Don't screw this up, Mr. President

Steven Rhodes should have given Daniel Rodriguez a call before he began the pursuit of his dream to play college football.

Rodriguez's story, which has Hollywood written all over it, made national headlines last year. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his heroism in the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, Rodriguez served in the U.S. Army from 2006-10.

Not long after this video reached Dabo Swinney, Rodriguez was offered an opportunity to walk-on at Clemson as a wide receiver.

Now, Rhodes' story is making national headlines, but for all of the wrong reasons.

The 24-year-old the father of two boys joined Middle Tennessee earlier this summer as a walk-on tight end/defensive end after serving in the Marine Corps for five years.

Not long after his arrival to MTSU, Rhodes learned that he would not be eligible to play this season because he participated in a military-only recreational football league in 2012.

Loosely-organized might be a fitting adjective for the league.

"Man, it was like intramurals for us. There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old," Rhoades said, during an interview with The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn. "The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games."

According to the article on, his participation in the league is deemed as "organized competition" by the NCAA because games were officiated, teams wore uniforms and scores were recorded.

The article went on to say:

If Rhodes had enrolled in college for at least one semester before he joined the military, he would be eligible to play this season. Rodriguez, who was granted three years of eligibility by the NCAA in June of 2012, is now a sophomore wide receiver at Clemson. Upon his arrival to Clemson, he was permitted to play immediately.

Fortunately, for Rodriguez, he enrolled at Germanna Community College in the spring of 2011. And he didn't play rec. league football during his military service.

An appeal from MTSU to the NCAA netted Rhoades two years of eligibility that were initially lost because the league spanned two academic years. Now, the school is in the process of another appeal, which would grant Rhodes immediate eligibility.

Hopefully, the NCAA this appeal doesn't meet the same fate that Donte Hill's did on Friday. Unfortunately, we have little reason to be confident that it won't.

We're looking at you, Mark Emmert. Top Stories