildest dreams come true through prose, and at the very least, I make someone laugh, think or vomit. Not all at the same time, I hope. That sounds messy.

I’m bad at ending posts. So here’s a video. If I can figure out the wordpress embedding system.