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Brent Calloway situation reveals warped underbelly of recruiting — again

Brent Calloway

There are many reasons why I would prefer National Signing Day — or, more specifically, the insanity/absurdity that surrounds it — didn’t exist, at least in its current way-more-important-than-it-should-be form.  The following story is a big reason why I, and most sane people, hold that opinion.

For a lengthy period of time, Russellville (Ala.) High School linebacker/running back Brent Calloway was a solid verbal commitment to Alabama, which was a significant coup for the Tide; Calloway is a five-star player according to and the No. 5 player in the country at his position.  Last month, Calloway abruptly flipped his non-binding verbal commitment to another school.  And not just any school, either — Calloway committed to hated in-state rival Auburn.

That set off a firestorm of criticism of the teenager, leading to rude signs in the stands of his high school basketball games and crude remarks left on his Facebook page and other social media websites.  Calloway’s father unintentionally added fuel to the fire by publicly criticizing his adoptive son’s decision to renege on his original commitment.

Kevin Scarbinsky spun an excellent yarn in this morning’s Birmingham News regarding the backlash Calloway’s faced since his flip.  And how some fans of college football programs really, really need to find some semblance of a life outside of what teenage boys provide them.

He’s a high school student, but he didn’t attend class the last two days. He’s a high school basketball player, but he didn’t play in his team’s game Monday.

“He’s not even in Russellville,” said his high school basketball coach, Michael Smith. “He’ll be back after the signing.”

Back in school and back on the basketball team, sure. But back to normal? Calloway can only hope.

Smith didn’t say where Calloway was. The fact that he wasn’t at home, at school and on the court so far this week was a sad statement all its own.

His life has been turned upside down because too many people who don’t have a life have been hanging on his decision. He’s gone into seclusion because too many people who need a life have been tugging at him and trying to discover or influence his decision.

Scarbinsky closes by writing amongst other things: “Can you imagine the mind of a person who would criticize a teenager, let alone threaten him, because he wanted to play college football here rather than there? Sadly, if you follow recruiting, you can.”

Sad doesn’t even begin to describe it, unfortunately.  “Creepy” and “disgusting”?  Yeah, that’s getting closer.

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12 Responses to “Brent Calloway situation reveals warped underbelly of recruiting — again”
  1. southernpatriots says: Feb 2, 2011 9:02 AM

    We feel bad for Kevin. May he have found a place of peace to hide until ,,,,this is beyond sad, as you have stated. We have known numerous high rated high school players over the years. The fervor surrounding the National Signing Day has increased over the past decade. There have been toilet paper wrappings of houses, setting fire to the mail box post, trying to put sugar in the gas tank of the student-athlete but were stopped by passers by, other types of hazing and vindictive actions seen the past decade. The rivalry between AL & AU is this years. In past years it was OK and OK State, Texas and Texas A & M, and others that seemed to bring out the worst in some fans. Some bloggers will become angry, but they add to the charged atmosphere sometimes resulting in people/fans going too far. Sports talk programs allow people to call in and suggest things to do to these recruits if they do not honor their verbal commitments. When we call into the radio shows or write here, we risk the ire of the fans who claim we just aren’t strong enough fans and do not understand the “culture.” We guess not, individually and together, we have attended SEC games for the past almost 50 years, LSU most especially, but all SEC teams at their home field more than once, along with USC, OK, Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Missouri, Nebraska, and others over the years (and some again this upcoming year). Some fans have become much more violent in word and action. The rest of us need to stop ignoring the problem. We must oppose the violent expressions and actions. We must remind all these are young men.

  2. billbamaua says: Feb 2, 2011 9:02 AM

    What else would barn loving scarbinsky say?

  3. bigfoot3 says: Feb 2, 2011 9:17 AM

    Billbamaua (above) just confirmed the sickness of the Alabama faithful with his comment.

  4. buckeye044 says: Feb 2, 2011 9:27 AM

    ESPN is largely to blame for the growing intensity on recruiting. As long as they continue to exploit the high school athlete with manufactured all-star games and signing announcements, this will continue to happen and increase.

  5. polegojim says: Feb 2, 2011 10:04 AM

    High profile as it is, too many fans define themselves by their teams perceived ‘respect’ level and performance. It’s a game which measures nothing in the life of fans other than enjoying when your team does well and wins. It earns some satisfaction and brief bragging rights, but not much else.

    Those to take the friendly term ‘fan’ and turn it into hostile or antogonistic ‘fanatics’ need to get a life and find some personal self confidence and identity outside the game.

    Keep it all in perspective.

  6. southernpatriots says: Feb 2, 2011 10:22 AM

    We will not reveal any details other than what we write in the next words: Several years ago we were brought a young man who had attempted suicide by slashing his wrists. The provocation? The media hype, pressure and criticism he was getting by verbally NOT choosing his local hometown major university football program but was opting to play out of state and out of conference. His reason? He wanted to pursue a degree in a concentration area which was not offered at his local major university. All the family and all of us kept this matter very quiet. He was pulled from school and enrolled in a nearby state living with his uncle. For several years following the local sports talk stations and hometown newspaper printed stories on why he had “let down local fans,” “betrayed our trust,” and “was a turncoat.” The young man has graduated with a degree and is now in a residency

  7. WingT says: Feb 2, 2011 10:30 AM

    Calloway needs to ignore the ignorant. At 17 years old I suppose that is easier said than done. The “Recruiting” race is bad for college football and we have the media to mostly thank for that.

  8. buckeyeboy(used to be a couple of different things) says: Feb 2, 2011 10:40 AM

    southernpartriots, thats such a sad story, I just feel awful when these kids, yes kids, have to go through things like that.

    I mean theres a later post that aundrey walker is going to usc over ohio state, yeah that sucks, but that is never a reason to mentally and verbally abuse a 17 or 18 year old young man.

  9. lbijake says: Feb 2, 2011 10:45 AM

    Good writing by Scarbinsky. The dude seems to have a handle on it.

  10. southernpatriots says: Feb 2, 2011 11:04 AM

    buckeyeboy: yes, it is a sad story. Perhaps even sadder is that things have not improved the last few years, if anything, they have become worse. We do not understand Aundrey Walker going to USC unless somehow USC convinced his family that they will receive an amendment on their NCAA sanctions.

    lbijake: Scarbinsky should have his article reprinted in most university hometown newspapers and read on sports talk radio. ESPN should refer to it and print it on their site. Some things must change to give these young men some privacy and they and their families peace during this time each year.

  11. Walk says: Feb 2, 2011 12:09 PM

    I am an alabama fan, however the reason calloway gave for choosing auburn was enough for me. He wanted to be a running back and alabama has a log jam there and believed auburn was his best route to play where he wanted. I am glad he chose alabama in the end but if he did so because of threats and pressure from media then something needs to be done to protect these young men or at least insulate them from some of the backlash.

  12. Slim Charles says: Feb 2, 2011 12:55 PM

    These jock-sniffers need to get lives. If you’re a grown-ass man stalking a kid’s facebook profile or twitter you seriously need to check yourself. Recruiting is creepy enough as it is. I’ll bet 80% of the people that do this were too stupid to get into the schools they root for (except Florida fans, no one is too stupid for UF KIDDING)

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