<UPDATE> March 19, 2008; 2:30 pm
Okanes interviewed Montgomery who claims that he never said Cal didn’t have enough tradition. Montgomery claims he is a team guy and would never say something bad about Cal.
Thanks to Bob for the heads up.
Jonathan Okanes is now reporting that Montgomery left the program because "it never felt right" at Cal.
Okanes quotes Montgomery as further elaborating:
“Cal was never my first choice … I didn’t feel (Cal) was a (football) school that had a lot of tradition. They were ranked sixth in the country and yet couldn’t sell out that week’s game.”
You know, Montgomery does have a point. Cal hasn’t exactly been a football powerhouse since oh… the 1920s or something. Cal doesn’t have a lot of tradition (of winning). And yes, even when Cal has been highly ranked, there always seems to be a few too many empty seats in the stadium.
It can’t be denied, really. Montgomery is right. Cal doesn’t have a rich history and tradition of winning. We’re not football-factory and play-for-pay-university Ohio State, or Oklahoma. We’re not come-to-us-for-free-houses USC. If only we were. Then we’d have a bunch of glass footballs, a bunch of play-for-pay public scandals, and young satiable student athletes like Montgomery who want to go to storied football schools with a rich tradition of winning.
Yeah, Cal doesn’t have a ton of tradition, but it’s not like it’s a big secret. It’s not like the coaches duped Montgomery into coming to Cal. It’s not like they put inflatable people in the stands and piped in crowd noise when Montgomery visited Memorial for a game on his official visit or something. One can simply go online and look at the statistics section of the Cal Football website to see how many people attended the games every year.
Filling a 72,000 person stadium every other Saturday for 3 months is a little harder than it sounds. This is California. Most people don’t live and breath football. People go golfing on Saturdays or see baseball games. If Montgomery wanted to be surrounded by 100,000+ rabid football fans maybe he should have considered Ohio State. Or Michigan. Or any school in the SEC. Or if he wanted a rich history of winning maybe he should have considered sending his tapes to Oklahoma, Texas, Miami, Notre Dame, or LSU.
I know Montgomery is simply justifying the reasoning for his departure by saying that Cal doesn’t have tradition and whatever. But at the same time it sounds like he’s faulting Cal, and Cal fans. Like I said earlier, this is California and there are other things to do than watch college football. This isn’t the SEC where college football is more important than one’s own personal health, eating and the Bible. But it’s not like Montgomery didn’t know that Cal didn’t have a rich tradition. Fault Cal all you want for not being like USC, Miami, and Michigan or Ohio State, but I think the real person at fault here is Montgomery for choosing Cal when it wasn’t the best for him. Oh well. Live and learn.
So why did Montgomery come to Cal? Maybe even though it wasn’t a perfect fit, it was what he thought was the best fit for him.
Where else could Montgomery have gone?
Rivals.com shows that Montgomery had offers from Nebraska, Northwestern, Oregon, UCLA, Washington, and Fresno State. If one is looking for a rich history and tradition, then Nebraska, UCLA, and Washington are the schools that immediately jump out. Oregon too in the recent years. Cal ranks in about last of the bunch for football tradition.
I guess the Cal Coaches are just really smooth talkers and convinced Montgomery to come to Cal despite it not being his first choice. (Which also makes you wonder, what school was Montgomery’s first choice?)
Montgomery is now apparently considering Washington, Oregon, and Florida. My advice for Montgomery: if you’re looking for a rich football tradition, then I suggest Florida. Besides, I hear they are short a RB or two down in the Swamp.
Anyways, this latest news from Okanes seems to confirm my thoughts on Montgomery (the second of my two theories on why he left). He never did seem happy at Cal. I never saw him smile. Never really saw him laugh. Never really saw him horsing around and having a good time with his teammates. Always seemed a little discontent.
I guess this is just another case of a student athlete committing to the wrong school. Which brings up my final point. Even though schools recruit players to come to their school. The player has the final say in which school to attend. They have to make the right decision. They have to think it out and take their time. They can’t let the coaches get to them or pressure them. They must choose which school is best for them. Because in the end, it’s not the school’s fault for not having what the player wanted, but the player’s fault for choosing the school which didn’t have what they wanted.