For old guys like me out there who grew up watching Star Trek — one of the coolest things was suspended animation. This was a form of cryogenic freezing of the body and you could be thawed out unharmed and at the same age you went in at presumably some point in the future. Jadeveon Clowney could have used that tactic this year if he had just been a Trekie!
Clowney has been the source of so many rumors this year and in particular this week. He apparently informed the South Carolina coaching staff he had an injury and couldn’t play against Kentucky last Saturday. This was a surprise to Steve Spurrier, who was completely caught off guard as he stated later with the breakdown of communication between everyone. Spurrier, known for spontaneous remarks, spoke after a tougher than expected win against Kentucky. He indicated that Clowney would be welcome to return to play if he wants to play for the team. This sent the Twitter warriors into a lather with end of the world conspiracy theories and more. Everything about Clowney was fair game including his heart, character and work ethic.
Clowney would have likely been the top pick in last year’s NFL Draft. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t play basketball or golf. The league has a rule by which you are not available for the draft until after your third season. Much younger basketball players (some of which were likely in attendance for the Kentucky game last Saturday) can take their talents to the NBA (who has no problem or no such rule) after just one year in college and command market value while Clowney must wait another year before taking a check for what the free market declares he is worth. He is simply too young to make the money he deserves at this point. It is a pity some of the people making these asinine rules weren’t in charge of Miley Cyrus, as maybe we wouldn’t have that bizarre wrecking ball video or twerking.
There were only four options available to Clowney this season.
The first was to play, maintain your health, status and hopefully win a Heisman, a BCS or SEC title along the way. Since you were likely No. 1, it wasn’t like you were going to increase your draft stock.
The second was to play and not perform at the level you had previously and drop your draft stock. (Remember USC and Matt Barkely.)
The third was to play, get hurt and drop your draft stock. (Remember teammate Marcus Lattimore whose season-ending knee injuries dropped his stock from mid-first round to the fourth.) I bet Clowney remembers.
The fourth would be to not risk millions of dollars by playing and wait for the ridiculous rule to pass and enter the draft after this season.
Is there any other job you can think of where they restrict your entry into it? Child actors make quite a bit of money as they are talented and have skills few do. How American is it to restrict anyone’s ability to obtain market value for what skills they possess Before anyone tells me that Clowney is getting another year of free education, please stop. As Spurrier said in his damage control news conference, the University and he should be thankful to Clowney for what he has done for the school. My guess is Clowney’s contribution has accounted for a little more than whatever dollar figure they place on his scholarship.
Meanwhile, as Clowney is vilified, criticized and has his character assassinated by so many, the NCAA and South Carolina are busy manufacturing and selling No. 7 jerseys as fast as they can. If it were my son, I would likely lock him in a room or call my friends at Star Trek and inquire about that suspended animation. The risk is all on Clowney and if he is injured as Lattimore was, what is his alternative? Purists would tell me he needs to get his free education and I wholeheartedly agree. The risk to Clowney and high level athletes is stacked squarely on the players. Does this strike anyone as un-American, or just plain stupid? I would argue both.
Terry Waldrop was a long time college basketball coach and AD. He also is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @terrywaldrop, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.