Saturday, August 23, 2008

Q & A with Jordan and Mike Schmaltz

Mark Stewart with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a Q&A with Jordan Schmaltz and his dad on the JS Badgers Blog. Not much that we didn't already know, but Q&As are always interesting.

The following question/answer surprised me a bit:

Q: Did the way this whole process unfolded surprise you? What were your thoughts when UW offered you a scholarship?

A: After the season where we actually got second in nationals, I didn't think I would be committing to a college before I started high school, but I guess it happened. I was pretty surprised.

My surprise stems from the issue that it appears that the Schmaltz family was perhaps pushing the recruiting issue with the Badgers, according to Baggot's latest recruiting article.
According to Schmaltz's father, Mike, when he approached Eaves and his staff earlier this summer to gauge the level of interest in his son, he was told UW wasn't ready to make offers to 1993-born prospects.
So, Mike is taking his kid to visit campuses and approaching coaching staffs to gauge their level of interest, and the kid is surprised by what unfolds? (Ok, he's only 14, so I don't expect him to know what's going on, but his answer made it sound a bit like the offer was completely unexpected/unsolicited, which clearly isn't the case.)

In this particular interview, Mike sounds a bit more convinced about the commitment than Jordan does. Sure, Jordan says he won't change his mind about playing for the Badgers, but his answers don't really inspire confidence. I write this off as him being 14 and therefore not all that experienced or eloquent when it comes to interviewing. Besides, I like what he told Baggot earlier:
"I really liked the coaches and the campus," Jordan Schmaltz said of UW. "And I thought being in my hometown, playing for the Badgers, would be sweet."

By the way, Schmaltz's commitment has apparently grabbed the attention of Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshinski, who goes "a little" over the top in his analysis:

So many questions. The offer is non-binding for either side; why make it now? To scare off other schools that will just continue to go after him if he's the second coming of Bobby Orr? To give a 14-year-old kid a place in newspaper wire round-ups and the instant respect of his peers? Is Wisconsin going to recruit around this kid in anticipation of 2012? What if the Badgers' situation changes to the point where Schmaltz is a bad fit, or vice versa? Doesn't it get even a little uncomfortable having made this extraordinary commitment -- not to mention that increased expectations it places on the prodigy -- and then having either side potentially break it in three years?

And why do I get the feeling opponents are going to go just a little bit harder to the corners with Mr. Schmaltz?

Yeah, it's a crazy world when 14-year-olds are committing, and Baggot talks about it in his latest recruiting article. But in response to Wyshinski's above rant, all I can say is this: "Really? Are you serious?" Clearly the Badgers don't think he's the second coming of Bobby Orr, and other schools aren't going to recruit him like the 2nd coming of Bobby Orr. (Not saying he wouldn't get recruited hard, but Bobby Orr? Really?) And clearly the Badgers aren't going to recruit around Schmaltz in anticipation of 2012.

This seems to be a case of Wisconsin wanting to keep a talented local kid in Wisconsin. And with North Dakota and Notre Dame waiting in the wings, the Badgers felt they needed to take a chance early to do this. DPlaya of HIW sums this up nicely in this post on uscho:
Now, as to why UW offered Schmaltz. Number one, Eaves is trying to throw a fence around Wisconsin, to the best of his ability, and keep elite Wisconsin players here. Number two, the kid was headed to visit Notre Dame next, who has been recruiting in Wisconsin very heavily since Jeff Jackson took over. Number three, the only other 1993 birthdate recruit to have verballed to a Western school so far was offered by Notre Dame, so it wasn't unreasonable for Eaves or anyone else to believe they'd do it again. Number four, the staff believes Schmaltz will make a difference here.
In another post, DPlaya expounds on why the Badger staff were looking at Schmaltz so early:
Somebody had asked how hard UW tried to get Soley or Condon. The UW staff admitted they had not seen the acceleration of early commitments from Wisconsin high school players coming when it first started with those guys, and had to play catch up on that trend after Soley and Condon had made commitments.
So, on one hand I tend to agree with Baggot that it's crazy for a kid to commit to a college before spending a single day in high school, but on the other hand I think the Badgers' actions aren't all that unreasonable. *shrug*