This Is Our Concern, Chris Barnett

This Is Our Concern, Chris Barnett

Submitted by Brian on March 16th, 2011 at 4:19 PM

chris-barnettbarron

So this has been floating out there for a few days, hanging out in the area of my tabs where stuff I mean to get to but don't lives. It's about Chris Barnett, the Texan tight end who decommitted from Arkansas and signed with Michigan on Signing Day. It's also about one of the guys Oregon is in hot water over.

This is our concern, Dude:

But while Flenory refused to reveal that advice [about where to go to school], Barnett has transferred high schools five times, attended four different high schools and twice broke commitments to colleges. The bizarre recruiting odyssey of the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder is a window into Flenory’s influence among top recruits whom he befriended while working as a Dallas-based recruiting analyst for Scout.com.

“It all makes sense if you understand how dysfunctional (expletive) is,” [father] Elzie Barnett said of his son’s recruitment. “But it doesn’t make sense to a layman. He’d be like, ‘What the hell?’”

What the hell, indeed. Thayer Evans, who you might remember from such stories as "Ladies Romancing Each Other" and such titles as Most Hated Man In Austin, posted an investigative piece on what happened with Chris Barnett's recruitment. As per usual with Evans pieces it's overheated—these days decommiting twice is unusual but hardly unprecedented, especially when the Oklahoma commitment may have been to an offer-type substance, not an actual we-want-you-here offer. Despite that it provides some insight into how love gets made on the recruiting trail, and maybe causes you to place a finger under your collar and tug nervously.

In summary: Barnett is an itinerant high school player who lives with various relatives for short durations and starts listing Baron Flenory—apropos name, that—as his role model instead of his father at some point midway through his career. He commits to Oklahoma briefly, then decommits for Arkansas. Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee flirts with the head coaching job at Tulsa, causing Barnett to look around. This is where Michigan enters the story:

Flenory said he told Barnett that he didn’t know about those schools [Barnett was interested in after he decided to look around], but did know that Michigan was looking for a tight end. He said he asked Barnett if he wanted to look at the Wolverines.

Once Barnett told him yes, Flenory said he called a Michigan coach, whom he declined to identify. “That’s irrelevant,” Flenory said.

Michigan visits Barnett and his uncle but never touches base with his father, which pisses the father off. For his part, Barnett says he wasn't unhappy with Arkansas at all:

Although Flenory said he talked to Barnett about Michigan, Barnett said he was never unhappy about his commitment to Arkansas and doesn’t know what prompted the Wolverines to start recruiting him. “I really don’t,” Barnett said. “I guess they heard that I was being able to take visits.”

(Barnett hopped on Facebook a couple days ago to issue an all-caps apology, FWIW.) There's more about his dad being pissed and how he thinks he should have gone to Arkansas so he can play in the SEC and in a pro-style offense, but the core of the unease is above.

In segments:

  1. This Flenory guy runs camps and has many close relationships with high school kids.
  2. He is part of the reason the NCAA is squinting in Oregon's general direction.
  3. He apparently called Michigan out of the blue to push Barnett on Michigan's new, tight-end-needy regime.
  4. He won't say who he called.
  5. One of Flenory's Badger Sports camps is at Michigan this year so there's kind of an obvious quid pro quo available.

This is classic Evans; the piece has just the barest suggestion that funny business must have occurred but is constructed to invite the reader to connect those dots. There is a lot of sea to part before we can walk from the above to the NCAA squinting at Michigan again, especially if there's no Oregon-esque money trail. Since there basically can't be since Michigan's new staff was in place for like a week, I'd file this under how the sausage gets made until someone other than Evans picks it up—about as likely as Texas getting in trouble for ladies romancing each other.

That said, the piece does paint a picture of the increasing influence of summer camps as people like Flenory take advantage of NCAA restrictions to act as middle-men between player and coach. This is a problem partially of the NCAA's own making.

[insert item about what people would say if Rodriguez acquired this Barnett kid here.]

Unverified Voracity Needs A New Way Of Thinking

Unverified Voracity Needs A New Way Of Thinking

Submitted by Brian on July 23rd, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Agentzzz. Does the SEC's reaction to predatory agents seem, oh I don't know, slightly self-serving? On one level I don't actually disagree with the idea that maybe having a registered NFL agent represent a kid and possibly throw him some dollars isn't the worst way to bridge some of the gap between the amount of money players make for their schools and the amount of money they make for themselves. That would conveniently pay the players likely to be worth the most to their schools without actually acting as a drain on athletic department budgets.

But maybe the time to suggest something like this

The SEC commissioner says the current rules "may be as much part of the problem as they are the solution."

