Let’s say you’re Pete Carroll. Your star quarterback decides he wants to go pro early. His mind is made up–he’s gone. You don’t like the decision, but you’ve talked with the kid until you’re blue in the face, and it didn’t do any good. The athletic department schedules a press conference to announce the decision. You decide your best course of action would be:
a.) Don’t attend the presser and issue a statement wishing your ex-QB well and praising his achievements with the Trojans.
b.) Go to the press conference. Talk about what a huge contribution the kid has made to your program. Talk about how you’ll miss him next season. Wish him well, and then stick around to show your support for the kid.
c.) Attend the press conference. Make a point to discuss your objections to the kid’s decision in depth, even though you allegedly “support” his choice. Emphasize how often underclassmen quarterbacks wash out in the NFL. Make absolutely no effort to hide your frustration. Give your boy a tap on the shoulder, avoid eye contact and head for the exit while the soon-to-be millionaire faces the press.
Homerism didn’t attend Mark Sanchez’s press conference today, but it sounds like Pete Carroll went with option “C.” Adam Rosen of the Los Angeles Times described Carroll as “peeved” and “visibly agitated.”
Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News called the USC head coach’s performance “pathetic
.” (In an update, Wolf notes that Carroll attributed his apparent irritation to the lack of a podium at the press conference.)
Homerism would like to think that Carroll’s behavior was the product of a fatherly concern for a player whom he considers to be making a mistake. If so, his candor is refreshing, if not ill-timed.
Yet, just because you say that your top priority is your player’s success doesn’t make it so. In reality, Carroll has plenty to gain by Sanchez hanging around for another year. The Trojans are losing plenty of talent off from this year’s defense for the ages. That blow would have been softened in 2009 by a potent offense led by a polished senior under center. Now, Carroll faces the prospect of replacing 10 of 11 defensive starters and playing with an unproven QB, albeit a talented one.
Seeing as early entrants have three days to withdraw from the draft, could Carroll be making a PR pitch to convince Sanchez to return?
Whatever his motivation, he certainly did Sanchez no favors today. If you were an NFL general manager listening to Carroll, wouldn’t you at least suspect the coach was telling you he doesn’t think Sanchez is NFL material? If Carroll didn’t think about that, he comes off as a self-absorbed egomaniac. If he did, that seems just a little vindictive.
The reality is that Sanchez has been at USC for four years. He’s going to be graduating this spring. If he’s ready to try his hand in the big leagues, who’s to stop him? Cite all the stats you want about the success of underclassmen QBs in the NFL, but no one has figured out to successfully evaluate prospects. Carroll should know that better than anyone–a young player who played tight end at ‘SC and never took a snap almost led the New England Patriots to the playoffs.
There’s plenty of buzz surrounding Sanchez right now, enough so that he’s being discussed as a potential number one pick by the Detroit Lions. You may not think Mel Kiper’s opinion is worth squat, but anyone who watched Sanchez this season could see he’s a talented quarterback who at least looks the part of a pro prospect. If he’s confident enough in his abilities to take his shot now, more power to him.