The votes have been cast, and the results are… not in. We might never find out whether the football players on the Northwestern Wildcats decided to unionize this past Friday, because those secret ballots have been sealed up, and won’t be counted until after the university has finished appealing to the National Labor Relations Board. That could take a while. In the interim, larger reforms could make the results a moot point.
From a football betting perspective, the big takeaway from these negotiations is that we know these “student-athletes” are working full-time hours, all year long in many cases. Case in point: spring practice. We’ve still got four months to go before the 2014 campaign, but most teams have spent the past several weeks working out, auditioning players and conducting business as usual. The last of the spring games were played on Tuesday. Here are some of the responses we’ve been hearing on the gridiron grapevine.
For teams and bettors alike, the biggest focus during these spring sessions is on the quarterbacks. Some teams, like the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5 SU and ATS last year), have already managed to figure out their starting assignments, and appear ready to bring back sophomore Jake Rudock (18 TDs, 13 INTs) after his impressive spring session. “Jake is an extremely bright guy. He’s gifted,” offensive co-ordinator Greg Davis told reporters last Wednesday.
There’s far less clarity at other programs who have to start from scratch. Thanks to the sharp increase in quarterbacks turning Pro early, and transferring from one school to another, many teams were unable to work with their potential starters this spring. The Alabama Crimson Tide (11-2 SU, 6-6-1 ATS), for example, won’t have ex-Florida State Seminoles QB Jacob Coker (18-for-36 last year) until the summer rolls around. The Texas Longhorns (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) are still waiting to see if Max Wittek (14-for-26) will sign on the dotted line after leaving the USC Trojans as a graduate transfer.
Quarterback Wittek was also reportedly considering the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors and the Louisville Cardinals, but Louisville has already moved in another direction. On Monday, the Cardinals (12-1 SU, 6-7 ATS) announced that JUCO transfer Patrick Thomas was joining the team to compete for the starting job that Teddy Bridgewater (31 TDs, four INTs) is leaving behind. Thomas was originally bound for the UAB Blazers, but head coach Garrick McGee left to take an assistant position under Bobby Petrino, and Thomas has followed him to Louisville.
It could end up being a one-year gig for Thomas, or whomever wins the starting job. Tyler Ferguson has also joined the Cardinals after transferring from the Penn State Nittany Lions. Ferguson (10-of-15) saw very little action last year behind Christian Hackenberg; the former JUCO transfer won’t see any action this season, either, as he must sit out a full year before he’s eligible to play.
International Luxurious Art
If you needed any further proof that the recruiting process is messed up, we take you to the University of Georgia, where the Bulldogs (8-5 SU, 3-9-1 ATS) may have lost the top prospect in the state because of improper portraiture. LB Raekwon McMillan committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes (12-2 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) in December, and according to newly-minted Georgia DE Lorenzo Carter, it may have been because McMillan didn’t like the picture of him that UGA had drawn.
“They did (the portraits) for me and Raekwon McMillan,” Carter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday. When asked about the quality of the artwork, Carter didn’t pull any punches. “I looked good in (the portrait), compared to how I look in real life. Raekwon’s picture didn’t look good. It was ugly. He didn’t like it. That’s probably why he didn’t come to UGA.” There may have been some jest in Carter’s words, but this is still an object lesson for the top programs in college football: Hire better artists. You’ve got the money.