Resistance is futile, college head coaches, because we all know you have no choice but to go where the talent is.
“There are guys that I’ve watched on 7-on-7 that I go, ‘Wow,’ ” said Todd Graham, Arizona State’s head coach from 2012 to 2017. “Obviously, we want to watch a guy with pads on and playing the game and all of that stuff, but I have had kids that I’ve seen very minimal film on that I’ve watched in a 7-on-7 tournament and no doubt I thought I would offer him off that.”
Three years ago, Graham felt differently. He didn’t like the idea of 7-on-7 coaches invading the “sacred” space of the high school coach, having to build relationships with 7-on-7 directors to recruit players.
But as 7-on-7 gained momentum, Graham, a former head coach at Texas football powerhouse Allen High, started to understand the shift he needed to make to stay atop the recruiting game.
“If you want to recruit the elite player, you have to be involved in it,” Graham said.
Just ask Jimbo Fisher.
“There are too many people out there with ulterior motives, and we are trying to keep that element out,” said Rockwall (Texas) Coach Rodney Webb. “The issue is that college coaches and high school coaches have to work together, and if college coaches are going to give [7-on-7 coaches] a microphone and a platform, then heaven help us.”
That’s what happened last December when Simon received a visit from Fisher, shortly after accepting the Texas A&M job following his eight years at Florida State. The two posed for a photo that was posted to Twitter — four months after Simon was photographed with Texas Coach Tom Herman — to the chagrin of some high school coaches, who viewed it as legitimizing 7-on-7.
Then round up the rest of the usual suspects.
Another factor that raises eyebrows is the involvement of apparel companies. Adidas, Under Armour and Battle provide equipment to select teams, while Adidas runs some of its own events, such as the Adidas 7-on-7 National Championships.
But don’t worry, we’re told.
“The basketball side is what is being investigated in terms of money being exchanged and stuff, but there is no money in football. Guys got to go play three or four years in college football to even have a chance [at the NFL], and it is not going to be a smart thing to do,” said Simon, adding that doing so would be against NCAA rules. “I talk to guys with grass roots and Adidas, and they are always like, ‘Let the [players] know whatever they are doing in basketball, they are not doing with the football side.’ It is two different games.”
You know what we say when somebody claims it’s not about the money.
This is gonna go well.