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USF, UT, Eckerd and Saint Leo basketball players pick up agent representation
Posted Apr 16, 2013 by Nick Williams
Updated Apr 16, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Several men’s and women’s basketball players from the University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and Saint Leo University, as well as other colleges or universities around the state, have been selected for professional sports representation with California-based agency Whitecox & Lyons Sports Management.
The players participated in a pro basketball combine in St. Petersburg this past weekend. They now have the option to be represented by the sports management company moving forward in possible contract negotiations with international, NBA and WNBA franchises. Players also would be entered in open tryouts for the NBDL, the NBA’s development league.
The players selected were:
DARRIEN MACK- ECKERD
ASHTON GRAHAM- UNIV OF TAMPA
KIEL LEWIS- AVE MARIA
BRYCE KACHINSKI- WARNER
TRENT THOMAS- SAINT LEO
NICOLE COLLINS- TRINITY BAPTIST
TRICIA SNEED- JACKSONVILLE
KANEISHA SAUNDERS- SOUTH FLORIDA
KIRSTEN MCINTYRE- FLORIDA SOUTHERN
Rafferty moves on from USF
Posted Jan 14, 2013 by Joey Johnston
Updated Jan 14, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Robinson High School offensive lineman Connor Rafferty, who committed to the University of South Florida last summer, is exploring other options after being told late Sunday night that he no longer fit into USF’s plans.
Rafferty, a dual-enrollment student who has been earning college academic credits at Hillsborough Community College, is planning a trip to Eastern Kentucky University this weekend.
Rafferty, a 6-foot-3, 280-pounder who was named first-team All-Hillsborough County by the Tampa Tribune, committed to USF when Skip Holtz was the head coach. Holtz was fired on Dec. 2. During the news conference to announce the coaching change, USF athletic director Doug Woolard said all of Holtz’s scholarship commitments would be honored. Rafferty’s mother, Tracy, said the family had no reason to worry after Willie Taggart was hired by USF on Dec. 8.
“I understand coaches have to come in and put their stamp on the program,’’ Rafferty’s mother said. “If anything was wrong, it was that they came in and told us everything was OK. We had no reason to look around or open up the recruiting again. Connor wanted to go to USF. He had the offer. It was being honored. We had called off trips to four different camps last summer because we were done and happy. So that was that.’‘
Rafferty’s mother said USF assistant Walt Wells called Sunday night, around 10:30, saying it would be in Rafferty’s best interests to look around for another offer.
National Signing Day is Feb. 6. USF coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until then.
“The whole thing has been a lesson learned,’’ Rafferty’s mother said. “Connor is going to be fine. We’re remaining positive. It has just been a shock.’‘
Rafferty’s Robinson teammate, two-way lineman Bruce Hector, also is a USF commitment.
“I just don’t think this is a good way to do business, particularly because USF said all scholarships would be honored,’’ said Mike DePue, who retired as Robinson’s coach after leading the Knights to the Class 5A state semifinals. “I know there was a coaching change and they’ve all got a job to do, but man, this sure leaves a sour taste.’‘
Rafferty said he didn’t want to speak with a reporter, but relayed a quick message through his mother:
“I’ve learned about the business side of recruiting. It’s definitely a business.’‘
Who Is Robert Weiner, Anyway?
Posted Jan 8, 2013 by Joey Johnston
Updated Jan 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM
It seemed like the perfect fit. Robert Weiner, a local legend with nothing left to accomplish at Plant High School, accepted the receivers coach position on Willie Taggart’s staff at the University of South Florida. It looked to be a great thing for USF recruiting.
Tuesday, Weiner decided to stay at Plant, where he is 102-19 in nine seasons with four state championships.
It has become a lightning-rod issue. Why wasn’t his mind made up before saying yes to USF? Why wouldn’t he be attracted by more money and a higher level of football? And for those who don’t follow much Hillsborough County prep football, there’s this: Who is Robert Weiner, anyway?
Here’s an article I did in 2006 on Weiner, a few days before Plant won its first state football championship. It might not shed any insight on why he walked away from USF, but it could tell you a little bit more about the man, cut from a different cloth than many of his coaching colleagues.
Originally published: Friday, December 8, 2006
By JOEY JOHNSTON, The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - Not long ago, Plant High football coach Robert Weiner and his older brother, Sam, a partner in one of the world’s largest law firms, compared their salaries. Turns out, Sam’s Christmas bonus was five times greater than the coach’s yearly compensation.
Ridiculous, they thought.
