College Football Recruiting: Everything but Rock and Roll

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College Football Recruiting: Everything but Rock and Roll
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Mark Emmert

College football’s national signing day is declared by many as a national holiday. The focus and television coverage of the event can only be matched in the sports world by the Super Bowl, the NFL draft and the World Series.

High school recruiting and scouting has turned into a million dollar business—a business that places the spotlight on an 18-year-old high school athlete with no disregard.

The anticipation the athletes have to sign their national letters of intent can only be matched by the national fandom that follows collegiate athletics.  As recently as this week, this love and passion for college football and recruiting has boiled over to an unmatched level.  

Former University of Michigan commit Logan Tuley-Tillman took to his Twitter account with a picture of him burning his Ohio State University recruiting materials. Upon seeing this, Ohio State fans took to Twitter and Facebook and responded with death threats toward him and his mother.

But what college football does not tell its fans, is that college football has turned into a 24-hour, seven- days-a-week recruiting business. The stress and pressure placed on coaches and universities to bring in these amateur athletes is unparalleled throughout sports. With that pressure placed upon them, coaches and universities are willing to do whatever it takes to bring these athletes to their football programs.

ESPN’s survey of college athletes began to expose college football’s dirty little recruiting secrets. Money, sex, drinking and drugs—things that only fit into the life of a rock star, right? Well not anymore. Nearly 28 percent of the athletes surveyed openly admitted they would have no issue taking $50,000 from a recruiter.

It gets worse from there. Over 57 percent of these same athletes admitted to having drugs and alcohol available to them during their official visits to campus. The common expression I tend to hear to disregard these statistics is “boys will be boys”.

Well, I ask those people who feel that way, when should the proverbial line be drawn? Is it okay that these on-campus official visits are orchestrated and setup by the college’s head football coach and recruiting coordinator? Do coaches take into account which of their current football players will host and match up the best with recruits?

Does it matter to you, that most of these powerful football universities have individuals from the football staff waiting to drive any of the underage recruits and their hosts back to campus after a night of drinking during an official visit? The last thing any good football coach would want to do is to place a smear on the reputation of him and his football team by having one of his athletes or recruits getting arrested for a DUI during an official on-campus visit.

The sex comes next. Both on their unofficial and official visits to a college campus, recruits are taken around by an individual called a “Campus Specialist” or a “Campus Ambassador.” These hostesses tend to be females who are judged on their knowledge of the campus by their appearenceESPN’s survey also revealed nearly 63 percent of the universities used female Campus Ambassadors to entice the athletes.

Let’s be honest, what 18-year-old high school athlete is not going to want to hang out and tour a campus with a good-looking college female? A Pennsylvania lineman even admitted, “It never hurts to throw out some hot girls. At one place I visited, the players I hung out with talked more about the hostesses than about anything else.” Another recruit admitted that hostesses did influence his choice of a university. “They look good, they smell good, they really talk up the universities. Why wouldn't that affect me?”

Do not believe any of the window dressing that the NCAA or its president Mark Emmert try to put up concerning the notion that college athletes are students first and athletes second. If this was even remotely true, then the NCAA would, at the very least, require universities to have a professor walk these student-athletes around when they visit their campus, allowing the professor and athlete time to discuss the athlete’s academic future.

The bottom line here is that college athletics are driven by two true ideals. The first is making money, and the second is winning football games.

As USA Today points out, the average salary for a Division One football coach in 2006 was $950,000. The average salary for football coaches in 2011 was $1.47 million, an increase in salary of nearly 55 percent. Similar numbers apply to the six conferences with an automatic BCS qualifier.

In 2006, the average salary of a coach within one of these conferences was $1.4 million. In 2011, these same coaches were averaging salaries of $2.125 million, increasing the average salary of a football coach in one of the major conferences nearly 52 percent.

Every football coach in America is driven to get their best athletes on the field. Every coach in America wants to win the most games possible at any cost. Until academics affect the salaries of coaches, academics will not truly matter.

Coaches want to win football games because team GPA and overall test scores do not allow them to keep their jobs. Until the NCAA finds a way to make academics a more crucial part of the coaches' and student-athletes' livelihoods, then nothing will change. Coaches will do whatever it takes to bring athletes to their programs and win football games.

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