Not a good look, Notre Dame.
The wild recruitment of Thompson’s Station (Tenn.) Independence four-star wide receiver TJ Sheffield took another turn on Wednesday. Just days after announcing his commitment to Notre Dame, the 5-10, 170-pounder from the class of 2019 has reopened his recruitment and will now consider other schools.
Clearly there was a miscommunication on this front and Sheffield shed some light on this on Twitter earlier today.
“After establishing a long-term relationship with coach Alexander, the receivers coach for Notre Dame, I called him on the morning of the 6th of July and stat to him my intensions to commit,” wrote Sheffield in an announcement on Twitter. “Coach Alexander then congratulated me on committing and he spoke with my parents as well, stating that he looked forward to coaching me. Today I received a call from coach Alexander stating that Notre Dame was not going to honor my commitment due to a change of plans. Coach Alexander stated that he should have let me know on the 6th of July that Notre Dame had different plans. As a result of the information that I received today, my recruitment is now back open. I completely accept Notre Dame’s decision as God’s will for me and know that God has an open door that no man can shut. Thats again to Notre Dame for considering me as a possibility for their program Sincerely, TJ Sheffield. #2.”
So, to recap: Notre Dame had an outstanding offer to a kid, kid accepts the offer, coach accepts the kid’s commitment, even speaks with the kid’s parents and then the school reneges. Nice.
I’m sure the amateurism romantics here will be happy to explain to the rest of us how this is no big deal and Sheffield has plenty of other options, blah, blah, blah, but for a sport that loves to bill itself as teaching kids life lessons about honoring commitments (kids, you need to risk your future earnings by playing in a meaningless bowl game, because, team!), this sure seems like pure garbage.
It’s another good example of why the NCAA ought to blow up the whole signing framework and require schools to treat these deals as straight contracts. One side offers, the other side accepts and, boom, you have a binding arrangement. Until then, the lesson learned is that coaches control until they don’t. Welcome to the real world, TJ.