Found February 03, 2012 on Fox Sports Houston:
HOUSTON -- You can take your cynicism and your bitterness and your disgust at collegiate recruiting and the NCAA and wrap it in some foil and and put it in the freezer for later. It'll keep. This is a different kind of recruiting story. Five months ago, David Wilganowski's heart stopped beating in the middle of a football game he was playing for Rudder High School in Bryan, Texas. He collapsed and his parents and medical personnel rushed to a nightmare. "He had taken his last breath," said his mom, Susan. Paramedics revived him, but doctors diagnosed Wilganowski with something called Long QT Syndrome, a genetic mutation that can result in sudden death. Although it did not end Wilganowski's life, it did end his football career. Or so everyone thought. "I got to thinking maybe I lost my scholarship," he said. "I'm gonna have to work on my grades some more." Susan said she thought there was "no chance" her son would be on an athletic scholarship this fall. David has a cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest now, but the deal is that he has to keep his heart rate under 180 beats per minute, which allows him to basically run and train like anybody else. The other day, for example, he ran a mile in nine minutes, which he considered an easy pace. But football is out, for good, and he knows it. This did not stop Rice University coach David Bailiff from giving Wilganowski a football scholarship, however. Wilganowski, who had committed to the Owls in June, signed a national letter of intent Wednesday. "We ask those young men to commit to us, and we tell them we're gonna be there through thick and thin," Bailiff said. "That's how that works. Your word has to be good." To understand this story, you have to understand that David Bailiff is not a man with so much rope he can be throwing out lifelines to players he can't use. His record is 15-22 in four seasons at Rice, having just completed a 4-8 2011 season. You can only give out 25 scholarships per year, and football coaches are not in the habit of tossing them around like parade candy. Alabama coach Nick Saban, for example, has been often criticized for accepting letters of intent in February, but not giving the scholarship until the next January, a strategy known as "gray shirting" which allows a coach to delay by one season the moment that scholarship begins counting toward the total. He and other coaches also have been criticized for signing more players than they have scholarships for, forcing them to cut players already in the program in order to keep their total scholarships under the NCAA's limit of 85. The SEC in 2011 introduced a rule forbidding teams from offering more than 25 scholarships in any year, a rule Saban opposed. "There's a cynical attitude a lot of people have toward whether coaches are really doing what's in the best interest of the young people that we coach, which I sort of resent, to be honest with you," Saban said Wednesday. "We actually took some opportunities away from guys who wanted to go to Alabama that we couldn't sign and they come here because we couldn't offer that option to them." Saban is hardly the only coach that did this. Until the new rule took effect with this class, over-signing was a common practice in the SEC. A scholarship, technically, is only a one-year commitment and in an environment as competitive as major-college football, the guys with the most to lose try to maximize every one of them, every year. In this environment, Bailiff's decision was unconventional. "We all teared up that a man would offer such a thing," Susan said. "Scholarships are hard to come by. They're precious commodities." The timing of the incident complicated the matter for Bailiff. Wilganowski was in the hospital during a no-contact period, designed by the NCAA to give prospective athletes a break from the pitches of pushy recruiters. Contacting Wilganowski would have been an NCAA recruiting violation. So Bailiff sought special permission. "It's a kinder NCAA that said absolutely go over there and visit that young man," he said. But Bailiff wasn't just visiting with well-wishes. He was there to let the Wilganowskis know he wasn't pulling David's scholarship offer. "I wanted to take that off their plate immediately so they wouldn't have these worries as a family," he said. Wilganowski will never play a down at Rice. That is certain. He would be risking his life to do so. But he will be on scholarship and on the team. He'll strap on the shoulder pads and go out to practice every day, a walking reminder that sports aren't always about wins and losses. "It's really amazing," David said. "It really shows what kind of man he is and what kind of organization he's running."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Well Played, Nick Saban. Well Played.

Last year, the University of Alabama caused a minor sh*t storm when the football team set up a live cam to announce and introduce the program’s latest recruiting class on National Signing Day. It wasn’t that people had a problem with the fact that Nick Saban and Co. were bragging about their new studs. No, it was because they had the very not unattractive Briana Baisden assisting...

Saban, disciples rule NSD; '12 superlatives

We begin with a requisite nod to Nick Saban. Fresh off his second BCS championship in three years, Saban claimed the nation's No. 1 recruiting class for the fourth time in six years at Alabama. The beast is self-sustaining now.

Marshall Holds On to Beat Rice 65-57

Marshall posted four players in double-digit scoring to defeat the Rice Owls 65-57 in a Conference USA women's basketball game held inside the Cam Henderson Center Thursday night.

Frizzelle Named to Academic All-District Team

Rice University senior Connor Frizzelle has been named a repeat selection to the Capital One Academic All-District ® Men's Basketball Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

M. Tennis. Gameday: Miami at Rice | Feb. 5 | 11 a.m.

The No. 37 University of Miami men's tennis team will travel to Houston, Texas, to face No. 38 Rice University on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium.ITA Poll | Schedule | Roster | Coach Rincon

Alabama stocks up on defense, offensive playmakers

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- National champion Alabama restocked the nation's top defense, scooped up a few highly recruited offensive playmakers and generally had what's becoming a typical signing day for Nick Saban & Co. In other words, replacing departed stars with blue-chippers across the board on a program that has won two of the last three national championships. ...

Chucks Add Power Hitting First Baseman

From the Wisconsin Woodchucks (Wausau) – This week, the Wisconsin Woodchucks are excited to announce another addition to their roster for the 2012 season. Recently, the ‘Chucks have signed Skyler Ewing, a power hitting, freshman first baseman from Rice University. ^^^ Ewing joins the Owls after a very decorated high school career. Hailing from Arlington, TX, Skyler played...

W. Track. Rice Owls Women's Track and Field Squad Turn Top Times at Notre Dame

The Rice Owls women's track and field team competed at Notre Dame's Meyo Invitational on Saturday and turned in several fine performances.

Four Year Scholarships In Football: Friend Or Foe?

[Written by @gbdawkins - ParadigmShift35]On National Signing Day, we learned that some universities would be offering four-year scholarships to their football players, while others will not. Others, still, refused to answer the question. On the surface, it seems like a good idea-guaranteeing a kid his education. On twitter, myself and a couple of other people (lawyers, mostly) expressed...

Welcome to the Fallout: Nick Saban, Bill O'Brien, Tom Brady, and more.

 (Welcome to the Fallout is the SWRT off-season weekend wrap-up of college football related news.) Woke up this morning from a nightmare with Madonna in it last night. Glad I don't have to...oh crap! She's doing the Super Bowl halftime show tonight! Hide your kids, hide your wife.  There can be only one. Kevin Scarbinsky asks if Alabama head football coach Nick...

Do class rankings equal championships?

When Alabama captured the 2011 BCS Championship in New Orleans, there was a hint at what greatness lay ahead in Tuscaloosa before the season even started. The BCS champion's team consisted of upperclassmen from their 2008 recruiting class, that same class that was ranked No. 1 by Scout.com. So does a No. 1 recruiting class translate to a BCS Championship three or four years...

Forget suspense and excitement, it's just another 'Bama Signing Day

It's just another typical Signing Day for Alabama. Nick Saban puts together yet another dominating performance that is becoming the norm in Tuscaloosa. Brett McMurphy dubs it a snooze fest with such few surprises.
Crimson Tide News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.