NCAA record just isn’t a big deal
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Odds and ends and a few things I think I think while trying to work up some anger toward the NCAA's decision to basically strip Pat White of his title as the best rushing quarterback of all time:
The truth is, I can't. Is it disappointing? Sure. But I find it hard to fault the NCAA, which might be the first time anyone has ever typed those words.
The organization last week declared that Michigan's Denard Robinson would go in the record book as the career record holder for rushing yards by a quarterback - that despite the fact that for the last three games of his career Robinson was not a quarterback. After gaining 106 yards in Michigan's bowl game, as a running back, Robinson finished with 4,495 rushing yards. White had held the record since 2008 at 4,480 yards.
OK, so you know that, as White tweeted last week, he "never took a handoff.'' Robinson did. He wasn't a quarterback for his final three games. In and of itself, that should be enough evidence to set the record straight and allow White's record to stand.
The problem is that the NCAA can't be expected to audit every play from every game, past and future, to determine what yards were - or will be - gained by a guy strictly playing quarterback. Imagine, especially in this day and age of ever-evolving offenses, how difficult that would be.
The NCAA's requirement for the category is that a player was primarily a quarterback. Robinson was. And that's probably about as deep into the research as the NCAA can afford to delve without it becoming ridiculously time-consuming.
Then again, there's a good argument to be made on the other side. More on that in a moment.
Think about that for a moment. That's all, just think about it.
So a group calling itself Fans of WVU Football claims that it will begin boycotting the university on Feb. 1.
Note to same: It's fine to vent, but be realistic. And perhaps hire someone to write your announcements.
In the wake of, well, everything that happened within the football program over the past few months, the group, in an e-mail seemingly drafted in crayon, vows to "not buy any more game tickets to any sport, buy any sports memorabilia licensed through the athletic department, or partake in any athletic department sponsored event ... if the following demands are not met."
It wants the university to "release the entire football coaching staff of their duties'' and to "Give the fan[s] of West Virginia University football team a formal apology for events that transpired this season.''
The group claims to have more than 40,000 signatures on a petition.
I understand your anger. But demanding that the football program essentially be blown up and built again? Not exactly a well-measured starting point in fan-vs.-university relations.
Let's face it, the guy is being paid a ton of money to build WVU's football program. At least at the start he has to be given the freedom to do that as he sees fit. And given that he's but 19 months into the job, that still qualifies as the beginning.
I'm not sure, though, that getting rid of every native West Virginian in the program is the best public relations move Holgorsen could make right now as the fan base fractures. Holgorsen couldn't care less about PR, but that's probably one reason - dwarfed by that 2-6 record in the last eight games, of course - he's not high on so many fans' lists.
The bottom line, of course, is that these moves he's making have to work and they have to work fast. A guy who doesn't care what people think of him can still be called a great head coach, right Chip Kelly? But a coach who rubs people the wrong way and doesn't win is soon again called a coordinator.
The NCAA also keeps defensive records. It has records for tackles and things like forced fumbles and passes defended. It has a record for passes intercepted by a linebacker. Really.
And not a single one of those records is actively audited by the NCAA. It's all up to the schools to submit. And schools are notorious for a wide range of interpretations on what constitutes a tackle, a solo tackle or an assisted tackle. The NCAA basically sets the guidelines and the takes the schools' word.
So why not take a school's word for rushing yards by a quarterback? West Virginia can attest to the fact that Pat White never played a position other than quarterback. Michigan cannot do the same for Denard Robinson.
So just do the right thing and ask.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1