Then Sam grew serious.
“If I could do what you do for just one moment, if I could stand in that locker room and lead a team, if I could call just one play, it would be worth a lot of money,” Sam said.
Weiner made him an offer.
“Hey, for like 30 grand, no problem. I’ll let you call a play,” he said. “You know Robert Marve is going to check out of it anyway.”
They laughed for days.
Robert Weiner wouldn’t trade places with his brother. With anybody, really. If the Panthers defeat Ponte Vedra Beach Nease in Saturday’s Class 4A state title game, Weiner can raise a championship trophy. Most coaches dream of that moment, but his career never was defined by that goal. Obviously, it wasn’t about money, either.
If you peel back the layers of Weiner’s life, it always comes back to love.
Loving his job. Loving his players. Loving his students.
And everyone loving right him back.
Robert Weiner, 42, never played the game. Not one down of football - ever. Yet he’s one victory away from coaching a state-championship team. It works, with his trademark organizational and motivational skills, with a lifetime of studying X’s and O’s, with a staff that follows his workaholic lead.
“I’ll admit it’s unusual and different,” said Weiner, who was a tennis player and football manager at Jesuit High, where he later returned as an English teacher and football assistant before arriving at Plant in 2004.
How better to describe his coaching career, his life.
He writes poetry.
Thousands of poems, scribbled into journals, written on the margins of dog-eared pages. Moments of inspiration. Quick observations. Some done in perfect meter. Others defying all convention.
“The words of a poem need to have a sound,” Weiner said. “The sound and the intensity almost create the meaning itself. I hardly ever read my stuff. Like Bob Dylan said, once you’re done writing something, it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to them.
“It’s just a form of self-expression, just like putting on pads and hitting someone on a football field can be self-expression. But words, yeah, I like words.”
When Weiner was Jesuit’s student-body president, he began the morning convocation with a quote of the day. For years, his English students received wallet-sized cards with a daily inspiration. Now his football players are welcomed by new sayings in the football field house.
In dreams begin responsibilities - U2.
For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother - William Shakespeare.
It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up - Vince Lombardi.
“I read them every day,” Panthers defensive back Chris Kuzdale said. “Most of it, you take to heart.”
“That’s the idea,” he said.
A Man For Others
When Robert Weiner was 10, his mother, Carol, made a prediction.
“He’s going to save the world.”
Even as a kid, even when he had packs of friends - “people have always been attracted to him like a magnet,” Sam said - he was drawn to the lonely child who had no one.
“Robert could be doing anything in this world - doctor, lawyer, you name it,” said Plant co-defensive coordinator John Few, who has known Weiner since their days at Jesuit. “But you’ll never find anyone as genuine in giving themselves to others.”
In college, Weiner received a commendation from then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis after running a fundraising campaign for the homeless. At Jesuit, he commandeered the school’s community-service program. Before long, the entire student body was going deep for the needy. That has continued at Plant.
For 27 years, he has been a counselor at Muscular Dystrophy Association camp. When his players were invited, at first, some seemed uncomfortable. Soon, they were at their best, beaming, knowing they were doing good.
“We complain about running a sprint,” Weiner said. “But what about the people who would die to run a sprint? The people who would die to run through the smoke of that fog machine to a cheering crowd?
“How can we take any moment in life for granted?”
Plant offensive line coach Brian McNulty struggled to get through Jesuit, needing summer-school credits each year. In his frustration, he fought feelings of inferiority.
Then he took Weiner’s American Literature course.
“He made me feel like I was the only one in his class,” McNulty said. “He was so patient with me. He taught me to learn by association. He turned me on to music, then I discovered the books on tape and how I could learn so much better with audio.”
In college, McNulty learned another truth. Someone finally diagnosed his attention-deficit disorder.
“Coach Weiner cared about me, truly cared,” said McNulty, who went on to play football at Michigan State and USF. “He was a huge influence on me. And believe me, I’m not the only one.”
Lyrics Of His Life
Throughout Plant’s season, letters and e-mails have poured in, from around the world. The telephone rings incessantly. Weiner’s former students and players are checking in.
Sometimes, it’s New York Giants kicker Jay Feely. Weiner was Feely’s best man. No shock there. Weiner holds the North American record for being in the most weddings (although never his own, to his mother’s chagrin).
Inevitably, Weiner winds up with the microphone, delivering a speech that has everyone laughing, everyone crying, sometimes at the same moment. Just as inevitably, some distant relative will ask the groom: “Who was that guy?”
