SoCon Hall of Fame: yet another league failure

A follow-up post: SoCon Hall of Fame Revisited — From Bad to Worse

On Thursday, the Southern Conference announced its latest inductees into its Hall of Fame. As has been the case every year since the SoCon created its Hall of Fame, no one representing The Citadel was selected.

This is the 78th year that The Citadel has been a member of the conference. There are at least a dozen candidates associated with the school who could be honored by the league. Instead, nada, zero, zilch.

Am I biased? Yes. However, the exclusion of every Bulldog athlete or coach from the SoCon’s Hall of Fame is ridiculous.

It is also an embarrassment for the conference. Not only has The Citadel been ignored, but VMI has as well. When VMI returns to the league after the conclusion of this academic year, the SoCon will have two schools with a combined 157 years of membership and no Hall of Fame honorees.

On the other hand, Fayetteville State does have an inductee.

Yes, you read that right. Fayetteville State, despite never being a member of the Southern Conference (or Division I, for that matter), has a representative in the league’s Hall of Fame, but The Citadel and VMI do not. How is this possible?

It’s possible because among the inductees is former officiating supervisor Jim Burch, a graduate of Fayetteville State.

The SoCon won’t see fit to enshrine any alums or coaches from the two military colleges that have been a part of the league for decades. However, the league has actually honored not one, but two basketball officiating supervisors.

It’s rather incredible, really, since this is the Southern Conference we’re talking about. The league has not been known over the years for excellence in basketball officiating (and I’m being kind here).

The SoCon has bent over backwards to honor players and coaches from its distant past. Now, I respect history, probably more than a lot of people. However, this has led to a problem.

After the 2013-14 campaign, there will be ten schools in the conference, and they will have combined for 377 years of league membership. Total number of athletes from those schools the conference has inducted into its Hall of Fame: Seven.

Five of those honorees are women, and two are men (both from Furman: Frank Selvy and Clint Dempsey).

Meanwhile, the conference has honored athletes/coaches from thirteen other schools that left or will no longer be in the league after 2013-14, schools that have combined for 346 years of league membership. Total Hall of Famers: Twenty-four.

Many of those honorees competed in the league decades ago. This is why over one-fourth of the SoCon Hall of Famers were deceased when they were elected.

Robert Neyland is a legendary figure in college football. However, I don’t think he is remembered for his SoCon coaching career as much as he is as the standard-bearer for the early days of the SEC. Indeed, most of his bio on his “Hall of Fame” page on the SoCon’s website revolves around the time following his days in the Southern Conference.

It’s not just Neyland. Everett Case, Wallace Wade — these are big names, sure, but I’m not sure why the conference was so desperate to induct them so early in the proceedings. None of them were alive (Neyland and Case died in the 1960s), and there were other candidates who might have enjoyed a day in the sun. I can think of at least one coach who will now never get that opportunity.

This year, the SoCon added Eddie Cameron to the list of honored coaches associated with schools that haven’t been in the SoCon for more than six decades.

There are no male athletes from the 1970s and 1980s in the SoCon’s Hall of Fame (three women from the mid-to-late 1980s have been honored). Apparently the men who played in the conference during that era were all really lousy at sports. The period of bad masculine athletic prowess in the league lasted from 1966 to 1992.

– Number of football players honored by the league who competed after 1955: Two

– Number of baseball players honored by the league who competed after 1950: Zero

– Number of men’s basketball players honored by the league who competed after 1965: Zero

– Number of women’s track and field athletes honored by the league who competed after 1987: Four

The conference would presumably like to have a few “ambassador” types, which is what a lot of Halls of Fame are all about. However, if the SoCon doesn’t induct living people (non-track division) who actually identify with the league, and who are associated with it, that’s not going to happen.

The SoCon has a lot of issues. Just to name one, the continued failure of the conference to get a decent TV deal is an enormous problem. However, the mismanagement of its Hall of Fame is different from other league quandaries in that it is entirely a self-inflicted wound.

It may not be easy to get a television package (though it can’t be that hard, either, based on what other conferences have been able to do). However, I cannot understand how the powers-that-be at the SoCon, including commissioner John Iamarino, could so badly screw up the league’s Hall of Fame.

They have, though…and there are alums from at least one small military college who will remind SoCon administrators of that fact on a regular basis.

