November 17, 2010
Back in 2007, freshman UCLA basketball center Kevin Love -- whose father Stan played for awhile in the NBA and whose uncle Mike (and Kevin's more distant relatives, the Wilsons) were in the Beach Boys -- dominated the first four rounds of the NCAA tournament, only to look slow and short (he's 6-7.75 barefoot) and white against Memphis St.'s NBA-level athletes in the semifinals.
My idea at the time was that rather than head immediately to the NBA, Kevin Love should announce he was going to stay all four years at UCLA. That would make him very popular in SoCal (which should pay off in the long run), attract numerous one-and-done superstar recruits to UCLA, and probably lead to one or two national titles. (The downside is that the NBA pays by check and college basketball chews up your knees -- e.g., Patrick Ewing's 4 years at Georgetown were more awesome defensively than his career with the Knicks.)
Love, however, thought he knew better than I did about just how good he was, so he went to the NBA.
It turns out: he was right. This year, at age 22, when he'd be a senior at UCLA under the Sailer Plan, Love is making like the second coming of Moses Malone, leading the NBA in rebounding following last week's game in which he became the first man since Moses in 1982 to have 30 points and 30 rebounds in one game.
Last year, I though the same thing about running back Toby Gerhart of Stanford: he should announce he was passing up the NFL to try to lead Stanford to the national title in football, which would make him very popular in Silicon Valley, which can't be a terribly bad thing. But he went to the NFL, where he's gotten a couple of dozen carries as a backup for Adrian Peterson's in Minnesota, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, which is okay, but isn't exactly leading fans to demand Peterson be benched.
The funny thing is that Stanford just might have won the national title this year if Gerhart had returned for his last year of eligibility. This year, Stanford is 9-1 and #6 in the BCS rankings, with a terrific quarterback in Andrew Luck and an amazing story in Owen Marecic, who is starting at both fullback and middle linebacker. I remember when Tommy Nobis and Leroy Keyes started on both offense and defense in college in the mid-1960s, but not many since then. Marecic has scored four touchdowns rushing and one on an interception return (scoring on offense and defense on consecutive plays from scrimmage against Notre Dame.)
Stanford's only loss was to #1 ranked Oregon, a game in which Stanford took a 21-3 lead. But, they didn't grind out the clock because they they failed to get the ball enough to Gerhart.
So, I've only been proven wrong in one of my two suggestions, at least so far.