This week we used the word polarizing in describing a stereotypical type of Penn State football player that Drew Astorino could be said to represent, but there is perhaps no figure more polarizing in the history of Penn State football than erstwhile Quarterbacks Coach, Jay Paterno. Employed as the son of a coaching legend and the person held most responsible for the development of QB14, Jay has heard more than his share of criticism. He's a high-profile figure in a high-profile position and his journey from nepotistic grad assistant has been more than a little fascinating. Here at BSD, Jay was called out in June of 2008 for his dabbling in politics and in January of last year was covered for grooming his growing personality. Most fans would acknowledge his savvy in the tech arena and, given that and his history of criticism, it's not too surprising that he does not have a Wikipedia page. But he has also has been penning the occasional column for statecollege.com and his recent offerings have been pretty fairly received as, at the very least, largely thoughtful. Today's column is no exception, as JayPa digs in for a proscriptive and predictive hypothetical depiction of a growing movement he feels is a threat to our favorite sport: offseason 7-on-7 teams.
Jay is worried about the shifting landscapes in college football recruiting and knows first-hand how quickly new industries can sprout up if left unchecked by unsuspecting parents, college and high school coaches and NCAA administrators. So in the article he paints a hypothetical scenario revolving around two key players: a wealthy alum and a high-profile high school coach. Aside from the farcical names he chose to hammer home his point (Freddie Warbucks and Fast Frankie Streets), the story of them founding an offseason 7-on-7 team is not at all preposterous and, in fact, is not even against current NCAA rules. The comparison to the 'often-sleazy world of AAU basketball recruiting' rings home realistically, and Jay moves on from his hypothetical scenario to discuss the real-world one:
The seven-on-seven coaches are outsiders, unaffiliated with any high school and are gaining influence. Some have advised young men to switch to different high schools to get better recruiting exposure or to a high school with an offense or defense that better showcases their talents.
The system has introduced outside people and recruits "mentors" for the high school coach and families to deal with. The danger for the parents is that someone with ulterior (read: financial) motives suddenly is injecting himself into a son’s college decision process after he has become a star athlete.
If you saw that Real Sports episode last week, you may have noticed how poorly the normally top-shelf investigative show tried to handle addressing all the moving parts in the Amateur/Professional argument of 'big time college sports.' They lined up a stupid panel and allowed them to talk all over the place and even Bryant Gumbel failed to keep it on point. The opportunity they missed is one Jay is hitting here: finding the power players with the money, looking at the native incentives that motivate those players and using a public forum to raise awareness. He set it all up very well and only just misses hitting a home run with his closing call to arms: