Mark Knudson’s Three Strikes Blog: Strike Two
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With the NCAA, a rule isn’t actually a rule
STRIKE TWO: The enforcers at the NCAA aren’t real consistent with their enforcing. But then, you already knew that if you’re a fan of schools like Southern Cal, Miami and most recently, Missouri.
Rules are supposed to be for everyone, right? Exceptions made in exceptional cases. Except that what is deemed an exceptional case now seems up for debate too. Take the case of Justin Fields, a five star quarterback who signed with Georgia last year thinking he was going to be the next big thing. Except he wasn’t. The freshman sat and watched while sophomore Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs to the SEC title game and another freshman led Clemson to the National title.
Immediately after the season, the disgruntled Fields decided to transfer. His prerogative of course, but the rules say a player has to sit out a year when transferring for reasons like lack of playing time. That’s obviously the case here.
But…and there’s always a big but…Fields and his legal team decided to appeal the rule by leaning on an incident from earlier in the season when the young QB became the target of some racially charged insults from a since released member of the Georgia baseball team. Fields attorney successfully argued that the incident was the reason for his transfer, citing “mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete.”
Fields is now in line to start for Ohio State next season.
What in the name of Henry Aaron is going on here? Does anyone anywhere believe for one second that if Fields had won the starting job at Georgia he would still have transferred because some loud mouthed idiot – who got the boot – yelled vulgar things at him?
Sorry, but you don’t excel in big time sports, even at the high school level, if you have that thin a skin. African-American athletes have been hearing that junk for decades and have been able to put it in its proper place – the dumpster – and move on. Fields could have certainly done the same thing. It’s unlikely this was the first time he was called a vulgar name by a loud mouth bigot. Sadly, they are commonplace. Has he ever before used it as a reason to quit?
This time, Fields remained Georgia’s back up QB for the rest of the season. If the insults were such a horrible thing to endure, why didn’t he leave Georgia right after it happened? Was it somehow worse two months later, right after the Sugar Bowl?
The irony here is that former Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell, who would likely have been the Buckeye’s starter had Fields not transferred in, decided to transfer out. He’s now at Miami. He’s now fighting to see if he can play for the Hurricane’s next season. And Martell actually has something of a valid argument. Ohio State was in some level of turmoil most of the season and now has a new coach. Coaching changes are usually given as successful reasons for being immediately eligible after transferring. So what should we think if Fields gets to be play for Ohio State this season but Martell has to sit out a year as a transfer? And what happens if Fields is the OSU starter, having a successful season, and another loud mouth bigot (they aren’t just in Georgia) yells racial things at him from the stands? Will be transfer again? You already know the answer to that.
All this makes you wonder when the wishy washy NCAA will just do away with transfer rules all together and simply make college athletes defacto free agents after every season. Won’t that be fun? Imagine the chaos. Because rules are not really rules anymore anyway.
Strike Three coming Friday: Are Colorado State athletics simply doomed to mediocrity? Argue with me on Twitter @MarkKnudson41…