On Thursday morning Notre Dame parked its 18-wheel equipment truck out front of the home of five-star wide receiver Demetris Robertson. The photo of the truck at Robertson’s home did not take long to go viral among the college football world, but this is hardly a new stunt on the recruiting trail, nor will it be the last time a program does it. Heck, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi sent Pitt’s equipment truck on the road for a recruiting visit Friday morning as well. Of course, this recruiting strategy may have ruffled some feathers from rival programs who were quick to make note this may actually be a violation of NCAA rules.
The violation, a minor one at the most, would be from the act of promoting the visit by sharing an image of the truck on Twitter (NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168) This would be deemed by some to be promoting the recruitment of a prospective student-athlete. It was another tweet that caught my eye, however.
Notre Dame offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford shared an image of the truck, which appeared to be parked in the same spot as Robertson’s own footage of the truck, suggesting the Irish were, technically, promoting the truck’s presence on a recruiting visit.Sanford later posted another image of the truck while it was in Georgia.
According to a report from Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, a Notre Dame spokesperson stated it was believed to be permissible to use the equipment truck as a mode of transportation. Of course, that would mean Sanford spent 908 miles in the truck from South Bend, Indiana to Savannah, Georgia.
The wording of the NCAA bylaw is open for some interpretation, as most seem to be.
NCAA bylaw 22.214.171.124: “Member institutions and their representatives of athletics interests are prohibited from financing, arranging or using recruiting aids (e.g., newspaper advertisements, bumper stickers, message buttons) designed to publicize the institution’s interest in a particular prospective student-athlete.”
If Notre Dame committed a recruiting violation, OK. the punishment for that violation would amount to little more than a mild slap on the wrist, probably. If that’s what it takes to win the commitment of a five-star wide receiver, I’m guessing newly extended Brian Kelly would be fine with it. The point of recruiting is to make the biggest impression when on the road, and bringing a massive equipment truck with you is just one way to leave a lasting impression that will be the talk of not just the recruit, but the town (and perhaps other future prospects at that school and nearby schools). Don’t think Notre Dame sent their equipment truck without a larger vision beyond just the recruitment of this one, talented recruit. Unless the NCAA sends out a memo saying no equipment trucks may travel certain distances are travel across state lines, we should be seeing more equipment trucks on the road in the recruiting season. If you’re not bringing it with you, you are not trying hard enough.
So don’t blame Notre Dame for sending its equipment truck to Georgia. Don’t blame Jim Harbaugh for sleeping over at the homes of recruits. Don’t blame any coach for thinking outside the box, because really all you are doing is admitting your coach didn’t think of it first and that upsets you on some level.