National Signing Day: Bronco Mendenhall Reminds America What Commitment Means
The debate over the relevancy of national signing day is one that will never end because there is no clear cut answer either way.
It is true that the schools that recruit better, according to recruiting Web sites, tend to have better seasons. The success of Florida, Texas, and Alabama in recent years support this idea, while the success (or lack thereof) at Notre Dame shows that it is by no means a guarantee.
We have also all seen highly recruited players out of high school end up being total flops when they actually get to college. Ben Olsen at UCLA comes to mind. At the same time, we have also seen numerous players who were less highly regarded have tremendous college careers, and even pro careers.
The reality is that recruiting is an inexact science that you can not see the results of for at least two years.
In the midst of this chaotic couple of days, there was a story that got overlooked by the majority of college football fans, at least outside of Utah.
There was a young man that had verbally committed to BYU but decided to make one last trip to Notre Dame in the week leading up to signing day. There was some discussion that the trip was simply to visit friends that were attending Notre Dame, but that is an entirely different debate.
Upon receiving this news, BYU retracted their scholarship offer to his young man. The reasoning was that when players are recruited they are told not to commit to BYU until they are totally sure that is where they want to go, and that, once they commit, recruiting from other schools needs to end.
This is clearly explained before BYU ever extends a scholarship offer, and it is completely reasonable. Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall is committing to these young men that they are important to him and his program. He is simply asking for the same commitment in return.
This is not saying that Mendenhall only wants recruits that are only recruited by BYU, just that he does not want them to commit until they are totally sure. As far as I know he has not retracted offers just because a guy took a little while to decide, but it is wise of him to request the same commitment from his players that he is giving them.
Many of his detractors suggest that he is more than willing to accept players that decommit from other universities and that this is some sort of double standard, but they are missing the point.
I don't claim to understand the recruiting rules (who could?—they are more complicated than the tax code), but I am pretty sure there is a rule that you cannot pursue athletes that have committed to other schools. That does not mean that the player themselves cannot contact other universities.
Mendenhall would be stupid to not give information to quality players that have interest in his university. Many people cite the whole Riley Nelson situation as evidence that Mendenhall is a hypocrite. However, as I remember it, Nelson came to BYU wanting to transfer; BYU was not going after him.
If you watch ESPN much, you have undoubtedly seen the ticker across the bottom of the screen that, for the last few weeks, has been filled with player commitments. What is completely shocking to me is that well over half of them were players that had committed to other schools and then changed their mind and switched.
Now there are occasionally circumstances that merit this, such as coaching changes, but, by and large, the wishy-washy nature of these players is simply a reflection of their lack of character. Unfortunately, this is just the reality of my generation.
I commend Mendenhall for demanding that these young men live up to their commitments. He is teaching them more than just football; he is teaching them what it means to be a man. These are skills that will serve them far better in life than catching and throwing footballs.
For those who like to bash him for his incredibly high standards, maybe it is because you don't hold yourself to a high enough standard.
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