by Alex Smith | MCLA.us
Privacy is dead. Long live social media.
Anything you do can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. Chapman and Florida State are finding this out the hard way this week. I am all-too-familiar with how these things tend to work. In fact, nine players on the Colorado State team got suspended around this time last year for breaking team and school rules on a trip.
Let me be clear that I have no inside knowledge of anything that happened in either circumstance that led one of the MCLA’s up and coming teams to be suspended by their university and the country’s top ranked team to have two of its players arrested. I am not condoning their actions or even commenting on them because I don’t know what happened and haven’t seen anything official that outlines their exact behavior.
Kids are stupid and do stupid things all the time. Our job as coaches and administrators is to help them make the best possible choices, but at the end of the day, it’s still about their choices. Even when there is so much to lose and nothing to gain, people will still do stupid things. One of our team rules at CSU was simple: “Don’t be an idiot.” It wasn’t always followed.
One of the drawbacks to being a “virtual varsity” program, or one that tries to be more than “just a club” at their school, is that you pretty much get the worst of it on both ends of the spectrum. You are held to the same or higher standards as your varsity counterparts without any of the tangible or intangible benefit. Meanwhile, you are under the microscope from your own department because you are a high-profile sport that has not exactly helped itself with publicity over the years.
Another thing working against most MCLA teams is how they report up the chain of command. I would be willing to bet that most clubs are under their student recreation department rather than athletics. That means when things escalate, they go to some sort of a student disciplinary committee. The fortunes of the program are decided by 18 to 21-year olds who have no vested interest in being fair or diplomatic.
Finally, universities tend to use what I call a “cops and robbers” approach to student discipline. There seems to be very little education and prevention measures. It’s easier for a university to catch offenders and punish them rather than give them guidance about not breaking rules in the first place. Since these are, by and large, considered “club” programs, most coaches in the MCLA have little recourse or even know what one of their players may have done to be disciplined, let alone be given the resources to educate and rehabilitate in house.
There is nothing we can do about these problems. Again, coaches can lay out every possible situation to the team to let them know what is and is not appropriate, but college-aged kids will find a way to push those boundaries and get in trouble.
The big problem is that we now live in a world that is much more mobile and connected than before.
Things we used to do when I played would be very poorly received now. And there is no sneaking around. Someone will find out about it and since every university is legally obligated to take every instance of misconduct by their students seriously, the burden of proof falls on the accused.
The bottom line with all of this is that someone is always watching. We live our lives like we are in a Las Vegas casino and there is always a phone or recording device in arm’s reach. Don’t forget what the media’s purpose is in today’s world: to get clicks in order to support their business. A reporter can write a damning headline with little to no proof or research into an article, move a couple of quotes around, and effectively ruin years of hard work by upstanding members of a club.
So, unless you want to be the next Deadspin article, live by one simple rule: Don’t be an idiot.
On to the games...
Last Week: 5-2 | Overall: 18-5
There were no real upsets last week. The Colorado-Colorado State game was played in a blizzard and sets up nicely for a rematch in the RMLC championship game if the two teams are able to get past the semifinals. Arizona now finds itself on the outside looking in at the SLC playoffs. Whether or not a team that doesn’t make their conference playoffs should be eligible for the national tournament is up for debate. I personally would rather see another team in their stead, but they do have a strong resume that will be tough for other at-large teams to top.
Liberty 12, Virginia Tech 11 (Liberty 15, VT 7)
Arizona State 11, Arizona 8 (ASU 9, UofA 5)
Boston College 14, New Hampshire 12 (BC 12, UNH 10)
Colorado State 11, Colorado 10 (CU 14, CSU 11)
Chapman 12, UCSB 6 (Chap 15, UCSB 8)
Oregon 14, Simon Fraser 10 (UofO 12, SFU 11)
Texas 12, SMU 10 (SMU 11, UT 2)
This week’s games
It’s conference tournament time in the LSA, SELC, and SLC as postseason lacrosse begins to heat up. This is when we start to see some final movement in the polls.
Florida vs. Georgia
This is one of four SELC quarterfinals being held on Friday evening and probably the best of the bunch. UGA’s only loss is to Georgia Tech, but they were otherwise untested all season. Florida is 7-4 with a stronger schedule, but no impressive wins as of yet. Both of these teams have made MCLA tournament appearances in the past. Georgia appears to have the better team on paper, so we’ll see if Florida’s scheduling pays off for them as we get to money season. I like the Bulldogs in this game pulling away late.
Georgia 12, Florida 8
Purdue vs. Indiana
The GRLC’s top seed is up for grabs in this in-state rivalry. The Boilermakers were last year’s sacrificial lamb to the MCLA national tournament as the conference seeks its first victory on the national stage. Home game for Purdue, who have a slightly better transitive resume than the Hoosiers. I’ll take the Boilers in this one.
Purdue 8, Indiana 7
Cal vs. Stanford
This game didn’t look like much of a contest earlier in the year as the Bears endured a four-game losing streak that eliminated their chances at an at-large selection. Meanwhile the Cardinal were rolling along at 6-1 before their one-goal loss to Chapman in late March. But things have flipped a bit for the two teams as Cal has ripped off five straight wins, including a bit of a surprising win over Sonoma back on April 2. While Stanford is certainly the favorite based on any metric, Cal’s five losses are to teams in the top 15 and their momentum is swelling late in the season. The teams will meet again next week in the WCLL semifinals, so will either team hold back in this first meeting? I’m taking a hunch here and going with Ned Webster’s Bears in round 1 of this doubleheader.
Cal 7, Stanford 5
Oregon vs. Oregon State
The PNCLL race comes down to the Civil War as the Beavers and Ducks square off in a game for first place in the regular season. The winner will very likely get the surprising Washington Huskies in the first round while Boise awaits the loser in the 2 vs. 3 game. While they aren’t in this game, I think it’s a good time to praise what Jack Cerchiara has done with UW this season. Take away an early loss to UCLA and this team has been solid throughout, taking down both Simon Fraser and Oregon during the 2016 campaign. Seattle, which is one of the most talent-rich lacrosse regions on the West Coast, might just have something going here with the Huskies.
But back to the game at hand, Oregon showed a lot of moxie coming back from their loss to UW to beat Simon Fraser the next day. The offense has been a boon for the Ducks all year long as they attempt to wrest the crown back from the Beavers. OSU has quietly gone about its business since a disappointing 11-goal loss to Chapman.
I’ll take the Ducks in what could be a high-scoring affair.
Oregon 15, Oregon State 11
UC Santa Barbara vs. UNLV
The SLC is off and running in tournament season, as well. The Rebels snuck into the tournament thanks to a massive home win against Arizona last month. They have not fared well against top caliber competition outside of that win all year, however, and this game is a rematch of a five-goal victory for the Gauchos back in February. One thing you can say for UNLV is that they are scrappy and difficult to play against. UCSB has bounced back in a big way from their nose dive in 2015. I like the Gauchos to get past the Rebels and move on to the SLC semifinals next week.
UCSB 13, UNLV 8
New Hampshire vs. UConn
This might actually be the game of the week as UNH and Connecticut tangle for second place in the increasingly high-quality PCLL. Like the Stanford/Cal game, the only real implications in this one are who gets to be the home team in the conference tournament next weekend as the two teams have locked up the 2nd and 3rd seed already. UNH made waves with a successful trip to Utah back in March, while UCONN’s signature win was over Virginia Tech.
There doesn’t appear to be much separating these two teams, who have had similar results in conference to this point. I like UCONN in this match-up, even though it’s on the road.
UCONN 11, UNH 10