November 22, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
27°F

Noland commentary: Raising, praising & hazing

Will be on my bye week from Nov. 11-14 with four days vacation, so let’s take one more Rick-o-chet around the world of sports before I go:

Medina County will have a record five teams participating in the football playoffs, but let’s keep that in perspective. There are 715 schools in the state with football programs. Of those, 224 — or 31.3 percent — will be in the postseason this year. …

The highest percentage is in the newly created, two-region Division I setup. There, 32 out of 72 teams — or 44.4 percent — are in the playoffs. …

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but making the playoffs doesn’t mean what it used to. Heck, it was already watered down when 192 schools qualified. It’s now to the point where we might as well start the regular season a week earlier, go to a nine-game schedule and let everyone in. …

Mark my words: You are going to see a ton of 63-6 and 54-0 finals this weekend. …

Some of those lopsided scores, by the way, could involve county teams — with several on the losing end. …

Undefeated Highland, which plays Avon Lake at North Royalton on Friday in a D-II, Region 4 game, is the county school with the best chance of advancing. …

Wadsworth hosts Cleveland Heights in a D-I, Region 1 game Saturday that could be interesting if the Grizzlies can consistently move the ball on the ground. …

Brunswick will be a huge underdog when it plays at Mentor in D-I, Region 1 action Saturday, as will Buckeye when it travels to Clyde for a D-III, Region 8 game Friday. …

I’ve completely given up trying to figure out Jekyll-and-Hyde Black River, which will host Fairless in D-V, Region 15 action Saturday. …

I’ve got to hand it to Davone Bess-t, who made one clutch play after another in the Browns’ impressive win over Baltimore. …

If Bess-t doesn’t make that sliding fourth-down reception — the same one he failed to come up with a week earlier in Kansas City — it’s likely the Ravens drive down for a game-tying field goal or game-winning touchdown. …

If the latter had occurred, Rob Chudzinski’s decision to go for it would have been criticized for two straight weeks. Instead, Chud is a hero. …

Speaking of heroes, I love Jason Campbell’s calm, quiet confidence. …

I have a lot of different thoughts regarding Richie Incognito’s alleged bullying of Jonathan Martin. Some even conflict, but in the end I feel this way: Something very wrong happened, and it should not have. …

Sports hazing rituals — those dishing them out prefer the word “initiations” — are wrong. It’s time we put an end to them. …

Now here’s where trying to “keep it real” can be seen as being hypocritical by some. I’m OK with asking a rookie to stand up and sing his college’s fight song at a team dinner. There’s a big difference between slightly embarrassing someone in a private team setting and publicly demeaning him (or her). When you attempt to cut someone’s hair or make a rookie pick up a check, you are walking a very slippery and dangerous slope. …

When Byron Scott coached the Cavaliers, rookies were made to push a toy baby in a stroller to and from games at Quicken Loans Arena. Many of my media brethren did what they thought were cute little stories on this. Not to be all high and mighty, but I did not. I thought the practice was childish, pointless and demeaning. …

OK, time to get ready to cover one of the 112 prep football playoff games that will be played this weekend. Back with more in a couple weeks!

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.