I have always been a college sports fan. And, when I say college sports I truly mean football and basketball. I will watch all other college sports especially if my team is ranked in the top 25 or advanced into the individual tournaments but, again, football and basketball are the focus.
The passion in college sports can't be equal by in any other arena of sports. The personable affiliation with it means the fan base will increase two-fold annually. You of course have families of athletes and then alumni. And, then there are those that just grew up in the perspective states that are just crazy about their home town teams.
I grew up in the midst of one of those communities where all are connected to a team. And, days that our favorite teams played were better than any holidays that came along. The stars of our team were worship on and off the field. If these players had a hand in our winning they would be remembered and idolize for times to come.
With the defection of so many athletes from one team to another I began to think who is really running this sport. I could go into the money is the route of all of this but that would require a completely separate article.
But, I grew up in a time when players in football and basketball stayed in school all four years more often than not. There was actually a concept well known to many call red-shirt senior. And, that's not that long ago. But, in the times we live in right now a red shirt senior in football or basketball...even a true senior is unheard of. If you are a senior most are incline to think you have no talent. No one would assume that the athlete wanted to finished what they started.
The tone of defection of college sports to professional sports has taken on an entirely new face. The prevailing thought is you came to college to improve your pay scale later in life. So why stay and actually get an education if you can declare and make millions?
I waffle back and forth on my stance on early entry to the NBA and the NFL. Obviously times have changed and if you have first round talent why not test it at the next level.
But, it is that lure of millions that makes athletes and their families. It is this attraction and talk of so much money that has the level of transfers at a all-time high.
It is important though that I discuss several discoveries. Several things have happen as my fan hood has grown and evolved over the years. I have started to pay attention to the nuances of the behind scenes activity with these players. The "what is it going to take to get you in our program nuances?"
So, here are my revelations; one, the college athlete is not the only one that is being recruited. Two, the lure of money for the athlete and the institutions has taken this commitment to one college a joke. Three, the athlete as well as him family over-estimates the amount of an athlete's talent and therefore feels they are owed and should be awarded a lot more than a free education. Four, the climate is now where these kids can fall out of love with their coaches and colleges and have their parents shop them around to the highest bidder and hence change schools in mid-stream even if it means sitting out a year.
I realize I may be a late bloomer in this whole revelation and this process of college recruiting but, it has become apparent to me that recruiting has and maybe always has extended way beyond the athlete.
High school and AAU coaches are now schmoozed a lot more than the player. The Coach vows that he is the closest to the player and vows that the athlete will go where ever he suggest. In the one parent homes the uncles or older brothers are the key and then wooed.
I am under the impression that college coaches understand this game and are more willing to play and circumvent the rules whenever they can.
Which then begs the question who is in charge? If coaches are giving away more than they should are they being held hostage to a certain extent? Are they setting themselves up for eventual failure? Doesn't this pay to play in college athletics change the level of the playing fields? Does it not give the athlete the idea that their talent is worth something in the realm of college sports? Do we really give jobs and one time payments to these athletes coaches and families.
Or in the instance of Arkansas Razorbacks Houston Nutt a commitment of three players in exchange for a position on his staff. (that coach being Gus Malzhan now OC for the Auburn Tigers) Houston Nutt has since been run out of town to the Ole Miss Rebels.
I vaguely remember the years of Galen Hall and Charlie Pell when they gave away the farm and got caught. . But, I do remember the sanctions...the death penalty that it imposed on the Florida Gator program.
I definitely remember the Reggie Bush scandal. And, I remember my thoughts were that there is no way an athletes parents accepted the offer of a house, the offer of transportation, the offer of clothes for their son.
There is no way that I thought that Pete Carroll would allow agents to roam the locker rooms and sidelines like they were alleged to have done.
Did I think that Lebron's Mom all of a sudden decided she wanted a Hummer for her son? At least he was not violating any NCAA rules.
Again, a late bloomer in this realm. What happen? Has this always been the case and I have been so busy impressing my male friends that I know what a Tampa 2 Coverage is?
This begs the next question that doesn't this all out effort to appease this young athletes and their family give them a false sense of value.
Does anyone ever weigh talent versus integrity?
These kids are recruited profusely by the the coaches and their assistants. They are told how they can come in a start right away. That could even be a one and done. And, then they offer the families and supporting cast nuggets of value to entice them to one program or another. Isn't a scholarship for four years enough?
And, with false sense of value that the system of recruiting has bestowed upon them, they start to think more of themselves. They actually come in that way because they were undoubtedly a big fish in a small pond. And, if they don't like the way they are being treated, or how the coach is playing them within the system, or don't like the amount of time they are getting...it's now time to shop themselves around. Former coaches, fathers, and AAU affiliates start to feel out other coaches and program, and boosters too see if they have a chance somewhere else.
I know for fact there are several fathers calling around to coaches that recruited them early in the process. Does a commitment not mean anything? Obviously a letter of intent doesn't mean much.
Just ask Demarcus Cousins who left Memphis and followed Calapari to Kentucky, Or ask Deshawn Painter that ask out of his letter of intent to Florida.
Look at Seth Curry who now feels that Liberty will not give him the level of competition that he needs to compete at the next level. Can anyone really tell me that Dell Curry did not some how investigate the interest in his son before they ask for a transfer. How was Coach K contacted?
Or look at Emmanuel Moody who thought himself to far down the depth chart at Southern Cal and transferred to Florida and sat out a year.
Robert Maurve formerly of the Hurricanes is still shopping himself. And, he ask for a release because he did not agree with the punishment given by his coach for violating team policy...and that was attendance to class.
When did this get so out of hand or have I been so out of touch? I assumed the bigger question is how bad will this get. I submit that college institution and college sports are out of control. And, it starts with recruiting, it starts with money, it starts with the big eyed coaches and families.
We see the increased levels of movement. What do we do? Do we continue to play this game? If so then more programs will experience these transfers.
We have said to young men 17-22 that cheating is okay. That your God given talent is worth anything to pack stadium and coliseum. It is worth a coaches job, It is bigger than the game we love so much.