Thursday, February 12, 2009

Superman to Temple: "Call me"

Garrett Barnas was named Illinois Player of the Year in high school.
By Mike Gibson
When he was in high school, they called him Superman.
Garrett Barnas not only won Bureau Valley (Ill.) High a state championship and produced an unbeaten season at quarterback, he won the Illinois state 110 hurdles championship and threw the shot put farther than anyone else in that very populated state.
What they're saying about Garrett Barnas ...

"(Garrett Barnas) is the best athlete I've ever prepared for as a player or a coach. When his team needs a play, he makes the play."
_Alwood-Rowva (Ill.) head coach Jeremy Adolphson

"He has a skill set that other people just don't have. He's exciting. He knows how to find the end zone _ even on a bad day."
_ Harper College head coach Dragan Teonic

"(Barnas) is a great athlete. You don't see many of them come around. Maybe once every 20 years. He can run, scramble and throw and you can just see how gutsy he is."
_DuQuoinn (Ill.) head coach Al Martin
Early this week, when Barnas was asked about Temple, he said, simply:
"I'm interested. They have my contact information. I'll wait for them to call."
It was said matter-of-factly, not as a take-it-or-leave-it thing but by someone who was burned once by a major school and is approaching this with hopeful optimism and cautiously waiting to see what happens.
The ball is squarely in the Edberg-Olson braintrust court now.
If it's fumbled, the Owls could be courting a fall disaster at the quarterback position should a combination of injuries/ineligibility/sickness/accident/kidnapping, you name it, strike any of the remaining three guys.
It's a problem they have to at least discuss amongst themselves.
Barnas is a damn good answer to the problem in my humble opinion. If you can find a better quarterback still on the board, please send his name to Al Golden. I can't.
Early this week, when Barnas was asked about Temple, he said, simply:
"I'm interested. They have my contact information. I'll wait for them to call."

When Barnas was in college, he made first-team All-American at quarterback not once, but twice and capped his two-year career by winning a national championship at Harper College in Palatine, Ill. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards as a sophomore and tossed 59 touchdown passes in two years and went 11-1 this past season. He led his team to the greatest comeback in college football history in a bowl game in Arizona, rallying the squad from a 38-6 fourth-quarter deficit to win, 39-38.
The cynical among you would say, "Geez, if he's that good, why isn't anyone offering him?"
Well, he is that good and nobody is or has offered him for a real good reason.
He accepted a full scholarship offer to Syracuse and packed his bags to get there by the mid-semester break.
Then, on Dec. 23, Syracuse pulled the rug out from under him and rescinded the offer.
By Dec. 23, most (read: all) Division IA colleges are set on their quarterbacks.
Barnas didn't get an offer because there were no offers to give.
That's where Temple comes into play.
The Owls did not have an offer to give because they offered two quarterbacks and both accepted.
By signing day, Feb. 4, one, Mark Giubilato, de-committed.
That left Temple with an offer to give to someone qualified to play right away, someone who was recruited after high school by Iowa and South Florida in addition to Syracuse.
Al Golden got up on the podium and promised the Temple fans and Philadelphia media that his coaches were going to look to fill another scholarship spot with the "best available quarterback" and that adding a ready-to-go quarterback was priority No. 1 for his staff. They wanted a guy who can start a big-time college game right away, not two years from now.
"The Waffle House is Open," was the way Golden put it.
An hour or so later, Temple recruiting coordinator Ed Foley was frantically texting a representative for Barnas, "You mean he didn't sign with anybody?" Foley texted.
When the person he was texting asked what the prospects of an offer were, Foley texted back:
"The coaches are out of the office until Monday. We'll talk about it then."
That doesn't seem like much of a priority to me but, heck, the coaches needed some down time after a frantic recruiting season.
Foley was then provided with a cell number, a regular number and an email for Barnas.
So far, we've been told, no offer. No talk. Not even a follow-up text.
A week ago, the Temple coaches seemed excited with the prospect of adding a polished, proven COLLEGE winner to a mix that included two part-time varsity starters and a true freshman.
So far, nothing has happened.
Time is a wasting, as they say.
I've said this for four months and I'll say it until I'm blue in the face. Barnas is perfect for Temple and Temple is perfect for him.
The kid is good enough to be first-string quarterback. He's also good enough to be a capable backup. He'd be a terrific insurance policy should an accident or two happpen to any of the current Temple quarterbacks. He's not a project who will not be capable of playing right away. He'll be capable of playing now. If he doesn't make it at quarterback, he can play safety. He's a proven two-way player. Temple should have room for someone who is that versatile.
The disaster is not Vaughn Charlton or Chester Stewart or Chris Coyer starting. I believe the Owls are good enough to win the MAC with all three. The disaster comes is if one, two or (Heaven Forbid) three of them go down. That's Disaster with a capital D. Why not bring in a guy who is at least as good as Vaughn, Chester or Chris? Or a guy who at least is in the conversation?
This is a problem that can easily be solved on Feb. 12 by doing nothing more strenous then picking up a phone in the coaches office at Edberg-Olson Hall and dialing a number in Walnut or Palatine, Ill.
The problem can't be solved at all on Sept. 3.
Or later.
Heck, come March even who knows if Barnas will even be available? He is now. Right now.
I've looked at this 25 different ways and I can't see a downside. There's only an upside here. Twenty-five upsides.
The disaster is not Vaughn Charlton or Chester Stewart or Chris Coyer starting ... The disaster comes if 1, 2 or (Heaven Forbid) 3 of them go down. That's Disaster with a capital D.

Hell, if I hit the $92 million Saturday, I'd give him a "Temple Football" scholarship to attend Tyler School of Art and then walk on to the team (if that was legal, of course). That's how much confidence I have in the kid making an immediate positive impact as a person and a player.
You may say the downside is giving a scholarship to a guy who is only going to be here two years, but you are giving a scholarship to a great athlete, a great person and a great student whose two years here can buy you the time to build depth at the most important position on the field.
One more signing class, possibly adding, say, a Drew Loughery and the Owls are up to speed.
Meanwhile, it wouldn't hurt to call on Superman now, while you can call him.
Otherwise, you risk him leaping tall buildings (or at least hurdle-tall defenders) for Kent State against Temple this fall. Think a taller, bigger, faster, better version of Julian Edelman, who was a mere human.
You don't want to tug Superman's cape, trust me. You want him working for the good guys and hopefully we're still the good guys.

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