Alex Anzalone Decommits- Quick Thoughts

Written May 4th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

“May you live in interesting times”- Ancient Curse

With news today that PA linebacker Alex Anzalone has both decommitted from Ohio State and is no longer considering the Buckeyes, it has certainly been an interesting week for Ohio State Football recruiting.

First, Lewis Neal acknowledged that his jumping on the Buckeye Bandwagon and that he needed to slow down and assess his future before making a solid commitment.

Anzalone’s change of heart was the second of the week, but could easily be seen as the third; since Buckeye “lock” Mike Heuerman decided instead to head to Notre Dame.

Interspersed in all of this was the story of Charles Waugh, a registered Kentucky sex offender who interacted with a number of Ohio State recruits on twitter and facebook; and even met up with several (Anzalone and Heuerman included) at the Spring Game.  For the most in-depth coverage of this, please see the work that Luke Zimmerman did over at Land-Grant Holy Land.

So, here are some things that are currently rattling around the ol’ brainbucket here at Mali Manor:

  1. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that these are NOT all connected. Heuerman chose Notre Dame because of their history of using the Tight End and the fact that he wouldn’t have to compete against his brother. Neal has not decided where he will be in the fall, but his getting interest from SEC schools had to open his eyes a bit to the totality of his options. Anzalone and the Waugh situation are, in my opinion, connected; I’ll get to that more in a bit.
  2. Is Bosa Next?” is the current level on the tOSU freak-out-o-meter. Who knows, given his being contacted by Waugh… but you’ve got to think that his deeper Ohio State ties will give him a different perspective.
  3. As a part of a fanbase that takes slights (real and imagined) very personally and is advocating for ledge-jumping to be an Olympic Sport (think of all of the NCAA Directors’ Cups we could win!), it’s important to remember that it’s only May. The recruiting process has significantly accelerated, but signing day has not moved up at all.  Friday Night Lights is coming this summer (huge recruiting benefit for Ohio State), and the football staff are relentless evaluators and recruiters.  Things will be fine… and they don’t give out crystal footballs in May anyway.
  4. That being said, Lewis Neal may actually be on to something. With the influence of media (social and otherwise) as well as the economics of college sports, there is more and more and more pressure to make commitments and decisions; both from the programs AND from those of us who get excited looking at stars and rankings and numbers in the recruiting game.  Perhaps slowing the whole thing down to make a wise decision, for everyone involved, is not a horrible idea.
  5. I don’t blame Alex Anzalone, and support whatever decision he ends up making. If indeed this is due to the situation with Waugh, I honestly can’t blame he and his parents for being freaked out enough to make a change- you want your young adults to be safe when they choose an institution. Sure, it’s not fair to judge the University by the people who choose to unofficially affiliate with it, but that is the way that these types of things happen- and we fans do the exact same thing to other programs as well.  My hope, though, is that at some point the Alex and the Anzalone family will at least take the time to listen again to the OSU coaching staff and make a decision that’s less informed by this situation (again, if true).
  6. I asked this last night on twitter (savor the irony): What level of contact should fans have with athletes and recruits?  Particularly given how accessible athletes and recruits are, and how many enjoy the contact and attention (who wouldn’t) that their “celebrity” brings (again we create and reinforce this), there should be a lot more questions asked and boundaries created than is often the case. And, for those of us who “work” on the interwebs; should there be a different level of contact?  Oh, and I know that there are “professionals” who do this for a living… the rest of us, for the most part, are fans first and foremost.
  7. With that in mind, I thought I’d add this: The Buckeye Battlecry is not a site where you’re going to find the latest interviews or insight directly from student athletes or recruits. There are two reasons for this- A) There are other people who do this for a living and do it well and B) It’s just not something we’ve figured out how to do without the possibility of getting involved in something odd.  Again, your humble correspondents are fans first- we never want to do something that will harm the program, the young adult, or the other folks we write with.  This may change at some point, but not until we’ve thought it through really really well.

To be clear- this isn’t a comment on other sites’ decisions; several of the BBN do great work connecting with young adults. Rather, it’s more commentary that we haven’t figured out how to have these types of conversations as carefully as we’d like to, in spite of numerous conversations with the Ohio State Athletic Department.

