“We had the chance to do something special.”

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.

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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.

9 Comments

Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment, Recruiting

9 responses to ““We had the chance to do something special.”

  1. Jason

    The first name I thought of when reading this was Jesse Miller because I remember all the hype and then after being in freshmen orientation with him, I kind of knew he’d never work out.

  2. Thugs make good football players. It is a violent sport. You think Miami, Florida, and Florida State got rich off the backs of choir boys?

    Personally, it makes me appreciate the job that Richt has done – even more than I did before. Not saying we don’t have our problems, but we ain’t the U.

  3. Sam

    Appropo that Meyer and Fulmer are speaking on the character issue, they are the two weakest disciplinarians in the SEC. That said, it is hard to hold coaches accountable when they are held to a standard of winning that demands being competitive with programs who have different rules. I would like to see colleges have admission boards who truly eliminate those who do not qualify on both academic and character standards.

    The NFL is beginning to punish those who embarrass the value of their trademark, and that will cause athletes to change their behavior in college (see Adarius Bowman, Pacman Jones, and Odell Thurman for proof of the Commissioner’s new approach.) I feel colleges serving notice that athletes will not be admitted, thus hurting their chances for a pro career, will help improve how talented young men act in HS. That will be seen as idealistic by many, but actions that have an economic impact tend to work. HS coaches will have some ammunition to work with if they know the colleges will back them up.

    For those who fear a decline in team performance, the product on the field will remain competitive so long as there is compliance by all NCAA schools. CFB was great in the 70′s, and we didn’t have near the thug/suspension problems we all face now. And the playing field was pretty level then, perhaps more so than now where we lose players that other schools readily take.

  4. kckd

    I really don’t think this has changed much. There are problem players because the coaches see the talent and want to believe they can “fix” them.

    Fulmer has always had problems before these new rules ever came out. Meyer recruited the kid with the credit card charges under the old rule.

    Meanwhile, if you look at our team, the longer Richt has been in Athens the better things have gotten. Does he have some special deal that Urban and Fulmer don’t have. Can he look into a guy’s soul at first glance? I don’t know. But I know when our guys get in trouble it’s usually alcohol. And let’s be honest, we all know that 99% of college kids drink underage.

    Thank God we are not seeing theft, hit and run DUIs and pot smoking. I think Richt has done a good job getting good kids the last few years.

  5. Pingback: DawgsOnline » Recruiting character

  6. JasonC

    1. The NCAA and schools can pass all the rules they want, but ultimately, the kid has to make fundamental changes in their thinking and lifestyle.

    Case in point: Pacman Jones and the DE from Maryland mentioned in the article. If Pacman Jones really cared about his future and playing football, he wouldn’t go near a “naked ballet” or hang out with his boyz. He cares about being a thug and NFL money only enables him to do that more lavishly.

    After blowing a shot at Md., Alaeze had another shot at Illinois and blew that and got into bigger and badder trouble. A free education and a shot at better things through honest living wasn’t enough to sway him from doing stupid, illegal things.

    The thinking has to change from “I want to be rich and live like a rap video” to “I want a better life, I want to help others.”

    2. As much as I like and appreciate Coach Richt, I don’t know how much better things are in Athens that elsewhere. Name the last season we didn’t have a player miss the first game because of some offense. Even if it is underage drinking or DUI, those are still offenses, the latter being serious. Honestly, I drank underage and I drove when I was intoxicated and it was stupid and I regret it. It is too easy to go from driving home buzzed to vehicular homicide. I know CMR and the coaching staff can’t watch the guys all the time and it ultimately comes down to the kid saying “I’ve got too much to lose, I owe it to my teammates, I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize that.” I am glad CMR does punish the guys, I just hope for the day when he wouldn’t have to.

  7. kckd

    Jason C.

    Maybe I’m wrong here for not thinking we should demand better of our players. But I just think it’s a little much to expect the football players to be above and beyond the average student at the university in terms of off campus lifestyle. Most places, even outside of Div. 1 schools, the colleges would be thankful to by and large have their football players not doing things beyond what the average student would do.

    For the last few years that’s the kind of trouble I’ve seen on our football team. Would I like it to decrease? Yes. Do I think it’s going to? No. Alcohol and partying is a normal part of college life. I would like to see DUI’s go down, but I admit I was as guilty of that as anyone when I was in high school and college.

  8. JasonC

    kckd,

    I understand what you are saying and you are probably right about the situation. My thinking is that you set the bar higher than average students. Most average students aren’t getting a full-ride and representing their school in front of 90,000 fans and millions more on national TV. I think it is somewhat reasonable to ask a student athlete to be a little more responsible than the normal student body.

  9. kckd

    In a perfect world you are right. I attended a small university where the athletes only got partial scholarships. And there was still trouble. These guys were playing without being the BMOC and having everyone worship the ground they walked on. Heck, 80% of the student body probably hadn’t seen them play one game. Yet still, they got in more trouble than the normal student. I’d like for things to improve. Who wouldn’t??? But I’m not disappointed in the least with the overall of the last few years. We’ve been pretty clean IMO.