Thursday, May 3, 2012

WHAT A DICK! The Paul Rhoads Edition.


Before I get into the meat of the story, let this be the introduction to a new recurring series of postings on Spitblood.  With SMU currently holding the Skillet and beating us in the off-season basketball tournament known as the coaching carousel, Lessons in SMU Hate have been suspended until a time when Hate is genuinely necessary, deserved and won't sound like sour grapes.  I have a feeling Larry Brown or Garrett Gilbert will provide an outlet soon enough, no worries.  Meantime, we must fill our hate void somehow, and that's exactly what we hope to accomplish with these tentatively titled "WHAT A DICK!" postings.  Why limit our hate to the poor decision making of SMU and its associated parties when we can broaden our scope to encompass the entirety of the NCAA, nay, the WORLD!  I feel good about this.  Seeing as how it's Iowa State introduction week, this inaugural entry feels appropriate.

Many things have been said about Paul Rhoads.  He's a good coach who could inspire his players to run ass nekkid backward through an overripe Iowa cornfield with a simple postgame speech.  Seriously, watch this and pray you aren't magically transported into a scene out of Field of Dreams, but with more violence, pain and nudity, of course.  But the thing about over-enthusiastic, borderline psychopathic coaching types like Rhoads is that where there is good there is bad, and it takes a shitton of repressed rage to fuel that engine.

Which brings us to the story of ex-ISU Defensive Back Anthony Young.  Young had a bit of a winding path to Iowa State, taking the JUCO route to Division 1 before arriving in Ames for the 2010 season.  As one of ISU's three 4-star rated recruits, big things were expected from Young in year one, and he did about as well as you could expect of a transfer athlete in a new system, recording 27 tackles and recovering a fumble in nine games played; by comparison, TCU DB transfer Jason Verrett recorded 58 tackles in 13 this past season, an average of 4.5 per game compared to Young's 3.  In year two, expectations were even higher as Young was expected to step into the starting role and be part of a strong Iowa State team.  Unfortunately, Young suffered a knee injury before spring practice of the 2011 season and, with a big assist to ISU's crack medical staff, would not see the field during the 2011 regular season.

When the injury occurred, Smith was checked out by the Cyclone training staff and diagnosed with a minor knee injury.  He was informed that it was by no means serious and that he shouldn't miss any time, which he wouldn't at first, taking part in all spring drills as well as the ISU spring game.  Then one day that summer Young woke up and found himself unable to walk, prompting the decision to have an MRI performed.  That MRI would reveal that Young had in actuality torn his meniscus and would require surgery.  Boom,  your off season and possibly early part of the season, gone.  Or were they?  After Young had his surgery, he was told to rest his knee for 3 days, but on day 2 his athletic trainer at ISU asked him to come in so he could take a look at his knee.  What the doctor who PERFORMED THE SURGERY originally told him would be an 8-9 week recovery was judged by team ASSOCIATE Athletic Trainer to be a minor hamstring issue and would only require 5 weeks to heal.  By this point, considering the original misdiagnosis, you can certainly fault Young for once again choosing to listen to the opinions of the staff at Ames, but think about it:  The kid wants to play his final season and the team doctor he is supposed to trust tells him that will be possible sooner than he anticipated.  A kid can say no, but in the environment that Paul Rhoads apparently created, he would be shunned and probably lose his starting position.  For a kid who dreams of playing at the next level, that's akin to a death sentence.  Naturally, the Cyclone quacks were wrong, Young was rushed back onto the field too soon, his knee couldn't take it and, after a handful of false starts and cortisone shots, had to shut it down for the year.

