Quin: As recruiting season ends the Lions added two more players to their recruiting class with Giancario Margarejo, a cornerback out of Clearwater Central Catholic High School in Clearwater, Fla., and Terrell Townsend, a defensive end transfer from San Jose State University. With these additions the Lions recruiting class will consist of three high school students and 10 college transfers. Does this approach to team building bring reason for concern in your eyes?
Chase: In my eyes, no. I believe you need those older guys to distribute into the program and also bring in leadership right away. There is still two years for North Alabama under probation where they cannot get into the FCS Playoffs.
Quin: I understand that these players bring a level of experience to the team from their experiences with higher level programs. However, I would point to the FCS powerhouse North Dakota State who constantly recruits local high school talent to build their program and win multiple national championships. Whereas our model seems to be based more in the Jacksonville State form of team building which has not brought much success to that program on the national scale winning zero titles. Would it then not be better to keep the talent local and loyal while developing into a prominent program through tough lessons learned?
Chase: All good programs take time to develop. NDSU joined the FCS league in 2004, a 14-year head start against North Alabama. Before this past season, Jacksonville State had reached the OVC and FCS playoffs each of the past six seasons before falling to 6-6 to end last year. Local talent matters a lot, definitely to Coach Willis and staff; many kids simply just want to leave the area and prove themselves instead of basically staying at home with their parents.
Quin: That is a strong point to make. I have noticed in recent years that many talented players from the northern half of Alabama are leaving to make their mark at programs such as Arkansas State and Troy. Do you think playing at an FCS level limits the coaching staff’s ability to grab local talent?
Chase: Division-I is Division-I. However, it seems to be that local players have the ability to take that next step and go to the bigger schools such as your Troy’s or Arkansas State’s. Most local schools, besides Mars Hill, are relatively large 6-7A schools. Many athletes get produced and bred to go play at these bigger college programs. Now, is it tougher to grab those guys such as Muscle Shoals coveted Jackson Bratton at the FCS level? Definitely. The other guys though, such as Mack McCluskey, are tough to bring but can and will be done by this coaching staff.
Quin: Overall, I would say the future of the Lions roster is positive as they are only in the experimental stages of moving into Division-I play. Like you said Division-I is Division-I and the athletes at this level are challenging.
Quin: In other news many players who used to play Division-I football were on the largest of stages on Sunday, Feb. 2 when the Kansas City Chiefs took on the San Francisco 49ers in Miami. One of the largest controversies to come out of that game was over the Super Bowl MVP being awarded to quarterback Patrick Mahomes. What do you make of this debate?
Chase: I like Damien Williams or Travis Kelce for the award. I believe that the MVP award is usually presented to the quarterback of the winning team. However, both quarterbacks played either mediocre or below average in my opinion. I would give it to Kelce for the sole reason being that he caught the touchdown when Kansas City was down 20-10; his touchdown making the cut by 3 and sparking life into the Chiefs. Williams had two touchdowns and over 133 yards, one of the touchdowns being the dagger in San Francisco and ending their hopes of a comeback.
Quin: I would like to start by agreeing with you. I am strongly against the selection of Patrick Mahomes as MVP because his performance was below his average standard. Passing for two touchdowns and running for one are not impressive stats, and further proves that the people selecting the MVP have a tendency to pick the quarterback of the winning team. However, I would like to steal all the reasons you listed above as to why Damien Williams deserved the MVP. Throughout this season the Chiefs have been well known for not having a strong presence from the running back position. For me seeing Williams step up on the biggest stage having the receiving touchdown to give the Chiefs the lead and a rushing touchdown to put the game away was much more impactful to the Chiefs performance than Kelce’s six receptions for 43 yards.
Chase: I lean heavier towards Williams but I keep Kelce as a close second just due to that big touchdown catch that brought the Chiefs back into the game with just half a fourth quarter to play.
Quin: I think it is fair to say that regardless of if you side with Damien Williams or Travis Kelce it is clear the Mahomes performance was not special enough to warrant the Super Bowl MVP title. However, if it was not for poor clock management in the game we may not be arguing about which Chiefs player deserved the MVP, but instead the game the 49ers just won. Is the second showing of Kyle Shanahan’s poor clock management in a Super Bowl a bad sign for Shanahan’s ability to ever win the big game?
Chase: I believe Shanahan is one of the best, if not the best, offensive play caller in the league. I know Jimmy Garropolo to be the next great quarterback, to me he is a Tom Brady-esque quarterback. He also has shown amazing skill by taking dismal offenses and turning them into powerhouses. I think it might take him a few tries at head coach but I believe he could be a top coach in terms of Super Bowl rings by the time his career is up.
Quin: I am thinking once again under a similar idea as you. Shanahan is too talented with the offensive side of the ball to not eventually win a Super Bowl. However, I strongly believe that Jimmy Garropolo is not the answer to the 49ers future success and that Shanahan’s career path will be similar to that of the man who beat him, Andy Reid. Jimmy Garrapolo is not dynamic enough for the modern NFL and is slightly too inconsistent when it comes to errand throws and costly turnovers. Therefore I see the next few years being highlighted by the 49ers coming up just short year after year. Then the franchise becomes fed up with Shanahan’s performance giving him the boot. After that he will take a new team to the promised land after a couple heartbreaking seasons in the same fashion Andy Reid did with the Chiefs. I know this seems like a fairytale but often history repeats itself in odd ways.
Chase: I love Garoppolo in that position, he is a great system quarterback, this is why I compare him to Brady. I think it can work in San Francisco with what they have now; an elite defense and above average quarterback and extremely good passing options. There aren’t many quarterbacks that could do what Garoppolo did this past season by taking a 3-13 team from a season ago to the Super Bowl. Everything they did during the season ultimately goes down the drain due to their poor ending but this is probably the most remarkable season since the 2012 Super Bowl run.
Quin: I concede that their defense is stellar, but let us not pretend like other elite defenses like the Ravens or Texans of days past did not mightily struggle with their respective quarterbacks in the playoffs. I say this because I just do not buy that Garoppolo is the new Tom Brady comparisons. I think he is talented and capable of winning maybe one Super Bowl. However, he reminds me more of Alex Smith than Tom Brady.
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