Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What are your intentions?

Usually that's a phrase you see in bodice-ripper novels ... austere Southern plantation owners determining the plans of suitors while their daughters swoon in the corner and whatnot.

But it seems such a question has found its way into recruiting. Plenty of movement both to and from ND and other places in the closing weeks of the recruiting "season" has led to questions about what a verbal commitment does or should mean.

The lack of an early signing date in college football makes the jobs of coaches much more difficult. Not only do you have to continue to pursue the undecided guys you're after, you also have to watch over your own henhouse to keep the other foxes away, oftentimes for six months or more.

That doesn't seem to be an efficient use of coaches' time to me. So bearing in mind how much I despise the process and believe it to be beyond repair, I give you my Personal Rules of Ethics regarding recruiting. You're welcome to accept them as axiom or not, but this is how I roll.

If a recruit is verbally committed to a school, he should not accept solicitations from other schools.

This should be the overall idea. In an ideal world, recruits should not verbally commit until they're sure of their choice. Players shouldn't commit just to reserve a spot. When you commit, you're asking coaches to adjust their plans based on your choices. When you change your mind on those choices, you've inconvenienced people to an extent jobs may be lost as a result. Be sure when you give your word.

A school should be able to offer solicitations to recruits already committed to other schools, and should be able to respond to solicitations from committed recruits, subject to two conditions: (1) If that recruit asks the other school to cease and desist, that school should no longer contact the recruit in question, and (2) If communication is to continue, the new school should demand the recruit notify the school to which he is currently committed that the communication is taking place.

Again, in an ideal world, the new school's staff should be open about their intentions with the current school's staff, but I stopped believing in Santa and the Tooth Fairy a long time ago. But they should demand the recruit be honest, as honest players make good teammates no matter what program lands them.

It doesn't bother me that ND took another shot at Martez Wilson. At one time, he was considering ND strongly, and ND made a defensive change that could have had an effect on his choice. The young man responded he wasn't interested, so that was that.

It also doesn't bother me that ND came back to Brian Smith. Again, he had strong interest, and the change in coaches made him more attractive to ND. He accepted the contact, so it was right for ND to continue it. He was also above board with Iowa, letting them know that ND had talked to him and he intended on talking to them further, leaving Iowa free to make whatever decision it felt was best.

By that same token, FL was not in the wrong to contact Justin Trattou. They asked, he responded, so fine. The problem was in the secrecy -- the FL coaches allegedly asking Trattou to keep their conversations private. If you're going to open up your recruiting, you owe it to the school to which you're committed to let them know. And if you're going to go after a committed recruit, one would hope you have the honesty (if not bravery) to be up front about it and not ask them to sneak out of the house like a 15-year-old going to her first kegger.

Ditto Greg Little. I highly doubt he had an epiphany this morning that UNC was the place for him. He had been assuring people for weeks he was ND-bound. If you're going to alter your decision, be a man about it and tell the people involved how they stand. Waiting until the last minute and figuring it's easier to apologize than ask permission is something my nine-year-old does. If you're so unsure on your decision that you can make a signing day change, you shouldn't have committed in the first place.

If a committed recruit is communicating with other schools, the school to which that recruit is committed is within its rights to no longer consider him committed and no longer consider its scholarship offer valid.

I have no problem with Iowa pulling the scholarship offer from Brian Smith. They didn't feel he was committed to them, so they acted accordingly. If ND had pulled Trattou's or Little's scholarship offers in response to movement by them, they would have been within their rights as well. You have to do what you have to do to fill out your class, and sometimes a relationship doesn't work out.

I'm not sure how CW and company are going to move in the Brave New World of recruiting we seem to be in, but it's obviously time to take the gloves off. I've got no problems with that, as long as they don't start sucker punching.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a really simple fix. Let the kids sign anytime throughout the year. No junior signees but anytime during your senior year.

If a kid doesn't sign, then the coaches know he is still shopping.

2/08/2007 08:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya know, I agree with most of it. There are a number of excuses as to why a kid will pull a number like Little did(coaching change, epiphany, retarded beat writer...whatever) The point here is matter how folks tell the story, and how they mitigate the conduct...he failed one of those tests life throws at ya...let all the guys lacking in character go play in North Carolina, because in August when the men are doing the work, it becomes apparent just how these "little" character flaws translate to winning and losing...

2/08/2007 11:27:00 PM  

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