This just floors me:
… Of Rivals.com’s top 20 prospects in the ’05 class, five bypassed their senior seasons and were selected last month in the NFL draft. Two of the five, Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart and Miami safety Kenny Phillips, were first-round selections.
Yet 11 of the 20 have been arrested. [Emphasis added.]
By the way, it’s not all little stuff, either. One sample:
4. DE Melvin Alaeze Randallstown, Md. Maryland
After failing to meet academic requirements to play for the Terrapins, Alaeze was arrested in February 2006 on five marijuana-related offenses. He wound up with Ron Zook at Illinois later that year but was quickly suspended for missing classes and left for what he cited as personal reasons. He was arrested that December in Randallstown for his involvement in a robbery and shooting and was sentenced this past November to eight years in prison.
Meyer and Fulmer sound the alarm bells.
… Speaking to Florida boosters recently in Miami, Meyer said the NCAA is pulling coaches away from the recruiting process and making it more difficult to judge character.
“I’m not allowed to go out anymore,” Meyer said. “I’m not allowed to text-message. I’m trying to find out as best I can. You just keep re-evaluating.
“If you just look around and see some of the things that are going on, it’s amazing. It’s concerning. It’s alarming.”
Fulmer agreed, admitting he doesn’t know as much about today’s prospects.
“I think it’s the whole environment that’s been created,” he said. “You don’t know as much about them, and it’s hard sometimes to find out information about them because people aren’t completely honest with you about them. That’s a concern.
“There are issues with some young people trying to go so fast in their athletic career because they’re not looking as much for an education as they are the NFL, so they’re going to school for the wrong reasons, and that in itself is very, very dangerous.”
I think blaming a text message ban for causing evaluation problems is beyond silly, but it’s obvious that coaches are having a hard time judging character, or, perhaps more accurately, their ability to manage character.
Is that because the system doesn’t build in sufficient accountability for recruiting players like these? Will the APR have any effect? Hard to say, although it’s fairly certain that winning big cures lots of faults.
UPDATE: More thoughts on this from Tyrone Willingham:
COACH WILLINGHAM: I would say, also, that the statement that Mark made about the information and the source of the information is critical because there are very few communities that you go into that someone wants to be known as the person that denied Johnny a scholarship. There are not going to be many of those in most of the communities you go into. So even for the assistant coach to get the information is very difficult.
Hopefully that’s where the experience of the staff comes in, when the coach says he’s all right, you understand that there’s something in that statement, he’s all right. And that’s very difficult.
So the gaining of the information I think is probably the most difficult thing in the process, which allows you to gauge and really understand the character. I think we can assess the academic information; I think that’s pretty straightforward. But the character issues I think you have to reach deeper. And if you were to have a young man that at a youthful age did have a problem, anything on him is probably sealed, so how do you get that information? Even with a service working for you, it’s very difficult to get to the heart of what all the problems were.