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McGair: Thoughts football realignment, Ryan O'Dell

January 3, 2012

A little of this, a little of that …

The beauty of this profession is that you can write something one day only to revisit said subject matter(s) a few days later with some additional thoughts/reflections. Disclaimer: both articles subject to further review appeared in Saturday’s print edition.
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The piece pertaining to the Tolman and Woonsocket football programs moving up to Division I ranks starting next season got me thinking on how the Interscholastic League goes about its realignment process. For football, the RIIL chose to go back to the previous eight seasons – starting in 2004 and ending with the just-completed 2011 campaign – to determine 70 percent of the equation (the remaining 30 is based on each school’s male enrollment that was compiled in 2010).
Naturally each win is weighed differently with a Division I team earning significantly more than a team in Div. IV. That’s understandable. What is somewhat peculiar is that during this eight-year window, many teams have changed divisions, thus accruing different figures that can distort the idea of a leveled playing field when time comes to do the math.
For example, Woonsocket spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons in Division III before moving to Division II in 2005. St. Raphael was a Division I school from 2004-09 before dropping down to Division II in 2010. Burrillville competed in Division III in 2004 and again in 2005 before competing in Division II from 2006-09 before returning to Div. III in 2010.
Bottom line? Eight years is simply too long of a stretch to take into account. Officials should look into condensing the time frame down to four years, which would provide more of accurate reflection of where a team stands at that particular moment. That in turn might allow teams to be placed in a division that gives them the best chance to be competitive.
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Here’s an additional thought on Lincoln native Ryan O’Dell being redshirted for his freshman year at URI. Dale O’Dell, Ryan’s father, mentioned that the NCAA launched its investigations into his son’s transcript while Ryan was in the midst of participating in fall baseball at Rhody.
Why did it take so long for the NCAA to step in and do so after Ryan had begun his freshman year at the university? One school of thought suggests that the NCAA spends most of the summer sifting through transcript issues related to football players that all the other sports automatically get pushed to the back burner. Thinking all is kosher, non-football collegiate athletes go along thinking that nothing is wrong – that is until the NCAA bangs on the door.
Ryan O’Dell’s predicament is not that all different from the clouds of uncertainty freshman Kiwi Gardner found himself engulfed in at Providence College. The NCAA started to dig into Gardner’s transcript mere days after college teams around the country received the green light to start practicing in earnest. Gardner’s situation remained unresolved until early December when the NCAA deemed him a nonqualifier, meaning he cannot play or practice this season.
Ryan O’Dell was ruled a partial qualifier, though he can sit on the bench and participate in pre-game infield/hitting drills. To find this out after school started speaks volumes about the NCAA needing to speed up the process as it relates to determining the eligibility of student-athletes.
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Have to feel for Stanford place-kicker Jordan Williamson, whose two missed kicks came back to haunt Stanford in Monday’s Fiesta Bowl. Paging Scott Norwood …
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In a text message received Sunday, Warwick native and relief pitcher Dan Wheeler mentioned that there’s nothing to report regarding his free agent status.
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Kudos goes out to colleague Eric Benevides for his coverage of Mount St. Charles’ game at Fenway Park on Monday. Not only did Eric write a sidebar and a game story, but he also provided the pretty pictures that helped capture the scene for what transpired. Hard working, indeed!

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