I will be completely honest here. When I first hear of CatBasket friend E.J. Borghetti announcing that Mo Williams had some academic issues, I did not think it was serious enough to have him miss an entire season. Usually when you hear of some academic issues, a couple of summer courses can fix that problem right away. The NCAA rules state that a player must complete 12 credits per year (6 a semester) and meet specific GPA's (1.8 for freshmen I believe). For those of you who never attended Pitt, the University requires a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or else you will be placed on academic probation. Jason Jones and I usually joke that if Pitt really wants you, they will find a way to make you eligible. Unfortunately this will not be the case for Mo Williams. I'm sure you are all tired of reading about rules and regulations, so here are some of my OPINIONS of how this will impact the team.
Firstly, we are lucky to be deep at WR. Kinder, Turner, Porter, McGee, Wright and Jonathan Baldwin are all capable players. I was really hoping that Kinder/Williams would be the starting wr's as I feel that Turner lacks concentration and isn't the most motivated of receivers. Despite my feelings on that, Turner has shown that when the effort is there, he can be an effective player. I believe that Oderick is the type of player that needs some type of inspiration to get the full potential from him. His freshman year he had to earn his playing time and he did well. Last year after the Kinder injury, I believe that he felt his job was safe and he did not try as hard as he did before. I am also aware that being the #1 receiver on the team meant he had to face the opponents #1 cornerback, but when you have responsibility like he had last year, you need to show up.
Since Williams is now in this situation I think this will also teach him a valuable lesson that just because you have earned a scholarship does not mean that you are untouchable. I think it would be easy for a college freshman to get wrapped up in the hype of the college sports experience and let it go to his or her head that academics are second. After a good freshman year, Pitt women's player Jania Sims missed time due to academic issues. Hopefully he can continue taking courses this summer and use the fall and spring to boost the GPA. I also hope that Wanny uses this to motivate the players and let them know that performance on and off the field counts. As much as we love our football team, Pitt is an outstanding academic institution. Just having a degree from here is more valuable than 95% of all other colleges.
Having this redshirt year will also help Mo improve. It will give him an extra year to develop, an extra year in the system, and an extra year to improve his rapport with the quarterbacks of the future Pat Bostick and Tino Sunseri. I don't think anyone expect Mo to be a guy who left early, and now he can use his last 3 years to earn a spot next to Jonathan Baldwin and hopefully make up the most dangerous WR duo in the Big East.
Jonathan Baldwin. The biggest outcome of this whole debacle may just be that Jonathan Baldwin can raise himself up from what I felt would have been a redshirt season into a significant contributor. Lets face it folks, Wanny does not play freshmen unless he HAS to. Bostick, Joe Thomas, and Shady all saw their playing time because of issues at their respective positions. I do not believe for one second that despite his amazing talent, that Baldwin would have ever gotten above 5th on the overall WR depth chart. With Kinder's post-injury ability unknown, Turner's struggles last season, and not knowing McGee and Wright's true ability, Jonathan Baldwin could force himself into the game based upon his amazing potential alone.
This is a big loss for Pitt, don't look at it any other way. Before you get too down about it though just remember that while it does hurt that we are losing him, Pitt is doing the right thing. We're not going to make exceptions, we're not bending the rules, we have and will continue to run a respectable program and one that we should all feel proud to be associated with.
Mo, I can't wait to see you on the field in 2009, but take this year and get everything set straight.