The Offer Conundrum

Charlie Strong. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Charlie Strong. (Will Gallagher/IT)

We’ve had this discussion a few times but it’s worth having until the offer/commitment/signing apparatus is amended.

Said Ohio State’s Urban Meyer:

“People offer scholarships now like Pop Tarts. It’s unbelievable,” Meyer told Eleven Warriors. “This kid’s like ‘this school’s offered me, and this school. This school’s offered like 40 kids in the state of Ohio,’ and I’m like (jumps back a bit). I don’t know where you get 40 times whatever and have 120 scholarships to give out.”

Okay, the amount of extended offers argument is a bit of a straw-man. If you have 20 slots available you can’t offer just 20 people. So what’s an acceptable amount of offers over your number and who gets to judge that? That should remain unregulated. Kids know the score here. They’re not stupid, and if they are, explain their offer has a shot-clock on it.

Meyer continues:

I’d like to slow down, the recruiting process,” he said. “I want to watch them go to camp. In a perfect world you watch them go to camp and see them play three or four games their senior year and say ‘we’ll take you. He’s a perfect fit,’” Meyer said. “It’s just, the calendar’s been pushed up so far.”

Well, it’s not a perfect world and regulations attempting to make it a perfect world often go awry. However, as the article goes on to suggest, holding coaches accountable to verbal offers can only be considered ethical and basic human decency. We’re taught as 4-year olds not to [whatever the modern term for Indian give is], yet so many coaches lose sight of the bigger picture. Or, more likely, they have a perverted view of what the ‘big picture’ is.

You often hear coaches say how ‘it’s all about the kids’. What they mean is, ‘parents, please trust that I have your kid’s best interest at heart, assuming he’s good enough to play for me’. Ironically, Mr. Up-Tempo recruiting, Nick Saban himself, has a problem with the very ethical up-tempo style of play.

Nick Saban is well within his right to early offer kids, but he should be held accountable to those offers. If he doesn’t want to wait until camps to evaluate or wait until senior film becomes available, then good for him. If his evaluations are true, then he’s created a great advantage for himself over contemporaries who are more patient. That said, if he’s allowed to offer unethically (extending non-committable offers) then he’s created an unfair advantage for himself.

This creates a paradox that reminds of the steroid era in baseball. Do I take steroids even though I know it’s wrong/bad for my health/or it’s against the rules, or do I follow my own personal ethics and risk falling behind my competition? As most things in life it becomes a cost-benefit, risk-reward analysis. When entities are governed justly and effectively they aren’t put in such conflict.

That’s where the Pelini Plan comes into play. Said Pelini (of all people) last summer:

“If somebody has offered a kid, let him sign, it’s over,” Pelini told “That will stop some of the things that are happening — people just throwing out offers, some of them with really no intention of taking a kid.”

“Make [the offer] mean something,” Pelini said. “People will be like, ‘Whoa, I’ve got to take this kid now.’ It will slow things down for the kids, for the institutions. There will be less mistakes.”

When new ideas are put forth it’s important to scrutinize the cause and effect. In his simplistic, Neanderthal delivery, Pelini does just that rather easily. So easy a caveman can do it, imo.

That indeterminable number of allowed extended scholarships I mentioned above versus available room in a class would necessarily figure itself out. The biggest winners in all this; the kids. The kids should have the leverage until they become ‘men’ and move out of the house. Then their ass rightfully belongs to the schools/coaches. Not literally, but you get the point.

I’m under no delusions that Urban Meyer’s statements are based in altruism. I think he’s looking for the upper hand just as Saban was when publicly petitioning the unfairness of up-tempo play calling. But even if Meyer’s motivations are rooted in self interest (like so many of his decisions at Florida), some good could come of all this if a consensus is built to push the Pelini Plan.

As with steroids in baseball, there are coaches who are acting unethically just to keep pace with the instigators. Enforce the rules or alter them accordingly and you’ll see this aspect of the game change for the better.