Rogers, Over and Out
By Tim Rogers
Where basketball teams headed more interesting than regurgitated college choices…
Why do so many people get so whacked out over National Signing Day?
In most cases it’s old news. Except for an occasional change of heart, i.e., kids bailing on Cincinnati for other programs, I find it redundant and incredibly boring.
Heck, we learned more than one year ago that St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Parris Campbell Jr. would be attending Ohio State. St. Ignatius linebacker Kyle Berger broke the news that he was Buckeye-bound last April and Campbell’s teammate, linebacker Donte Booker, followed suit in May. It’s the same way for the majority of kids earning college football’s version of winning the lottery.
So, where’s the news? What else is there to say? The kid is going to Ohio State. Or Michigan. Or wherever. Okay, fine. Done deal. Thrilled for ya. Good luck, kid. Hope you make it. Hope to see you on the BTN, playing in the B1G Championship.
We usually learn a kid’s life story when he makes his oral commitment, which means absolutely nothing, by the way. We learn that he loves his parents, ran a 4.4, thinks highly of the academic reputation of his soon-to-be school, scored 200 touchdowns, felt comfortable when he made his official visit and thinks the world of his future coaches.
And, oh yeah, did I forget the all-important, “I liked the campus.”?
All that is swell. The original commitment is newsworthy, for sure. I am not saying it should not be reported. But, I don’t need to read it a second time. Or a third.
Yet, every media I can think of, from mainstream to social, feels compelled to regurgitate it all. It has almost become a form of hero worshipping.
I can hear news directors and assignment directors and sports editors all over town: “Okay, let’s send a film crew out to good old Milford High and shoot some footage of Touchdown Tommy signing a piece of paper.”
Now that’s what I call captivating.
I realize that many people regard football, even at the high school level, as the most important thing in the world. And I feel all warm and fuzzy for any kid who earns himself a scholarship. Given the statistics and what it takes, earning a Division I scholarship – or any scholarship – is one terrific accomplishment.
But, spare me the details. Sometimes I think we are putting way too much emphasis on the whole thing. I think we are losing our way when it comes to what high school sports is all about.
Don’t get me wrong. I like high school football as much as the next guy. What I don’t like, and what I don’t get, is National Signing Day.
SO, HOW’D THE PAIRINGS MEETING GO?
I found the second Sunday in February way more interesting than the first Wednesday in February. That second Sunday – at least this year – is when the pairings were made for post-season boys basketball. Now, that is newsworthy.
It was especially newsworthy this year in Northeast Ohio as the Northeast District Athletic Board has caught up with some counterparts in other parts of the state as far as Division I was concerned.
For the first time in 92 years, the NEDAB has gone to a more wide-open format by “blending” sectional sites, giving coaches two options when it came to determining their post-season plans. The girls pairings were made two weeks ago.
I took in the Division I meeting at Copley, where 28 teams from Summit, Stark, Medina, Tuscarawas and Mahoning counties began the Road to Cleveland and the regionals. Some observations:
Convictions take a back seat: Stow entered the meeting with a respectable 14-4 record, with no embarrassing losses and wins over defending state champ Mentor and Brush on consecutive nights. The Bulldogs were seeded ninth and coach Dave Close chose to play in Canton, entering the same venue that already included top-seeded Massillon Jackson, fourth-seeded Canton Timken, fifth-seeded Akron Ellet and seventh-seeded Cuyahoga Falls. Yet, 19 teams declined to put their name on the same quarter-bracket as Stow. So, that tells me that while most teams didn’t want to play Stow, how come they declined to vote for it during the seeding process?
Can one player make a difference?: Canton Timken (14-2) was already on the board at the fourth-seed at Canton. Yet Massillon coach Larry Taylor (10-3, 10th seed) and New Philadelphia coach Chad Spurgeon (13-6, 15th seed) chose to jump into the same half-bracket as the Trojans. Why: Because Timken’s talented Lepear Toles has suffered a stress fracture in his foot and might not return until after March 1. Massillon and New Philly will meet on Feb. 26 with the winner playing Timken on March 1.
A question that is tough to answer: According to the rules, the top-seeded team was permitted to pick whichever site it wanted, either Canton or Copley. The second-seeded team was FORCED to go to the opposite site, with 25 of the remaining 26 teams having the freedom of picking either site. So, if you were deemed the second-best team in the field, you were punished. Here’s guessing that in the future, no one will want to be seeded second.
We will see a change: Rarely, if ever, were there any competitive games in the first round. In fact, most were blowouts. There will be a fair share of blowouts this year, but there also are some intriguing opening-night games. They are 15th seeded New Philly at 10th seeded Massillon and 17th seeded Walsh Jesuit at 12th seeded Medina Highland.