We’re one week away from National Letter Of Intent Day, and the excitement (and chaos) is building. We’ll talk a bit this week about the idea of “verbals” and visits, but let’s dig through the news bucket a bit first, shall we? Oh, and Mark Titus’ favorite band brings us our musical inspiration for the morning. Happy Wednesday.
I’ll be honest… Even as I was standing in the church waiting for the ceremony to start on my wedding day, I had more than a few “What am I doing here?” thought flow through my head. Those that know me and my then fiance, now wife probably were having similar thoughts… “What is she doing here??” As I’ve been a part of more than a few weddings (never as the groom, though), I knew that this was not an unusual occurrence… heck, I’ve got friends that automatically want to re-visit the menu as soon as their food arrives. For some people, decisions come easy- for others, there’s always a sense of doubt; a sense that is magnified with the magnitude of the decision being made.
It’s with that in mind that I completely understand why Trey Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, and even Dontre Wilson would want to take additional visits to ensure that they were making the best decision for their future.
When many of us decided to go to college, it probably didn’t have the weight of a student athlete’s decision- we hadn’t been hounded and followed by recruiting experts since we were sophomores, we didn’t have whole networks and televised spectacles around our performance and decisions.
Also, our “out” might have been a bit different as well- if I had wanted to transfer or even take a break, I could have done so without worrying that it would need to be cleared by more than just the admissions departments and my family, and I wouldn’t have had any concerns that my decision would have long lasting implications for my desire to pursue my career of choice. Heck, even through grad schools I didn’t even need to think about what might happen if my department chair would leave during my sophomore year, and what the new staff would want me to learn or what their focus would be. Plus, there was no way that I would have had to endure the pressure of people that I never knew following my every move and wanting to connect with me through social media, or blaming me for programmatic or personal mistakes in ways that would make me a national story.
For college aged adults who are involved in major sports, these are all factors: They’re being tweeted and stalked based on everything they do, no matter how inappropriate that is for the people involved. If they find themselves a step or two behind their classmates, it could mean the end of their opportunity to attempt to play professionally- an opportunity that’s pretty slim even if they are at the top of their game (see Smith, Troy). And if their coach moves on, all bets are off regarding their investment in and prior commitment to the program… it’s an unfortunate part of the “business” of major college athletics.
Then there’s the “What does it mean to give your word?” aspect of all of this- is this a teachable moment? Should coaches and other administrators talk clearly with their potential athletes about integrity and honesty and what a commitment means? Certainly… but those lessons probably ring pretty hollow in a world where the bigger picture (major finances and university advancement) often trump a students’ well being, no matter how diligently coaches and others try to intervene otherwise. The system itself is geared more for the institution than it is for the individual.
In all of this, though, there’s a part of me that realizes my own hypocrisy in all of this- I want OSU to be able to “poach” the best athletes from other programs, but wish that “our” top recruits had become so invested in the program that they weren’t even the slightest bit interested in looking elsewhere. Which, to return to an earlier theme, sounds like a lot of dating relationships that friends of mine have experienced… they want to be seen as attractive, but don’t want their significant others gaining the same attention.
As the system currently stands, the only way to know who’s committed to a University is on or after the February 6th. Personally, I’d love to see an early signing period, if only to give students and parents (who will be even more inundated with the responsibility to create boundaries for potential recruits) a break well before February of their senior year.
But until that happens, all universities and student athletes can do is promise that once that paper is signed and the enrollment completed, they will be faithful to the relationship between the institution, it’s staff, the student, and their teammates.
Meanwhile, In Russia
Around The NCAA
“Now the (NCAA and its co-defendants) are facing potential liability that’s based on the billions of dollars in revenue instead of tens or hundreds of millions,” said Michael Hausfeld, interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “It’s a more accurate context for what the players deserve.”
Again, this is something to keep an eye on… combined with the concerns about concussions and the move to super-conferences, it could be the start of some foundational changes for what we enjoy so much.
Across The B1G
How’s your Resolution to get in shape working out for you?