1. Poaching Penn State Players
The recent events regarding Penn State shows that the football program would have almost been better served getting the death penalty. The players can transfer out with redshirting a year, and other teams and coaches can actively recruit them.
Let’s get one point out of the way: provided that those doing the recruiting adhere to NCAA rules and regulations, it is legal. I don’t see anything wrong with guys adhering to the rules, but I think that most people who are angry with this scenario miss the main point: Penn State did this to itself. In one of the betters parts of this debacle, Pat O’Brien is handling this nearly perfectly. He acknowledges he knew this could happen, and embraces the challenge the program faces, including the poaching of players.
As for the rest of the college football world, the question of going after players remains a hot one, but one common thread is that teams not actively going after Penn State players are usually pretty well off, roster-wise; or they are concerned that those players may not work well with the team already there. I think the Illinois coach sending eight guys to State College is excessive, but I doubt it’ll go them any good. However, the reports of recruiters stalking players should give pause to the process.
Finally, I want to give a lot of props to the players at Penn State who have publicly committed to remaining there. The scandal is not their fault, we all know that, and even though they were (for the most part) recruited by Joe Paterno, it is kind of thrilling to see them picking up the gauntlet of writing the next book of Penn State football.
2. The Olympics
The 2012 London Olympics are here. The principal question we need to ask is: do we care?
I recognize that most of those athletes are far more athletic than I am, but that is not to say I find the Olympics compelling. Hell, even the super hyped USA basketball team is not something I want to see too much.
I sum up the Olympics like this: I watched a majority of the 2008 Olympics in a sports bar, and to say I was watching it is a bit of a stretch; it just happened to be on.
3. Rivalry Series
My two favorite teams are playing this weekend, and both are playing their chief rivals: the Giants are playing the Dodgers, and the Yankees are hosting the Red Sox.
I find the Giants-Dodgers rivalry one of the most fascinating in the history of Major League Baseball, because they were the first two west coast baseball franchises by design; when the Dodgers split from Brooklyn, the owner convinced the owner of the New York Giants to relocate as well, and when they reached California, they brought the rivalry with them.
The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has evolved over the past century. The trading of Babe Ruth in 1919 is a big event, but the continued back-and-forth between the two has finally lead to this point, where it is far more civil. This is largely the result of free agency, where players aren’t necessarily there year after year. Still, it is one of the most historic rivalries in baseball, and the game is never better than when the two of them are peaking when they play.