It feels more and more like young people today are losing touch with reality. Well, maybe not reality, but we are more and more reliant on the virtual world to communicate and find our news and gossip.
Take, for instance, this message I received from one of my roommates earlier this afternoon: “Hey bro, did u c prince 2 D-troit? Ur Sox r in trouble lol.” This wasn’t just a text message, but rather an instant message he sent while Skyping me. While we were on the phone. And he was in his room next door.
Like I said, we are losing touch with the physical world. Which is why every week I take a few moments to sit down and put pen to paper with a letter to an athlete I admire, but who I hope will listen to some words of wisdom.
The following is what I came up with for this week:
As I write this letter, I am simultaneously watching highlights of these past few glorious seasons on the Farm. There is the strike you threw to Doug Baldwin while being pulled to the ground, followed by the one-handed take-your-breath-away grab you made against UCLA. Who could forget the 51-yard touchdown scamper against Washington and 52-yarder against Wake Forest?
Ah, there are my personal favorites–the absolute beat-downs you handed Cal’s Sean Cattouse and USC’s Shareece Wright (accompanied by a great call from the broadcast team).
And of course there are several minutes devoted to the masterpiece you painted against Oregon in the 2009 upset and the surgical precision with which you dissected Virginia Tech’s vaunted defense in the Orange Bowl.
That leaves out the incredible comeback you led against USC moments after being picked off, leaving hordes of distraught Stanford fans worried they would once more have to suffer the wrath of the most obnoxious fans–and fight song–in the land.
But enough of singing your praises, because you have plenty of people to do that in the months leading up to your coronation as the NFL’s No. 1 pick in April–Phil Simms’ insanity notwithstanding.
Actually, that’s kind of why I’m writing to you, Austen (note how my personal relationship allows me to call you by your uniquely spelled middle name.)
I want you to shock the world, make a terrible business decision and suit up a few more times for the Cardinal. I realize that this is, in fact, impossible. You hired an agent, passed the deadline for withdrawing from the draft and by all accounts are knee-deep in workouts to show people why Heisman voters certainly did not pick the better NFL quarterback prospect.
But there is so much more work to be done on this campus, Andrew!
I am afraid of what the future holds in store for Stanford football. Definitely not next season, when I believe Barry Sanders Jr. and Stepfan Taylor will lead the Cardinal’s stable of running backs, and a hungry Shayne Skov will leave his mark on players and the program.
That should also keep the ball rolling for 2013, when I expect big things from Brett Nottingham. Seriously.
And I don’t even think there will be an exodus of fans from the games just because there is no No. 12 running around making plays with a beehive on his neck.
No, I am afraid because I fear that the greatness of the past three years of Stanford football will fade into obscurity with all the great things going on at this campus in any one moment.
Surrounded by Nobel Prize winners, and amongst the multitude of NCAA championships because of the quantity of quality athletes that bike these streets, Stanford football had a chance to stick it to the SEC, the East Coast haters and the ignorant citizens all across the country who do not realize that Stanford is not just a place for nerds.
Sure, #Revengeofthenerds is a great sign to show off on College GameDay, but it feels like we were just one or two wins away from spawning the type of freshmen that flock to USC.
We will rarely have the kind of players that normally suit up for Troy or LSU or Alabama. But that is because we do not want them. They would not get in.
But I was hoping that a BCS Championship or at least another BCS bowl game win would finish off the job that Harbaugh began cultivating and that you and your crew took to heart in just a few short years on the Farm: make Stanford a perennial power in the most popular college sport in the country.
I applaud David Shaw for the job he has done in out-recruiting Harbaugh and setting Stanford on a solid track to try to continue the winning ways of these last seasons.
However, I had even bigger dreams for us. Call me Don Quixote, but I dreamt of a campus actually enthralled with college football from September through January. A campus that was able to pack not only the USC and Oregon games but also the San Jose State and Washington State games–staying until the final whistle.
Which is why I want you to avoid the Colts and all that insanity and sue the NCAA to regain your final year of eligibility. Sure, it didn’t work out for Maurice Clarett, but you’re a whole lot smarter.
Wouldn’t it feel good to hoist up that crystal trophy in Miami next January and finally put a Heisman on your mantle? But hey, what do I know?
Well, Miles may not know much, but he has the freaking Ink Bowl MVP trophy on his mantle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check him out on Twitter @smilesbsmith.