Quick Quacks

The cruel nature of summer in the Northwest is at it's most forbidding as August moves toward September and football season looms. In a geographic area that usually doesn't enjoy consistent sunshine and warmth until the longest day that marks the beginning of summer has passed, it is particularly heartless to be forced to contemplate "winter" when so little "summer" has gone by. And make no mistake by the time of the Ducks November 12th visit to Pullman, winter is what it will be.

On that cheerful basis, our preview of the 2005 conference match-ups will resume next week with the Cougs, followed by the Civil War preview. To round out the preseason we will take a look around the nation and offer prognostications on the other conference races and post our top 15. In the week before the season opener a review of fall camp and an in depth preview of the Houston game will be offered.

Which brings us another opportunity to speak of…

FRANKENSTEIN… UNDER CONSTRUCTION

With just a week of fall camp under his belt, it would be hyperbole to state anything more than Jordan Kent seems to be finding his way through the process of becoming a football player. Clearly there is athleticism and physical stature abundantly evident as he works through the drills with the other receivers. The transition from high school football to the collegiate level is an exponential learning curve for any athlete – for one without high school experience, such a challenge is unfathomable. Terminology, technique, practice structure, equipment and much more represent unknowns to be resolved… not to mention the unique physical aspect of a defender constantly ready, willing and more or less able to apply an unwelcome tattoo squarely in the middle of your sternum.

Though there remains much for Kent to master before he will be able to significantly contribute, it is very easy to envision how football could be his most rewarding professional course. The very elite of the track and field world are able to make a handsome living, though mostly by competing in meets overseas. It would be something of a surprise were Jordan not offered a chance to play in the NBA if he decides to return to basketball and give that his full attention – nearly any team would find his athleticism worth a draft pick. Projecting out as a professional, Jordan most reminds of a combination of ex-Trailblazers, Johnny Johnson – perhaps not yet in terms of shooting touch, but in style of motion and posture – and Bob Gross, in terms of hustle and tenacity. The market for that style of player in today's NBA appears to be diminished from that era. The highest salaries today go to the players who dominate play – and those who demand the ball. Kent doesn't appear to be that type of basketball player.

In today's NFL however, wide receivers with speed, size and athleticism do dominate play and are second only to QB's in compensation. This represents a powerful incentive for Jordan to master the craft, a craft that appears to be within his reach despite his limited experience. Think Terrell Owens with social skills.

In the short term, improving body position to seal a defender and securely receiving a routine pass are necessary first steps. His hands are soft enough and his concentration sharp enough that the spectacular catch is a constant possibility – but as Keith Allen painfully reminded last year, it is usually a routine catch that falls incomplete that short circuits scoring drives and victory.

Jordan may also find the instinctive use of his hands to locate a defender will draw a flag on the grid-iron, if not always considered a foul on the court. This could be a difficult habit to reprogram – it is part and parcel of interior play in basketball where much else serves to dilute the referee's concentration. Out on an island with a DB and a back judge watching nothing but every joust and jockey it is hard to say what will be allowed and what will be penalized.

Still, it remains clear – this is going to be something to watch. Though the stated objective was to become the Pac-10's first three-sport letter winner, the potential is for it become a whole other beast.

WHILE WE ARE ON THE SUBJECT… AGAIN - SORTA

When events in the private lives of public figures becomes open conversation the dialogue can often offer an interesting window into society. With that in mind, the objective of the final segment of last week's QQ was to be as specifically unspecific as possible in order to invite an applicability beyond the example everybody readily recognized, the maelstrom surrounding basketball coach Ernie Kent's marital turmoil. This is an element of the discussion I haven't seen addressed – what can we learn about ourselves from our individual reactions and from the collective reaction we've seen surrounding the subject – and it would be beneficial for us to do so.

Intent is the differentiating element between ignorance and hypocrisy. If you transgress because you don't know better and don't care to learn, that is ignorance. If you falter - but choose not to apply the lessons available - that would be hypocrisy.

This issue doesn't fall within the realm of the former and nothing has yet been offered to substantiate the latter. In a nutshell, the segment offered the thought that in a rush to judgment there is unique opportunity to be both ignorant and hypocritical. Reflecting upon the peer response – rumors of firings, comments to recruits etc. – as well as some of the comments of the public at large, it was easily possible to find anecdotal proof of that assessment.

It is only half-true that character is defined by the actions one takes when no one is watching – character is also demonstrated by the actions one takes once confronted, publicly or privately, with their shortcomings. This is precisely where attention and conversation are more properly focused, but remains lacking.

To offer another perspective, a valid measure of a person's character can be seen through the lens of their children. By every available observation, here we have a resounding success. With three children squarely within the public eye exhibiting a maturity and charm beyond their years, the depth of character and devotion necessary for a family to foster that result should not escape comment or notice, but it seems to have.

It is a valid criticism to offer - as did many - a more direct style of writing would have been welcomed. But for a few changes - maybe "offered" instead of "opined" to open the segment, perhaps a paragraph break though conceivably at the risk of the overall point deconstructing, absolutely substituting "accuser" and "accused" for "observer" and "observed' in the last sentence - on the whole I'll stick with it as written. Lend a bit of credit here…them's weren't easy words to string together, surely you know I recognized it as a mouthful. As such, the Pink Floyd lyric was offered as a counterpoint in simplicity. Without the context of the much longer preceding paragraph, the correlation would not have been as accessible.

Within the conversation of sport it is a standard practice to make an outrageous statement solely to measure the response it generates. Jim Rome and the long gone but seldom missed Sports Babe – and many, many others – have built careers in such a manner, not an intent nor a style that will be employed here. One comment touched upon the issue by offering "journalism is targeted toward a 12 year old reading level". The hope here is better expressed as being targeted to a well read 12 year old – and beyond. The only promise expressed is if offered, the intellect of the reader will not be insulted. Ever.

Many thanks to those who commented - as the saying goes… "keep those cards and letters comin' in folks". Addressing one final point – "it's only a sports board for cryin' out loud" – again, a valid perspective – it would be only to suggest it really is whatever you want it to be. If being singularly a sports board is what your expectation holds, it is easy enough to not click on the link.

Till the next time… (and the WSU preview!!!)



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