Leading off today:
Here's another cautionary tale about prospective college athletes and schools that change coaches before a recruit has signed his scholarship papers.
Early this year I wrote about Aquinas linebacker Taylor Riggins, who went from early commit to Scott Shafer at Syracuse to persona non grata after the Orange made a coaching change at the end of last football season. With his scholarship offer withdrawn, Riggins had to scramble shortly ahead of National Letter of Intent day before landing at UMass.
And now we have the scramble experienced by the New York State Sportswriters Association's co-player of the year in Class A basketball. The Buffalo News reported Wednesday that Stafford Trueheart, a 6-foot-8 forward from Canisius, has accepted a scholarship to Hofstra after being left in limbo by a coaching change at James Madison.
Trueheart, who led the Crusaders to a 26-win season by averaging 20.8 points and 10.5 rebounds, had announced in May that he would play for James Madison. But Trueheart's relationship with JMU had been with Matt Brady's staff, which was left go at the end of March. As soon as the Western New York senior said he'd head to the Virginia school, new coach Louis Rowe's staff made it known to the media that Trueheart not only didn't have a scholarship awaiting him but that he'd have to compete for so much as a walk-on spot on the roster.
"I'm not sure what exactly went on but with the new coach the roster was messed up so I moved on," Trueheart told the paper.
Fortunately for Trueheart, several mid-majors in the Northeast that still had open scholarships were familiar with him. He made an official visit to Hofstra, coached by ex-Niagara bench boss Joe Mihalich.
"He had other opportunities but between him and his family and I agree with him Hofstra is going to be a great fit," Canisius coach Kyle Husband said. "Joe Mihalich is a great coach."
So, in the end Trueheart still lands at the same level -- JMU and Hofstra both play in the Colonial Athletic Association -- but not before some anxious moments.
Quick thought: Perhaps the scariest aspect of the Trueheart situation as far as future college prospects are concerned is that there was really no indication that the JMU situation could blow up.
Though his record over eight seasons after arriving from Marist was 118-116, Brady's final two Dukes teams had gone 19-14 and 21-11. That would seemingly equate to job security and be reassuring to recruits that they were on firm ground unless the coach suddenly bolted for greener pastures -- always a possibility in college sports.
But it's pretty apparent now that job security really only exists for the best of breed in college coaching. With more money than ever flowing into NCAA sports and with schools needing to maintain their stature for when the next conference realignment comes along, ADs and college presidents are more willing than ever to pull the trigger a year too soon rather than risk being a year too late.
I hate to say it, but in that context I think more mid- and even upper-level prospects should consider going the safer route in their college decisions. They're probably better off settling for 12 or 15 minutes a game on the court at a school where the coach is indisputably safe rather than aspiring to start for a team whose coach may be one cold spell away from being sacked. When the new regime arrives, the old players may be shoved overboard, too.
And that's just plain sad.
Fed Next? Last week's blogs from the annual Central Committee meeting at Turning Stone Resort made mention that the New York State Public High School Athletic Association is going to take a look at the relationship between its championships and the Federation competitions to evaluate whether improvements might be made.
Generally speaking, things are messiest when the NYSPHSAA and Federation meets are held as a single event. The NYSPHSAA understandably worries that some of its own champions get lost in the shuffle because they finish behind entries from the PSAL, CHSAA and AIS.
Writing for Milesplit.com, Kyle Brazeil took an exhaustive look at the current outdoor track format -- easily the most confusing of all the state championship events -- and possible improvements (including the qualifying process).
He has lots of interesting analysis and possible