Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why Criticism Directed Towards Clowney is Unfair

If you've read any sports media site since the season started, you have probably at least seen a headline calling Clowney's performance and work ethic into question. He has caught a lot of flak this year for taking plays off, having below par conditioning, and most recently for telling Coach Spurrier that he couldn't play due to injury moments before the game against Kenucky. All of this has been very noticeable for the most coveted defensive player in maybe forever. Its like a total 180 degree turn from where Clowney stood last year: the most feared, dominant player who commanded double teams every play and was a sure fire pick to be chosen first overall in next year's draft. At least that's what the media wants you to believe.
No way quarterbacks and left tackles aren't still intimidated...

This issue, like many others here in the US, has been totally fabricated by the media. Have Clowney's numbers taken a dip from last year? Yes, that part is undeniable. Through four games this year, he has 12 total tackles and 2 sacks (compared to 2012: 17 tackles, 4.5 sacks; 2011: 16 tackles, 4 sacks). What has been more noticeable is that he is not effecting the game even when not in on the play. He was known for bringing pressure on the quarterback on every play which lead to South Carolina's dominant defensive stretch. These observations have brought on speculation that he is dogging it this year so that he is is fully healthy for the NFL when he eventually declares his intent. Ok, and what exactly is the problem with that?

Since joining the Gamecocks, Clowney has been an unstoppable force. Several scouting reports of him coming out of high school said that he could have made the jump to the NFL then and still be a first round pick. He has unparalleled athleticism and technique that is beyond his years. The real issue with this falls back to the NCAA. The NCAA and NFL mandate that a player be three years removed from highschool, meaning that kids like Clowney are forced into playing when they well know that they could be in the NFL. This isn't the first time that a player has been overqualified for the college by his sophomore year. But the NCAA knows that it will not make money if the best players are constantly leaving for the NFL while still underclassmen. Basketball doesn't have this issue because there isn't a talent age gap. You consistently see incoming freshman who will future number one picks single handedly bring millions in for their school in one year. If you can find the whole interview with Spurrier from 10/8, he even says that the university should be thankful to Clowney for not just the wins but the revenue he has brought in.

There really is nothing wrong with that at all. Every program has a major sport that earns money for the school. But where it becomes bothersome is the fact that Clowney is being labelled as selfish for his actions. Why? Because he wants to earn a fraction in the NFL of what he made for the Gamecocks? Because he doesn't want to end up in the same situation that his team mate Marcus Lattimore faced? According to a Forbes article, Lattimore lost an estimated eight million dollars because of the injury he sustained his junior year, the year after tearing his other knee apart. This is Clowney's (and a lot of other athletes') livelihood at stake here. If the NCAA is not going to compensate players for putting their bodies on the line every day, then they should not be able to mandate when a player leaves for the NFL. Why regulate that players must be in college for three years? If a scout tells them they could easily be drafted, then what are they gaining by coming back from that extra year? The NCAA obviously doesn't care if it's used to get your degree or else they would mandate that as the minimum requirement for going to the pros.

And the notion that Clowney is hurting his draft stock is laughable. Like I said, scouts have said that he could have been a first rounder coming out of high school. He dominated the SEC for two straight years. Do you really think he suddenly has lost talent? Did the MonStars from Space Jam came down and drain his powers or something? Its an insane notion. Depending on who is picking at the top, Clowney could still easily be number one overall. Remember, he still did this less than a year ago...

No comments:

Post a Comment