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This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

A Devil's Advocate view-and an assesment of some of the points- of the outrage on #Finegate

Bud Foster is a little mad at his players. I can be a little mad at Bud Foster.
Bud Foster is a little mad at his players. I can be a little mad at Bud Foster.
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When this #Finegate fiasco was brought up into public consciousness, I was beside myself. You could have cooked an egg on my head. I'm a recruiting geek insofar as I can be; I see a lot of this through that particular lens. And my first thought went thusly:

This is why Bud Foster, God love him, will never, ever be a head coach at a major college football program.

The fact that this particular way of handling this issue was brought up makes me want to pull my hair out. Virginia Tech, a wonderful institution and a part of my life I cherish and would not give up for anything, already has enough problems drawing elite talent. After the fact that we're a very homogenous school located up high in the mountains with half-cruddy weather, that we haven't fielded an offense worth bragging about since I've been paying attention to Virginia Tech football about 12-15 years ago, that we don't send enough quality players to the NFL that last, and we don't offer as much ancillary perks and access as other schools do- better facilities, better local exposure, better gear, etc.- the absolute last thing we needed was negative publicity over fining people.

Newsflash to the university- and to Whit Babcock in particular- you're still not ahead in this ball game! Even if you came out and smacked it down, you should have been on ESPN screaming from the top of your lungs that Virginia Tech Will Not Fine anyone for anything. I was listening to the Russillo Show while at my office and almost spat out my water when I heard them talk about this as if Whit hadn't said a word one way or another. It doesn't matter that the media might be overblowing this. That it's just another loud roar with little tooth. In this media time and place, the roar is tooth enough. You can't bring that kind of negative attention to yourself. Public relations are everything in a world and a society where everything's so connected to the greater social consciousness and stream of information. One bad thing can get caught and whipped into a whirlwind. And where public pressure and PR is going is away from teams, and toward the players. By cutting into the latter, you're slitting your own throat.

A Cost of Attendance payment has been a long time in coming for college athletes. Regardless of whether or not you're the first person or second to try to take some of that away from the students, you're going to take a MASSIVE hit. You'd be taking money away from kids that often enough do not have any- and in some estimations, deserve a heck of a lot more considering how much revenue football alone brings to programs. I knew a walk on player while in classes that had to quit the team because of all the hours it made him spend away from school work that made his grades drop. I remember reading about how hard it was for Darren Evans to have a fiancée and a kid to take care of in school, because he couldn't really work, maintain his grades, and handle a football team position at the same time, and of course he was trying, but you have to get the point:

The fact that this was even thought of as a wise option was a point of the matter that our program does not get it. We would be cutting off our nose to spite our own faces.

I've seen the fine menu- that particular revelation is a tire fire in and of itself. Of course it's small stuff. Of course it really makes sense in terms of the schedule and in priorities that it puts on behavior and major things. The problem is that was the only step that was thought out. It was looked at from an old school coach's mentality- ensure player stability and coach authority through whatever means would reach them most effectively. The problem is, if this was a Foster initiative- and why would I think it not be when he was the one thrown out there, Frank, if it was yours?- this shows an incredibly small-minded view of the current situation in college football. You're fighting tooth and nail for every single recruit. Alabama, Stanford, and Heaven above, Duke, are coming into your state and stealing top talent every year. You're not getting a ton of people from out of state to come walking in to some smaller state school in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains and now you're giving them just one more reason to not bother. It just smacks of a lack of awareness that I find appalling. You thought out and reasoned out your immediate problem effectively, fine. The fact that you- whoever it was- thought that this wouldn't have any larger circumstances once it got out- and in today's media culture, that was a no brainer- is simply naïve and frankly telling.

This is why we have problems getting good recruits. This is just another emblematic symptom that reveals how short-sighted football coaches can be, and how our coaches in particular sometimes have a problem conceiving of a place and time that the slow-developing power running game is being phased out. Why we still don't have a 1,000 yard receiver all time. There's just a switch that's not being flipped somewhere that leaves our coaches completely unaware of the world outside of what's between the goal posts. That, fellow Hokies, is why I was beside myself. It's just another example of why we can't have nice things.