Posted on: March 13, 2008 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2008 2:35 pm

National notes

I don't have much of a problem with Clemson getting out from underneath Ray Ray McElrathbey's scholarship. I do have a problem with the way they announced it.

The school has done everything possible to avoid saying they are trying to free up a scholarship by offering the backup tailback a graduate assistant's job. It's obvious that McElrathbey is not longer needed now that Clemson has one of the deepest tailback stables in the country. McElrathbey is not going to get on the field. His brother Fahmarr has $100,000 in a trust fund that the NCAA graciously allowed to be formed when their parents' negligence forced Ray Ray to take in his brother.

McElrathbey's situation is not so much a gesture of largesse on the part of Clemson, but as a way to make the school and athletic department look good. And it hides a little-known way of doing business.

For example, it is up to the school's discretion whether a scholarship player transitioning to grad assistant is able to eat at the training table. Kids sign an athletic scholarship expecting all the accompanying perks. McElrathbey seemingly will be well taken care ofl. He would receive a stipend for his meals if he chooses to become a GA, the school said. AD Terry Don Phillips has said McElrathbey will receive financial aid if he becomes a grad assistant..

Clemson isn't being as heartless as it might seem.  It will help Ray Ray find another school if he chooses to transfer in order to play out his final two years of eligibility. This is a lot more than they could have done for a kid who has been in academic hot water in the past.

Somewhere in there, though, I'd like to see the school admit it needed the scholarship rather than covering itself with glory.

 There are a lot of things messed up about the college football hall of fame process. Some no-brainer candidates have been left out for years. One player who should already be in is Arizona State's Pat Tillman who appeared on this year's 75-player ballot this week.

Tillman is a national hero, plus an athletic (and academic) inspiration who should have been inducted posthumously the moment he died four years ago in Afghanistan. This is his first year on the ballot. Please, please, please voters. Do the right thing. The voters, by the way, are 12,000 National Football Foundation members and current hall of famers.

Here's the link so you can determine who you would pick to put in this year. Here's my list alphabetically:

Troy Aikman, UCLA (1984-88) He made two schools better. When Aikman determined that he wasn't going to work in a pro style offense at Oklahoma, he transferred to UCLA. When he left OU in 1985, it won a national championship with the triple option. Then there are all those Super Bowl rings.

Tim Brown, Notre Dame (1984-87)  The 1987 Heisman winner was one of the most durable and reliable receivers in NFL history.

Dave Casper, Notre Dame (1971-73) Before there was Kellen Winslow, there was Dave Casper.

Eric Dickerson, SMU (1979-82) He took the money and ran, or so they say. It's weird how many modern-day backs are compared Dickerson. He must have done something right.

Major Harris, West Virginia (1987-89) The precursor to the modern dual-threat quarterbacks. He was Vince Young before Vince Young.

Deion Sanders, Florida State (1985-88) How is this guy not in? Possibly the best college or pro corner ever. I hope the voters aren't turned off by his fashion sense.

Chris Spielman, Ohio State (1984-87) I hope my son grows up to be like Chris Spielman. A man's man, a great football player and a gentleman who gave up his career to be with his cancer-stricken wife. Hello, voters?

Lawrence Taylor, North Carolina (1977-80) Remember what I told you about no-brainers? The voters are obviously turned off by Taylor's brash style and NFL drug use but get over it. This guy changed the game and unlike a certain Heisman Trophy winner didn't beat a double murder rap.

 From the Too Much Information Dept.: Former Oklahoma linebacker Curtis Lofton recently explained why he ran slow 40s at the NFL combine. "I ate so much food, and I didn't use the bathroom the whole time I was down there."


Posted on: March 10, 2008 10:33 am
Edited on: March 10, 2008 11:34 am

College football notes

If this story is true regarding Clemson backup tailback Ray Ray McElrathbey, then Tommy Bowden has some serious questions to answer. The story alleges that McElrathbey's scholarship was taken away to free up space on the roster. Clemson has an abundance of tailbacks and signed the NCAA maximum (25) in recruiting. Ray Ray made national headlines two years ago when he took in his brother Fahmarr because of family problems. Mom had a drug habit and dad had a gambling problem.

Little Fahmarr wowed the crowd at the college football awards in Orlando in 2006 after his brother accepted the Football Writers Association of America's Courage Award. Ray Ray has had injury and academic problems so the alleged decision to yank his scholarship might be at least partially his fault. However, Ray Ray reportedly made the honor roll last semester.

Clemson announced last week, somewhat cryptically, that McElrathbey would not play next season It lauded his academic exploits but did not really explain where -- or from whom -- the decision came from.

This could be a nice way of Clemson letting McElrathbey go after he had become too much of an academic and/or personal burden. But if it in any way was athletically related, I've got a problem. I always thought that it sucked that a kid pledged himself to a university for four (or five years) but had to prove himself every year to keep the scholarship. Unless Ray Ray was tanking in the classroom, he deserved to keep the scholarship if only because of the positive publicity he brought to Clemson.

 As predicted in this space, Cincinnati Ben Mauk is taking another shot at a sixth year of eligibility.  Good luck, Ben. There is nothing underhanded about this attempt. Plus, we'd like to see a Mauk-led Cincinnati coming 10 wins. The Bearcats would definitely be a factor in the Big East.

 A big bad of White Castles goes to the Missouri Valley for once again staging a first-class tournament. The nation's best mid-major conference is still undervalued even though CBS is now televising the championship game. Look for regular-season and tournament winner Drake to make a serious run in the NCAA Tournament.


Category: NCAAF
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