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Daily Herald's 2015 Season Coverage
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Imrem: Another black mark on college football calendar
Updated Feb 2, 2016 8:01 PM
The first Wednesday in February is the Super Bowl for levels of football scrambling underneath the NFL.It’s also when I have an annual dream that we can wake up from one of college football’s many nightmares.That would be the horrors of the verbal commitment.Wednesday is National Signing Day — also known as Liar’s Poker Day — and it should be rendered meaningless.Instead let every day of every year be National Signing Day for college-football recruiters and high school football recruits.You know that cute grade-school phenom who says he wants to go to State U. and for whom State U. says a scholarship is waiting?End the wait and allow both sides to make it official.Seriously, let the preteen and his parents bind themselves in writing to the school and its coach. And let the school and its coach do likewise in writing to the kid.If a family is sure the youngster’s declared destination will remain a particular school, and a school is confident the kid’s potential will remain tantalizing … everybody sign on the dotted line and live with the decision.Overall, make verbal commitments against the rules.If a kid publicly expresses devotion to a school and the school leaks that he was promised a scholarship but they didn’t seal the deal with signatures, rule them ineligible to ever get together.No more verbal commitments; no more decommitments; no more naked reverses and double reverses.Rampant reneging leaves an especially dark mark on college football.It’s as smarmy as improper inducements like the suitcase filled with cash, the coaching job for a prospect’s uncle and the coeds entertaining visiting recruits.Shower once, Mr. Booster, shower twice, Mrs. Alum, and keep showering, Mr. and Mrs. College Football Fans.Ideally, a person’s word would be as hard to erase as a tattoo. In this game it’s more like a mustache that can be shaved when convenient.The local story is that at least six high school players decommitted from Illinois.Makes you wonder whether they also will stand up their prom dates when better options became available.The national story is Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh pulling scholarship offers from players who verbally had accepted them.Makes you wonder how long it will take for Harbaugh to stand up Michigan when the right NFL team calls.In Illinois’ case, players thought they could move up in class. In Michigan’s case, the Wolverines thought they could move up in class.Creating upward mobility is the American way, isn’t it? Certainly more so than fulfilling a commitment is, right?Harbaugh takes the strategy to an extreme, but players and coaches have been reneging forever.As a USA Today article put it, “In the world of recruiting, it’s every man for himself.”One way to blunt the madness is for the media to ignore verbal commitments. If a young man tweets that he’s going to the University of Wherever, file it with other social-media silliness until he signs to make it official.Again, the way to end this particular brand of naughtiness entirely is allowing a player to sign with any university at any time.Then a kid who committed to Northern Illinois couldn’t back out when Ohio State called. Nor could a coach who offered a free ride to a 300-pounder back out when a 330-pounder visited.The system would be a little less smarmy, though it’s unclear whether college football cares whether it is.mimrem@dailyherald.com
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Huntley football coach John Hart has reportedly resigned after four years as the Red Raiders’ head coach. t
Photo by Michael Smart
Hart leaves Huntley for return to Indiana
Updated Dec 30, 2015 5:04 PM
Huntley High School football coach John Hart resigned on Tuesday, the school confirmed on Wednesday.“Head football coach John Hart has resigned his coaching and teaching positions at Huntley High School, effective immediately,” a news release issued by principal Scott Rowe and athletic director Chris Rozanski stated.“We are sorry to see him go but we understand his desire to be closer to family. We thank Coach Hart for his four years of service to both the school and the football program. The Huntley High School football coaching position will be a great position for the right person. We will begin an extensive search for a new head coach immediately.”According to a report published in the Indianapolis Star, Hart will be the new head coach at Brownsburg High School, which is located 18 miles west of Indianapolis. Hart came to Huntley from Warren Central in Indiana, where he won a state title in 2009. He also won an Indiana state title at Evansville Reitz in 2007.“The first key thing is the ability to be closer to my kids,” Hart told the Indy Star. “When I took the job (at Huntley), I knew I’d be seven hours away from the Evansville area where they are. Having that ability to move closer became a more important thing as the years went by.”Brownsburg was 4-6 last seasonaccording to multiple posts on the Facebook page “Huntley Opinions.”Hart was 28-12 at Huntley, making three IHSA playoff appearances. The Red Raiders were 10-1 this past season, losing 17-14 to Oswego in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.Hart did not return calls from the Daily Herald seeking comment.
