Friday, December 25, 2009

VSL Hotline: We've Opened Our Presents, Now There's Nothing to Do Before Dinner, Edition

Merry Christmas VSLNation. Hope everyone is having a happy health, and that Santa was good to everyone. For our Jewish friends, I hope you enjoy the movies and Chinese food!

Speaking of movies, The O'Shea's and my sister-in-law pre-gamed church by seeing The Blind Side. For anyone who hasn't seen the movie, stop reading this post right now and go see it. It's a fantastic movie that has something for everyone. Great sports action, a triumphant/feel-good story, and Lou Holtz. The movie, among other things, explores the world of recruiting NCAA football players to major programs. There is a seedy underbelly of this world to be sure, even if the story of Michael Oher is not such an instance.

Lacking a good segue, I will transition to Vanderbilt's recent recruitment of Jordan Rodgers. The first read on this should come from our friends at Moral Victory! who have a great post exploring the implications of this decision. Vanderbilt does not recruit JUCO players often (only 2, including Rodgers in CBJ's tenure), and never allows mid-year transfers, probably the reason why the Commodores committed a secondary violation by communicating with the him during a "dead period" as Jeff Lockridge reported in the Tennessean. The secondary violation is less important than the fact that, in recruiting Rodgers, Vanderbilt explicitly ignored their own policy: "There is no transfer admission for spring semester."

A while back, Vanderbilt was presented with the opportunity to land J.P. Prince, a guard from Memphis who was uphappy at Arizona and wanted to come back east. He wanted to play at Vanderbilt, but opted for Tennessee because they would allow him to transfer mid-year, thereby allowing him to start sitting out his transfer year sooner, and thus be able to play sooner (the next season's conference play, in fact). At the time, I argued that the no mid-year transfer policy was ridiculous. I still believe that to be true, but I also think that if you are going to have the policy, you should enforce it. As it currently reads, there is no wiggle-room. There is no transfer admission for the Spring Semester. Thus, it is incumbent on the university to remove (or amend) the language on the admissions page to reflect the change. While I don't think the new stated policy should be that Vanderbilt does not accept transfers for the Spring Semester unless the transferee is a QB who's brother plays in the NFL, I do think it should say that the admissions department will review spring semester transfers in "extraordinary circumstances." The difference between option 1 and option 2 are semantic, although obviously a QB is more extraordinary than a versatile 2/3 guard who has been an impact player for the hated Orange.

My question is, in all seriousness, what's the difference between Prince and Rodgers? Is it that one plays football and the other plays basketball? That seems silly because, frankly, Vanderbilt is in a better position to compete in the SEC and nationally in basketball than football. Is it that Vanderbilt needs a QB more than it needed a 2/3 swingman for the second half of the 2007-2008 season? Maybe, but that also seems silly. If Prince was available for SEC play in 2008, the starting line-up would have been: Gordon/Beal, Prince, Foster, Neltner, and Ogilvy. Better still, last year's youthful Vanderbilt team would have had another experienced hand to show the newbies the ropes with 3 returning starters. What else could it be?

The person this impacts the most, clearly, is Larry Smith, who has to see Vanderbilt's truly unprecedented decision as a reputation of his leadership and ability to play QB in the SEC. While this might ultimately prove to be a great decision for the program, it certainly raises some questions. If nothing else, it would seem to demystify Vanderbilt's argument that, as an institution, their policies will not be altered to fit athletic considerations. Again, I don't think there is anything wrong with that decision, but it seems clear that "Vanderbilt Exceptionalism" is dead.

Merry Christmas


Anchor of Gold said...

Don't forget that DB recruit Kenny Ladler will be enrolling in January as well. It would appear that the policy has changed to simply a very limited basis, but that Admissions simply hasn't updated the webpage to reflect that change.

Stanimal said...

Ah the slow news days around VSL. I really don't care what the policy says. I also don't care about bending the policy rules a tad to get someone we need to play football in there. Some of our SEC brethren who do A LOT of policy bending to get their players. I was furious when J.P. Prince wasn't admitted for that reason. Frankly I'm not excited about Jordan Rodgers just because he's Aaron's brother. One's success does not guarantee the other's.

I agree that the policy should have a couple of words added so that we're somewhat consistent *yawn*, but I don't agree with your last point Bobby. I don't really think this says anything about the coaching staff's confidence in Larry. We don't have a lot of experience at QB next year outside of Larry, and this was a good way to add depth with the small possibility that he could emerge as a viable starting QB should things go south with Larry. It's less an over the shoulder thing than it is an insurance policy.

Clark said...

I think that a good part of the policy also has to do with progress towards degree reqs. that the admissions department has. I know that has no bearing on Ladler, but it may have something in this case, and in Prince's.

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