“Ask before you act” is a great motto to have in this matter, and we’d rather be behind the news than make a huge mistake.

Oh, and believe it or not… It’s a GREAT day to be a Buckeye.

31 Comments

  1. ThomasNo Gravatar
    May 4th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    The problem with point #5 is it only makes sense to back off Ohio State. I get that Waugh might freak some parents out and there might be a knee jerk reaction to protect your kid. At the same time could you really say Ohio State isn’t an option any longer because of Waugh and in the same breath say that Penn State is back in the mix? A creepy fan with no connection to the University vs a School that let a molester ( connected to the football team) run free for the better part of a decade?

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    JoeNo Gravatar
    May 4th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    A school that let a molester (connected to the football team) run free for the better part of a decade?

    1) Was he really connected to the football team?

    2) The “School” let the molester run free? All 45,000 associated with the school did that, huh? The attorney general of the state at that time, now the govenor, is stating there wasn’t a case against him at the time, but all 45,000 at the school let him run free? Get your facts straight and get your mind right. Dont go through life, drunk, fat and stupid….please.

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    Ben HNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Wow…yes Sandusky was connected to the FB team! He was allowed to attend a summer camp held by Penn St’s FB team. I can’t believe you’d get on here and defend that kind of a person and unfortunately Joe Pa too (who I admire tremendously and believe died from a broken heart). However you’re comments are the ones that seem VERY off as far as straight facts. Those coaches knew and didn’t say shit when the AD and other dip shit did NOTHING! Wow is all I can say to you Joe…wow indeed!

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    Ben HNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    There are a lot more than just Penn St back in the mix. As far as the comparisons…there not even close. Penn St’s old coaches are gone…the cloud is still there a bit but the sunshine is starting to poke through in Happy Valley. I think they’ll get better and their new coach has the N.E. connection to sell to recruits. Still think comparing that to this is a complete joke…not even close. Doubt that will be a big deterrent for either team with recruiting to be honest. The situation with OSU is taken care of as far as Waugh and I believe Penn St will not get a thing from the NCAA due to the trial taking so long…lucky them…

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  2. RobertNo Gravatar
    May 4th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Academics are very important to Anzalone which explains Penn State. All schools on his list are better academic schools than tOSU. His current list is Florida, Stanford, USC, Penn State and Notre Dame.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 2:15 am

    That would explain it… although, to be fair, Stanford is the only one that wouldn’t have similar problems (as the “Creepy guy” factor).

    Penn State is Penn State, Florida (as a state) has a HUGE number of Megan’s Law folks, USC just had students shot on their campus (and ain’t in the greatest neighborhood), and Notre Dame has had issues of run ins with the residents of South Bend.

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    RobertNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 8:29 am

    True, I’m sure the incident at tOSU factored in. All colleges have creeps, but its one thing to get up close and personal with a creep. This guy was texting a mile a minute.

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  3. ZNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 1:21 am

    What is it with OSU getting decommittments on the football team? OSU allowing pedophiles around recruits or players is disgusting. Are there no controls on who has access? I can’t even watch a practice. OSU is becoming another Penn State unless this problem is snipped in the bud.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Ah, Z- Tell me where this issue could have been addressed earlier? Tell me how the University could know that this guy was a problem, when the entire state of Kentucky didn’t know that he was on social media and when Alex’s parents didn’t know that this type of person was communicating with their son for months prior to the Spring Game.

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    Ben HNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Agree with MB. Z there would be no way to know who this guy was until the twitter thing. That’s when people raised red flags bc of the number of tweets to current and future Buckeyes. OSU has banned the guy from campus as well as informed the students to who Waugh is (and he’s being prosecuted for violating his sex offender probation by communicating with under 18 year olds on the net). Now as for this disgusting part…it happened at a spring game and a BW3s later that night on campus. There are no back ground checks for any FBS game or at BW3s Z. Stop hating and comparing this situation (like many haters are) to something like a Penn St situation. Not comparable as well as ignorant to say the least. Something that’s perpetuating knee jerk decisions by a parent or two is in no way shape or form like child molestation that was allowed for 10 years+ I don’t blame Sal Anzalone one bit…it was weird/strange and unfortunate. I like how he came out on ESPN and didn’t blame the coaches like you are Z! Go back to your hole you crawled out of Z…we all stocked up on BS here!

