This Is Our Concern, Chris Barnett

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


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

“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.]



March 16th, 2011 at 4:37 PM ^

This is why the 7-on-7 Camp got cancelled. Michigan is making sure this guy does not get a check from the Athletic Department until all the "grey area" is gone, or ever. Even if this recruiting was actually 100% squeaky clean, paying this man for his camp after the oregon stuff would make it look awful fishy.

Sgt. Wolverine

March 16th, 2011 at 4:46 PM ^

unless there are actual fresh news bits concerning Rodriguez, can we have a moratorium on mentions of Rodriguez?  All the "People would have rabblerabbled Rodriguez"/"Freep headline: Rodriguez rabblerabble" comments are unnecessary and grating.  Let it die.

Tha Quiet Storm

March 16th, 2011 at 6:03 PM ^

I can't speak for anyone else, but I will "let it die" in a couple years once our probation (resulting from a poorly researched and constructed investigation and subsequent super-overinflated conclusions by hack-journalists) is over. They tried to make RR look only slightly better than a child pornographer, so I feel it's only fair to make a few jokes and condescending remarks about the writers and their place of work, at least for another year or two.

Sgt. Wolverine

March 16th, 2011 at 9:45 PM ^

At best: nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  And they manage to get under the skin not of the writers whose work you hold in great disdain, but of your fellow M fans who can't get away from it.

Furthermore, for all intents and purposes, M is on the sunny side of that mess (don't make probation a bigger deal than it is).  But your jokes and remarks keep the fan base mired in that mess.  Move on.  Please, move on, just as many -- including the NCAA -- have already done.


March 16th, 2011 at 5:13 PM ^

A couple of years back. The NCAA told him that he could do the camps or the recruiting service but not both. He chose the camps. And the camps are independent of UM in regard to the fact that he pays for the time and space. UM is more than happy to rent it out as it's a nice recruiting tool, but I believe that's as far as that relationship goes


March 16th, 2011 at 9:55 PM ^

“[W]e stopped doing it because the NCAA said recruiting services could no longer do camps on college campuses. Because we were running camps, we decided that was a better business for us than to sell the recruiting packages.”


edit:   And just to add on some comments from Flenory that came out today:…


"I feel targeted," Flenory said at his company-run Badger Sports 7-on-7 tournament. "I don't mind that as much. What I do mind is the assassination of character and the broad-painted pictures without facts. Most of it's speculation. Fact: We did get paid by the University of Oregon for selling them a recruiting service. However, the recruiting service was discontinued because the NCAA didn't allow us."




Barnett, who transferred high schools five times, also had an up and down recruitment that included a verbal commitment to Oklahoma during his junior year. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end later committed to Arkansas before taking an official visit to Michigan right before Signing Day. Issues in his personal life are one reason why Barnett soured on the Razorbacks, according to Flenory.

"I had a hand in him getting a scholarship to Michigan but not to him even going to Michigan," said Flenory. "He didn't really like Arkansas and I think he went to Arkansas because of the situation he had prior. He didn't like it and didn't want to go there. He called me and said, 'B, I need help and don't want to go to Arkansas, what can I do?' So I just sent out a message saying Chris Barrnett's looking. Michigan answered, he took a visit and ended up there. I didn't go on his visit with him, I don't live with him, I didn't even know he committed to tell you the truth."


March 16th, 2011 at 7:21 PM ^

David Brandon said he would never have to defend Michigan from NCAA violations again.  And we all know that David Brandon would never lie...

Space Coyote

March 16th, 2011 at 7:36 PM ^


This is a good summary of the events, how we should feel about it, etc.  I like what you said... until the end.  I don't understand the purpose of the last line: "[insert item about what people would say if Rodriguez acquired this Barnett kid here.]"  

It's your blog, if you want to keep the meme alive, that's fine and up to you.  I'm too lazy to start my own blog and too busy to make a good one people would want to read even if I did.  I agree with a lot of the things you say and do (not all, but alright). I agree RR was treated poorly, so on and so forth; I just don't understand the necessity of continuously bringing it back to the forefront.  It just sounds bitter.  Maybe it is.  Maybe you are still bitter.  If so, I guess so be it.  It just really doesn’t add anything to the point you are making and adds a point to what many people already believe: you’re still pissed RR was fired (even though you’ve stated yourself after the bowl game it was probably time for him to go) and you’re still angry Michigan hired Hoke.

I’m not saying what it actually is, but I’m saying how I think it is coming off as.  If you don’t mind it coming off that way, if you were just making and observation, fine.  If that's how you intend for it to come off that is your choice too.  But personally, to me, it’s over and done with.  RR is gone.  What people would say about him in this situation matters very little -only minutely less than it would have meant if he was still the coach.  Either way, it would just be more piling on a redundant topic.  At this point, the last line just feels like another thing to think about and be angry about, nothing more.  

