Returning from Obscurity  

Posted by Frazier

Wow, I was trolling through Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback (always a good read in a not-college-football kind of way) when I noticed a comment about Rhett Bomar and the Senior Bowl. I guess I had forgotten that Rhett had finished his college eligibility and so was heading to the draft. It turns out that he might even be the top senior quarterback out there. (Not exactly saying a lot, but still). Let's give a quick recap:

Rhett started 11 games at quarterback as a freshman for Oklahoma. He had a pretty successful year, and ended up being the MVP of the Holiday Bowl in a win (wait, a bowl win for Oklahoma?!) over Oregon. People were pretty excited about his prospects, and predicted that he'd be leading a potent Oklahoma attack for three more years.

Then Rhett got caught accepting money for doing absolutely no work for a local car dealer. He was kicked off the team, and lost a year of eligibility.

He astoundingly transferred to Sam Houston St. so he didn't have to sit out another year. It was kind of assumed that he would simply transfer to another big program, wait awhile, and become a huge star. Instead he toiled in utter obscurity, apparently having excellent statistical seasons. Still, his team went 4-6 last year.

Basically, it's a story about a kid making exceptionally stupid decisions, and the NCAA punishing him grossly for those decisions. Taking money for not working is bad (although probably not uncommon in NCAA football circles). However, people do a lot worse things and get suspended for a game or two. Rhett never hurt anyone, threatened anyone, broke a law, got in a fight, abused a woman, or endangered others by drinking and driving.

Of course the NCAA came down hard on him (because Oklahoma dropped him partially out of fear of sanctions) and basically wanted to force him to lose 2 years of eligibility to allow him to play at the highest level.

Then Rhett compounded the problem by choosing to play in a college football wasteland.

Now, the NCAA has ridiculous eligibility rules. It is incredibly unfair that kids have to sit out a year to transfer, even when all parties agree it's the best decision for everybody, but the university immediately gets to fill the scholarship with someone else. Furthermore, schools are free to poach coaches left and right, and the coach owes absolutely nothing to kids who travel across the country to play for them.

It's absurd to hold 18 year old kids to higher standards than college presidents, and adult coaches. It's ridiculous that schools can exploit these kids for incredible financial gain, but accepting some money for a BS job basically screws you over for two years. Look, Rhett broke the rules and had to accept the consequences. I just think maybe we should re-examine some of those rules. Furthermore, Rhett did himself no favors by making a bad situation worse, not initially owning up to his responsibility, and choosing to transfer to a no name school.

All that said, I hope he has a good combine. I hope he learns from those decisions and still has an opportunity to prove his ability in the NFL. I'm kind of excited for the redemption of Rhett Bomar. It's got kind of Disney feel to it. Maybe we should buy the movie rights. Or maybe I've just been in LA too long.


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