Thanksgiving is a day put aside for all of us to give thanks. For the football fan, today should be Thanksgiving, because we need to give thanks for one of the all-time great weekends of football. On Friday, those lucky enough to get the CBS Sports Network saw a shootout between two of the better senior quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. Derek Carr of Fresno State and David Fales of San Jose State each threw for over 500 yards and six TDs. Fresno State was playing for a possible BCS game, but the loss to San Jose State knocked them out of that opportunity.
On Saturday, the usually good Michigan-Ohio St rivalry turned out to be an outstanding game. In a back-and-forth game, Michigan scores in the final seconds and needs to kick the PAT to send the game into overtime. Instead Michigan Coach Brady Hoke decides to go for two and the win. Ohio State intercepted the pass to secure the win. Personally, I thought going for two was the wrong call. Michigan was home and had the momentum. Choosing overtime was the thing to do. In the first half a fight broke out broke out between the two teams after a special teams play. Three players were ejected for their involvement. One of the players, Ohio State tackle Marcus Hall, “flipped the bird” with both hands to the fans in the stands as he was walking into the tunnel. The whole event was on national television and was a huge embarrassment to both Ohio State and the Big Ten. Yesterday, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had an opportunity to do the right thing and suspend the player from this week’s Big Ten Championship game. He didn’t, and by doing so, said that winning is more important than his school's integrity. Here’s hoping the Big Ten will do the right thing and suspend the player. There is no place in college football for what happened.
When we thought we couldn’t get a better ending, on comes the Iron Bowl, Auburn vs. Alabama. The winner goes to the SEC Championship. For Alabama, that meant a chance at an unprecedented third straight National Championship. The final minutes of that game were edge-of-your-seat stuff, and when Auburn returned the missed Alabama field goal try 109 yards for the winning touchdown you could hear the roar across the country. It was just great football and drama!
After two great days of college football, the NFL had to be hoping that their games would be close to as exciting. While no NFL game had the drama of Ohio State–Michigan or Auburn–Alabama, there were some very good ones. Kansas City–Denver went down to the wire. KC had an opportunity to score late and tie the game but fell short with a fourth down incompletion in the end zone. Minnesota beat Chicago in overtime in a game that no one wanted to win. Atlanta also had to go to overtime to edge Buffalo in a game in Toronto. It’s no secret that Toronto would love to score an NFL franchise. They didn’t help their chances with about half of the Rogers Centre being empty yesterday for that game.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am “old school”. I started scouting in the NFL in 1981, and for about the first third of my career, we were hand-writing our scouting reports. To say that I am not the most computer literate person is an understatement. You can say the same thing about me and the use of social media. It wasn’t until recently that I started using Twitter on a regular basis for football commentary. I have a Facebook page, but I don’t use it, nor do I want to.
For those of you who read my articles here in the NFP, you know that I am one of the few who like to converse with you, the fans, in the comments section. I playfully “joust” with some of you, mainly because I want you to “think” about what you write. As you know, I can rip a stupid question.
This past weekend I decided that I would tweet more about what was going on in the games I was watching. Having not really conversed with people much on twitter in the past, I was surprised by the response. I know the passion people have for football and other sports, but it’s really only in sports that EVERYONE is an “expert”. Most wouldn’t dare argue with a lawyer or a judge about the law, because they know nothing about it and don’t want to look foolish. The same can be said about arguing with a doctor about medicine. They wouldn’t even attempt it.
I have spent my whole adult life in the scouting business. I have been lucky enough to work with, and for, some of the top people in the history of the game. People like Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, George Young, Tom Coughlin and Jerry Angelo. I am an “expert” when it comes to scouting. Not on twitter! I’m just another chump!
Now I’m not complaining, mind you, I actually enjoyed the experience. I found out that there are a number of people who have a strong “passion” for scouting and that is good for the business. I “met” a young guy from Kansas City who writes for the Bleacher Report and has a passion for scouting quarterbacks. I read some of his posts and he does great work. There is a young SID grad assistant at a Pennsylvania school that also has talent and passion. There are countless others that I “talked to” who spend hours of their spare time studying college football players. I respect that, mainly because when I was in my twenties, I was the same way. I had been involved with football since I was eight years old, and I wanted to continue to be involved and scouting was the opportunity. I had a chance meeting with Norm Pollom who became my mentor. At the time, he was the Director of Player Personnel for the Bills under Chuck Knox. He saw my passion and talent and gave me a part-time job that led to a rewarding 30-year career. As with anything, all you need is for someone to open the door. What you do after the door is open is up to you.
As pleasant as my twitter experience was with some, it was just as unpleasant with others. As you know in the last two weeks I wrote scouting reports on both David Fales and Derek Carr. I wrote that, in my opinion, Carr was a sure first round QB prospect. Though I had just written that opinion, I have had that thought for a few months, at least. On Saturday, I tweeted:
For the record, I'm the only draft analyst who has said that Carr is a 1st rounder. Wait a few days , Kiper and McShay will follow
— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) November 29, 2013
My reason for the “tweet” was to throw a friendly jab at, my good friend, Mel Kiper, who had not listed Carr as one of his top six quarterbacks. Within minutes of my “tweet” I was attacked by hundreds. If I was with that group in real life, and there was a rope, I would have been lynched. They were attacking me, because every one of them claimed that they tweeted earlier that they were the first to say Carr was a first rounder. I can’t write the names I was called, but I’m sure you can imagine. Did it upset me? No. I was laughing too hard to be upset. All I could think was, only in sports journalism can a “real expert” be tarred and feathered.
In another instance, Saturday night, someone tweeted that a player at Notre Dame was “the worst five-star recruit ever”. I tweeted back that the player never should have been a five-star to begin with, and that the star system in relation to high school recruiting was bogus. Well, that hit a nerve with Kevin from Chicago, a Notre Dame grad, who sent me a couple of articles that claimed from a statistical point of view, the star system was right on. Now I had seen both of these articles in the past, and the data used was so faulty it was a joke. In short, it was like a political poll used to try to make one candidate look better than another. When I pointed that out to Kevin, I was called every name in the book, insulted like I have never been.
The point is, twitter can be fun and it can be useful, especially when breaking news. The people that stoop to insulting “experts” are just little insecure cowards who want to feel important. They get a rush because they think they called out an expert, when all they really did was embarrass themselves. Sad!
On a side note, the NFP will shortly be offering our scouting class. We spent a lot of time in the last few months filming and editing a product that is second to none in the industry. Some of my new friends in twitter land scouting may want to look into this.
Follow me on twitter @greggabe