Sometimes, it’s the first contact in a decade or so. “Do you even remember me, Mr. Weiner?” they might say. He’ll sigh, then promptly describe their features and tell them where they sat in class.
You’d expect a man with 3,000 CDs and 9,000 songs on his iPod to know lyrics. His Honda Pilot died the other day and he had to borrow the car of a player to get home. Wheels have never really mattered. “As long as there’s a good sound system,” he said.
Mention a movie to Weiner and he’ll start quoting a scene, verbatim. He does a killer Al Pacino. Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men?” Of course.
Maybe it’s because his mother is a senior buyer for Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles. Maybe it’s because of his devotion to pop culture. But Weiner almost seems to be living out his own screenplay.
It’s somewhere between “Dead Poets Society” and “Coach Carter.” But in the middle, there’s love, like “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”
A longtime music teacher, at the end of his career, wonders about his contributions. Then he is greeted by former students, filling an auditorium. The lyrics of his life.
“Just knowing Coach Weiner has made all the difference in my life,” said Marve, the quarterback.
Robert Weiner, potentially a state-championship coach.
Robert Weiner, a very rich man.
Holtz lands at Louisiana Tech
Posted Dec 13, 2012 by Joey Johnston
Updated Dec 13, 2012 at 11:13 PM
On the day he hired Skip Holtz as head football coach, University of South Florida athletic director Doug Woolard said “for whatever reason, it just didn’t work out here.’‘
“I thought he was a good football coach when we hired him and I think he’s going to continue to be a good football coach,’’ Woolard said.
Holtz will get his next opportunity at Louisiana Tech, where he’s scheduled to be introduced Friday, according to multiple media reports.
Holtz was 16-21 in three seasons at USF, where the wheels came off in 2012. The Bulls were picked for second in the Big East Conference’s preseason poll, but finished 3-9 overall and 1-6 in the league. Louisiana Tech is Holtz’s fourth stop as a head coach, along with Connecticut, East Carolina and USF. Holtz received a $2.5-million buyout after his firing, payable in $500,000 annual installments.
Only Larry Scott was retained on the staff of new USF coach Willie Taggart, so you can expect many former Bulls coaches to follow Holtz to LaTech.
Senior LB Sam Barrington and sophomore WR Andre Davis were among the USF players who congratulated Holtz on his new job, via Twitter.
Big East Armaggedon?
Posted Dec 13, 2012 by Joey Johnston
Updated Dec 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Not sure if you caught this, but last weekend’s words from USF president Judy Genshaft seem fitting.
During the introduction of new football coach Willie Taggart, Genshaft was asked about the Big East Conference.
“As of now, we’re really happy with the Big East,’’ Genshaft.
As of now.
Things seem to be changing by the day, maybe by the minute.
Thursday, reports bubbled up that the Big East’s basketball-centered Catholic schools—DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova—were making plans to withdraw from the conference and start a new league, perhaps attracting other like-minded basketball-first schools.
Where would that leave the Big East?
Where would that leave USF? The Bulls would be in the same all-sports boat as Connecticut and Cincinnati, which were jockeying for a spot in the ACC, and Temple, which just rejoined the Big East this school year.
Asked last month about Louisville leaving the Big East for the ACC, Bulls men’s basketball coach Stan Heath said, “We’ve still got a very, very good basketball league.’’ But if rumors of these latest defections are true, can that still be said?
* Pittsburgh and Syracuse are off to the ACC after this season. West Virginia already has landed in the Big 12.
* Rutgers (Big Ten) and Louisville (ACC) are expected to play through next season. Notre Dame (ACC in all sports except football) has an uncertain exit date.
* The Big East is adding UCF, Memphis, Houston and SMU for all sports beginning next season, when Boise State and San Diego State join for football only. Tulane and East Carolina join in 2014. Navy will come aboard for football only in 2014.
Big East football has a two-division format, plans for a conference championship game and a schedule for 2013. But when Louisville and Rutgers depart—and if the basketball-first schools also take flight—it will be the Big East in name only. It will look like Conference USA 2.0.
All of this is happening as the Big East attempts to negotiate its new media rights deal. So the timing couldn’t be worse.
Genshaft admitted to surprise at some of the recent conference realignment, particularly the Big Ten’s addition of Rutgers and Maryland.
“Did you see that happening? We didn’t,’’ Genshaft told reporters. “My crystal ball isn’t that clear.’‘
The future of the Big East, meanwhile, appears clear as mud.