Your high school son – let’s call him Luke – is 6-3, 215 pounds and can throw a football with the violence of John Elway and the touch of Tom Brady. He’s good-looking like his momma, who he loves dearly, of course. He’s smart, too, a teammate more coveted than ice cream in July.
He’s also always loved State U. You took him to State U games since he was five years old, and now, guess what? Your pride and joy is a senior, and Coach Billy Joe from State U has been texting your boy non-stop, building a relationship with him the likes of which you didn’t have with your own daddy.
Billy Joe LOVES Luke. Billy Joe “wants what’s best” for Luke. Billy Joe loves Luke’s momma’s cooking, no matter how burnt it might be. Billy Joe loves the way Luke says “yes, sir” and “no, sir.” Billy Joe loves Luke’s throwing motion. Heck, Billy Joe loves YOU. Billy Joe will “take care” of Luke the next four years like the kid was his own flesh and blood.
When it comes time for Luke to choose a college – signing day! – there you are with your son and his momma and Billy Joe. Luke is smiling and signing! Pictures. Interviews. Hugs. Promises. Dreams met.
Then the next day, on your way to work, you hear the news on the radio: Billy Joe is now longer working for State U.
If this scenario sounds familiar, you might very well live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This week a group of Louisiana high school coaches met to discuss the possibility of “boycotting” the beacon school in the state: the LSU Tigers.
If this sounds extreme, don’t fret: there is absolutely NO chance that at the end of the day these high school coaches will boycott the biggest, baddest school in their state. They want their players to be courted by LSU, and quite frankly, the coaches themselves probably want to be courted by LSU. This is 100 percent posturing. They will have announced a “truce” of some sort with LSU probably by the time you are reading this. The LSU head coach will talk to the high school coaches and everything will be smoothed over just fine.
Everything, it will be said, was just a little misunderstanding.
However, the verbal threats and meetings, etc., certainly highlight one of the things wrong with college football recruiting. Every year, we all read of coaches leaving ONE DAY after signing day. Coaches sit on couches all over the country and pledge their allegiances to athletes, looking the jocks and their parents in their eyes and assuring them that “State U” is a family. “We love you,” they’ll say. “We’ll watch over your child.” “I’m not going anywhere.” Blah, blah, blah.
And then tomorrow comes, and they are gone. That’s what happened at LSU, where assistant coach Jabbar Juluke was “reassigned” recently after successfully recruiting a handful of Louisiana high school stars. Now the high school coaches are upset. Juluke was probably upset, before he landed another gig in Lubbock at Texas Tech. Chances are pretty good that the young recruits – and especially their parents – were upset as well.
All of which results in a collective shrug of the shoulders from college coaches and the NCAA. Sorry, Luke.
What should the NCAA do about this?
If the primary recruiter of a kid leaves prior to the kid’s first day of class, then allow two things to happen: 1, allow the player to be eligible to transfer without unreasonable delay and, 2, take away a scholarship from the school for each player effected. Very few things get the attention of football coaches more than the removal of scholarships.
Do something to keep schools from misleading (i.e., lying) to recruits and their parents. Do something to keep the school’s coaches from lying to recruits and their parents. Do something to keep high school coaches from publicly blasting away at universities, prior to making up with said universities, after which they will all return to kissing one another’s rear ends again, just like before.
Do something to regain Luke’s trust.
Just do something.