The Confidential’s Take on Restore 44

There is much debate on the blogosphere about whether Syracuse should restore #44.  Many folks think it should be restored for recruiting, while others advocate giving it to a deserving running back upperclassman.  And then there are others who agree with the decision to retire the number entirely, further noting that high-prestige recruits that might have worn the number and failed miserably.  The Confidential proposes a different system, such as that used by Ole Miss with its Chucky Mullins Courage Award.  Each year, Ole Miss awards #38 to a deserving player:

The award, sponsored by Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, honors the late Chucky Mullins, who had his Ole Miss career come to an end during the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt when he was paralyzed after making a tackle. After returning to his studies at Ole Miss, Mullins passed away May 6, 1991.

This is a GREAT system for allowing #38 to remain on the field for Ole Miss, while providing ample honor for Mullins.  There is no reason why Syracuse could not do the same for #44.

Specifically, Syracuse coaches could decide which Senior would wear #44 during his final season.  In theory, coaches could split the award among two deserving recipients.  Consider who would have been good candidates in recent years based on on-field performance and off-field conduct (excluding QBs, who might fall into a #5 category).  Some great seniors, such as Antwon Bailey, Cameron Lynch, Jerome Smith, and Dyshawn Davis might have very deserving of a season with #44.

Is that NOT a better tradition to start?  Give #44 to someone who has proven to deserve it over 3-4 years.  To the Confidential, this is the better system…

The Confidential’s All-Time Notre Dame Team

Suppose you had to play one game… for all the marbles… and you could use your time machine (or TARDIS) to put together a team of 12 players at their peaks.  Who would you pick?  Well, the Confidential does not know who YOU would pick.  But here is who the Confidential would pick for Notre Dame:

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Orange You Glad: Famous 44’s that (thankfully) never were

There has been a lot of chatter over the past few weeks about the grass roots efforts by Syracuse fans to “Restore 44” with the hope that a new AD may turn around what they view as the terrible decision to retire the famous jersey number.

Growing-up in Syracuse during the 80’s and 90’s, the son (and grandson) of die-hard Syracuse fans, I have a deep understanding and appreciation for what Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little did for the football program, and in the case of Brown and Davis, what they did to advance Civil Rights in this country. I also vividly recall the excitement over the local radio programs when NY product, Rob Konrad, chose Syracuse over Notre Dame, in large part because of his ability to wear #44. I also remember when Konrad’s bar, (44’s) opened on Marshall Street and quickly became infamous for underage drinking and rowdy crowds. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to associate with the legendary #44.

So, I had no issues when Dr. Gross became the new Athletic Director at Syracuse and decided to honor the history and legacy of the jersey, and those who wore it, by retiring it in perpetuity. In fact, I applaud the decision because of how much more respect players have for the number, and the preservation of its iconic status.

I’ve been on record many, many times over at the various blogs and message boards saying that the idea to unretire #44 is a very dangerous one, especially since they see it as a recruiting gimmick to land one player in particular.

However I am very much on board with the idea re-popularized by Brent Axe to return the number to the playing field only if there is a player that is absolutely worthy of wearing it, that has earned the respect of the coaches, administration, community, and has transcended college football. These are incredibly high expectations and large shoes to fill, but that would only make it that much more meaningful if/when a day comes that a player can earn the right to wear the number.

I have nothing against Robert Washington, a high profile recruit that has Syracuse as one of his top schools, and appreciate that he holds the Syracuse’s football history in such high regards (courtesy of the movie the Express). I hope that he comes to Syracuse, I hope that he is the player we all expect him to be, and I hope that one day he’ll be able to earn the number 44. But with all due respect to those who want to use this jersey number as a recruiting gimmick, we’ve seen this act before and the idea of handing over what has become an iconic number to an untested and (as of yet) undeserving recruit/player seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Imagine how the legacy of the #44 and those that wore it, could have been irreparably damaged if some of these former Syracuse athletes had worn the number 44: Continue reading

The Confidential’s All-Time Pitt Team

Suppose you had to play one game… for all the marbles… and you could use your time machine (or TARDIS) to put together a team of 12 players at their peaks.  Who would you pick?  Well, the Confidential does not know who YOU would pick.  But here is who the Confidential would pick for Pitt:

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The Confidential’s All-Time Duke Team

Suppose you had to play one game… for all the marbles… and you could use your time machine (or TARDIS) to put together a team of 12 players at their peaks.  Who would you pick?  Well, the Confidential does not know who YOU would pick.  But here is who the Confidential would pick for Duke:

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The Smoke has Cleared: Looking Back at UofL’s NCAA Run & The Future

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Two inches on the rim….

One made free throw….