Season Wrap-Up
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Naperville Central football coach agrees to end pregame prayers
Updated Dec 17, 2015 6:35 PM
Naperville Central football coach Mike Stine released a statement in response to last week’s announcement by Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges that Stine no longer can lead his team in prayer.In the statement Stine said that while the pregame tradition of gathering as a team will continue, the moment will not involve prayer or religion.“There won’t be any coach led prayer during this time or at any time,” Stine said.“I understand that a coach’s participation in a prayer or any religious activity with the players cannot happen,” he said. “Through this experience, I better understand the separation that must exist between church or religion and the public schools. Myself and the football program will conduct this tradition in a way that will abide by that understanding.”Last week the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with District 203 after players and coaches were seen praying before the Redhawks’ Nov. 14 playoff game at Waubonsie Valley in Aurora. The foundation seeks to defend the separation of church and state. Daily Herald columnist Kerry Lester wrote on Thursday that former Neuqua Valley teacher and current speech team coach Hemant Mehta, an atheist blogger, was the person who notified the Freedom From Religion Foundation of the coach-led prayer. Naperville Central senior football player Daniel Bumpus released a team-endorsed statement last week in support of Stine, saying “(Stine) is the best coach in the state and cares about each and every one of us more than any other coach cares about his players.”Stine called the pregame tradition “a symbol of ‘Brotherhood’” and stressed the football program’s role to “prepare young men for life.”“We will continue to teach our young men how to prepare themselves mentally for any intense challenges that might lie ahead,” he said. “The tradition is part of that process.” Follow Kevin on Twitter@kevin_schmit
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Prospect’s Grant DePalma (40), here making an impact for Western Michigan in a game against Central Michigan.
Submitted photo
When it comes to perseverance, Prospect’s DePalma is truly gifted
Updated Dec 17, 2015 4:58 PM
A lot of kids currently dreaming of playing high-level college sports ultimately realize they may not possess all of the necessary athletic gifts to make it happen.But it was Santa Claus himself who delivered one of the best Christmas gifts Grant DePalma ever received.DePalma was the epitome of the Prospect football program’s success in the first decade of the 21st century. An all-area linebacker who was long on heart and smarts. But at 5-feet-9, he was literally short on the measureables that attract rave reviews from big-time recruiting analysts and the constant attention of Division I powerhouses.Yet, just one year ago, DePalma was sitting in a meeting room at Western Michigan University with the football team when Santa Claus (played by graduate assistant coach D.J. Pirkle) entered with a gift. He gave it to linebacker Austin Lewis, who unwrapped it and announced, “It’s a scholarship for Grant DePalma.”The room erupted and players engulfed and then lifted the still 5-9 but now 218-pound DePalma on their shoulders in celebration. That was followed by a heartfelt speech from head coach P.J. Fleck on how DePalma’s leap of faith to try out for the Broncos paid huge dividends for the football program and himself.“I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know when or how,” DePalma said of the scholarship after he started as a junior walk-on middle linebacker. “I had no idea.“The biggest part of the experience was how excited the rest of my teammates got. Understanding how much I meant to the team and feeling all of that emotion.”For the second straight year, DePalma will start in a postseason game when Western Michigan faces Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau on Christmas Eve (11 a.m. Chicago time on ESPN). A gnawing feeling he had helped him drive a program into the history books with its first back-to-back bowl trips and a share of its first Mid-American Conference West Division title since 2000.Great start, greater aspirationsGrant DePalma was a two-time Daily Herald All-Area pick for Prospect teams that reached the second round of the state playoffs. He also played basketball and was an excellent student who wanted to study engineering.He said he looked a lot of Ivy League schools. He considered Drake, a non-scholarship Division I school, but it didn’t have an engineering program.So, DePalma ended up at Division III Rose-Hulman, one of the country’s top engineering schools in Terre Haute, Ind. He knew he would get to play right away and he started as a freshman. As a sophomore in 2012 he was the team MVP and a first-team all-conference pick with 100 tackles and 14½ stops for loss.But after a pair of 5-5 seasons, DePalma believed there was something bigger and better out there for him.“Obviously I love football more than anything and I love playing,” DePalma said. “After proving to myself I could play as well as I did, I knew I could play Division I football.“(Rose-Hulman) wasn’t as serious as I needed it to be. I had connections in Chicago for a job and they have a great engineering program here at Western Michigan, so I took a chance and believed in myself I could do it.”DePalma believed he could do it coming out of Prospect. But his size was a deterrent at a level that is truly serious business.Early in his sophomore season he knew he could make the jump. Former Prospect coach Brent Pearlman, now at Wheeling, helped a lot by making calls.DePalma eventually decided on rebuilding Western Michigan. He had to go through a one-day walk-on tryout with about 20 players there and found out the next day he got a scout-team slot while he redshirted.“Just getting an opportunity was my main focus at that point,” DePalma said of sitting out his first year at Western Michigan.