Friday, August 05, 2016

Lessons from Last Chance U


If you like football and behind the scenes sports documentaries, I highly recommend Netflix's Last Chance U. It spends a season with the players, coaches and administrators at East Mississippi Community College as the Defending National Junior College Champions look to win their fourth championship in five years. Because this is a JuCo, I think the players and coaches were much more unguarded than they might have been at a big university. The series is entertaining on its own, but also provides some great insight into the larger world of college football and provides perspective about how we do things at BC.

[SPOILERS TO FOLLOW]

Chaos on the sidelines

Whenever one of our coaches messes up a two minute drill, we all go crazy. Yet here is Junior College's most prolific offense -- in theory a fine tuned machine -- screwing up. At one point, the head coach didn't even realize it was 4th down or what the call was. And this team wins. This reinforced for me that so much of this is talent, talent and talent. East Mississippi is not winning because Stephens is some great Xs & Os guy or a great game manager. He's winning because he is out recruiting his fellow JUCOs and filling up on Power 5 talent that either can't qualify or had trouble at bigger programs.

BC will never be able to recruit JUCO players

It is not a good fit. I am sure we will have the occasional exception, but in general there will be very few JUCO players who would ever get by our Admissions Office. These guys are taking what amounts to remedial classes (Algebra, Basic Comp, etc.) and really struggling. Few seem motivated to try at all, even as their teachers and administrators hold their hands through the whole process. The only JUCOs we might ever be able to land are players like John Franklin III. He already qualified for an ACC team and is only at East Mississippi to showcase his talents. And based on what the conversation the East Mississippi people had with Auburn, he breezed through their classes with mostly A's.

And even if Admissions allowed our coaches to go all in on JUCOs, I still think BC would be a tough sell. Getting on a plane and going to Southeast Missouri intimidated Ronald Ollie. Can you imagine what it would be like trying to get some of these isolated and immature kids up to Boston? They all dream of the SEC. BC is a very different sell.

Academic Advisors are the unsung heroes of any successful program

The breakout star of the series is East Mississippi's Academic Advisor Brittany Wagner. She serves as den mother, big sister, baby sitter, tutor and school supply closet to the team. Without her, half of this team wouldn't be eligible. While the academic cases at East Mississippi are more extreme, don't think that this sort of support is not going on at every Power 5 program. Our players come to BC much more prepared than your typical JUCO, but there is a whole team of people at BC making sure they go to class, that they sign up for the right classes, that their GPAs remain strong, that they graduate on time, etc. You can question whether these players should even be in a college environment or what they are truly learning, but you can't question Wagner's passion or commitment.



There is still a lot of corruption in College Sports

It was just one passing moment in a six hours series, but I was surprised by the exchange between one player and a recruiter, when the player said he couldn't say what else he needed to commit "in front of the cameras."

The coach clearly understood what he meant and said, "there is nothing else. We follow NCAA rules..."

But as we all saw on Draft night, under the table payments are still alive and well in the SEC. I am sure it is rampant at other places too. If a marginal JUCO recruit is asking for extras, you can only imagine what the elite guys are doing.

BC is different but not that different

I think BC wants and tries to do things the "right way," but I am not naive enough to think we're perfect. Last Chance U isn't the same as a behind the scenes might be at the Heights, but there are probably more similarities than we would ever realize.

17 comments:

mod34b said...

There is still a lot of corruption in College Sports
BC is different but not that different. I think BC wants and tries to do things the "right way," but I am not naive enough to think we're perfect. Last Chance U isn't the same as a behind the scenes might be at the Heights, but there are probably more similarities than we would ever realize.


what???

BC is corrupt? or "a little" corrupt? Is thus just sheer speculation or got anything to back it up?

diabetic tackle said...

I wish Coach Buddy, for his wife & daughters sake, would lay off the carbs & cussin.

JBQ said...

"mod34b" asks a good question. Was it a "slip of the tongue" or is there something there. In March of 2012, I was in the BC football office standing at Affton's desk. Behind me near the elevator was an open coach's door. He was on the phone and I heard him say "you know you could go to jail for doing that". Affton then interrupted my listening and the door was shut. I have wondered ever since.

Georgia Eagle said...

The jocks have always received preferential treatment at BC but, dear God, don't let us sink to the corrupt sleaze of most of the FBS.

mod34b said...

"JBQ", speaking of sly mysteries, I looked at the BC AD's staff and do not see any present day "Affton." However, I do see a town called "Affton" very close to your favorite city, St. Louis.

who is this Affton? Who was the coach blurting out a criminal confession - was it about Spaz regarding his 'treatment' of OC Rogers?

ps did you answer GE yet on (nonexistent) evidence gender self identification?

CT said...

I second this recommendation. Hugely.

U know Franklin had offers from service academies?

Anyway, ATL hit on every salient point. The south is a different country when it comes to CFB, that coach was an idiot, and how did those kids pass the SAT?

You nailed it. Agreed. Good watch.

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

Random question. What was the reason Paul Peterson end up at a JUCO? His Mormon mission? Did he have BC level academics, but just couldn't get an offer since he hadn't played for two years?

Georgia Eagle said...

Thanks, Mod. JBQ, do you want a DNA test? What a jerk.

JBQ said...

At "mod34b": Affton is the secretary in the Football office. You get off the elevator, turn left and walk directly to her desk. I do not know the coach. I turned around at the secretary desk and could see him sitting at a desk. He was very young and appeared to be a low level coach.

JBQ said...

@Georgia Eagle: there may be some confusion but it was caused by your attempts at humor. I accept your definition but about three months ago, you were trying to be funny and that is what you said. I accept your explanation. Sorry about the confusion.

Boston said...

JBQ: If I can ask, why were you in the football office in the first place?

Georgia Eagle said...

Fine. let's move on. And I'll try and stay out of the ladies room. I have no issues with gender identity.

Michael Sweeney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eddierock said...

In other news, Steven Daniels just suffered a season ending shoulder injury while In Redskins training camp.

JBQ said...

@Boston: In both 2012 and 2015, I went to New York for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. I then took the train up the coast to Boston which by the way goes through that dreaded state of Connecticut. I wanted to visit the campus.

Boston said...

JBQ: that doesn't really answer why you went to the football offices. I've visited campus a number of times since I graduated, but I don't make it a point to go to the football offices

mod34b said...

Boston, "At this point, what difference does it make?" he went. he saw, he heard. he reported.