So that's two improper diagnoses' in the span of a few months.  The Phoenix Suns medical staff they are not.  After all of that, you'd expect one thing, and really just that one thing, to happen:  Young would take a medical redshirt for the 2011 season and have another year of eligibility before trying his hand at the next level.  And that's precisely how it appeared things were going to work out.  Before the season, Young had a meeting with Coach Rhoads to discuss the possibility.  At the time, Rhoads said that they would continue to evaluate the injury in hopes that he could contribute to the team this past season rather than just call the whole thing off.  But as the calendar turned to November and Young was still unable to play, the two met again, this time with Rhoads telling him, "There's no reason why I shouldn't redshirt you because you have done nothing to hurt the program or the team, you haven't caused any problems and your grades have picked up."  So alls well that ends well, right?

THE VERY NEXT DAY, however, Young was summoned to the coaches office again, this time with his position coach and athletic trainers present.  Unfortunately, this meeting lacked the optimistic tone of the one 24 hours prior.  The gist was this:  Young could have his redshirt, but if he wanted it he would have to graduate that spring and play his final season elsewhere.  Otherwise, if he wanted to remain in Ames, he would have to nut up and play hurt for the rest of that season.  Now, as I said above - I understand that there is always going to be indirect pressure to "play through the pain" at a major NCAA program, but playing through pain and playing while injured are two concepts completely foreign to one another.  The days of Freddie Steinmark at Texas playing without knee cartilage because cancer ate it way are gone.  Basically, Paul Rhoads and his staff were calling Anthony Young a liar despite the fact that he'd had knee surgery, despite the fact that he wanted to return, and despite the fact that he made several attempts to return throughout the season.  A shitty move on ISU's part, no doubt, but making it even shittier was the timing.  Had Paul Rhoads said before the year when the injury first started, "Hey, I'll let you redshirt, but you're going to have to transfer to fulfill your eligibility," it still would've been pretty cold, but at least he could've known his options and rehabbed while looking for a new school to move to in the spring.  Instead, Rhoads told him they'd evaluate the injury later, waited until NOVEMBER to do so, then told him to finish out the year by playing the team's last 3-4 games or hit the road.

And it gets even worse - rather than making good on his threat, Rhoads allowed Young to remain a part of the team, going through workouts and attending the bowl game and leading him to believe that he was still a part of the team.  But right after the first of year Young showed up at the ISU weight room, only to be told by the team strength coach that he was no longer allowed to use any team facilities.  When he tried to reach Rhoads, he was ignored for 3 days.  That's right, Paul Rhoads didn't even have the balls to cut him loose personally - he just strung him along and kept him happy throughout bowl season, then made him find out by way of being evicted from the weight room.  AND it gets even worse than that - when he finally got in touch with Rhoads he was told the team gave his scholarship to a 2012 recruit.  Then, rather than give Young a quick exit and chance to catch on with another team, the academic staff delayed his transfer until after National Signing Day, meaning that most schools he could transfer to would have already filled all of their scholarships before he even had a chance to speak with them.  AND THEN Iowa State banned him from transferring to any Big 12 program, Iowa and Northern Iowa.  Seriously, they pull the kid's scholarship, essentially firing him, and then limit his transfer options.  Unfathomable.

Fortunately, it's not all bad for Young - he will graduate this month, his knee is healed and he has a few different, lower tier transfer options, but it just seems like the entire situation could've been avoided had Paul Rhoads and his staff been more straightforward with him.  Another shining example of how screwed college athletes are in comparison to their supervisors.  Just remember that next time you hear an ESPN personality championing Paul Rhoads for an upper crust position.

What a dick.

Daily Discussion Question: More Big 12 Expansion Smoke.

In this case, the arrow should be pointing the other way.

By this point, I think we all assume that the Big 12 expanding to 12 teams is fait acompli.  There is just too much money being left on the table without a Championship game, not to mention the added rankings boost that comes with being a Conference champ.  Considering all of the talk surrounding a future playoff involves the preference a Conference champion being slotted into the semi finals, the mystery becomes even clearer.  Being the smallest of the major Conferences with only ten teams and lacking a Championship game will almost certainly go against the Conference in selecting national semi-final participants.

