Friday, May 16, 2008

More on the Pro Policies

I’ll be a talking about the service academies' pro policies, and specifically Army's Alternative Service Option, on TV tonight. I'll be a guest on College Sports Tonight, a program on CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV). The show will air at 5 (MT) and again at 9.

Tune in and watch why I write for a living instead of working for a TV network.


Anonymous said...

Jake, what is your opinion on the pro policy?

How much of an edge would it give Army? Would they become a Top 20 program?

What to you think of the policy as a tax payer?

jake.schaller said...

I've got a few thoughts on this:

1) I think whatever the policy is, it needs to be the same for all three service academies. That seems pretty clear. And if the DoD throws down a policy, I don't see how Army can - in good conscience - take a memo from 2005 and use that instead.

2) I think the best way to handle the policy is to allow cadets who have a chance to play professionally to try out with teams immediately after graduation. If they don't make the team, then they go into active duty. If they do make the team, why not just postpone active duty or have the graduating cadet serve 10 years in the reserves?

Then again, the two-year policy isn't such a bad idea. When I asked AF coach Troy Calhoun about the two-year policy last year when it was released, he called it "very fair." He thought it allowed cadets a chance to serve and fulfill their service committments but also chase dreams of playing professionally.

3) I appreciate the good publicity a cadet playing in the NFL could bring, and as a tax payer, if that's helping the Army's recruiting and public relations, I guess that's OK with me. Part of the reason I feel that way is because I really don't think there's a whole lot of kids from service academies that are going to make the NFL or have careers in the NFL. Seriously, maybe a handful of kids every year? If that?

(Another note: I'd limit the policy to the "Big 4" sports -- the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB).

4) As for recruiting, I guess I'm in the minority on this one. I don't think it would be that big an advantage, but Calhoun and the folks at Navy are adamant that it would. I'm sorry, I just don't see a lot of kids who are blue-chip pro prospects all of a sudden flocking to West Point. It takes a certain type of kid to just get through four years at an academy, and "the chance to play in the pros immediately after graduation" isn't enough - I don't think - to get a kid through the four years. I guess if a kid was deciding between AF and Army and all other things were equal, then it would be a factor. But otherwise? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Coach Troy Calhoun said the two-year policy last year when it was released, was "very fair." He thought it allowed cadets a chance to serve and fulfill their service committments but also chase dreams of playing professionally. They cannot chase this dream 2 years later, they must be allowed to go in right after college or it will not work for them. The league is already so competitive, they will not make it later. As stated earlier the policy should allow them to go, and more than likely they will be back after a month or so to serve our country as planned.

Why is it that Navy and Air Force is so against letting the kids try out for their dreams? It's a once in a lifetime chance.

Who at the Navy and Air force can make the same ruling that Army made? Look forward to seeing your show tonight.

Anonymous said...

I missed your CSTV show. Is there a YouTube or someway we can see the show?

Anonymous said...

The reason it's such a recruiting advantage is because it potentially influences a decision being made by a 17 year old kid, not an impartial 40-something adult who knows full well the chances of making it to the NFL are slim to none.

In his book, Tony Dungy talks about his first day of college football practice, and having his caoch ask the full room of freshmen, "how many of you expect to play in the NFL?" Something like 90% of the hands in the room shot up. The reality is that 1, maybe 2, will ever even get a whiff.

These kids were the best players on their high school teams. They have plenty of role models who came from small schools and made it bid. They think "why not me."

So now they've got two service academy opportunities that offer them similar experiences, similar opportunities, similar commitments. Except one offers at least a chance of the dream, and the other really doesn't. Then you have a coach playing up that angle too . . . "I've seen a lot of players, and I really think you could be the one to make it big." It's a seemingly small thing, but I think it could really tip the scales.

Anonymous said...

DoD should leave personnel policies to the services. Air Force pilots incur a 10 yr commitment. Navy and Marine pilots 8. Does that give Navy an recruiting advantage?

Agree100% with you Jake - the Army Pro-policy would be a minor advantage. Maybe enough to make up for the major disadvantage of serving in the Army.

Anonymous said...

Good job on the TV show Jake. You framed the issues well.

jake.schaller said...

Thanks to everybody for all the comments. It's a pretty interesting issue. I'll try to respond to a few of the comments.

-I'm not aware of any replay of the show or of any YouTube clip. And even if I got a copy of the show, I don't think I am computer-savvy enough to upload it to the 'net.

-I liked the post that referred to Tony Dungy's first day as a college football player. And I do think the difference in Army's policy might sway a handful of kids who are choosing between Army and Air Force or Army and Navy. But I just don't see a whole slew of recruits flocking to Army now. As I said in an earlier post, most kids that come to an academy aren't looking for a pro career. And those that are probably will have a pretty tough time getting through four years at an academy.

-As for why Navy and Air Force leaders don't make a rule similar to Army's ... I think first of all the leaders of those academies think they are doing the right thing by following the DoD ruling to the letter (and I think they are doing the right thing). Second, I think -- especially after Dr. Chu's recent memo -- Army's going to have to tweak its policy to mirror Air Force and Navy's and to more fall in line with the spirit of the DoD ruling.

I'll pass along anything more I hear. Thanks again for all the great comments.