Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and intern Connor Letourneau -- co-sports editor of The Diamondback -- weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
How did the Kevin Anderson-to-Stanford story get started, and has it really been put to rest?
Jeff Barker: I don’t know quite how it began. Was somebody trying to get Anderson in the mix for the Stanford athletic director position by floating his name like a trial balloon? No doubt, Stanford AD is a great job.
What we know is how it ended – with Anderson scrambling to assure his Maryland staff, supporters and university president Wallace Loh that he wasn’t leaving. Anderson said he spoke to a San Francisco Chronicle editor to try to determine how and why the newspaper wrote a story saying he appeared on the verge of heading back to Stanford, where he was director of annual giving for athletics from 1993 to 1995.
It’s great to be first with a story, but it’s more important to be right.
These sorts of stories can be complicated to decipher. When you’re an athletic director or major-college football or basketball coach, you can send the wrong signal to your fan base merely by reciprocating interest in an opening that another school has presented to you. So, in some cases, the courted athletic official communicates through a third-party intermediary such as a search firm. It can all be very clandestine.
But I believe Anderson when he says he is committed to Maryland. There is much work remaining for him at the school. I don’t think leaving now would create the legacy he wants and the legacy he is capable of producing.
Is Maryland making a mistake not moving Kenny Tate -- who this week was named to the Butkus Award watch list for top linebacker in the country -- back to safety?
Don Markus: It is certainly interesting to see how Tate’s career in College Park has evolved. He came in from DeMatha as a highly touted receiver who was moved begrudgingly to safety as a true freshman. There were many who thought Ralph Friedgen had made a mistake, but Tate grew into an All-ACC safety by his junior year.
When Randy Edsall and former defensive coordinator Todd Bradford turned Tate into a linebacker last season, in large part because of the development of Matt Robinson at safety, I thought they were making a mistake. Robinson was a solid player before getting hurt, but he was not at Tate’s level for dominating a game.
Tate put up good numbers in the four games at the STAR linebacker before his season ended with a knee injury (8.8 tackles a game, two interceptions) but he wasn’t a star. I figured when Bradford got fired and Tate received a fifth-year as a medical redshirt, new defensive coordinator Brian Stewart would move Tate back to safety.
As the Terps get ready to open camp next month, Tate is being listed as a SAM (or strong-side) linebacker. That he was put on the list for the Butkus Award is a tribute to his talent, but I’m not sure he’s shown enough at linebacker to merit that inclusion. I also wonder if he’s going to have the same speed and mobility right off the bat, which might mean playing him at safety makes more sense.
Given what Tate has gone through at College Park, being moved around to four different positions without a peep, I think he should get to play where he can showcase his talents for the pros while helping what is clearly a rebuilding team. If Tate is cool with staying at linebacker, then keep him there. But I think he should be playing safety.
The Harrison twins impressed Maryland fans during an AAU game at Baltimore City Community College on Monday. What are the Terps’ chances of landing Andrew and Aaron?
Connor Letourneau: If I had to put a number on it, I’d say there’s a 50 percent chance the Harrison twins commit to Maryland this fall. I know Aaron and Andrew maintain they’re currently considering multiple schools (Kentucky, Baylor, Villanova, Southern Methodist and the Terps), but I’m convinced this is a two-horse race.
How do I know? The powers of observation. Watch an interview with the Harrisons, and you’ll notice they consistently list Kentucky and Maryland first when naming their top schools. They claim the order is random, sure, but don’t you think it’s kind of telling? Those two programs are on the front of their minds for a number of reasons.
Kentucky, obviously, would be the easy choice. It’s the defending national champion, and has a proven track record of sending one-and-done prospects — which Andrew and Aaron definitely are — directly to the NBA.
Maryland, on the other hand, is the beneficiary of circumstance. The Harrisons’ father is from Baltimore, has fond feelings for Mark Turgeon and is close with assistant coach Bino Ranson. Aaron and Andrew also consider Terps recruit Shaquille Cleare one of their best friends.
But will those factors be enough to land the most highly touted brother duo of all time?
Personally, I think it all comes down to which brother gets the final word. Aaron and Andrew have said they’re a “package deal,” that they plan to attend the same college.
Yet I couldn’t help but notice Monday that they aren’t exactly on the same page.
Andrew listed SMU in his list of schools, while Aaron didn’t. Also, Andrew said they could announce their decision as early as September. Aaron said they’ll wait until their 18th birthday on Oct. 28.
Thus, I can’t help but get the sense that they could be leaning toward different schools. My gut tells me Andrew, who has never been shy about his NBA ambitions, prefers John Calipari and the Wildcats. Aaron, who gushed Monday about his fondness for the Baltimore area, seems more like a Maryland guy.
It may all depend on who is more willing to compromise.