Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In which we attempt to read between the lines

Cornerback recruit Jamathan Lyle is gone, and from what his mother says, he's probably not coming back. And the problem ain't homesickness. So what's going on? Let's have a look:

[S]he took exception to a comment by UW coach Bret Bielema Monday that, "(Jamathan) is welcome to return at any time. The ball's in his court as far as when that'll happen."

Brenda Lyle feels strongly otherwise, which prompted her to contact a reporter to provide her side of the story.

Uh oh. Is Bielema creating an environment of hostility with his recruits?

While Brenda Lyle would not rule out her son returning, if her issues are addressed, she added: "From a mother's point of view, I'm not going to allow my son to be any place where I don't feel he's going to be safe (and) respected."

Eight ball says ... no. This one doesn't look like it's on Bielema. Why? Unless he's the type of guy to pick on just one person, he must be running a program where nobody feels "safe and resepcted." But that doesn't seem to be the case. None of the other recruits have defected.

One possible problem is:

[Lyle] was recruited by former quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton and former defensive backs coach Ron Lee, who were not retained by Bielema

Aha. Could it be that one of these departing coaches waved playing time in front of Mr. Lyle's nose, but when he came to fall camp, there was a special shirt waiting for him? Some sort of red shirt? Maybe?

I'd be very surprised to find out that this argument is about anything other than playing time. I have a feeling that "respect" is parentspeak for "immediate, protracted swaths of playing time."

In other news, my boneheaded analysis is likely to be the basis for radical changes to the 2007 Badger team's coaching staff. Here's why:

Bielema even did Google searches of coaching mistakes and how those coaches were critiqued after games, trying to learn from those experiences.


Bielema also appears to be committed to keeping in-state talent in state. An interesting line in the notes about Brad Thorson and his circuitous journey to Madison (snubbed by UW during the recruiting phase, committed to Minnesota, met with Bielema, decommitted from Minnesota, committed to Wisconsin):

"The first thing he did said so much about who he is and what kind of program he runs," Thorson explained. "He came in and said: 'Whether or not you accept the offer that I'm going to extend to you is beside the point. What's important is that I want to apologize for the state, for the university and for my coaching staff for overlooking an in-state player and for not giving you a fair chance to even look at our program.'"

Straight up. We'll never let another John Navarre escape our Badger clutches!

Finally, a couple notes on Bowling Green: they stink and they don't have any good players. Bafflingly, the Toledo Blade simultaneously insists that BGSU's strength will be the veterans in the trenches and that BGSU's freshmen may be their forte. Oookay.