“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:
- 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.
- “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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.