As perks go, this has got to be one of the best things out there.
If I were a college football prospect, you can believe I would be going on five “mini-vacations” during my senior year of high school. And if Dabo Swinney told me I could not, well then, adios, Dabo.
NCAA guidelines allow for each college football prospect to take five “official recruiting trips.” That’s five weekends that every prospective player in the country has a chance to spend watching a live college football game.
Just show up at the airport with an ID and get on the plane (after the security x-ray, of course).
So when I hear of college football coaches yanking scholarship offers just because a committed player wants to visit another school, it irks me.
Sure. I understand how coaches might feel a bit of betrayal, but yet how many coaches can actually say they wouldn’t — or didn’t for that matter — do the same thing.
Most of these high school football players have never ventured out of town, let along out of state ... and for sure, rarely, if ever, on an airplane.
If someone is flashing free airline tickets — without a time share seminar or travel club membership hook — I only have three words: Go for it.
Coaches like Clemson’s Swinney, however, who pull offers off the table when recruits want to visit other schools, make me wonder why the coaches are so paranoid? Why all the drama?
These kids are getting an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits created by the multi-million-dollar monster called the NCAA or, more suitably the BCS (Big Corporate Shenanigans). These kids have earned the rights to at least take some visits. They churn the monster’s wheels.
What enlightened me more so recently was a conversation with UCF head coach George O’Leary. Coach O’Leary is a stickler for things. He does things his way. But when it comes to players taking visits, even for those committed to UCF, Coach O’Leary says, “Go for it.”
He only asks one simple thing and that is the promise that each prospect’s final visit be to UCF.
That may not have always been Coach O’Leary’s stance, but even he has evolved, to an extent, with the times. (Let’s not get carried away, though. I’m pretty sure there is no GOL Twitter account, LOL.)
Coach O’Leary wants the opportunity to make the final pitch to his target prospects. That is not too much to ask.
O’Leary has been around the game as a coach at some level since 1968. The man has had plenty of situations around which to formulate his opinions.
He also understands the logic of common sense. If you tell a kid he can’t do something, well then what is he going to do?
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I have four kids. Telling them to not do something, I can tell you as an expert, is rarely the end of the conversation.
The Clemson commitment and Daytona Beach Mainland star had taken a visit to Miami the week before. That did not sit well with Swinney and company.
Lane has contended during numerous interviews that while he was on his way to Tennessee he was told to turn around or his offer was no longer be valid.
“[Clemson] said if I took another visit, they were going to pull my scholarship,” Lane told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, two days after signing day last year (Feb. 3). “When I first committed, they said I could take all my five [official] visits. On my way up to Knoxville, I got a call saying they had pulled my scholarship for [my] arrest.”
Marlin Lane scored four touchdowns for the Volunteers as a freshman last season. He still hasn’t turned around.
Sure, Lane was arrested on a December, 2010, drug charge that he told the Daytona Beach News-Journal was a “false arrest.” Coincidentally, his scholarship was pulled while he was en route to Tennessee – a month later.
Oh, and those charges, like Lane said they would be, were dropped in March.
It only took an unofficial visit to North Carolina for Champagnat Catholic defensive end Isaac MacDonald of Hialeah, to get his Clemson offer pulled.
In an oft-shared Twitter rant from Champagnat assistant coach Jon Drummond, the coach spells out what happened when it was suggested by Swinney that MacDonald, a Clemson commitment to the Tigers’ 2013 class, should not have taken an unofficial visit with Drummond and a couple of teammates.
In a conversation that Drummond said ended with Swinney hanging up on him, the Clemson offer was pulled.
Champagnat head coach Michael Tunsil said Monday, “My take is they’re recruiting kids who are committed to other schools, so why can’t kids committed to them visit other schools? It’s hypocritical.”
Tunsil is talking about South Fort Myers ATH Jayron Kearse, a 2013 Miami commitment who on Friday called Hurricanes coaches and told them he was going to be looking around. More specifically he was going to Clemson for a visit this past weekend.
So it was OK for the Tigers’ staff to go ahead and make visit arrangements for Kearse even though he was already committed to UM. Sure, the formality of the decommitment was set in place on Friday, but that Clemson itinerary was in the works well before Kearse called UM coaches.
Tunsil said he would have tried to make sure MacDonald did not take visits if that’s what Clemson had made clear from the beginning. He also said they did not make that clear. And these were unofficial visits.
What gets lost in all of this is the best interest of the kids. These 17- and 18-year-olds are left to explain — and sometimes figure out — why they are no longer being recruited by a school that had made a handshake agreement to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, the coaches can hide behind NCAA regulations that forbid them from talking about recruits. They are not held accountable. Hypocritical? I'd say worse.
Look in the mirror, people. Karma will not be kind.
The top player in the country, big 6-foot-5, 260-pound DE Robert Nkemdiche of Loganville (Ga.) Grayson High, committed to Clemson last Thursday. Other schools recruiting Nkemdiche need not be frustrated. All they have to do is get him to consider a visit. Then it's open season.
OK, so maybe that was a cheap shot. It’s 200 days until signing day, however, so we’ll find out soon enough who sticks and who doesn’t.
In the meantime, take your visits, guys. You deserve at least that.