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Your Monday Reality Check: O’Brien saga another example of flawed system

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Your Monday Reality Check: O’Brien saga another example of flawed system

Posted on 22 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

I’ve never hidden from the fact that I never actually finished my degree at the University of Maryland.

I mean, Mark Zuckerburg never finished his degree either. So no worries, right?

You (have to) know I’m an alum of the school in College Park, and our buddy Chris Lombardi once nicknamed me “The Tradition” because of the old Navy football advertising slogan “tradition never graduates.”

I never got around to finishing my degree for a number of reasons. One was because I got my first (nearly) full-time job in radio and I was very distracted. I missed a number of classes because my radio mentors told me I should try to be at the station as much as possible. I was introducing Jimmy Eat World records late at night and recapping Terps basketball games during the day. I never wanted to leave.

The other issue I dealt with was a bit more personal. My parents offered me about two semesters worth of help (and I’m forever grateful to them for being able to help even that much) financially, and then I was on my own. I cleverly took cheaper classes concurrently at the Community College of Baltimore County (who actually gave me a “degree”, so I’ve got that going for me) for awhile, but ultimately struggled after shifting back to Maryland. I tried to finish my degree using the school’s “University College” program, but I was simply putting myself in much too significant debt while trying to begin my professional life.

Much like Alex Len, I was forced to make the tough choice to leave school early.

It’s nearly a guarantee you don’t care about any of my collegiate career, but if you stuck around I have a point to make.

I would have LOVED to have had the opportunity to attend the University of Maryland with tuition paid. I didn’t get that opportunity. I couldn’t catch a football, I couldn’t dunk a basketball, I most certainly couldn’t nail a behind the back bounce shot on the lacrosse field.

Former University of Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien WAS granted the opportunity to attend the University of Maryland on scholarship. He was given said scholarship because when he played quarterback in high school in North Carolina, former Terps Offensive Coordinator James Franklin and head coach Ralph Friedgen believed he could help them win football games and wanted to convince him to choose the school over other interested schools.

It’s important to point out that as someone who couldn’t really afford to finish my own degree at the same University of Maryland, I do not begrudge O’Brien one bit for being able to get his own without having to pay for it.

I don’t begrudge him one bit because as the quarterback of the football team, O’Brien had significant value at the University. He played a major role in helping the University make money, likely responsible for much more than the amount his three years of scholarship money added up to.

I reference this story because we found out this weekend that Danny O’Brien would be spending his final year of collegiate eligibility at Division II Catawba College this fall. It is a long fall from ACC Rookie of the Year (2010) and starting quarterback at the University of Wisconsin (2012).

The news was first reported by Scout.com Friday night and met with reaction that was quite surprising to me. Here are some of those reactions (including a bit of language) from the @WNST Twitter account…

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Former Maryland QB O’Brien transferring to Catawba College

Posted on 20 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Former University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin quarterback Danny O’Brien has found a new college home.

The former Terps and Badgers QB will spend his final season of eligibility at Division II Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. The news was first reported by Scout.com. O’Brien’s final college home will not be far from Kennersville, NC-where O’Brien played at East Forsyth High School.

O’Brien spent two years of eligibility with the Terrapins in 2010 and 2011, claiming ACC Freshman of the Year honors in 2010. O’Brien was 192/337 that season, throwing for 2,438 yards and 22 TD’s while helping to lead the Terps to their most recent bowl appearance, a win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl.

At the end of the 2010 season, then Maryland Offensive Coordinator/Head Coach in Waiting James Franklin left for the head coaching job at Vanderbilt and the school chose to successful head coach Ralph Friedgen. O’Brien chose to stay at Maryland for his sophomore season under new head coach Randy Edsall, finishing his degree at the University in the process. O’Brien began splitting time with fellow sophomore QB C.J. Brown before having his season cut short when suffering a broken arm in a blowout loss to Notre Dame.

After his sophomore season, O’Brien elected to take advantage of a NCAA rule that allowed graduate students to transfer without penalty  to a school that offers graduate programs not available at the previous University. O’Brien was originally blocked from seeking a transfer to Vanderbilt by Edsall, but then released to seek transfer to any non-ACC school. Edsall however did file a complaint accusing Franklin of having improper contact with O’Brien before the quarterback had decided to transfer.

Ultimately, O’Brien chose to transfer to Wisconsin. He played in just seven games during his junior season in 2012, being replaced both by freshman Joel Stave and later by senior Curt Phillips as then Badgers head coach Bret Bielema cited struggles with turnovers.

O’Brien was once viewed as a legitimate NFL prospect. Only a few former Indians have ever reached the NFL Draft, including former Baltimore Colts OT David Taylor (1973).

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