Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Hidden wounds: After a slew of unpublicized injuries derailed Syracuse last year, the program makes adjustments to stay healthy in 2012Multiple fronts: Ashton Broyld gives Syracuse a new offensive weapon who can attack defenses from a variety of positionsOn the bright side: In his first season at Syracuse, veteran coach Donnie Henderson aims to turn the struggling secondary aroundNo rush: Without a clear-cut starter after preseason camp, Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone will weigh his options at running back during the season’The new Temple’: Coming off a 9-4 season and bowl victory, the Owls are looking to prove they’re here to stay in their second go-around in the Big East Published on August 30, 2012 at 3:49 am Contact Ryne: email@example.com The usually laid-back Marcus Sales was distraught. Sales, who was often upbeat and rarely showed emotion, couldn’t hold it together.It was about 3 or 4 a.m. July 30, 2011, as Dan Sisto listened in shock while his friend fought through tears.About six hours earlier, at 9:45 p.m. July 29, Sales and his brother were stopped by police after they ran a red light in Syracuse. They were arrested after drugs and drug paraphernalia were found in their car. Both would face felony drug charges.Sisto said he could hear the pain in Sales’ voice during the emotional call, describing him as depressed and embarrassed.“He was just so caught up that he wasn’t going to be able to play football anymore at Syracuse,” said Sisto, a close friend and high school teammate. “It was really the most heartbreaking thing to him.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHead coach Doug Marrone suspended Sales indefinitely in August. But the drug charges were dropped in October, and Sales was reinstated to the team in the spring. The senior wide receiver is expected to provide a boost to an offense in desperate need of a playmaker after a disappointing 2011 season.Sales worked tirelessly during his suspension so he would be ready if he received a second chance. Now, he’s anxious to get back on the field with his team again.“I got over it; I got through it,” Sales said of his suspension. “It’s a new season. It’s in the past, so I’m just ready to move on.”SU wide receivers coach Rob Moore said Sales is the fastest and strongest he has ever been in his career.The senior weighs 195 pounds now, adding 18 pounds since he last played in 2010, which Moore said should help him pick up yards after the catch. He also shaved his 40 time to the 4.5-range for the first time.And Moore said Sales is more mature, redefining himself after a challenging season away from the team. It’s a maturity Sales lacked on the field early in his career.The former high school All-American has struggled to achieve his potential. In his first two seasons, Sales hauled in 42 catches for 484 yards and four touchdowns. As a junior in 2010, Sales only caught five passes for 39 yards in the Orange’s first nine games as he saw limited playing time.“I think that was a case where Marcus just had to learn and understand what was expected of him on the practice field,” said Moore, who joined the SU coaching staff that season. “And that’s a mantra that we preach to all our young players that come here.“There’s a certain way you’re expected to practice, and if you can’t give us that, we can’t put you on the field.”Moore said that toward the middle of the season, Sales started to give the effort expected. The increased effort led to more playing time and a strong finish to his inconsistent season, highlighted by a three-touchdown, 172-yard performance in the Pinstripe Bowl.“He’s a young man that I had a rollercoaster of a ride with the first year,” said offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. “It ended on a very, very high note and never really got to continue that ride.”His arrest ended the ride for 2011 and jeopardized his career.But in the hours after his arrest — through the tears — Sales vowed to Sisto he was ready to work out like old times. He needed to stay in shape for the next season, and he needed his high school quarterback’s help.Five or six days a week, they met at Nottingham High School and Christian Brothers Academy, and they went through planned workouts for two and a half hours.Sales ran his routes. They ran sprints and hills. Sisto fired him more passes. They did cardio and jump rope. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they followed it up with 90 more minutes of lifting weights at Gold’s Gym.At first, Sales was distracted by his off-field issues. Eventually, he never wanted to stop working out. It was an astounding transformation from their time together at CBA when Sisto said Sales didn’t believe in working hard because everything was given to the star athlete.“I’ve seen him grow so much through this time in his work ethic. It’s sort of unbelievable to me,” Sisto said.As Sales worked with his eye on a return to the program in 2012, the Orange played out 2011.Sales was supposed to be the Orange’s top receiver going into last season. Former SU teammates Antwon Bailey and Dorian Graham both called Sales a dependable playmaker.He had sure hands and an understanding of the position. And after his breakout game in the Pinstripe Bowl, teammates and coaches finally saw the talent that made him a coveted recruit out of high school.“He brought a lot of respect to the wide receiver position,” Bailey said. “And without having him there, those wide receivers, they had to gain respect, so we started off with a lot of eight-man boxes and a lot of safeties down in the box.“He would have been a big help for us last season.”But Sales had to watch from afar. He stayed in touch with his teammates every week. Graham said he was in constant communication with Sales and that he called after each game.Bailey also spoke and hung out with him regularly. Sales asked about how his teammates, especially the wide receivers, were doing. Bailey said while he longed to get back onto the field, Sales stayed in good spirits and supported the team through his suspension.After the Orange’s 49-23 upset of No. 11 West Virginia in October, Sales was the first to call Bailey. He was ecstatic, praising Bailey and the receivers for a stellar performance before meeting up with his teammate on South Campus later that night.“If you didn’t know the situation, you wouldn’t have known that he didn’t play,” Bailey said.Five days after the Orange defeated the Mountaineers, his hopes for a return to SU received a boost when the charges against him were dropped. Two weeks later, after meeting with the University Judicial Board, his suspension was lifted.Sisto said it was a “turning point” for Sales. Because the school allowed him to attend classes again, he was optimistic it would lead to his reinstatement in the football program.Sisto noticed Sales going harder at workouts. Once he was officially back with the team in March, he shifted into another gear. All the hard work had paid off.“I knew I was going to have a chance to get back on the field,” Sales said. “So I mean it was just me being ready whenever I got the call, so that’s what my mentality was the whole time.”Now, Sales will continue the ride interrupted in 2011. Moore expects Sales to make plays and pick up where he left off at Yankee Stadium two years ago.Sales, though, isn’t looking back. After an emotional year during which he was sure his football career was over, he’s leaving the past behind and preparing to run back onto the Carrier Dome turf to begin his senior season.“I’m just glad to be back out here competing with my friends and my teammates,” Sales said. “I mean, just being out here, just to be able to play football — it’s a blessing.” Comments