You can count on it.

Update, February 10 —  SoCon Hall of Fame revisited: from bad to worse

Assorted observations on Team USA! USA! USA!’s big win

Just a very quick rambling post, too big for Twitter but shorter than my usual manifestos.  Anyway…

— There was a lot of discussion about the mistakenly disallowed goal by Clint Dempsey in the first half, but I think another, albeit meaningless, error was made at the end of the game by match referee Frank De Bleeckere.  After calling a foul in the box on Algeria, he was subjected to some in-your-face screaming by Hassan Yebda, who with his blond mohawk and perpetually angry facial expression is almost a caricature of your prototypical soccer villain.  Yebda was soon joined by dark-haired teammate Rafik Halliche, who also started yelling at the official.

Algerian captain Anther Yahia came over to shoo away the antagonists, but by that time De Bleeckere had turned away. When he turned around holding a yellow card, the player standing in front of  him was Yahia, who like Halliche has dark hair.  Other than that, they don’t really look alike, but I think De Bleeckere got confused and showed Yahia (who was acting as a peacemaker) a card that was intended for Halliche.  Yahia had already been booked earlier in the match, so a second yellow card for him resulted in a red, and being sent off.

Not that it mattered much whether De Bleeckere got that right or not, as Algeria was toast by then.

— Raid M’Bolhi was excellent in goal for the Algerians.  M’Bolhi also started against England, and kept a clean sheet (admittedly, a lot of keepers could have kept a clean sheet against the English in that game).  I have to wonder why he wasn’t the starter against Slovenia, a game lost by Algeria on a goalkeeping error.

Algeria could have had a very different tournament if it had not lost that opening game.

— Jozy Altidore played very well, a near-complete performance, and one maintained for the entire game.  Alexi Lalas was correct to laud Altidore’s effort during ESPN’s post-game show.  The only thing Altidore did wrong, it seemed, was miss that great opportunity for goal in the first half when the net was near-empty, and he then proceeded to kick a ball that would have been good for an extra point in the NFL.

The thing is, though…he’s a striker.  Ultimately, his job is to score goals, or set up other people for goals.  He’s got to finish when given the opportunity.  All the other stuff he did was great, but what if the U.S. doesn’t get that last-minute fast break?

Of course, he also fed the cross that ultimately led to Landon Donovan’s game-winner, so he got the job done at the end.  I’m just ready to see him break out in a big game and bag a goal or two.  The team is going to need Altidore to score if it hopes to advance further in the tournament.

— Speaking of Donovan…dude.  There’s no crying in soccer.

Besides, you’ve got work to do.  Get a good night’s sleep and then start preparing for Ghana.  We’re greedy in this country; the round of 16 is nice, but we’re thinking semifinals now.  Have you seen the bracket?  One of these countries is going to be in the semis:  USA! USA! USA!, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea.  Can you say Cinderella?

England’s reward for finishing second in Group C is a second-round matchup with Germany, and if Wayne Rooney and company get past the Germans, then they get the winner of Argentina-Mexico.  That’s a brutal draw (although amazingly, it may wind up not being the most brutal — there is a chance of a quartile featuring Spain, Brazil, Italy, and the Netherlands).

— In the three group games, Bob Bradley has used 18 of the 20 field players on his roster.  The only two not to see action so far are defenders Clarence Goodson and Jonathan Spector.

You could have made some serious cash if you had put money down on the odds of Jonathan Bornstein, Edson Buddle, and DaMarcus Beasley playing in a must-win World Cup match (with Bornstein starting!), and the U.S. winning said match.

— From watching two of the matches Ghana has played so far, it appears to me that the Ghanians are a hard-working, athletic side that has trouble finishing.  Sound familiar?

— Ian Darke is now everyone’s favorite cheerleading-for-USA! USA! USA! English announcer.  No, seriously, he’s great.  He also gets bonus points for keeping John Harkes quiet during the critical moments just before and after Donovan’s goal.

Darke has also been doing this for a while.  I was watching the excellent ESPN documentary The Two Escobars, and recognized his voice in some of the clips, presumably working for ITV or the BBC.  ABC’s lead announcer for the 1994 World Cup?  Roger Twibell.

Yes, soccer has moved up in this country since then.  It can make another step up in the public consciousness if the U.S. can pull off another win on Saturday.