The flyer arrived at Anthony Randolph's home a good while ago. It is three pages long. The final page asks a multiple-choice question that's in all capital letters.
SINCE 2004, WHICH OF THESE BIG 12 COACHES HAS SIGNED A MCDONALD'S ALL-AMERICAN?
In the middle is a picture of Baylor coach Scott Drew. He is circled, indicating the correct answer.
|Baylor is still on probation for violations under disgraced former coach Dave Bliss. (Getty Images)|
On the other side is Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie. He's crossed out, too.
So the question is this: In crossing-out Knight and Gillispie, did Baylor cross the line in pursuing Randolph? Is it merely a creative approach, or the essence of negative recruiting?
"At the end of the day, if I put the ethics committee together and cited this as an example, they would say it is negative recruiting," said Reggie Minton, deputy executive commissioner of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. "People who've been around basketball would define that as negative recruiting."
Used to be things were different. Coaches would get mad at other coaches when they funneled shoe boxes of money, bought somebody a car or did some other overtly blatant act to land a prospect. The NCAA was smaller and less powerful back then. There were fewer eyes watching, fewer reporters digging, fewer fans with screen names on message boards capable of starting the rumor that leads to probation. Consequently, rampant cheating reigned even in the greatest and most-pristine of programs (yes, UCLA, that includes you).
But these days, coaches have to be more careful, and for the most part -- excluding some notable exceptions, of course -- they are. That's why the biggest recruiting scandal from the past couple of years involves Kelvin Sampson not purchasing a family a house or tractor, but instead making a ton of phone calls deemed impermissible by NCAA standards.
As Allen Iverson might say, we're talking about phone calls?
So with no good player-purchasing stories, we're left with this: Negative recruiting.
It's not nearly as sexy as payments to parents, but it sure drives rival coaches just as crazy.