The University of Wisconsin's football team began its formal practices yesterday, and Lance "Rance" Smith, UW's mercurial back-up running back from Warren, Ohio was unsuspended just in time to start practicing. That's certainly a good thing for Badger fans who have high expectations for this season. Rance also sounded quite penitent about the incident, which he basically admitted. That is, he admitted to shoving his girlfriend around over $5 in cab fare. As I said before, the one positive from that situation is you can now know for sure that he wasn't taking money from boosters.
Rance also made some vows to undergo counseling and do community service. Those activities will likely overlap with whatever plea deal he arranges with the Dane County DA's office, which I continue to predict, will lead to them dropping the charges if he plays by the rules for an extended period of time. Those were the deals given to Booker (the first time) and to Boo Wade. Anyhow, this is positive news. Rance sounds truly contrite, hopefully he's learned something, and he still has the chance to make a meaningful contribution to the team.
But as the title of this post indicates, there's still some negative news out there. John Clay, the manchild from Racine, is not practicing with the team as he awaits his summer school grades and the NCAA "clearinghouse" evaluates his entire record. The State Journal's position on this is gloomy, apparently because Clay's name isn't on the current roster. But having a player's eligibility come down to the wire is not that unusual. I read earlier that three freshman at LSU last year weren't declared eligible until almost the end of August. They were able to enroll and all contributed to the Tiger's Sugar Bowl winning team. Let's keep our fingers crossed with John. It looks very murky, and we're right to be nervous.
I, personally, have learned my lesson to not get too excited about recruits until they're actually enrolled and contributing. I suppose that should also mean I shouldn't get too nervous about other teams' recruits until they're on the field against the Badgers. But there's this particular Michigan recruit who is very worrying. Check this out. Uh oh. Thankfully, he doesn't enroll until next year. Hey, maybe he'll be ineligible.