Inside TSL: Letters to the Editor
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
TSL Extra, Issue #22
He Puts the "Plus" in ESPN+
Hokie fans, think of that the next time you're watching a game on TV and feel like saying, "These announcers suck!" Dave Weekley, at least, does his homework and takes his job very seriously.
And that, my friends, is mild compared to some of the emails I receive. I used to respond to them with a canned response that went something like, "Dear (to whom it may concern): Thank you for your feedback on the TechSideline.com web site. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our web site, and your input is very valuable. We appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion with us. Thank you for visiting TechSideline.com, and please come again."
I once sent that email to a deactivated poster, and he responded to it with an even more irate and abusive email. So I sent my email again. And he responded again. So I sent my email again. He eventually quit, probably because his computer blew up.
By the way, it always cracks me up when rival fans tell me that TechSideline.com "sucks," or is "a pathetic excuse for a website." Uh, yeah. Let's just say that I'm not insecure enough about TSL to believe that for a second.
Dave: Hmmm, I can already tell that I'm going to have trouble expressing exactly why I donít think NFL accomplishments should be part of TSL's recruiting ranking system. I have a feeling that after the following ramblings, you probably won't be any more convinced, but I'll give it a shot, anyway.
I tried to award points for a player's accomplishments that either were of direct value on the field or were of indirect value for bringing recognition to Virginia Tech as a quality football program. Examples of accomplishments that are of direct value on the field are letters earned, seasons started, and VT and Big East records held. Those are all direct measurements that a player contributed something on the field.
Then there are the accomplishments that bring recognition to the player and/or the program but don't add any value whatsoever on the field. Antonio Freeman, for example, was second-team All-Big East three times, and that brings good recognition to VT, but it didn't help VT directly win any ballgames. The fact that he led the league in punt returns in 1994 did directly contribute to winning games, because it equated to field position and even a TD or two.
I realize this sounds as if it contradicts what I said in the Bruce Smith material that you quoted. I made a statement about how Bruce Smith's NFL career wasn't of any "direct value to VT, in terms of wins, losses, or statistics, during the time he was actually at Tech." Well, if you want to get nit-picky, neither was Jim Pyne's retired jersey, but I gave him 25 points for that, didn't I?
And here's the point where I start getting wrapped around the axle, so let me explain why I think, for example, that being drafted #1 by the NFL is worth some points, but being an All-Pro in the NFL isn't.
When you're drafted, or you're named an All-American, or you win the Nagurski Trophy, that is based on your college accomplishments or is a good, direct reflection on your college career, your school, or both.
But Bruce Smith being named an NFL All-Pro in, say, his fourth year in the NFL doesn't really have much to do at all with Virginia Tech. By that time, his career is about what he has done in the NFL, and how he has prepared himself in the NFL, not anything he did at Tech. And when they announce the teams, he is listed as Bruce Smith of the Buffalo Bills (or Washington Redskins, now), not Bruce Smith of Virginia Tech. So the link between Bruce being an All-Pro (or, in your other example, a starter for x years) and the fact that he went to Virginia Tech is very tenuous.
Well, then why give points for being an NFL draft choice? Bruce was picked #1 because he worked out for the Bills, they watched his film, and they thought he could be a great NFL player (they were smart cookies, but that's another story). Sure, he got their attention with his college exploits, but what really sold them on him was other factors, not the fact that he racked up 46 career sacks at VT, the large majority against the likes of Richmond, William and Mary, and Appalachian State.
Yes, your draft position is largely based on NFL workouts and evaluations, not your college career per se, but when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle (he was still the commish in 1985, right?) announced that Bruce was the #1 pick, he leaned over and said clearly into the microphone, "Bruce Smith of Virginia Tech." And the college and pro football fans watching took note, and VT had their moment in the sun. Bruce Smith's draft selection very much reflected well on Virginia Tech.
And I don't know about you, but every year, I go over the NFL draft day results to see what teams drafted whom from what colleges. To some of us, guys like me, the NFL draft is closely tied to the college game, but I don't follow the NFL much at all, so once the players get beyond the draft, I couldn't care less.
So I maintain that being an NFL draft choice, while it might seem like a thin connection to awarding "recruiting" points to a player, is certainly more closely tied to a player's college career than his accomplishments after he has made the NFL, when his NFL training and experience take over.
In addition, I'll tell you one of the main reasons I discounted NFL accomplishments in the TSL ranking system: too much data, and too hard to research. In the TSL system, recruits are awarded points in a whopping 22 categories, and if I started adding NFL accomplishments to the list Ö well, it would quickly get more unwieldy than it already is.
You suggest NFL seasons started and All-Pro status as good grounds on which to award points to a player. Why stop there? What about NFL records held, being named the NFL offensive or defensive player of the year, NFL season stats leaders, years played, etc., etc., etc.? Where should it stop?
Also, I can research what I need to know for the current ranking using my VT media guides, my Hokie Huddlers, and my Big East media guide, all within easy reach. If we start adding NFL accomplishments, then the data gets very hard for me to find. I have no clue, for example, if Ken Brown or Dave Kadela ever started in the NFL, and I wouldn't know where to look.
So even if you could convince me to add some NFL accomplishments to the ranking system, I donít think I could handle the work load. In addition to the arguments of logic presented above, which you may or may not find convincing, the difficulty of researching the NFL data makes it impractical to make it part of the system.
See you next month, folks!