Speaking of underrated, the nation’s most underrated player just might be Temple’s Jahad Thomas. A junior RB who, essentially, was a throw-in during the recruitment of Owls QB P.J. Walker due to the tandem starring together at Elizabeth (N.J.) High School, Thomas initially started as a DB on North Broad and saw little playing time.
That started to change a bit last season once head coach Matt Rhule and Co. started to see that the sales job Walker was doing for his buddy was starting to be matched by what his buddy was doing in practice. Switched to offense, Thomas showed he could run and catch the ball, totaling 748 yards from scrimmage on just 94 touches.
This season he has become a featured performer, quite honestly even more so than his previously more-ballyhooed teammate, Walker. After Saturday night’s electric, AAC-record, 342-yard all-purpose performance at Cincinnati, which followed the previous Saturday’s history-changing effort against Penn State, Thomas just may be the best offensive performer in the country. He ranks third among all rushers in the country with 328 yards, 14th among all kick returners with 168 and 15th among all scorers with 24 points, courtesy of four TDs.
The best defensive performer in the country? Just might be Thomas’ teammate at Temple, senior LB Tyler Matakevich.
Today’s lesson, people, is about speech management.
Previously, it was known as “Shut the Eff Up” management, but, apparently, that hasn’t taken hold as we had hoped. In fact, in the sports realm, we have very few examples of its proponents earning gainful employment. Considering the PC-centric society that seems to be emerging, however, that could be changing. Quickly.
Hence, the softer, gentler, more-PC title, speech management.
So, let’s take a few moments to underscore some DON’Ts of this philosophy, courtesy of college football.
DON’T pop off about somebody else’s business, especially one whose business has been better than yours of late. Case in point: Bret Bielema ripping Ohio State’s schedule. The Arkansas head coach, apparently feeling a bit frisky after an opening-week win and national ranking, felt it necessary to knock the nation’s defending champion Buckeyes because, you know, they get so much attention and none is left over for him and his cohorts in the Southeastern Conference. His penance for popping off: the humility of losing to Toledo in Week 2 just days after his comments and a tumble out of the polls.
DON’T rip a player before a national audience with microphones looming for doing what players do, which is celebrate like an idiot after making the game’s key play, especially one who happens to be the offspring of an all-time great in the history of the program. Case in point: Jim McElwain getting on Kelvin Taylor. The Florida coach, fired up after a frustrating night spent watching his Gators struggle against East Carolina, went off on the son of Fred Taylor for making a throat-slash gesture following his 7-yard, game-clinching TD run late in the fourth quarter. The player was wrong, but the coach was even more so for going completely off. Jimmy Mac gets bonus points, too, for offering a non-apology admission of non-guilt two days later. His penance for popping off: an earful from his 94-year-old mother, who watched the display on TV, and tighter leash with the watchdogs keeping track of his every step.
DON’T use hyperbole to emphasize a point, especially when the point you’re trying to make … well, does it really even need to be made? Case in point: Danny Kanell stating on ESPN radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning that “Michigan State’s probably the most underrated team in the country.” The college football analyst, a former star at Florida State, frankly, is one of the best in the business because he doesn’t strictly adhere to conventional wisdom. He will, and often does, go against the grain – which is great, and keeps discussions lively and entertaining. But, when you’re trumpeting the efforts of the nation’s No. 4-ranked team as being overlooked or underappreciated … umm, get a grip. “Most underrated” props are relegated for impressive but ignored teams such as Temple, Houston and Memphis of the American Athletic Conference. Of course, you don’t have to be unranked or not part of a power conference like them, but, sorry, you can’t be top-4 in the country – with two votes as No. 1 to boot – and be hailed as “most underrated.” His penance for popping off: a mandate to open a dictionary AND thesaurus and study the meanings of words, not to mention a disappointing shaking of the head from yours truly.
Oh, the humanity.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com