I’ve never been a fan of the term. The last time I checked, no where on college degrees is the word mentioned.
It’s subjective. It’s unquantifiable. It’s stupid.
Here’s an idea: Instead of being reckless with the term, why not just afford someone their official title. You know, the one they earned.
So that leads me to the Panel of Experts, a hand-selected hodgepodge of journalists, coworkers, an athletic director and respected people in the community who predict weekly high school and college football games.
Not to discredit anyone on the panel, but no one is an expert. Of course that should be obvious considering our records, which fall well short of our talented field of Nostradamus’s (Take our top prognosticator, NWF Daily News Sport Editor Brandon Walker, who wouldn’t even crack the top 12 of the season standings).
Then there’s me. At 52-23, I’m five games away from even cracking the top 25. As for my place among the panel, I’m ninth among 10 "experts."
I do believe my rank will rise. Because, after all, I’m not terrible at life and I do have a good sense about sports. But this is a weird contest, built on the unpredictability of amateur football.
And that's my point exactly. There are no experts. Certainly not me, regardless of my current or future standing.
It is no secret that the Panhandle is one of the richest athletic locations in terms of producing blue-chip prospects.
But it seems like our neck of the woods has been especially fruitful of late considering the recent onslaught of collegiate All-Americans, top-10 MLB draft prospects and D-1 signees.
Two days ago I sat down with Choctawhatchee senior Bryan Baker to discuss the upcoming draft (June 6-8). The day after that I had a chat with Choctawhatchee senior Brittany Brown, a standout guard who will star on the Florida State women's basketball team this fall. Meanwhile up north at the same time, Sports Editor Brandon Walker was sitting down with Niceville senior Nick Haynes, a three-sport standout and offensive lineman who will star the University of Kentucky this fall.
Then today I got wind of NWF State shortstop Nick Masonia earning honorable mention All-American honors, an accolade that has dominated the local headlines lately. Also earning All-American recognition recently were NWF State point guard and sophomore Chris Jones, who is bound for the University of Louisville next season, Niceville and NWF State alum and current Troy outfielder Danny Collins, South Walton alum and current Alabama tennis standout Alex Guarachi, and Niceville alum and current Seminole infielder Kelly Hensley (Academic All-American).
Accolades like this are nothing to gloss over or take for granted. Being grouped with the creme de la creme in the country is impressive even for the Panhandle, which I hope continues to be represented well both locally and nationally by our neck of the woods.
All-Area lists and I have a love-hate relationship.
Even drawing from the nominations of area coaches and putting in the exhasutive legwork of navigating archives and reviewing stats, the end-of-season lists never seem to come out perfect. And, really, how can they? The lists are both objective and subjective.
Objective in the fact that stats do weigh heavily on the decisions. Subjective in the fact of how we choose to uitlize those stats. For instance, team strength, strength of schedule, class size, talent around said player, team success, what stats should factor into the equation most, and so forth and so forth are all issues that factor into the decision. In a nutshell, it's impossible to devise a formula to accurately compensate for all the tangibles and intangibles in every athletic venue.
But that's true of any Best-Of list, from the prep to the professional ranks.
But being a company man, I'm proud of the Daily News' commitment to prep sports. Despite it just being a two-person staff, I feel our game recaps, roundup coverage and features are substantial. And most readers would agree that the epitome of that coverage rests in our All-Area lists, which cover a range of double-digit high schools and are inclusive to EVERY sport. As for the main sports -- think football, volleyball, basketball -- they are represented in the scope of big and small schools while also sheding light on the premiere coach of said sport.
Simply put, we put a lot of thought and effort into these lists. They'll never be perfect, but the picks are never made in jest. We're always open to recommendations to better these lists and receptive to constructive criticism. We have thick skin, which is required a lot of times in working at a paper serving the needs of so many programs.
So, have a complaint? Let us know. Have a compliment or attaboy to throw our way? We're listening.