Blog Entry

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

Posted on: March 17, 2009 10:02 am

There is a way clean up recruiting. NCAA president Myles Brand led the charge in 2004 after recruiting scandals at Florida State and Colorado.

Brand used his bully pulpit five years ago to address a "culture of entitlement". Hey, all it took was Williams' diary about scarfing down steak and lobster during his Florida State recruitment. That was when FSU victories still counted, by the way.

Bravo for Brand. The recruiting process had spiraled out of control. The NCAA needed to close up some loopholes.

Several columnists were up in arms again Monday when celebrated recruit Bryce Brown announced his signing with Tennessee. The more more than year-long "drama" played out with the Wichita, Kan. tailback walking into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame (ugh!) sporting a Miami hat (gag me). He then took it off and put on the Tennessee hat (barf bag, please).

As distasteful as that scene was -- please, kids, give us something original than the chapeau charade -- it doesn't necessarily mean the process needs to be cleaned up this time. Brown was taking advantage of the rules that allow prospects almost two months to sign letters of intent. We've become so wrapped up "commitments" and "national signing day" (please, not capital letters) that kids like Brown become boogie men when they don't sign on the prescribed date.

Dinner theater histrionics aside, Brown was taking advantage of the system. Sure, the kid and his advisor/mentor Brian Butler were quirky. Brown committed to Miami in February 2008 with the caveat that he would take all five of visits. Huh? In the end, things degenerated so much with Miami that Brown taunted the school (described above). Butler was the first of his kind in college football, a handler who recruiters had to go through to get to Brown.

You know what Brand can do this time? Nothing. Blame the kid, blame the culture of recruiting it is what it is. There has been a cry for an earlier signing date to head off scenes that played out on Monday. An earlier signing day would only move the angst to December when several states are still involved in the state playoffs. Imagine being pressured into signing with a school the same week you're playing for a state championship.

The early signing day is brought up by coaches each year and each year it is shot down. Such legislation would be self-serving. The coaches can get their recruiting done earlier, get on with spring practice and have a longer offseason. I'm in favor of letting the athlete take as much time as he wants. I've brought this up several times, but the top recruits could really make a statement by waiting until August to sign a scholarship agreement.

"That's funny you said that," Eugene Byrd, told me in 2003. Byrd was the director of the National Letter of Intent program. "There's even a place on our website where it says you don't have to sign a letter of intent, you can use this scholarship agreement."

Administrators are amazed an alternative, the scholarship agreement, isn't utilized more. After the football signing period ends ... a scholarship agreement is basically a yearly promise from a school it will provide X amount of books, board and tuition if a prospect comes to that school.

It's not the NCAA's fault that marriage vows can be viewed less solemnly than a recruiting "commitment." It's up to us -- fans, journalists -- to just calm the heck down. Hey, I'll admit it. I drove to Wichita to talk to Butler. I wanted to find out what he was about. Others have followed. The NCAA is now involved into an investigation of Butler.

I think Butler's a mostly innocent party. The guy cares for the kids but also has an entrepreneurial spirit too. I also think that the NCAA is out to make an example of him, trying squash him before more of his kind pop up. Slimy handlers in college basketball long ago soiled that sport's recruiting. In the end, don't be surprised if the NCAA labels him a "representative of a university's athletic interests" and he will be done. Which university? Doesn't matter. The NCAA will find one.

By the way, let's give Brand credit for being the most accomplished CEO in NCAA history. There was doubt about his abilities when the former Indiana president took over. His claim to fame was firing Bobby Knight. While that was a lifetime achievement good enough for me, some wondered how an academic would do leading the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Brand has turned out to be a forceful leader. I can't imagine Walter Byers, Dick Schultz or Cedric Dempsey trying to clean up recruiting on their own. In fact, I can't imagine the last of those three doing much of anything. Our thoughts and prayers now are with Brand who is fighting pancreatic cancer. His legacy will be having led the NCAA into an era of unprecedented credibility.  

There will be more Bryce Browns but there will be fewer Willie Williams.

Small victories.



Category: NCAAF
Tags: Miami, Tennessee

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: March 20, 2009 2:55 pm

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

 WOW!  You FSU guys are a bit thin-skinned right now.  It is not just FSU, boys & girls.  Dodd takes gratuitous slaps at every program not named USC that happen to be mired in any current controversy.  He showed no mercy toward Ohio State during the Maurice Clarett saga, during which two NCAA investigations turned up nada, zip, zilch, zero.  It just didn't matter, Dodd issued slap-downs at every turn's just the kind of guy he is. 

By the way, just because Willie Williams ultimately ended up choosing Miami does not absolve FSU of abusing recruiting regulations.  It wasn't Miami that lavished him with an outrageously expensive fine dining experience.  No, FSU coaches did that all by themselves.  Not to mention, the kid was a black eye for any program that was willing to accept his credentials (not to mention lengthy rap sheet).

When all is said and done, you Seminole fans need to suck it up and take your punishment like men.  That and get a bit more thick-skinned.  It is not like potshots like Dodd's are going to stop until some other school gets into trouble.  I feel for you though.  It is going to be a painfully long off-season.

