Via the Wizard of Odds and EDSBS, we find that Clemson RB/DB Ray Ray McElrathbey won’t be suiting up for the Tigers come next season, per the Charleston Post and Courier — four blue chip RBs ahead of him, and it appears Tommy Bowden has pulled his scholarship and offered him a graduate assistant position in order to get under the 85-scholly limit for the upcoming season.
This is unremarkable until you recall that McElrathbey got a lot of good press for the school and himself when he took in his younger brother Fahmarr and helped raise a trust to care for him — with Clemson going all out in order to support him (with the coaching staff’s wives and families helping out with Fahmarr). Now, we’ve got this:
Team spokesman Tim Bourret said McElrathbey, who has two years of football eligibility remaining, will graduate in August and plans to attend graduate school or transfer and play elsewhere.
James Davis, a senior tailback for the Tigers, said McElrathbey told him he didn’t have a choice.
“He said something about how they weren’t going to renew his scholarship,” said Davis, who has been friends with McElrathbey since their high school days in Atlanta. “It really surprised me. But there’s a lot of stuff you can’t say. It’s something I guess everybody has to learn to live with.”
As logical as this move may have seemed for the football program, it shows a serious lack of PR foresight — probably because there are worse players available to take the hit without the blowback — and also, because Bowden, like any other D-I coach, won’t hesitate to ditch the whole “loyalty” idea they proffer if it’s used to get a fat raise by toying with Arkansas’ open head coaching position.
McElrathbey is set to graduate in August, but the scholarship is a four-year commitment — and many programs cover that first year of grad school — plus, if he considers himself an NFL prospect, he’s gonna have to play (and Clemson says McElrathbey had the option of staying on scholarship but wouldn’t get any PT). Bowden’s going to take some heat for it. Hopefully, it’s in the recruiting department, when prospective players find out how the program treats players who turn out not to be NFL-worthy studs. It’s a good football move (if the whole “keeping the scholarship” option is truly on the up and up), but it looks awful.