\my opinion


March 17th, 2011 at 12:17 AM ^

The Internet hates you.


XKCD 727


(I mean relatively little ill by this; I just thought it was fair play for an incorrect correction.  And if this image is still too wide for this comment div, I'm not going back in to Edit Mode to change it again; it's too far down the page to stomp all over the sidebars anyway.)

Space Coyote

March 16th, 2011 at 9:48 PM ^

Or I could e-mail him.  Seeing as it isn't a link or something he needs to be made aware of through e-mail, and it being perhaps something people can agree/disagree with (as evidence by the +/-) then it can easily be seen if people agree or disagree with me, which is why I posted it.

Also, this isn't just "griping about the OP".  This is Brian, not just an ordinary OP.  And I'm leaving a comment on what I think about the piece, which is what the comments section is for.  I wish Brian would have left out the last line.  If Brian doesn't care, he doesn't need to pay attention to what I'm saying.  I won't stop reading the site. I'm not making any threats of that nature.  It's just something I think would make the site better.

Also, I added more because I didn't want to just say "the last line is no needed" and leave it at that, as I feel that that comes off more as griping because no reasons are given to make the comment seem non-trivial.

And I also wish this was all the length needed for a thesis...


March 16th, 2011 at 10:40 PM ^

I am sure your posts are great.

But I read the blog after work and any post longer than 2 sentences that doesn't have any combination of the words "forward pass" or "football" or "Duke sucks" or "Tressel will be fired" - fogs my brain over and the long posts (yours - no offense) reminds me of today's procurement meeting on how we can add a wire nut to the assembly bill of material without advancing the drawing rev.



March 17th, 2011 at 4:52 AM ^

I'd argue that one can be angry that RR was fired, without being angry that Hoke was hired.  I'm still angry that RR was fired.  I'm pretty confident that if Brandon had been willing to shell out that kind of money for a new DC, and fired someone to hire a Special Teams coach, and told RR to let the DC have free rein, the team would've eventually been incredible.  I certainly don't think Hoke was a bad hire, but he's an unknown quantity.  I see him like I saw Lloyd -- good, but not great.  Everyone (and I mean everyone) was on that "Fire Lloyd" train because he couldn't beat OSU... ever, he played ridiculously conservatively at the most inopportune times, and well... there was The Horror that really did him in.  Now everyone is stoked to return to that?  He was fired for a reason.  The disaster that was RR's first couple years would not have returned (and 7-6 is still a winning season), and I believed they had nowhere to go but up (with a new DC).  I can't believe that with Hoke yet, but I'm reserving judgment 'til the season's over.  I got a little sidetracked there, but yeah... one can be pissed about RR being fired (which I am), but not be angry about Hoke (at least not yet).


March 16th, 2011 at 9:43 PM ^

Michigan didn't meet with the kid's father b/c the kid doesn't live with his father.  The kid lives with his uncle.  Michigan accordingly met with the uncle.  The father isn't part of the young man's life. 

As other's have noted, Michigan cancelled the camp.  More, most if not all schools use scouting services.  I don't see what is wrong here. 


March 16th, 2011 at 11:18 PM ^

this is nothing more than an appearance issue.  The NCAA and more importantly the media have determined that (probably rightfully so) that the 7 on 7 circuit is potentially dangerous and could develop into an AAU type system.  No one wants that.  Flenory runs the most successful of these camps and tournaments, so he is naturally the target.  With him under the spotlight of the NCAA, any and all associations of his are going to be scrutinized.  That's why you end up with the long ass piece by FoxSports analyzing Barnett and Flenory's relationship.


So with Michigan coming off of a year long battle or so with NCAA, violations and media perception, this is something that needs to be nipped in the bud before it gains any traction. 


So like I said, nothing has shown that Michigan is anywhere in the wrong and none of the articles have even approached accusing UM, but this is mere an issue of appearance.


Eye of the Tiger

March 16th, 2011 at 10:08 PM ^

Then there's no story.  

Say what you will about the new coaching staff--possibly retrograde, perhaps not really the first choice, etc.--but I think everyone has to know that they are positioning themselves as "sqeaky clean."  They are not about the jeopardize that right now.  


st barth

March 17th, 2011 at 12:24 PM ^

How long before Cowhoke™ is fired?  A week?  A month?  They cannot possibly let him go through with spring practice when they know that he's responsible for violation M's probation. 

I knew he was a cheater (and a liar).  And the really sad thing is that he is a loser too.  Most cheaters (Tressel, Auburn, etc.) actually win games.  Instead we get a fat loser.  Sad.