Josh Smith Cleared to Play: Thoughts on the ruling

Harry How

I started to write this as a comment on the media reaction post but it got a little long so I wrote a Fanpost (as I have been known to do on mostly terrible occasions). My immediate reaction was one of great joy:

I honestly didn't think about media blowback against the NCAA for ruling FOR a player, but then it came and a lot of people had questions about the NCAA's consistency in the matter. So after thinking about it for a few hours now, this is what I think:

  1. First and foremost, I can 100% admit that I don't really care about reasons in this matter because Georgetown just got Josh Smith for the whole season and that will undoubtedly make them a better basketball team. I am 100% biased in how I feel about this specific issue. I get why some people question the consistency of the NCAA here, but I also don't really care at all about it right now, because the Hoyas GONE BE GOOD.
  2. Setting that aside, it is funny to me that people are outraged at the NCAA for inconsistency here. I say that because the NCAA is hilariously (or possibly infuriatingly) inconsistent on EVERYTHING right now. The Donte Hill situation was an outrage, Drew Gordon received a different ruling in essentially the same situation as Smith, and there are several players a year who don't get near the treatment Smith got. That all sucks. But here's the thing: we knew all that going into this process. The NCAA is fucked. Everyone knows that. Getting outraged because a kid got cleared seems like pissin' into the wind. I may be biased, but I think I'd feel the same way if Josh Smith only got a semester and Donte Hill was allowed to play two more years.
  3. Past football controversies 100% played a role in this decision. While they are not really related to transfer rules, the recent football controversies and investigations at Miami, USC, and Penn State are definitely on the mind of the NCAA with everything they do right now. The NCAA is losing teeth fast and the threat of litigation in the Miami investigation, reducing penalties in the Penn State case, and appeals for leniency from USC add up to an organization that doesn't want more lingering issues. They're getting a ton of bad press around not caring about the athletes and this was an opportunity to go the other direction and they took it.
  4. I'm fairly certain that "Ben Howland is a dick" played a role in this too. Some folks aren't super-thrilled about Josh getting that extra semester back even after he kinda just walked out, which I understand, but I think the noise around how terrible Howland is had to have played a role.
  5. The fact that Georgetown is a central national brand and one of the anchors of a brand new league could not have hurt Smith's case. Georgetown has some fairly high profile out of conference games in the first semester and immediate eligibility for arguably their best player makes those games more competitive and gives the new conference a better national image. That's a pretty deep and cynical conspiracy theory and it may not have directly contributed to the decision, but it can't of hurt.

Overall, I keep coming back to point number 1. I'm thrilled and, right now, I don't really care why the NCAA has granted Josh Smith the additional eligibility. There will be something about the NCAA to get outraged over fairly soon so I'm going to take this win and savor it. The only thing left to do is hop on the delusion train and assume that Josh is going to play really well this year and lead the Hoyas to a deep tourney run, but still decide that next year's NBA Draft is too deep and come back to school for his last year of eligibility when he leads an otherwise young Hoyas' squad to the National Championship. Totally gonna happen.

Stay Casual, my friends.