Randy Smith: I Promise - My Last College Football Blog Until Summer

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

I promise: this will be my final college football blog until later this summer. I wanted to make a comment or two about the recruiting wars (won last week by Alabama). As I have already stated, recruiting is not an exact science, though the Crimson Tide certainly makes it seem that way. You get the nation’s top recruiting class year in and year out, and you win a BCS National Championship. Pretty simple isn’t it? 

The Tide inked a total of 26 players, with 20 of them rated four stars or higher. They had just one five star player in running back Derrick Henry, who is the type of player who can contribute right away. I know this is an overused cliché, but Nick Saban has brought Alabama to the pinnacle, where the Tide never has to rebuild; they just reload.

The SEC did very well as expected. Three of the top five recruiting classes were from the SEC, with Florida right behind Alabama in second place, and Ole Miss (????) rated fifth. People who follow college football on a regular basis wouldn’t have been more surprised at Coach Hugh Freeze’s class if UTC’s Russ Heusman had signed it. To say that the Johnny Rebs had their best recruiting class ever might be a bit premature, but it’s easily the best in many, many years.

I really think it’s unfair to automatically claim that Ole Miss cheated in signing a class this rich in talent, but that’s the general opinion. Ole Miss signed two of the top three prospects in the nation as their two five-star players. They also added twelve other four-star players as well. To those who think Ole Miss cheated, perhaps you’ve never attended a game in Oxford, Mississippi. There is not a more beautiful spot to gather for a college football game than the famous “Grove” in Oxford. There are still plenty of beautiful “southern belles” around campus to lure any healthy young male athlete, and as far as football tradition goes Ole Miss has a traditionally great program.

To those who say, “the rich keep getting richer”, well, they do. But think about how it was in the 1950s and 1960s. There was no limit as to the number of players a school could sign. Alabama’s “Bear Bryant” Auburn’s “Shug” Jordan and Ole Miss Coach Johnny Vaught, absolutely ruled college football. If there was a player any of those three wanted, they were successful in signing them. Signing classes would not be limited to 25 players. They would usually sign anywhere from 50-75 players a year. There were recruiting guidelines, but nothing like we have today. So, if the “rich keep getting richer”, the rich must work a lot harder than they did fifty years ago.

The changes in the game, both in player ability and in general technology have been good for athletes, coaches and fans alike. College football is a really big business with literally billions of dollars being spent by hundreds of teams, thousands of athletes and millions of fans. But there is still one thing that bothers me; like it was in 1960, players cannot receive anything more than their scholarship and a little expense money when they play on the road. Some say, a college education is enough, while others claim the players deserve a big piece of the pie for toiling as they do as college athletes. I think the correct scenario is buried somewhere in between. Players in any sport on the collegiate level must work all year long on their sport. Unlike it was in 1960, if players do what they must to stay in shape and on top of their game they must work and train year around. That leaves very little time for having a job, especially with academic schedules involved. Why not pay each student athlete a stipend of $1000 a month while they are in school. It would ease things a bit on their parents, give them a little pocket money, and the NCAA wouldn’t miss a penny. Once again, no more writing about college football until the summer.


rsmithsports@comcast.net

---

Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).


UTC Women At Western Carolina Saturday

The Chattanooga women's basketball team will close out the regular season road slate Saturday afternoon at Western Carolina. The game is set to tip at  2 p.m.  in the first of a double header. Follow all the action at GoMocs.com.  The Mocs are third in the league standings behind Mercer (8-1) and Samford (8-1). The two will play each other this weekend. A ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Region 2-A/AA Wrestling Tournament

Firefighters Stop Fire At Local IHOP Restaurant

Chattanooga firefighters did not have far to go when fire broke out at the IHOP on Highway 153 in Hixson around  9 a.m.  on Friday. Battalion Chief Don Bowman and firefighters with Quint 16 had just enjoyed a nice breakfast there while having a morning staff meeting. When the firefighters returned to their fire truck and were getting ready to drive off, one of the firefighters ... (click for more)

City Councilman Chris Anderson Gearing Up For Election A Year Away

City Councilman Chris Anderson is already gearing up for the next city election, though it is over a year away. In the financial disclosures due Feb. 1, he reported receiving $24,165 for the reporting period from July 16, 2015 to Jan. 16. He spent $4,887 during that period. Councilman Yusuf Hakeem took in $11,110 during the period. Councilman Russell Gilbert reported ... (click for more)

Black History Month Hero - Theodore McGraw (Kidd) AKA "Pongee"

I grew up in "Old St. Elmo" on 39th Street behind the Incline. As a child I remember my older brother "Pongee" as being my hero. This month of February being Black History Month, I cannot think of a better person to be honored than my late older brother, Theodore McGraw (Kidd) aka "Pongee" of St. Elmo (Gamble Town). Growing up without my father, Theodore was always available ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Chatt2.org’ Needs You Now

A diverse yet powerful panel of community leaders in Nashville delivered a letter to the Metro Nashville Board of Education last week. It was signed by some top men and women who represent a wide-ranking cross section of Tennessee’s largest city and includes education, business, religious and diversity superstars. You need to understand the urgency behind the letter. Davidson County ... (click for more)