The Harrison twins are better off at Kentucky, anyway

October 05, 2012 | Drew Forrester

The Harrison twins are better off at Kentucky, anyway

We all know why those two young men were “interested” in Maryland.  The marketing folks at Under Armour were “sponsoring” their AAU team.  I know, I know, what a coinicidence, huh?  But that’s what happened.  They had a pre-existing relationship that was purely ethical, all parties say, but anyone with a brain knows the truth.  The twins chose Nike on Thursday and the University of Kentucky just happened to be stuffed in the same stocking.  This was Phil Knight pumping his company and their ability to make the boys lots of post-college dough.  It was Phil Knight telling those two, “Under Armour exists BECAUSE of Nike.  They all want to be like me.  Who would you rather hang around?  The guy who has done it or the guy that is trying to do it?”

Nike won.

And the kids did, too.  They are now officially “set for life” as long as they keep playing good basketball and stay out of jail and off the police blotter for about 21 months.  That’s all that separates the Harrison’s from having more money than they could possibly ever spend.  Just don’t do anything stupid for 21 months…the equivalent of their senior year in high school and the 9 months or so they’ll spend at Kentucky before entering the NBA draft in June of 2014.

I talked about this subject on Thursday morning’s show during our “Cheap Shots from The Bleacher” segment.  You can hear it right here in our Buy A Toyota.com audio vault.  As you can tell by listening, I’m not writing this tonight because Maryland lost out on those two basketball players.  I’d be writing this right now had Maryland won their services.  Either way, it’s a horrible message to send, basically notifying everyone that you’re giving up the good life for a chance to join the mob.

One of our regular college sports callers, Kevin in Bel Air, chimed in after my cheap shot and took exception to my position.  Kevin is a very astute college sports follower.  He really does know his stuff.  He was in the business for some period of time back in the 1990′s I believe.  Anyway, Kevin said, in so many words, “What these kids and their parents are doing is basically taking advantage of free enterprise.”  Kevin also inserted the long-standing argument about college athletes making money for the schools and not getting their due worth in return.

I nearly laughed out loud at the words “free enterprise”, but they’re very close to being accurate.  What the kids want is, in fact, the ability to produce “free enterprise”.  However, that’s not what college sports should be.

Free enterprise is just another term for “get what you can, for as long as you can, and by whatever means you can…”  It’s also code word for “don’t report your income to the government”, which turns out to be one of the major issues with these colleges and their boosters who throw untaxed money and goods around like they’re Pez dispensers at the kindergarten open house.

Some would consider robbing banks or jewelry stores as “free enterprise”.  If you can get away with a stick-up, it’s probably a pretty good line of work to get into during a down economy.

Here’s what you COULD do to level the playing field in college sports.  Make every single of them entrepreneurs.  Give ‘em all a post-card size area on their uniform that they “own” and let them go out and get what they can get for it.  If they can get $50,000 to have the UPS logo on their football jersey, good for them.  Hell, you can even throw in a P.A. announcement or two during the games…”Now batting for Maryland, the 2nd baseman, brought to you by Nick’s  Pizzeria on Calhoun Street, #4 Billy Phillips.”

Allowing the players to peddle their own wares — and that means ALL athletes in every sport — you’d immediately provide an opportunity for the “better” ones to get more for their efforts, which is what today’s college cheating formula comes down to, right?  If you’re just a roster-filler kind of guy or girl, you better be happy with scholarship money.  But if you’re a blue-chipper, you get whatever you can.  So…the roster-filler might be able to get passes to the local movie theater for his “uniform logo” while the star quarterback gets $100,000 for allowing Pepsi to advertise on his jersey.

You ask…”what’s the difference between that scenario and what’s going on now?”  Answer:  Everything.  It’s not seedy.  It’s not “under the table”.  It’s not “illegal”.  It’s – ahem – FREE ENTERPRISE.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Dan Says:

    Well Said Drew, you are dead on, on this issue!
    PS: what are our chances in texas tonight?

