Recruiting in college football can, at times, get ugly. The past few days after National Signing Day have seen a handful of incidents that cast a dark cloud over college football recruiting.
Ohio State was accused of lying to Detroit Cass Tech and running back Mike Weber while recruiting the four-star running back to Columbus. Weber committed to Ohio State and a day later running backs coach Stan Drayton was on his way to the NFL. Ohio State lured Notre Dame running back coach Tony Alford to fill the vacancy, but the thought of Ohio State deceiving a Michigan recruit may not have gone without subtle comment from new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh (which may have sparked yet another Twitter battle).
A similar tale has unfolded in Austin, where defensive tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin expressed some bitter feelings after Texas defensive line coach Chris Rumph left the Longhorns for Florida just two days after signing day.
Four-star linebacker Roquan Smith is also in the middle of a rather public stressful situation regarding his recruitment, but he is fortunate to not have submitted his official letter of intent just yet. Smith announced his commitment to UCLA on signing day, but he has held off on taking the next step to making his commitment official because UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich took a job with the Atlanta Falcons.
Criticized by many for stepping back from his UCLA commitment until he can make a decision he feels best for him, Smith’s high school coach,Macon County coach Larry Harold, has come out in his defense.
“If you’ve never played sports or anything like that, you are more than just a coach to these kids. You’re their dad, their mom, and their extended family,” Harold explained to Atlanta Journal Constitution. “You’re everything to these kids. So when they’re going to get recruited by the next coach, to find the person who is going to be charge of the next four years of their life, they are looking for the same things.”
The experience of Smith and other recruits that never get a chance to play for the coach that took the lead in recruiting them is a reality of the coaching game. Sometimes a better offer comes around, or an opportunity to be put in a more comfortable or secure position. This is essentially what America is all about in a sense. It may be tough to handle on the end of the players and the high school coaches that stand by their sides through the process, but it is the reality of the sport and most everybody understands that.
That doesn’t mean it is any easier to accept.
“So how can these guys (college coaches) talk about the people and the relationships — and then you get these kids signed and then you bail on them at the first time you get the opportunity,” Harold asked. “You can’t tell me that these head coaches aren’t telling these assistants that they know are leaving – don’t tell anybody until after signing day and then we’ll announce it. That’s deception and that dishonesty. And, most importantly, it’s not fair to the kids.”
There is likely some insider information among the coaching staff at various college programs, and sometimes all of the information is not going to be shared. Again, this is part of the game.
It stinks, but it’s not changing anytime soon.