this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Apologies to AC1997, but my reply turned into a diary. There is a lot of snark here, it's not aimed at you, it's just because I'm snarky.
Brian's mentioned Bill Simmon's article about PEDs and its natural extension into college recruiting. Whenever a school, Ole Miss in this case, gets a recruiting windfall, illicit or otherwise, or has a sustained run of success at the top, like USC, lots of folks question whether or not the success is legitimate. Then, they openly speculate, often using terms like "U$C" or "Ole Mi$$," (AC1997 did not do this) why no one sheds light on the violations. Here's my take as to why really big recruiting violations rarely come to light.
First, let's set the scenario. Phil Philbert is a five star dual-threat QB from Springfield. Instead of staying home to play for Local U (LU), he instead goes to Football University (FU), which is on the other side of the country. LU fans cry foul and demand justice, but no one sheds light on why Phil was seen leaving town in a new Maserati.
In this scenario, I think there are three ways Phil and FU get caught:
- NCAA investigation.
- Concerned insider tells all.
- Investigative journalism.
First, we all know the NCAA isn't out to discover recruiting violations. If the NCAA is a part of a police force, its job is that of a detective. In other words, they here about something bad and investigate to determine what happened and who is responsible. This detective would be taking many of its calls from cops on the beat. The only problem is, there aren't any paid cops on the beat. If the NCAA and its members wanted that, there would be paid staff at FBS schools "patrolling." No one involved really wants that. Therefore, the NCAA is waiting by the phone for options 2 and 3 to call before starting an investigation.
The most obvious person to call the NCAA would be the concerned insider. They would have first-hand knowledge of the situation and could steer the NCAA toward FU's egregious violations. The problem is, who are these insiders with direct knowledge? The parties with direct knowledge are:
- Phil's parents.
- Phil's high school coach.
- FU's coach.
- The deep pocketed booster who bought the Maserati.
- The bagman.
None of these people has any incentive to talk. Phil and his family got a free car (or cash) and don't want to go to jail for not paying taxes on the gift. Phil's coach can't tattle or he gets fired and his high school becomes persona non grata in recruiting circles. FU's coach doesn't want a show cause penalty or to lose his buyout. The booster and the bagman love FU too much to tell. Anyone else who talks has circumstantial evidence unless Phil (or the bagman) is dumb enough to talk about their nefarious deed into a microphone.
That basically leaves investigative journalism. However, there are serious problems with developing these types of stories. Even disregarding the lack of actual journalists who have the skill and tenacity to run down these types of stories, they still have to get someone to talk. That's really hard. Additionally, which news outlet would run the story? The most obvious one is LU's home paper. However, LU's home paper probably isn't doing very well right now and is likely devoting their investigative stories (if there are any) to things like crime, serious corruption, or serious societal issues. FU's home paper is definitely out. Papers struggle for readers as it is, they don't need to anger their subscriber base by getting FU in a bunch of trouble.
That basically leaves Charles Robinson at Yahoo! and a few other journalists at big-time news organizations who have the time and organizational backing to do this type of work. I heard an interview with Robinson a year or two ago. In it, he basically said he has a bunch of Nevin Shapiro / Miami stories in the works at any time, but journalistic standards of prohibit him from publishing until he can get credible on-the-record conversations and / or a lot of verifiable evidence. Again, that's really hard to come by given the few people with insider knowledge and their lack of incentive to talk.
This is one guy's opinion as to why serious recruiting violations don't come to light very often. They're hard to find and hard to verify. Furthermore, I don't believe much really serious stuff actually happens anymore. It's too easy for someone to Tweet a picture of himself holding a stack of cash and add "loving FU right now, LOL." Cheating today is an incredibly short-sighted tactic that can't go on long. It would be impossible for wholesale, SMU-style cheating, to be kept quiet, just like it was then.
It looks like the NCAA is kicking the University of Tennessee while they're already down. With a disgruntled fanbase and the huge rumors of Jon Gruden taking over the coaching job for Derek Dooley after seasons end that almost seem to be going no where, this is going to send their fans into a frenzy.
A former University of Tennessee assistant football coach knowingly worked with a booster to provide impermissible travel and lodging to a prospective student-athlete, according to findings by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The former coach was also cited for unethical conduct for his role in the violations.
A few weeks ago this post was put up wondering who might be the school that sinned.
We all speculated that it was Oregon, Alabama, LSU, or Ohio State among others. I guess the only thing missing would have be the option for "all of the above". The follow up to that subject might be, who's next?
Oh cell phones... you have made recruiting so complicated.
ESPN just had a 5 person panel--the one with Paige, Mariotti, etc (called something like "outside the lines" I think).
The comments on Kiffin were uniformly negative by all 5 experts
“You cant believe a word he says"
“He's been at usc at and is already in trouble with ncaa violations"
“He’s gonna be not just in hot water but scalding hot water"
They seemed to imply that severe USC sactions are coming.
Then on the next show: the two person, back and forth discussion between Tony and Wilbon.**
Tony: "He needed to run a clean program but at his first USC press conf, questions already started flying as to whether he'd already violated rules his first day."
"this is not a good start for kiffin"
"He's real good at talk..."we just did a story about his guys getting in trouble"....
Tony reminded Wilbon that the had also previously said of Kiffin:
"he's a fraud and a cheat"
Whether you agree or not, the USC recruits or commits...especically Baxter, Parker, etc....should see these shows.
Yes, nobody likes negative recruiting, but don't think that Kiffin hasn't already pumped up his own negative recruiting machine. (he previously told a guy that if he went to south carolina, he'd be pumping gas the rest of his life)
Also, there's no need to say anything negative about Kiffin...since everybody else is alreay saying it for you.
The recruits just need to see what other people think of Kiffin--the universal opinion that this USC team--with a Forrest Gump coach and the likely stigma and restrictions of probation-- is very unlikely to be the USC team you thought you were getting, no matter what the slick salesmen will tell you.
*All quotes are approximate since the announcers spoke quickly and I did not have a recording
**(Not sure if i am spelling or realling his name right)
So, Pete Carroll is going to Seattle for a ton of money. Obviously, he's done well coaching (alleged) amateurs in the NCAA for the past decade. My question is do you all perceive that the last decade has made him a substantially better NFL coach or has Paul Allen just spend a bunch of money on a "name hire" that will work at SC with (alleged) amateurs but not at the next level.
I am not a Seahawks fan but I can't help but wonder if they wouldn't have done better with a Leslie Frazier or Ron Rivera (experienced current NFL coordinators) as opposed to Carroll whose last experience in the league was eons ago. Perhaps Allen needed the name to maintain box renewals and seat sales.
Best wishes all.