If either, among many other things, had gone the Cards’ way a few weeks back they would have prepped for an exciting rematch with ACC foe Duke while showcasing the school’s 11th Final Four. But that’s precisely why basketball is indeed a game of bounces and inches. After one of the more improbable NCAA Tournament runs in two decades, the 2014-15 Cardinals gave their fans a reason to again be proud in late March and to never forget just how deadly Rick Pitino can be when the games count the most. The overtime loss to Michigan State was certainly bittersweet following a decisive win over NC State. To be so close at reaching Indianapolis was super tantalizing and seeing Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier & senior Wayne Blackshear finish their careers at UofL only added to the agony. On the flip side, numerous college basketball “experts” had the Cards getting bounced in the 1st round but UofL proved the naysayers wrong and laid a solid foundation of momentum for next year’s team.

So let’s take a loser look at that foundation of momentum for a moment, shall we? A LOT has transpired within the Louisville basketball program since the loss to Michigan State: Rozier/Trez have entered the NBA draft, Shaqquan Aaron & Anton Gill have left for greener pastures (or so they hope), and 5th year graduate transfer standout Trey Lewis, a proficient scorer from Cleveland State, has decided to finish his playing career at UofL. With the inevitable departure of Rozier, it was a MUST for Coach Pitino to go out and find another scorer, preferably a guard with some experience who could step right in and help lead next year’s squad.

Mission accomplished…….

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Lewis dropped 24 points on the Cards back in December. His late addition to next year’s lineup solidifies the likelihood that the Cards will continue to remain highly competitive both in the ACC and the NCAA Tournanent, something all UofL fans wish for and expect annually. But Lewis will not be the only addition to the 2015-16 Cards. Add to the mix a top 5 nationally ranked recruiting class featuring freshmen Donavon Mitchell, Deng Adel, hometown star Ray Spaulding and Ryan McMahon and you essentially have a brand new team, a total makeover that even Bruce Jenner could appreciate. As of this moment, there is also lots of scuttlebutt about a few other individuals who may join the Cardinals fray: Maverick Rowan, a 6’7″ HS junior who is attempting to reclassify and graduate early; Damion Lee, a 6’6″ versatile small forward who is a fifth year transfer from Drexel University (Lee led the Colonial Athletic Association in scoring this past season); and 6’2″ Derryck Thornton, another HS junior looking to reclassify. Thornton is ranked by some recruiting analysts as the #1 point guard in the class of 2016 so if he does indeed reclassify it would be a major get for the Cards. It won’t be easy however as Duke is heavily involved with Thornton as well. Rowan is ranked among the nation’s top 40 juniors and is listed as the top overall player in the state of Florida. Other top tier schools like Wisconsin are also battling for Rowan’s services.

Maverick Rowan

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NOT Maverick Rowan

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Tonight the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic event takes place in Freedom Hall (oh how I miss thee!). Ryan McMahon, who last night broke the all-time Derby Classic record with a single round score of 26 points in the 3 pt shoot out, will be in the finals. Donavon Mitchell, the Cards top ranked incoming freshman, dazzled folks last night with his dunking prowess and God-given athletic skills, will be in the finals of the slam dunk contest. All four of UofL’s incoming recruits will be playing on the same team and the game will feature several other top recruits, three of which who will be attending Indiana next fall. Interested in checking out the talent? Head on out to Freedom Hall or simply click this this website for ticket information………. http://www.ticketmaster.com/Kentucky-Derby-Festival-Basketball-Classic-tickets/artist/1682177

Ryan McMahon would love to feel the love from Card fans

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What once looked to be a complete year of rebuilding for UofL Basketball now suddenly looks more like a year of probable reloading. While many fans continue to criticize Rick Pitino for not be able to land, or in many instances even recruit, the nation’s top prima donnas, Louisville continues to build teams that can compete for a run at a Final Four. This year’s incoming recruiting class looks to be populated with high character kids who will be willing to put in the time and effort to be successful on and of the basketball court. If Wisconsin, a football school, can push for a title with zero McDonald’s All-Americans and no one-and-dones then other schools can as well, Louisville most certainly included. The future remains bright for Card Nation. Here’s to hoping the guys get in the gym and weight room this summer and prepare themselves for another season of winning at the highest level.

In the spirit of supporting our ACC brethren, congratulations to Duke University on their 5th National Championship. It’s hard to argue against the greatness the Blue Devils have exuded over the past 20+ seasons. Plus, I enjoy sending them kudos because I know that 99.9% of Kentucky fans despise them.

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The NCAA is Going Bowl Crazy

Earlier this week, there was a report that the not-for-profit NCAA is considering the addition of four new bowls to its already bloated bowl schedule.  That generated ample discussion on social media, of course, as it would open the door for some sub .500 teams to potentially go bowling.  Now, news out of NCAA headquarters (i.e. Coach K’s lap) is that the NCAA is strongly considering a change to the bowl format to allow every single FBS program to attend a bowl!  Every. Single.  Team.  Consider this the NCAA’s diving head first into the “every player gets a trophy” deep end of the mediocrity swimming pool.  It is official.  The NCAA is going bowl crazy.

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