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    Jeff at FOX Sports OhioNo Gravatar
    May 6th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    As someone who has covered the Buckeyes for a few years, I can tell you that when we go into the press room for post-game interviews, we pass by the iron gates that are near the locker room.

    Literally hundreds of fans wait after the game outside those gates for the players to emerge. Some are family members, but most are fans.

    In one of those pictures, you can see the iron gates behind Waugh.

    Unless you want to completely lock up the student-athletes and make them live in constant seclusion, they are going to interact with fans.

    Quite simply, there was nothing the university did that was wrong. When they learned of the issue, they addressed it immediately, alerting everyone that was necessary (and yes, that included the actual authorities, Mr. Paterno).

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 6th, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    GREAT insight!! Thanks, Jefe…

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  4. ANo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Ok…let’s be frank, here — this Sal Anzalone, (the father), sounds like a controlling, yet contradicting A-HOLE.
    It looks like he was never on board with the OSU commitment from his son, so he’s trying to USE THIS isolated incident as a way to redirect his son’s commitment to either Pedd State or Florida (hear he’s a fan of both).
    man up, daddy!

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  5. ANo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 8:23 am

    re: Robert — this has NOTHING to do with academics…and, fwiw – Pedd State isn’t an Ivy League school — hate to break it to you. OSU is a very good academic school. This has everything to do with a control freak father trying to manipulate his son’s recruitment. These coaches can’t babysit these kids 24/7. They’re not 5th graders. Geeze.

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    RobertNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Didn’t say tOSU is a bad academic school or tOSU wouldn’t be considered. Fact is the rest of the schools on the kid’s list are better academic schools. A control freak father of a 16 year old? You’re kidding right? The kid is a minor and a parent’s job is to protect. While I think the incident factored in…don’t believe you or I for that matter have the whole truth. Hope you’re not the type that believes the media has the truth.

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    Ben HNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Not to get off topic but you should look up your statistics on your claims about Penn St academics comparatively speaking to OSUs’ (I think Alex goes to FL or Stanford…not Penn St anyways). I think you may be surprised. OSU is ranked higher in most categories not to mention has a MUCH better medical field majors as well as facilities for them. You’re WAY off on Penn St. Now Stanford…that’s another thing entirely.

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    RobertNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Bottom line as a whole tOSU is the lowest ranked academic school on his list. I never said it’s a bad school. I’m sure they do things some things better than schools on his list…Sorry, if it bothers you people but it’s the truth…

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Point taken, Robert- but do we really want to get into the “challenge academic reputation” versus “what classes athletes actually take” conversation?

    Even Stanford, as much as I really love their program, does some creative stuff with their student athletes.

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    Ben HNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Exactly…bottom line is that had NOTHING to do with this. It was 100% about that Waugh creeper that probably came to Columbus in a big white van. The parents got scare(and weren’t there) and I would too being one myself (of course I would have been there…wouldn’t miss that for anything;-) But in all seriousness, the Anzalone’s are probably not as interested as Alex was and especially now. Moving on…next LB recruit please.

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Well… it seems as if it has more to do with some of the interest that Dad has in other schools. Alex visited Florida on Thursday (the day that the information about the twitter guy came out); Florida just happens to be Dad’s alma mater. Remember that Dad wasn’t at the OSU visit… mom was. (although, she didn’t seem to be around when her son was hitting the town with friends).

    Was there a “creepy” factor in the decision. No doubt. Is it 100% the reason? Lots of doubt.

    RobertNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Mail Buckeye and Ben H- just stated why Penn State could be on the list and the kid has stated academics is important. Ben H got defensive and started with his rambling and Mail agreed. Here is the bottom line–the kid was interested in Meyer because of what Meyer and Tebow did at UF. Kid probably got excited and committed on spot-most do and started to flip during the week and the freak factor of creep made the flip final. Many recruits flip -Kid is probably a gator and sounds like he was a gator fan the whole time.

  6. Todd ShepherdNo Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Isn’t this dude 19, 6’3 230 lbs? Isnt he a linebacker? You got to be kidding me, go play for scum with the rest of the wimps. Your decommitting because some child molester took a picture with you?

