Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sid Hartman Just LOVES Him Some Seantrel

On my drive to work this morning (is there anything better than rush hour traffic in freezing rain?) I wanted to hear someone, anyone, talking on the radio about the Gophers recruiting class. I knew KFAN would be talking NFL football (three things KFAN covers well- Vikings, Twins, and non-sports. If there's anybody out there with a boatload of money looking to make even more, please start a REAL all-sports radio station in this town. You know, one of those where not only does every live show actually talk sports, but the hosts actually know about more than just the Vikings and Twins. Please? Pretty please? There are a lot of sports fans in this town and this state who would listen), and I can't stand Pat Reusse (although I do listen to him on my drive home when he's on with Soucheray, mostly because I'd rather hear Soucheray occasionally talk sports on a talk station than Barreiro occasionally talk sports on a sports station), so I took a trip down the dial to WCCO.

Well, what an early morning treat I got! Morning show host, and Gopher play-by-play guy Dave Lee was talking to none other than the greatest sports writer in the history of humanity (at least according to himself), none other than one Mr. Sid Hartman. And not surprisingly, ol' Sid did not have a favorable opinion on Seantrel Henderson choosing USC and NOT choosing the Gophers and making such a tram-shava-mockery of the whole thing. He had many great lines, but my favorite was "I don't mean to sound like sour grapes but" and then went into a five minute rant that sounded exactly like sour grapes.

See Sid thinks all Minnesota football players should play in Minnesota. It's a rough and tumble world out there in college football, and it's just too big and scary of a place for our down home, corn-fed, humble Minnesota boys. He couldn't understand Seantrel choosing USC. Doesn't he know he'll never play there? Doesn't he know he'll just get lost in the shuffle? Doesn't he know they're a bunch of crooks out there in La-la land? Sid backed up his statements by pointing out former Minnesota high school standouts Walker Lee Ashley and Willie Mobley left The Promised Land of Minnesota for USC and Ohio State- which not coincidentally were Seantrel's top two choices- and were never seen or heard from again. Chewed up and spit out by the big mean machine of major college football. Shame on them for leaving, but that's what they get, says Ol' Sid.

Of course, Sid failed to mention guys like James Laurenitis, Michael Floyd, John Carlson, and Larry Fitzgerald, who all left the "PL" and ended doing just fine both in college, and eventually the NFL (Floyd's still in college but after he puts up about a million yards receiving and a thousand TD's in Brian Kelly's passing offense he'll be there soon enough). Ashley and Mobley are certainly good examples of why this whole recruiting class obsession can be over-hyped and over-done, but Sid made it sound like if a kid leaves Minnesota, he's guaranteed to fail.

Barring an injury or off-field incident at USC (like, oh, I don't know, let's say his parents getting a home bought for them by an agent, or an agent buying his girlfriend a Cadillac Escalade. Hypothetically speaking, of course) Seantrel will get drafted and play in the NFL for a long, long time. He's an 18 year old kid that's 6'8 and 340, but moves with agility of a man half his size. He's like a dump truck with the handling of a Porsche. Henderson is the top recruit in the country and whether he plays at USC, Ohio State or Minnesota, he should be a force to be reckoned with.

Sid also gleefully pointed out how Henderson has chosen USC but won't sign until the school's hearing with the NCAA later this month, and might not end up playing there. Sid thinks the NCAA is going to come down hard on the Trojans power house football team. Sid thinks this because Sid always sides with owners/management/administration (never, ever, ever forget he sided with his old buddy Carl Pohlad when Carl tried to contract the Twins. Never forget that) and always wants the best his wealthy and powerful cronies.

While the NCAA- and Sid and a LOT of USC haters out there- would certainly LOVE to put the smack down on USC's juggernaut football program, they're likely to escape this with nary a scratch. They've been trying since Reggie Bush left school four years ago to make a case against him and the school for Bush's parents allegedly accepting a Southern California home from an agent. Of course since Bush is no longer at school, he is under no obligation to talk, and hasn't and won't. Then came the recent Joe McKnight scandal where his girlfriend was allegedly given an SUV by an agent. While they might be able to pin the Trojans with something for what happened with McKnight (who declared for the draft and is also no longer in school and, therefore, also is not obligated to speak with the NCAA), the worst that probably comes out of it would be to vacate wins or something more minor like that. They're not going to have major restrictions put on them or be banned from post season play or anything. The basketball program? Now they're screwed (thank you OJ Mayo!!) but Lane Kiffin and the Trojan Machine will continue to roll on whether the NCAA slaps them on the hand or not.

It's probably a wise move for Henderson to wait for the hearing to play out, but I'd bet he ends up a Trojan, and really, who could blame him? Well besides Sid, and seemingly a lot of Gopher fans. I certainly don't, and I don't blame Tim Brewster for NOT keeping him in Minnesota.

Under Pete Carroll, nobody recruited better and nobody was more aggressive at playing true freshman than USC, and with Kiffin as a Carroll apprentice, I'd expect that to continue. Carroll brought in wave after wave of high school all-Americans (at one time in 2008 they had 10 running backs who were former high school AA's. 10!!! My goodness we'd kill for just one at Minnesota), and while you'd think all that talent would scare away kids who usually want to play early and often, it somehow had the opposite effect, as Carroll preached competition and "may the best man win." And whether the best man was a fifth year senior or a true freshman (Matt Barkley and Taylor Mays are just two guys to start for the Trojans as TF's in recent years), Carroll held his word. Again, I'd expect that to continue under Kiffin (at least for the year he's there until he takes another job. Zing!), and that, even more than the sun, the beach, the lifestyle, and all the winning SC has done, had to be a big factor for Seantrel. Yeah, the Trojans group of backup o-linemen are better than ours, but if Seantrel goes in and works hard in camp, there's every reason to believe he could be a starter by the time the Trojans come to town here in late September. Starter on a perpetually rebuilding Gopher team or on the reloaded Trojans?

Even you can see the logic in that right Sid?

His last words to Dave Lee before signing off: "Mr. Henderson, I hope you go away!"

Ok maybe not.

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