South Carolina running back Matt Colburn has secured a position on Wake Forest’s roster this past Wednesday. This comes after Colburn, who was formerly committed to the University of Louisville’s football program for the past eight months, was denied a position on the team just two days before National Signing Day.
Colburn, South Carolina’s Mr. Football, was informed by U of L inside linebacker Coach Tony Grantham that there was no longer a position waiting for him on the team, and was in return offered to be gray-shirted, leaving Colburn blindsided. It was later explained to Colburn that the reasoning for this loss of scholarship was due to an issue with roster management by the coaching staff and the early leave of three defensive players to the NFL.
“Obviously my commitment wasn’t the same as theirs.” This is was Colburn had to say regarding the coaching staff’s decision to leave him behind this upcoming season, expressing bitterness towards the situation. Colburn, who committed to the Cardinals back in June, went on to discuss the reason he initially committed so early, is so he wouldn’t have any distractions throughout his last season at Dutch Fork High School in South Carolina.
This entire situation comes to light just as head coach Bobby Petrino wraps up his first season back at U of L and landed a solid 24 commitments for the upcoming 2015 season, rallying up many U of L football fans. But with as many skeletons as Petrino has in his closet, this entire Colburn situation has taken on a life of its own and has made many sports critics across the country raise their eyebrows.
Sparking headlines on ESPN, Petrino has been at the focal point of attention across the country over the past week, giving many sports fans something to discuss other than this month’s overkilled Super Bowl ending discussion.
Walking on egg shells has become a way of life for Petrino over the past decade. Before he even returned to U of L many of us we’re aware of his mishaps in Atlanta and Arkansas, yet our impenetrable affection for our football convinced us to give Petrino a second chance. Well, either that or the $3 million offered by Tom Jurich in the 6-year contract constructed last January convinced us.
Digressing from the logistics of Petrino’s salary, many can argue that Petrino simply isn’t the only coach in college football to do such a heinous thing to athletes like Colburn. Other big time universities ranging all the way from the University of Utah to the University of Alabama, this practice is no stranger to the recruiting process.
The issue is that teams across the country offer aspiring high school recruits promises that become hollow as time gets closer to national signing day and circumstances change.
As the recruiting process in college football progresses into the future, it’s no doubt high school coaches and athletes alike will attempt to fight against these seemingly deceiving practices.
Regarding the whole debacle, Dutch Fork High School football head coach Tom Knotts initially told local news, “They want him to gray shirt, which is him coming in next January. We’re all very upset about it.” Knotts later went on to “ban” coach Petrino from recruiting from Dutch Fork, expressing the bad taste left in his mouth from the pull out of commitment.
As a coach returning to the university he had once left back in 2006 to chase pipe dreams in the NFL, Petrino doesn’t seem to be that fazed by the entire situation involving Colburn. On his behalf, immoral as it may be, he did nothing illegal in terms of the college football world. But from falling off a motorcycle with a mistress back in Arkansas, to deceivingly pressuring his way into coaching positions at Auburn University, you would think Petrino would want to exemplify a more respectable way of representing himself at this point.
Everyone is entitled to a second chance, but looking at Petrino’s troubled past easily makes an individual reconsider such an offering. Plus, this may be the second chance for Petrino here at U of L, but altogether in his career, his chances are eerily somewhere around five or six.
As unappealing as it to see kids like Colburn invest so heavily into a program only to be turned away, the success on the field Petrino ensures will continue to awe many fans into completely forgetting about this situation and what unfolded. It’s just troubling to accept that as sports fans we pay closer attention to the amount of points on the scoreboard, rather than the character of those who are scoring.