Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Should Armwood Hawks have to forfeit, it's not likely to hurt their feelings

The Florida High School Athletic Association is wrapping up the Armwood football case, and so are we. Here are some tidbits we're still talking about, and a few other things that kind of blow our minds:

Stripped! If Armwood's state title and 15 wins are taken away, do we care?

The players don't seem to. The coaches and fans probably don't.

They won it on the field. End of story.

Outside of Seffner, it's a bigger deal. It leaves a blemish, and it's certainly embarrassing. Every time Armwood's 2011 season is mentioned in a reputable publication or on a website, it will include the detail of the title being forfeited for using five ineligible players.

But for those involved? Not as heartbreaking as many feel it should be.

If the starting quarterback or the star receiver or the top defender were one of the five, maybe that raises more questions about Armwood winning the title.

But take all five of those kids declared ineligible off the team, and the Hawks still win the championship.

No offense, guys.

Here's how you'll really know if the forfeits have any effect:

Armwood coach Sean Callahan enters next season with 197 wins. In Week 3, he'll go for win No. 200. If the Hawks prevail, and they serve cake and honor the moment, you'll have your answer about using forfeits as penalties.

Speaking of: If the Hawks have to forfeit games, rival Plant will actually finish 2011 at 15-0, its second perfect season and first since 2006.

And district foe Hillsborough, which lost twice to Armwood last season, goes down at 11-1 and enters 2012 on a 10-game win streak.

Yes, neither coaching staff is likely to accept such stats, but it will be the official record.

Free the kids! The one defense I've heard offered most by the Armwood faithful is that if kids want to go to the school to play football, they should be allowed to. Personally, I have no problem with kids going wherever they want. That's their parents' decision.

But that's not what this is about. This is about parents forging documents and lying about their addresses to get into a school instead of following the rules everyone else lives by.

Let's not get it twisted and act as if this is about not letting people go where they want. Apply via school choice or special assignment like everyone else, or move into the school's zone.

Here's a tip for all you football parents who have kids in the seventh or eighth grade and have visions of gridiron grandeur: Rent!

It's a lot easier to shop your kids to the good football schools with a yearly lease as opposed to a 30-year mortgage.

Oh, and you're welcome.

Mr. Invisible? Two people who have flown completely under the investigation's radar: whomever leaked offensive lineman Jack Lightsey's academic records to ABC Action News, which likely kicked off this whole FHSAA investigation, and Armwood athletic director Don Hill.

No, really, that's his name. Don Hill.

Seems this whole case has been about Callahan and principal Mike Ippolito.

I'm not saying Hill has done anything wrong, but I've never heard an athletic director's name mentioned less in a big-time investigation.

Hands off: So, what exactly does Armwood have to give back if forced to forfeit its win over Miami Central?

According to FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing, Armwood would be required to return the championship trophy.

The players do not, however, have to return their medals. And they also have fancy championship rings, thanks to the diligent fundraising of the booster club and parents.

Isn't it ironic? Does anyone feel bad for Lightsey, the offensive lineman at the center of this case?

He has possibly played back-to-back seasons for teams that went 0-15 after having to forfeit wins.

Again, for those counting, that's going from 29-1 to 0-30.

Lightsey, it should be noted, had nothing to do with the penalties handed down at Orlando Dr. Phillips, his previous school, which coincidentally, lost to Miami Central in the title game.

White Out the records: All this talk about erasing Armwood from the FHSAA record books begs the question: Does the FHSAA really have a record book?

Technically, it's a PDF file online at

But saying Armwood will have its season erased from a PDF file on a website used mostly by high school administrators doesn't have quite the same ring as saying it will be banished from the record books.

And most amazing? Those who think the FHSAA punishment will be a deterrent, well, you're all wrong.

Really, really wrong.

Think about this: right in the middle of a highly publicized investigation of a highly publicized uber-successful football program that is likely to lose a state title because players' parents used fake addresses or lied about where they live — nine other parents tried the same thing.

Yep, nine 2012 transfers have been deemed ineligible for using fake addresses, including five who are ineligible for the upcoming regular season.

Right smack dab in the middle of an investigation, with the FHSAA sniffing around, with an investigator knocking on doors, with the school starting to crack down?


Right smack dab in the middle of that, nine other kids have parents who try The. Exact. Same. Thing.

Mind. Blown.

So, yeah, if you think any of this is a deterrent, well …

John C. Cotey can be reached at [email protected]

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