Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

College football recruiting rife with corruption

When you are at the age of 16, men in their 40s, 50s or 60s are watching you. They film you performing and then bring the tape back to their friends to watch it together. They examine your body, looking for your slightest faults, and when they are satisfied, they call you every week ’till you turn 18.

You are living the life of a major college football recruit.

Another year of recruiting wrapped up on Wednesday, Feb. 6, with National Signing Day, a national holiday for voyeurs. This is the first day that high school senior football players can sign with their favorite college teams. What precedes this is a period of increasing perversity.

The world of Division I college football recruiting is highly competitive, so each college understandably tries to out-duel the others for prized high school prospects. The growing trend has pushed the point of initial contact with recruits to an earlier age than ever before.

Terrelle Pryor, the No. 1-rated quarterback in the class of 2008 according to scout.com, has been in contact with Penn State University since he was in ninth grade. The rationale for this being that the earlier contact is made, the more likely a recruit is to think that the college actually cares about him.

When a college isn’t the first one to contact a player, they make up for it with increased vigilance. This vigilance can take a variety of forms.

In December of 2001, the University of Colorado hosted several recruits on a visit to their campus. In order to assure these teenage boys had a good time, one of the team’s recruiting aides solicited a prostitute. No doubt the recruits had a happy ending to their weekend in Boulder, Colo.

This year, Pryor has been the most sought-after recruit so far. In order to land him, the head coaches of both Ohio State University and the University of Michigan have watched Pryor play a high school basketball game with his team. Apparently watching him play basketball is the key to getting him to play football.

Coaches will stop at nothing to land a player they want.

In 2007, Bruce Feldman wrote a book “Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting” chronicling the recruiting process of former Ole Miss Head Coach Ed Orgeron. In his book, Feldman tells of how Orgeron and his staff tried to lure No. 1-rated running back prospect Joe McKnight from Louisiana State University.

Orgeron’s plan was to call Pete Carroll, head coach of University of Southern California, and convince him to recruit McKnight. Orgeron hoped that the sudden interest from USC would confuse McKnight enough so that he’d forget his earlier interest in the LSU Tigers. This would leave the door open to Orgeron to swoop in and speak gently to the distraught McKnight so that he would be the only coach that McKnight trusted.

The plan didn’t work, but that didn’t stop Orgeron and his staff at Ole Miss from trying.

The most common way that coaches try to establish a relationship with a recruit is through repeated phone calls to the player’s cell phone or home phone. In these calls, coaches deliver a prepared rhetoric that has been tailored to each player’s specific interests. Coaches are only allowed one call a week, but the best players get calls from 20 to 30 teams a week.

Before last year, when text messaging was banned, coaches used to be able to send an unlimited number of texts to every player. One recruit woke up from a night’s rest to 53 new text messages.

In any other social arena, a middle-aged man would get arrested for showing that sort of interest in a teenaged boy. And this is our national pastime.

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  • M

    Margaret HadawayFeb 8, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I’m wondering where the athletes’ parents are during this recruiting process? Are they so dazzled by the attention that they fail their parental duties in protecting their children?

  • K

    kathyFeb 7, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Indeed. The POOR recruit. Worshipped for athletic skills, probably from days of Pop Warner football. Perks all thru high school. Lower standards for college admission. Acceptance THEN qualifying for the lowered standards, the converse of every other kid at universities. Best housing, more perks, fluff courses at college. How many engineers, architects, pre-med kids got 53 recruiting texts on their phones? Further, our starlets often “fly by” their supposed cherished education by only staying a year or two, taking up space from a real academic. Then they go on, sign a contract with the NBA, NFL, etc. for way more than a starting doc, engineer, architect, computer tech would ever get. Oh yeah, the POOR, POOR athlete. What a screwed up society we live in.