Ohio State presented its plan for Buckeyes football players on May 20. On that day, there were 621 new cases of COVID in the state of Ohio. When the first players began returning June 8, that number was down to 413. By July 13, it had spiked to 1,502.This is why the Big Ten and Pac-12 already have said they will contest only conference games this season, and why the other major leagues are delaying decisions about what course their autumns will take.Playing college football in the current environment is a challenging endeavor, possibly impossible. The idea, though, that preparing to play is needlessly dangerous or, as Chris Hinton said, “They’re not even hiding the fact it’s about revenue,” is a far greater stretch than anything that’s happened before the football players run sprints. Greg Sankey knows better than anyone what three properly sequenced letters can convey. He is the commissioner of the S-E-C, a brand that may be as powerful and distinctive as any in sports. So how did he not know, when informed that someone from H-B-O wanted to interview him, that the resulting piece was going to be one-sided with or without his side?HBO has done some important sports journalism over the years, but its track record on coverage of college athletics is predictable and abysmal. HBO aired the execrable documentary “Student Athlete” in 2018 and, earlier this year, presented the ludicrous “The Scheme,” which seemed designed to cast convicted criminal Christian Dawkins as some sort of Marvel superhero. BENDER: Best-case scenario for college football in 2020 still standsSankey agreed to talk anyway, and the “Real Sports” program used that opportunity mostly to harangue him for declining to break the confidence of his member schools regarding how many of their football players had tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to campus.That’s the subject of the “Real Sports” segment titled “Dangerous Games,” reported by David Scott and produced by Josh Fine: the decision by many member schools to invite their football players back to campus for summer workouts as the coronavirus pandemic has escalated.The title itself is a conspicuous indication that “Real Sports” believes athletes being back on campus is Real Bad.There is almost no consideration given to the contention of many, expressed by Pacific-12 Conference commissioner Larry Scott in a May interview with CNN, that athletes engaging in on-campus training are safer there than they would be if they would were lifting weights or running pass patterns in their home communities.Because the choice for most college athletes isn’t between training on a campus and quarantining at home, playing “Madden” and watching “Tiger King” from the safety of their bedrooms.It’s between lifting weights in a public gym around people who aren’t regularly tested, with no medical supervision present, and, as Ohio State AD Gene Smith explained in a May teleconference, being grouped with nine other teammates to enter the Buckeyes’ football facility together, work out for an hour, then clear out so the place could be sanitized before the next group arrives.”Real Sports” did allow Sankey to say, “That reality informed what I still believe is the right decision.” But this one opposing opinion did not emerge until the report already had run more than 10 minutes and only in between the multiple questions designed to embarrass him for not being willing to reveal medical data that isn’t his to share.MORE: Which conferences have canceled their 2020 seasons”Dangerous Games” complained that too many of the Power 5 programs it contacted declined to share COVID testing data publicly. Of the 20 that did, however, the report said 8 percent of football players had produced a positive test compared with just 2 percent of the general public in the same age group.This was a disappointingly disingenuous use of data, making it seem that engaging in preseason training put the athletes in peril. These figures ignored that basically 100 percent of the football players had been tested for COVID, and a large number of positive cases were discovered in initial testing when players reported. They brought it with them. It also neglected that an infinitely smaller portion of the 18-24 age group has been tested for the illness — many, like the athletes arriving on campus, haven’t been sick enough to know they were sick.The case in the report is presented almost exclusively through an interview with one set of parents, Chris and Mya Hinton, who have two sons playing major-college football: Chris, a defensive lineman at Michigan, and Myles, an offensive lineman at Stanford.They expressed concerns about the propriety of athletes being gathered on campus to train for the 2020 college football season, as well as this: “As the parent of a football student-athlete,” Chris Hinton said, “actually, it pissed me off.”Hinton, who played in the NFL from 1983-95 as an offensive lineman, complained that the players and parents had “no voice” in the decision regarding the decision to have players resume on-campus workouts. He and his wife did not say why, given those concerns, they chose to allow both young Chris and Myles to return to their schools for training sessions that were known to be voluntary.Curiously, Scott either did not ask the Hintons why they sent their sons back to campus, or their response was not included in the piece. It seems the most salient question of all, and it was ignored.Those who insist there is no such thing as “voluntary” in college sports surely have slept through the past half-decade. The adoption of the transfer portal in NCAA athletics prevents any coaches or athletic departments from exercising extraordinary control over those who play football or basketball or any other major-college sports.MORE: Polls shows most fans don’t think football will happen this yearIf the Hinton brothers wished to opt out of summer training, it likely would have impacted their positions with their current teams. The experiences of hundreds of transfers, though, has demonstrated that there would be no shortage of programs eager to embrace those looking for a new home.We do not know whether there will be a college football season in the fall. It seems less likely than it did, frankly, when most of the decisions were made by Power 5 schools to stage on-campus training.