Thursday, November 17, 2016

What's good for the goose

College is about education. As Emil Faber, the founder of America's most revered imaginary institution of higher learning, once said, "Knowledge is good."

And so I really don't get how Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops can express dismay over defensive lineman Charles Walker's decision to immediately leave the Sooners to get ready for the NFL draft.

Walker's decision was prompted by his second concussion in little more than eight months, which happened in the Sooners' Oct. 1 game against TCU. He hasn't played since, and his decision not to risk his draft status by playing anymore indicates he's indeed been well-educated about how high-dollar college athletics work, and what is their guiding principle.

Which is: You gotta look out for No. 1.

And so a big "oh, please" goes out to Stoops, who, when the news came out, told reporters that "quitting on your teammates" was hard on ol' coach's sensibilities. This despite the fact that Walker's teammates, who know how this deal works, too, probably completely understood his decision. And this also despite the fact that, in a corporate enterprise like Power 5 college football, career considerations almost always outweigh loyalty to dear old Whatsamatta U.

The Mike Stoops who lamented Walker "quitting" on his teammates to look after his own athletic future, after all, is the same Mike Stoops who left Kansas State in 1998 as associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator to assume identical positions at Oklahoma, a conference rival. And he's the same Mike Stoops who left Oklahoma in 2004 to become head coach at Arizona.

Mind you, no one's blaming him for doing that. Like anyone else, he has a perfect right to pursue what he sees as better career opportunities. But in so doing, don't forget he left behind players at both K-State and Oklahoma he undoubtedly helped recruit, and to whom he'd grown close.

In other words, he quit on them.

So it's the height of hypocrisy for him to criticize Walker, who, after all, is only pursuing opportunity, too. An All-Big 12 selection in 2015, he's projected to be a Day 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. But if he comes back and plays out the season -- which is almost over, anyway -- and sustains another concussion, what happens then? How far does a guy fall who's had three concussions in a year, in a league that (allegedly, anyway) has finally gotten religion about concussions?

And so kudos to Walker. He's doing what everyone in Power 5 college football does, which is act in their own best interests. If his school can make millions off him, using him as a human billboard to promote their chunky apparel deals and raking in bowl money while paying him only room-and- board, why can't Walker turn the tables on them?

Thanks, guys, it's been real. But I gotta think about me now. You know, the way y'all do.

Just so.

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