HUTTON: Associated Press: Please get it right next year
By Mike Hutton 613-0141 or firstname.lastname@example.org December 10, 2013 6:35PM
Andrean's Matt DeSomer scores on a 39 yard run early in the 1st at Andrean High School on November 22, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 11, 2014 6:29AM
My general aversion for any kind of a special team that begins with an A was amplified Saturday when the Associated Press released its all-state football team. Noticeably absent was any player from Andrean, the team that went 15-0 and won a historic state title with arguably the best quarterback in the state in Matt DeSomer.
Not one 59ers player was mentioned on the 22-player squad, nor was there one honorable mention. In fact, no player from 3A in the northwest corner of the state made the team.
Pretty interesting, considering the best team in the state resided at 5959 Broadway.
To make the slight even more painful, the 3A all-state quarterback was Parker Ronchetto, a 5-9, 169-pound senior from West Lafayette. Ronchetto looked like he was wearing lead boots against the 59ers in a 52-7 loss to Andrean in the semistate.
There were other noticeable problems with the selections regarding NWI kids. No mention of either Jon Vea Johnson or Lonnie Johnson at West Side stick out the most. Jon Vea deserved serious consideration for the first team. There can’t be many players with better numbers than him: 71 catches for 1,412 yards and 23 touchdowns.
My impulse is to get crazily angry with the AP about the omissions and rail about how the region should secede from the rest of Indiana and form its own private state.
Dan Dakich, an Andrean grad with a 50,000-watt radio show in Indianapolis and 63,732 Twitter followers, did that for me when he tweeted, “So, Andrean goes UNDEFEATED/WINS STATE FOOTBALL TITLE yet ZERO ALL-STATE Players..typical Region screwing.”
I’m afraid it’s way more complicated than that, though.
It’s a big state, there are only 22 players per class that are selected, and football is the hardest of all sports to select an all-state team. Making distinctions between the top five offensive linemen in the whole flipping state of Indiana is just impossible.
With that out of the way, there were massive credibility problems with the 3A team specifically.
The AP sends out multiple missives on its wire asking for media input on potential all-state players.
It also tries to contact coaches and athletic directors via e-mail or letter to ask for nominations.
The AP then has a person responsible for each class compile the nominees into a team.
The selections are vetted by a coordinator, who can tweak it. There is no real vote but there is discussion among coaches, media and the class compiler about who should make the team.
In Andrean’s case, it’s pretty clear that two things happened. There was a vacuum of information about the kids who should’ve been considered and whoever selected the 3A team really didn’t pay much attention to the state tournament. And they obviously didn’t know Andrean.
I’ll take some responsibility for not supporting the region cause here, but not much. I didn’t get my two cents worth in, but I never saw the wire alert. Sending something over the AP wire isn’t a very efficient way of communication in this kind of fragmented media climate.
Mostly, the responsibility for getting recognition for the kids falls on the shoulders of the coaches.
If they have good players, they need to make sure the right people know they have good players.
They can’t assume that it’ll just happen because their team made a deep run in the postseason. The problem is exacerbated further for NWI kids because we aren’t that dialed into Indianapolis, the center of the universe for most communities from Indiana.
A source from the AP, who didn’t want to be named, said they had a terrible time getting information from 3A coaches for the team. My experience in 20 years in the business is that some coaches are way better at pushing their kids for honors than others. I have mixed feelings about this, but at the end of the day this is absolutely part of their job. It’s the kids who get hurt if they are overlooked for a deserving honor.
Finally, I’d say this to the AP: If it is going to put out an AP all-state team, it has to, has to, do it right. That means the AP has to be able to justify every single player it selected for all six teams. There will always be deserving kids left off the team, but the AP has to tell us why. It can’t fall on the coaches’ shoulders or the “other” media, who were supposed to contribute. It’s the AP’s team. The AP needs to have a system that works, knowing that it will always have issues trying to track down player information.
If the AP can’t do it right than it shouldn’t do it at all. It’s quite possible the AP could decide that it really is too hard to try to get a grip on the top 132 players in the state.
That’s fine. Then skip the team. There are plenty of other ways for kids to get recognized.