We've all heard the likely suspects of BYU, Cincinnati and Louisville, with the latter two getting the most play due to their regional proximity to new member WVU.  But perhaps the reason none of those three have yet to be formally introduced is because they've never been the true targets?  Take this with a huge grain of salt considering it's just message board banter at this point, but here are two candidates you haven't heard:

Old pal Clemson

and Florida State.


The rub is this:  The Big 12 wants two more teams for the reasons above, and no more.

Now, like many you, I immediately thumbed my nose at this report. Why on earth would Clemson, a founding member of the ACC and consistent competitor in that Conference choose to leave?  Florida State wasn't a founding member, but they've been in the league for over 20 years and fared pretty well for themselves in that time.  I personally believe that the only way either of those schools would leave the ACC is if the SEC came a-callin', but even then, why leave a Conference you compete in on a regular basis and with a great academic reputation to go to the SEC, which is filled with a bunch of flop haired dum dums and where you'd always be an also-ran?

The answer, of course, is money.  From what I gather, the ACC has a TV contract paying each member institution $14 million annually through the year 2024; the Big 12 is about to sign a deal that could push their payout into the $18 million+ range.  Would that be enough to get them to jump?  It remains to be seen.

On the flip side, though - can you see Grand Maester UT agreeing to pick up two teams that would directly impact their success on the field as Clemson and FSU would?  And, with the Big 12 already getting paid, is it worth it to split the bill 2 more ways?  It almost makes more sense to sit and wait to see how this new, non-BCS world plays out before making a hasty decision.

Truthfully, this sounds a lot like the UT/OU to the Pac 12 rumors that never came to pass.  If you think about something hard enough you can justify it in your mind, but that doesn't make it true.  I highly doubt we'll be despising the tomahawk chop the same way we disdain SMU's limp peace sign any time soon...but then again, we all thumbed our noses at the first 50 TCU to the Big 12 rumors, and that turned out rather swimmingly.  Stay tuned - until the Big 12 gets back to its namesake, anything is possible.

Big 12 Orientation: Iowa State's other sports

Iowa State hasn't always been a heavy hitter in the sports that most of our readers care about, but they do have scoreboard on a lot of schools in terms of total national championship trophies being shown off in the lobby of the athletic department building. 

Leading the way is the Cyclone wrestling program, which has won 8 national championships- most recently in 1987- and 65 individual national crowns.  They've also won 15 conference titles.  Watching two men play Twister doesn't really sound all that entertaining to me, but what can I tell you? These crazy jean-short wearing midwesterners love this shit!  The most famous ISU wrestler is Cael Sanderson, seen above on a box of overrated breakfast cereal.  Cael was 159-0 in his career in Ames from 1999-2002, winning 4 NCAA titles in his weight class, 4 Big 12 titles in his weight class and 3 Dan Hodge awards (given to the best collegiate wrestler).  He also won the gold medal in his weight class at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.  He later spent three seasons as the head wrestling coach at Iowa State, but in 2009 big-timed his alma mater by taking the same job at Penn State.  I'll leave you to any Penn State/wrestling with boys jokes.

The other 10 national titles won by Iowa State came courtesy of women's cross-country (5), men's gymnastics (3) and men's cross country (2).  Please keep your applause to a dull roar.  The Cyclones have also won 115 total conference championships across all sports, which is nice although the last outright football title was a hundred years ago. 

I'm not going to continue to beat you guys down with stats and analysis of other schools' women's golf or ultimate frisbee teams, so I'll bring this around with a pretty cool story about Iowa State football.  I think it's worth knowing the origin of the name of the Cyclone's football facility, Jack Trice Stadium.  Trice was ISU's first African-American athlete, way back in the early 1920s.  Early during ISU's road game against Minnesota in 1923, Trice broke his collar bone but elected to stay in the game.  He was later deemed unable to play and sent to the hospital.  The doctors in Minneapolis decided Trice was well enough to return to Ames with his team via train, but he died two days later due to the internal complications from his injury.  74 years later in 1997, Iowa State officially changed the name of Cyclone Stadium to Jack Trice Stadium.