- May 17, 2013
Old school Canes did not just start Freshmen just because of talent. You played ST and waited your turn. JJ set a $$$ focus and that meant you left older guys with NFL potential play to improve draft status. It was part and partial to coming back after graduation. The work ethic was such that we are not talking about merely rewarding upper class men for just being there. Guy who just could play never saw the field sometimes until last game of senior year. You would see a clean brand new uni run out on the field and wonder who the hell is that. So it was merit based but with everyone's $$ interest taken into consideration. Not saying anything like that would work today but it was part of the culture like the freshmen getting heads shaved.Something that crossed my mind in regards to McCloud and his starting role makes me think that this decision by Manny to continue to play him was not made irrationally, that the long term benefits outweighed the short term costs. Now here me out.
The question I pose to the board is this; How does it look to the locker room if you benched a team captain who returned to school for his senior season?
We complain about our juniors turning pro when it is obvious that they should come back for their senior seasons. We all see that McCloud is bad, **** the coaches see it as well. But what potential impact does benching McCloud now have on players who are draft eligible, players like Gurvan Hall, Gilbert Frierson, and Nesta Silvera.
I believe Manny and the coaches have to be delicate in how they approach this situation. McCloud won’t be benched, neither will Jennings. What I believe will happen is, Brooks and Flagg will continue to split reps with them. The coaches, now armed with a plethora of recent draft fails, and Zach McCloud’s senior year starting role as examples to help convince those juniors who need to, stay for their senior seasons.
Manny always talks about culture and it is important that the culture is set by the head coach. By keeping McCloud as a starter, yet splitting the reps, he is able to preach loyalty and that the best players will play.
It is a balancing act that can potentially pay off down the line. I believe that is what Manny is betting on.