Pack Opponents: Home of the ‘2nd Chance’

This weekend I listened to a podcast of Dave Glenn’s radio show on 850 The Buzz from a a couple of weeks ago. One of Glenn’s major topics of conversation over the last month or so has been his criticism of the manner in which Bobby Bowden shooses/has chosen to deal with (so called) punishing of his star athletes. Despite the inconsistency here that we never heard Glenn criticize the great Mack Brown & Dean Smith for almost equal treatment of star athletes during their tenures at UNC-Chapel Hill, we can’t argue with Glenn’s general point regarding FSU and Bowden.

Last weekend Glenn commented about schools that are known as “second chance schools”; programs that invariably get into the recruiting mix for very troubled players that some other schools won’t recruit. He made a good point about how a school can build some credibility by staying away from problems and then choose to use its credibility to take very calculated choices on players that may have had some issues with the law or academics but that otherwise receive ‘passing’ character grades. He mentioned how programs like Cincinnati’s basketball program will invariably come running to majorly problemed players under the guise of providing a “second chance.”

From an academic persepctive, a similar issue has manifested itself through the years in the ongoing ACC/NC State vs ECU. Historically, East Carolina was allowed/chose to accept academic partial and non-qualifiers that were not allowed to enroll in Atlantic Coast Conference schools. This has caused many fans to cite ECU’s unbalanced recruiting advantages as a reason that ACC schools should not continue to be coerced into taking the field against a program that is not required to live by the same academic standards as the ACC.

The most recently example of this imbalance occurred earlier in the summer when Jamar Bryant, who was rated as one of North Carolina’s top 10 high school players in 2003 was released from his letter of intent at the University of Georgia to enroll at East Carolina. The article from Bonesville also shares the following:

“Jamar Bryant has asked for and received release from his letter-of-intent with the University of Georgia,” (Head Coach, Mark) Richt said in a statement released by the school. “He had decided he wants to go to East Carolina University, which is closer to his home. We certainly respect his decision and wish him the best in the future.”

Richt said Bryant, who played quarterback and wide receiver at Richmond, was not denied by Georgia’s faculty admissions committee, which had previously rejected other signees. But the NCAA Clearinghouse apparently had not approved Bryant for admission this fall, which led him to ask for the release.

“They (ECU) could guarantee that he could get in,” Richt told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We couldn’t.”

But with the start of pre-season football drills scheduled to begin in less than a month, and his status at Georgia still being held up by the NCAA Clearinghouse, Bryant apparently decided to seek another place to play. ECU is an option because even if Bryant doesn’t qualify academically, the Pirates can enroll him as a non-qualifier. Georgia does not accept non-qualifiers.

“He just wanted to be sure (he had someplace to play),” Georgia’s Richt told the Journal Constitution.’

Well, it seems that the Pirates aren’t the only Conference USA program known for their 2nd chances. NC State’s Homecoming opponent this year, Southern Miss, seems to uphold the C-USA tradition quite well as we learn in the Associated Press’ Troubled transfer receives second chance at Southern Miss

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Marcus Raines knows he can’t shake his troubled past. But he’s looking for redemption at Southern Mississippi – a school with a reputation for giving second chances.

After serving three years and pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter for his role in the death of a high school classmate, the 22-year-old linebacker is getting a fresh start with the Golden Eagles.

Life changed for Raines one night in May 2000, when, according to published reports, a fight broke out at a high school party in Palmdale, Calif., and someone punched Christopher O’Leary and knocked him to the ground. Raines kicked O’Leary in the head, and he died three days later, police said.

Raines originally was charged with second-degree murder but accepted a plea agreement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. He spent two years in a juvenile hall and one year in state prison.

After his release, he played two seasons at Pasadena City College and became one of the nation’s top junior-college linebackers. Kansas State reportedly offered a scholarship last December but withdrew it when reports of his past became public.

Additionally, the article reminds us the following about USM’s basketball program in the event that you thought that this was just a football thing:

Southern Miss has helped others get back on track. The school gave Larry Eustachy a second chance at coaching a year after his humiliating resignation at Iowa State. Eustachy’s first recruit, guard Rashaad Carruth, landed in Hattiesburg after getting into trouble at Kentucky and Oklahoma.