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  7. jdk buckeye2002No Gravatar
    May 5th, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    the dad is definitely not a fan of our fine school but I know that alex really liked the fisher business school n was goin to do the 3-2 program BA and MBA in four years(had honors credits from HS). Sounds like daddy was pissed and with the creep situation had him to decommit. alex obviously liked the school and was upset with daddy for blaiming the coaches and tosu for “allowing” this creep around hence his daddy’s backpedaling on eSECpn.

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  8. ryanNo Gravatar
    May 6th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    USC, Florida, Penn St, Stanford. Stanford has something to offer. USC isn’t any better than OSU, Penn St is great, but not that great (Pitt and Pennsylvania U are much better), and Florida comes up a few spots short of OSU at a lot of the big name ranked degrees (business, law, etc) If he wanted a good school he would go to Stanford or Michigan (as much as it pains me to say)

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  9. jeffNo Gravatar
    May 7th, 2012 at 7:19 am

    What bothered me about the whole situation. He used the creepy guy to decommit. Instead he should have said, i made a quick choice, i am not happy that moved so fast. I want to rethink my decision. This has nothing to do with Urban or his staff, but the fact that i made a choice way to quickly. The individual that harrassed me had some things to do with me de-commiting. But not all. this is what he should have said. using the creepy guy was a cop out. we all protect our kids every way we can, and yes as parents we can be overbearing. but, as a parent, we know when to step in and when to let our kids grow up. Dad needs to man up and assist his kid to help make a good choice, not one that makes him happy. sounds like dad is living thru his son. time to grow up daddy and let the kid decide what he wants to do for himself, not you

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  10. WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 7th, 2012 at 8:38 am

    The hardest part about all of this is accepting that a “kid” would chose to decommit because of this situation. I cannot say I have ever been through something like this but can speculate based on my own kids recruitment to small D-2 schools for track and daughter in basketball. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would ask them to think things thorugh if there was ANY controversy surrounding “their” recruitment. Anzelone is directly linked to this sad situation by a picture, and therefor should take a step back. Im sure the convo that Coach Meyer had with his dad on Friday, that did cause him to backpedal a bit, had a profound effect on rethinking the whole ordeal. It has NOTHING to do with Anzelone, but if I were his father I would be concerned with his future as well.JMHO

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  11. Ben HNo Gravatar
    May 7th, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    To Mailbag…sorry for the late reply on this but you’re right about other factors that gave Dr. Sal Anzalone an excuse which was the 100% reason I meant of what he spoke on publicly (and I see he now is retracing comments on OSU coaches like I thought he would). IMO this situation was the grease for the wheels (for Alex’s visit to UF last Friday and subsequent decommit). This seems to be another situation where the kid loved it until a pedophile got involved with twitter but Mom and especially Dad want him to take it slower (in other words don’t want him to go to OSU) and they want to be more involved than they were before (too bad because if his mom or dad weren’t there…this big deal probably doesn’t happen. Which is why Bosa, so far hasn’t decommitted). I still think Alex is gone…and so is Neal. As I said before bring on the new LB/DE recruits.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 7th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Mailbag? We haven’t done one of those in a while! :)

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  12. JinNJNo Gravatar
    May 7th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    It is interesting that Dr. Sal Anzalone went to medical school at the University of Florida … so 4 wonderful years in Gainesville may have strong powers! All of the backpedaling that Dr. Anzalone is doing now makes for a very weasel-like appearance – and smacks of a bit of an inability to “man-up” when faced with a difficult issue… if the kid had changed his mind – just say so – it might be uncomfortable – but sometimes the truth is a bit tough to say – instead they jumped on a the awkward situation and make it the scapegoat … but are now double talking their way out of it because it has blown up.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 7th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    For the record, I’m also willing to give Dr. Anzalone’s initial comments a bit of a pass, given that they came from a local news source (read: “one that might not be the best at transcribing direct quotes, and might be presenting an angle”).

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    WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    May 9th, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Mali, its important to remember that a Parent IS protective of their children. He has every right to feel the way he did. It’s great that you understand the situation, there’s a lot of people(without kids probably) who do not.

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