…is before half the schools in your league are under investigation and likely to lose key players. Watching the local journalists scramble to think outside the bun when their precious local programs come under threat is annoying when no one has a troubling word to say about the NCAA and their pursuit of Reggie Bush. You had five years to cluck about agents before the knocking got local. Doing it now is pure hackery. I can only imagine what the Free Press would write if Michigan had anyone involved in this. Probably not "we need a whole new way of thinking about agents."

Meanwhile, hearing Nick Saban position himself as the great and good friend of college athlete's eligibility is the sort of spectacularly brazen thing that is totally expected from Nick Saban. Seriously:

"I have no respect for people who do that to young people, none," Saban said. "I mean, none. How would you feel if they did it to your child?"

Do what, exactly? Oversign the hell out of them and then either end their careers with dubious medical scholarships or spawn a "voluntary" transfer? No. Give them money they shouldn't have because the NCAA says so. All right then.

Stupidzzz. So some guy outed the author of the Bylaw Blog. As a result, the Bylaw Blog is going on hiatus as the man behind it tries to clear it with his athletic department, which is Loyola Marymount's. Hopefully they take a look at the content on the blog and see it as a positive for their profile, which it certainly is, and let Compliance Guy continue being exceptionally useful.

As for guy who outs exceptionally useful guy: congratulations. You dug up a piece of information of no value to anyone and possibly/probably cut off the only insight into the increasingly important world of compliance that anyone had. You have committed an act of anti-journalism. Here, the truth makes us all dumber. I hope someone runs your foot over with a lawnmower.

Also then afterwards these gentlemen stop by and bend metal threateningly. Via Rittenberg comes this little bit of Barwis hype. On Mike Martin:

Bench-presses 505 pounds, squats 700 pounds … Power cleans 430 pounds, hang cleans 475 pounds …Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds

Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Mike is an absolute warrior. He has a never quit attitude and is a natural born leader. He is one of the most impressive physical specimens I have ever seen."

And on David Molk:

Bench-presses 490 pounds, squats 660 pounds … Power cleans 420 pounds, hang cleans 440 pounds … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds 

Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Dave is an outstanding worker and a natural athlete. He is one of the most naturally explosive linemen I have ever trained."

Whatever Fred Jackson's got, it's catching.

Martin totally pwns Northwestern DT Corbin Bryant, who squats like my grandmother (a mere 600 pounds) and is essentially on par with OSU DL John Simon; no comparables were available for offensive linemen.

Clean. We leave the fresh for the rest of the conference. Dana O'Neil has a remarkable article in which she anonymously surveys D-I basketball coaches and comes out with quotes like "If the NCAA was serious, they'd hire someone who knew what they were doing, not these women out here trying to get a husband.''

"These women"—referred to elsewhere as "gestapettes"—are the NCAA enforcement people tasked with wandering around summer recruiting events attempting to make sure everything is on the up and up. If only Bobby Knight was still coaching we'd have a likely candidate for that Mad Men-era quote; as it is it could be anyone.

Anyway, here's a feather in the cap combined with a shot at Tommy Amaker:

Which league is the cleanest? The dirtiest?

Congratulations, Jim Delany. Your league wins in a landslide. Of the 20 coaches surveyed, 11 said the Big Ten was the cleanest in the country. Three others cited the land where time stood still, also known as the scholarship-less Ivy League. (Although even the Ancient Eight earned one disparaging nod: "The Ivy League,'' one coach said before pausing to add, "I mean the Ivy League a couple of years ago, before all of that stuff at Harvard.")

But coaches cited the Big Ten's perceived willingness to police itself and rosters that "made sense," in which players traditionally come from the footprint of the schools they choose to attend.

Tommy Amaker got dirty enough to mention when he left Michigan for Harvard. Michigan is bringing a fork to a gun fight in basketball recruiting.

Some nice things were said about Michigan State that we will elide before getting to the next shocker:

…the Southeastern Conference was perceived as the worst, with three coaches partnering the SEC with the Big East and another tossing in the Big 12 (one coach went league-by-league, counting up schools). All in all, the SEC was named by 14 of the coaches.

"Oh no, it's not just a myth,'' one coach said about the SEC. "It's the truth.''

Maybe we need to rethink the way we perceive rampant cheating in college basketball?

Etc.: The WLA quibbles with the Offense of the Decade, suggesting that Drew Henson's abbreviated season as the starter should have won at QB. The numbers (61.6% completion, 14.7 yards per completion, 9.1 yards per attempt, and an 18/4 TD/INT ratio) are pretty compelling; I left him off because he only played about 75% of the season but… yeah. It depends on how heavily you want to weight that.

They also suggest Askew instead of Dudley but I did not really consider Askew a fullback since he spent most of his time as the deep back in a single-RB formation, IIRC, and anyway if I was putting together a team I'd rather have Dudley for short yardage than an okay tailback who can block.