Has anyone noticed how recruiting has become more of an Internet reality show these past couple of years?
Well, if the fans and followers of their perspective schools have not, the kids being courted by elite college football programs have.
Over this past recruiting year, I have read words such as “savvy” and “close to the vest” being applied to the style and manner in which young high school athletes are dealing with the media about their future choices.
The question has to be asked: Why can’t they just be honest? Why can’t high school recruits simply say, “This is my favorite school right now.”? Etc. Etc.
Answer: It’s all about the reality-show mentality. It’s all about the attention.
Case in point: Kyle Murphy.
All along, people knew he was leaning toward Stanford. Why? The kid probably was enamored with the academic prestige that surrounds the school (I might add that USC is a only breath behind them and even more ahead when it comes to networking, alumni and helping out their own).
Who knows? Maybe his parents had long filled him with the idea that if he was ever offered a scholarship by Stanford then it was a done deal.
Whatever the case was, the facts remain:
- Kyle Murphy took an official visit to USC in January of 2012. Any reputable site (Scout.com, Rivals.com, 247 Sports.com) can verify that.
- Kyle Murphy changed his Facebook profile photo less than two days before national signing day, inserting a picture of him and Matt Barkley from that recent official visit (no, his profile was not hacked). Now, whatever the case may have been, a Stanford-admitted kid can easily assume that many fans would take notice. As a result, the only rational conclusion would have been to conclude Murphy was favoring USC going into signing day. For Kyle and anyone to say, “Hey, it’s his private profile and he can change photos if he wants,” is a bit dismissive. Surely he can change it. But come on. Common sense suggests this kid knew the stir this would create.
- Per 247 Sports and Rivals.com, by simply fishing around public forums and boards, it was clear that Murphy told many USC players and coaches he was going to be attending USC. Analysts and reporters in the know from these sites had also shared that Murphy to USC was a mere formality come his announcement.
- On signing day, per a released presser by USC Football and ESPN, Lane Kiffin had spoken to media in the morning suggesting that “he was excited about a later lineman commit.” Without a doubt, he was speaking of Murphy, whose 1:30pm ceremony was exactly what Kiffin had been referring to.
- Prior to signing day and his USC visit, Murphy had not leaked anything to anyone. It was not until the last couple of weeks leading to February 1 that he began to create a whir with posts, hints and strong verbal declarations that recruiting experts (again, from the aforementioned sites) shared. Oh, and Murphy knew these hints and declarations would be shared.
Why the change from hard-boiled Kyle to game-on Kyle?
Again: The reality show mentality. These kids, like Kyle Murphy, are engaging in their own personal biopics, their own dramas, their very own reality shows.
Even the aloof Kyle Murphy, at the last minute, could not resist the lore to star in his own dramatic episode. The temptation was too great. If it was not, then phone calls to coaches would have been made prior to the surprise blow dealt to the USC staff, its players and its media sources.
"Well, maybe he just literally changed his mind while he was walking up to the platform.” Hmm. Once again: A Stanford-admitted kid (emphasis intentional) whimsically and spontaneously changed his mind two seconds before announcing to the public and committing to a major life decision? I don’t think so.
Lane Kiffin learned a hard lesson this year. Many of these kids are going to star in their own reality productions in which the coaches are not even costars. They have become the audience themselves, wondering what is real and what is just for the camera.
Kiffin will have to keep this in mind the next two years with scholarship reductions. He will have to extend offers to kids and place them on the back-burner, unlike he did this year, which he confessed to on his signing day presser.
There was no Plan B with recruits, he said in the post national signing day interview. Well, there’d better be from now on.
Does this change the face of recruiting? Absolutely. One hundred percent.
The entire course of recruiting has officially been redirected. The fact is, most of these 17-year-old kids will not resist the temptation to direct and star in their own dramas. Yes, I said will not and not cannot. Why? Because there are still a handful of kids who handle the process with class.
So, what does this say about the kids being recruited? Well, it does more than just say. It shows their character, or lack of it.
Maybe—just maybe—when recruiting, when rating these kids by five stars based on their athleticism, size, skill level and other intangibles, going into the next recruiting cycles, there should be a category for character.
And that should count toward their star rating.