  2. P Gavin Says:

    It all stinks to high heaven. We are all to blame because we watch the games and want our team to be the best. Fire this coach because he won’t step in the recruiting wars that have to be fought. It is so insidious and criminal. The other factor involved is these “children of basketball privilege” have no moral compass. Why should they? They have been special since they were 9 years old. So many of these kids doing criminal acts on campuses around the country. I wonder if the parents of “regular” students are informed when a kid with a criminal past is foisted on “prey”(upstanding university students).

  3. Jay Says:

    I’m glad that you used the words “assume” and “cheap shot” in this article. There certainly are only presumptions here, and no facts! Mark Turgeon deserves better. And for that matter, if you had done any research about the Harrision family, I believe you would have discovered that Mr. Harrision deserves better also.

    The Terps would not even have been in the conversation except for the integrity of Coach Turgeon, and the longstanding relationships that Mr. H has developed over MANY YEARS with both Mark Turgeon & Bino Ranson.

    Say what you will about Kentucky. Any slop that you throw against the wall will probably stick. To assume that the reason that Maryland is a factor in the Harrison twins’ recruiting is because they are now “wallowing in the sleaze” is irresponsible and patently unfair.

    Your readers deserve better!

  4. Stoner Says:

    This post reeks of racism. You know nothing about the Harrisons (two fine, well-spoken young men who’ve never been in trouble a day in their lives) yet you’re gonna lump them in w/these “criminals”? And you do know that the majority of those campus shooting sprees that have occurred over the years were done by “regular” students, right? Plenty of criminals on campuses around the country never touched a ball in any sport. (DF: LOL…”racism”…another excuse from people who don’t get it.)

  5. BmoreBobRob Says:

    Good article. What is interesting is that the KY alums and fans could are less if the school cheats to get players so in essence the marriage of Ky and Cal is perfect. Md bb could be at a cross roads as to whether or not to take advantage of their relationship with UA and if so, how much. As Ua’s brand grows, so does their power. In reality, this is why kids like the twins should be allowed to play in the NBA right now instead of having to go through the dog and pony show of being a student athlete.

    Maybe if Md would have offered them a free, life time You Pon membership the twins would be turtles and not cats.

  6. P Gavin Says:

    Shooting sprees are different animals. To lump the Va Tech nut case w/ what goes on at other schools by members of the FB and BB teams is just deflecting the issue. I am talking theft, vandalism, cheating on tests,sex crimes and other more serious crimes that are covered up by the Universities. If you want to white wash it, go ahead. It makes me laugh that racism is always used when calling out criminals. These big time schools and their athletic departments make me sick. And I played sports in College at a high level.

    It is a symptom of our society that these kids have no compass. I’ve coached for years and have scoffed at parents who are under the delusion that their little Johnny will get an athletic scholarship. Many have come to me and ask how his kid can get better. I tell them all the same thing. Read a book, study and pay attention in school. That is the majority of kids, some are truly gifted and NEVER get the advice that I give. Go to camp, get exposure and make an impression on the AAU teams or someone who can make a difference.

    Anyone who defends these football and Basketball factories is truly blind. Of course there are some good guys, dudes who trade in their skills for an education. But in the delusional world we live in, most think that they will “go pro”. I was close to a local D111 program. Those kids thought they got screwed by D1 programs and if they had a better look that their pro career was assured. Where did they learn this?? From the culture that we live in. WE are in the bread and circus point of our civilization.

  7. The Armchair QB Says:

    There’s lots of blame to go around in college sports today, but it’s hard to blame the youngsters, many of whom view these as opportunties to get out of ghettos/poverty and pursue the proverbial, “American Dream”! So, the blame must be divided evenly between the schools and the professional sports organizations, both of whom exploit these kids in the name of “sports” when, in reality, it’s all about the almighty……..BUCK!

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