ESPN radio’s Colin Cowherd created a bit of a stir, to say the least, a couple of days ago when he revealed that he’s caught wind of rumors that “a major program in this country is going to be outed very soon for major recruiting violations.”
While Cowherd did not reveal the major program, the speculation soon began to point heavily in the direction of Oregon. In fact, ESPN sources told our buddy Brooks of SportsByBrooks.com that it was indeed the Ducks to which Cowherd was referring.
Two days later, an item that may or may not be related to the rumors Cowherd’s heard — and, to be fair, we’ve heard as well — has surfaced.
In a tweet posted to his Twitter account early this morning, Oregon signee De’Anthony Thomas stated that he spoke to the NCAA on Wednesday. Thomas didn’t get into specifics, but, based on the “caps lock” button getting stuck, it didn’t sound like he enjoyed the experience.
“JUST GOT. OUT OF A MEETING WIT THE NCAA PEOPLE MAN IT FELT LIKE I WAS TALKING TO THE POLICE,” Thomas cyber-shouted very early this morning.
So, is this a part of the process of the Oregon football program being “outed for major recruiting violations”? Not necessarily. As noted by Bryan Fischer of CBS Sports.com in a tweet in response to the “uh-oh” vibe Thomas’ tweet induced, “[t]he NCAA speaking to Thomas doesn’t mean there’s violations going on in Eugene. They’re just speaking with him, do it w/ many recruits.”
The back story behind Thomas and his recruitment, though, makes this development a very intriguing potential data point. Thomas, a five-star recruit who was the No. 5 player in the country according to Rivals.com, was long thought to be a very solid verbal commitment to USC. The weekend before signing day last month, however, Thomas took an official visit to the Ducks, fueling speculation that he was leaning away from the school in his own backyard — he went to Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles — and toward the Trojans’ Pac-12 rivals.
Despite the fact that he did not publicly renege on the verbal he gave USC in May of 2010, Thomas announced at a press conference Feb. 2 that he had indeed faxed his Letter of Intent to Oregon, completing one of the most stunning flips of the 2011 signing period.
It was certainly a staggering and unexpected development for Lane Kiffin & Company, losing such a talented player from, literally, their own recruiting backyard. Certainly, Kiffin and/or someone associated with the USC program wouldn’t have been so incensed over losing Thomas to a conference rival that they would’ve turned… no, no way. That simply would not have happened. Impossible, I say.
Again, Thomas speaking to the NCAA does not necessarily mean that the rumors connecting Oregon to potential recruiting “issues” are accurate. It is, though, one helluva coincidence.
UPDATED 1:11 p.m. ET: Giving the attention paid to his postings on Twitter, Thomas has fired off a series of tweets that seem to indicate the NCAA spoke to him about USC and not Oregon.
“@sean_fagan_1 NOTHIN GOING ON THERE INVESTIGATIN USC”
UPDATED 3:16 p.m. ET: In a phone conversation with Fischer this afternoon, Thomas claims that the Twitter account is not his and that he has not spoken to the NCAA.
Obviously, we’ll continue to peer inside this unseemly side of the Internet/recruiting seeking confirmation that this was nothing more than a hoax.
UPDATED 4:18 p.m. ET: And, yet again, there’s another twist in what’s rapidly developing into a very bizarre story.
Shortly after Thomas denied to CBS Sports.com that the Twitter account in question was his, Dr. Saturday unearthed a posting on what’s purported to be Thomas’ Facebook wall asking his followers to follow him on the same Twitter account that started this imbroglio.
Click HERE, and scroll down to Feb. 24.
Now pardon me while I step away from the computer for a few minutes to take a shower. This whole situation is making me feel dirty for some reason…