There are plenty of theories about how to measure risk aversion. People make choices every day as to how much risk they wish to expose themselves to…as simple as timing when the coffee might be cool enough to drink without injury…as complex as which company employee is best suited to take on a critical project whose outcome will affect thousands.
In the last few hours the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania experienced decisions within two of their biggest sports revenue generating entities, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Penn State University Nittany Lions, which can be discussed with regard to their respective exposure to risk. One entity made a confident, decisive, bold, no-turning-back decision…one made a decision which carries on a tradition of making no decision at all. Yet, both carry significant exposure to risk.
For the Eagles, they awarded Michael Vick the keys to the franchise, signing him to a 6-year contract worth $100 million, $40 mil guaranteed.
For the Nittany Lions, they awarded neither Rob Bolden nor Matt McGloin the keys to their season, indicating both would play in their opener. (Joe Paterno can’t even decide whether he’ll be on the sideline or in the press box…)
The Eagles, after seeing Michael Vick play extraordinarily well in the early part of 2011 but not-so-much at the end…after but a handful of appearances at the helm more than the recently jettisoned Kevin Kolb…have made him the reason for everything that goes wrong with this team for years to come. Perhaps he should have contacted Donovan McNabb prior to inking this deal as to what he is about to embark upon in Philadelphia? More so, perhaps he should have contacted Andy Reid as to if there are any plans to cobble together an offensive line or will every play be “run for your life,” because that is most certainly where 2011 begins. The Eagles have no OL whatsoever and Vick will earn every penny just trying to get through each game in one piece.
The Nittany Lions, after seeing Bolden and McGloin play all of last season as well as the spring and summer camps, still don’t understand the value of making the quarterback position one of team leadership, unity and stability. When you have two QB’s, you have none. Bolden knows this much and wanted out of State College, but Joe Paterno refused his request for an orderly transfer…yet still declines to make him the starter. Bolden may wind up leaving anyway. This has been a favored topic on this site earlier this month…and back in April.
Aside from the afore-mentioned risk of having Michael play without blockers…the second-guessing on why you would award Vick so much equity is legitimate. He made the most of his second coming through most of last season…but as an Eagle he’s barely been on the field that much longer than Kevin Kolb, who the Eagles labeled as their future…um, at the beginning of last season. And letting Kolb walk…now there is no Plan B or Plan C behind Vick, whose style does not lend itself to longevity in the sport. We all laughed at the money the Cardinals gave Kevin when he arrived in the desert. We have to laugh at this decision as well, no? Yes, Vick had a dynamic career in Atlanta. And that in itself goes back to another risk factor…Michael is not a youngster. You combine the wear and tear, the age, the style of play…and the lack of exposure to opposing defenses since returning to the NFL…I think the Eagles have exposed themselves to great risk. We in Philly hope it works out…but criticism as to too much too soon is valid. I wanted to see more first.
As for PSU, we’ve seen this before and we’ll see it again from their legendary (i.e. ancient) coaching regime. The locker room has their favorite QB’s picked out and you wonder how weary all the other players are from being asked repeatedly about who should be leading the squad. It matters not to me which one gets the nod. I would go with Bolden myself. I have to believe most Penn State fans were praying one of them was awarded the position outright. It never ceases to amaze me how loud the message is from the analysts you must have universal belief in whomever is the QB, how the QB has to feel they have the reins, how the rhythm and leadership gained from stability in that position is crucial to offensive performance…only to see coaches still try to please two guys…even three at times. They want to stockpile talent for future seasons…at what they deem acceptable risk of losing games in the season they’re in.
Yes, in the last day or so here in PA we’ve seen both the most definitive of QB decisions…and the most vague.
You can make a case for either as to which one carries the most risk going forward for both the Eagles and the Nittany Lions in their upcoming seasons…and beyond.