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Archive for February, 2008

Fourth and inches …

This column is dedicated to all of the Class of 2008 recruits who have already made a verbal commitment to their college of choice and intend to live up to their word tomorrow on National Letter of Intent Day.

I applaud your integrity. I applaud your personal resolve and ability to withstand the intense pressure recruiters have heaped upon you to change your mind and break your commitment during the past few months.

Your decision to live up to your word now with this major life decision will be a source of pride to you for the rest of your life. Keeping your word now reflects the type of man you will probably be someday in the future.

Undoubtedly, other programs are still pursuing you because they operate on the premise that high school athletes are not mature enough to make a commitment and stick to it.

Isn’t it ironic how these same coaches expect their recruits to live up to their verbal commitments, and yet they think it’s alright for you to act as if your word meant nothing to anyone else but them?

Your word is supposed to mean everything when you make a commitment. The football program you committed to has spent tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of man-hours trying to assemble the best group of student athletes to represent their program for the next several years.

When you don’t live up to your word, you disrupt that program in more ways than you think. They passed on other qualified players at your position when you made your verbal commitment, making it virtually impossible for them to go back in the last weeks or days before NLI Day to fill the void you created.

If you have committed to a program, think about what it says about you when you keep your word. Think about what the coaches who want you to break your commitment are really saying about you as a person. They don’t care if they are urging you to be deceitful. They are telling you they care more about their program than they do about you being a man of your word.

Sure, there are a few legitimate reasons for breaking a verbal commitment, and certainly a change in the coaching staff is one of them. But, those are rare.

Hopefully, the number of recruits who renege on their verbal commitments tomorrow will comprise a very small group. Not only would it be a positive reflection on the Class of 2008, it would also help a lot of college football fans across the nation sleep easier tomorrow night.

Fourth and inches …

Does it really matter if you win the bragging rights to college football’s “best recruiting class” for the year?

It sure does to the fans. All you have to do is check out the fan message boards around the country. Some fans are complaining about their team’s ranking while others are gloating about theirs…the recruiting rankings provide a lot of fuel for posting on the boards this time of year.

The realists out there (you are out there, right?) recognize that the rankings put out by rivals.com, scout.com, and a multitude of other sports sites mean absolutely nothing until the athletes have proven themselves on the field.

In a signing day press conference two days ago, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall offered his unique perspective on the ubiquitous star ranking systems:

“We don’t really care how many recruiting stars a player has when he comes here. Every player, once he comes to Provo, starts out with no stars. What we care about is how many stars he has when he leaves.”

Thanks for that fresh dose of common sense, coach.

By the way, for some peculiar reason, Mendenhall’s recruiting classes are downgraded by the ranking services every year, and yet BYU is 22-4 in the past two seasons with two undisputed Mountain West Conference championships, consecutive bowl wins over Pac-10 teams, and consecutive Top 20 rankings to their credit.

This year, Brigham Young’s recruiting class was ranked #53 by rivals.com and then they dropped 30 spots when 4-star linebacker recruit Uona Kaveinga reneged on his commitment and defected to USC. The Cougars signed 21 of their 22 commits and yet that one player dropped them below the rankings of Kent State and Middle Tennessee?

That’s just one example of how unreliable the recruiting rankings are, so let’s have some fun with them…on to the recruiting awards for the Class of 2008:

The “I have another top 10 recruiting class and I better figure out what to do with it quick” award goes to Charlie Weis of Notre Dame. There is no excuse if this man cannot win in South Bend from now on because he’s had three fantastic, top 10 rated recruiting classes in a row. The cupboard wasn’t exactly left bare when he took over for Ty Willingham, either.

The “This will keep our fans happy until we start winning consistently again” award goes to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Yes, it’s a superb recruiting class, ranked Numero Uno by several analysts, if that really means anything. Only time will tell, though with Nick Saban pulling the strings, it should happen sooner than later.

The “Good for you, tough luck for those who have to be patient” award goes to Terrelle Pryor, the Jeannette, Pennsylvania phenom who is considered to be the next Vince Young of college football. Pryor was going to announce his decision between Michigan and Ohio State on Feb 6, but decided to postpone his decision and take some time after his high school basketball season to check out Oregon and Penn State more closely. Pryor never verbally committed to any program, so good for him to take his time on this huge decision. Hopefully, he’ll realize playing for one of the Big Ten’s illustrious coaches (Paterno, Tressel, or Rodriguez) and the education he’ll receive at those universities will be far more beneficial than suiting up for Mike “Hothead” Bellotti out on the Left Coast…

The “Can you believe they got this kid?” award goes to Dan Hawkins and the Colorado Buffaloes for landing the #1 ranked running back in the nation, Darrell Scott. Scott, a 6-foot, 204 pound, 4.4-40 superstar athlete from Southern California, turned down offers from USC, UCLA, Texas, Florida, Miami, Florida State, Michigan and Penn State to sign with Colorado.

The “Waffle Waffle” award goes to Southern California prep linebacker Uona Kaveinga for back-to-back smack-downs handed out to UCLA and BYU. It’s understandable that Kaveinga broke his verbal commitment to the Bruins after Karl Dorrell was fired, but to break another “my word is golden” pledge just a month later in favor of a last-minute super-sell power play by Pete Carroll? Let’s just say this kid’s off-the-field credibility doesn’t match his on-the-field potential.

Talk about credibility…

The “Best acting award of the year” goes to Kevin Hart of Fernley High School in Nevada. Hart, a 6’5″, 290 pound lineman, set up an official signing ceremony at his school that attracted two local TV stations and the local newspaper. He claimed that he was signing with the Cal-Berkeley program and head coach Jeff Tedford. The only problem is Tedford and his staff had no idea who the kid was — he wasn’t recruited by any program! A law enforcement investigation is underway to determine if anyone else was involved in the charade.