Since: Sep 18, 2007
Posted on: March 20, 2009 8:49 am

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

 Nice article.  However, until the NCAA grows a pair and acts upon the volumes of evidence regarding Reggie Bush and USC then they're just as impotant as Bob Dole.

Since: Feb 17, 2009
Posted on: March 19, 2009 7:57 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: March 18, 2009 8:05 pm

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

gunrock, do you think Brand wishes he had never fired Knight?  I bet he does. 

But I agree with you on everything else.  Football and basketball, especially Div I drives the train.  It doesn't have to be that way, lots of schools do a great job of keeping their programs in check.  As for the signing day garbage, the way to clean that up is for grown men to quit caring what some 18 year old kid has picked as his school.  Am I the only person in America that doesn't pay any attention to that?  Especially when they make a complete joke out of it?


Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: March 18, 2009 11:01 am

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

I guess I am a faster typist than you because I posted similar sentiment just a few minutes before you.  

GO NOLES!!!!! 

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: March 18, 2009 10:57 am

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

Wow, this is absolutely classic.  If anyone needs definitive proof whether Dodd harbors some sort of deep resentment toward Florida State, look no further than the introduction to this blog post.

There is a way clean up recruiting. .

Brand used his bully pulpit five years ago to address a "culture of entitlement". Hey, all it took was Williams' diary about scarfing down steak and lobster during his Florida State recruitment. That was when FSU victories still counted, by the way.

I love the fact that Dodd cited his source by linking to the article describing the situation, because it makes it all that much easier to show how laughable his "reporting" really is.  To save everyone the trouble, I'll go ahead and include the actual text from the article.

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved the changes, which were made by a recruiting task force created in February by Brand, who vowed to clean up recruiting after high-profile scandals occurred at the University of Colorado and University of Miami.


If I thought that anyone actually believes anything Dodd writes, I might accuse him of libel.  But since he has all the credibility of say, Bernie Madoff, I suspect that most people will already assume that he's incorrect or lying anyway.

What I think is interesting is that not only does he falsely accuse FSU of a recruiting scandal, he mentions them first, even though logic would say Colorado should go first either alphabetically or if he had followed the order in which the schools were listed in the article.  My guess (and I'm only half joking) is that he got so excited at the thought of ripping FSU that he couldn't wait to start typing the school's name on the page.  Of course -- in typical Dodd fashion -- he then goes out of his way to take a cheap shot at the possibility that FSU may have to vacate wins because of the well-publicized academic fraud case that took place more than 2 years after the situation in question. 

Nevermind that his whole post makes no mention of any of the specifics regarding Colorado's recruiting scandal, which included accusations of boozing recruits up and taking them to strip clubs and sex parties.  No, Dodd would rather call out FSU for chartering a flight and taking a high-profile recruit out to a steak and lobster dinner.  It's an absolute joke.  Forget that the article also goes on to point out that Virginia and Georgia spent thousands of dollars chartering flights for recruits the prior year, a common practice among EVERY major college football program in the country -- it was obviously only FSU that was up to no good.  And where do you think these kids typically eat on recruiting trips?  Burger King?  Of course they get taken out to a nice restaurant to eat an expensive meal.  The do-no-wrong Florida Gators apparently spend $300 a night on a frickin' chocolate fountain for their recruits, so please spare me the contempt for taking a kid out for steak and lobster.

Congratulations Dennis Dodd, you have officially moved beyond the title of "worst sportswriter alive" to the "worst sportswriter of all time!"

Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: March 18, 2009 10:54 am

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

What we learned (once again) from this ARTICLE is that
 Dodd has a vendetta against Florida State.  I assumed that Dodd was referring to the infamous Willie Williams, but I wasn't sure until I followed the link.  Secondly, one recruit hardly qualifies as a "scandal".  Now Dodd and the other folks who live to crucify Florida State would speculate that if Williams was treated this way, then all of the recruits were treated that way.  I counter that with the argument that if there truly was a "scandal" the NCAA and possibly even Dodd himself (both with an axe to grind against FSU) would have discovered it.  Also since when do we give credence to Willie Williams account of anything???  He proved his lack of credibility and integrity and ability to run afoul of the law multiple times.  As much as it delights Dodd to try and link FSU to everything negative, the changes that Brand and the NCAA instituted were for the good of all, not to state that FSU was in violation (no NCAA sanctions against the Seminole in connection with Williams).  Now back to Brown since that is what the article was supposed to be about, NOT Florida State!!!!!......Anyway, Brown and his "advisor/handler" Mr. Butler have shown all that is wrong with college recruiting.  As with Willie Williams, he has gotten by because of his talents on the football field.  There is nothing wrong with a young man taking his time to make the "right" decision of where he will go to school and ply his athletic trade for 4 or 5 years.  But what has become an all to common occurence, is the over-hyped players dragging things out and committing and de-committing for the sake of amatuer theatre.  The NCAA could correct some of these problems, but it allows the spectacle to go on and the 17 and 18 year old young men simply take the oppurtunity to put the spotlight on themselves by holding press conferences, doing the shell game with different schools headgear ect.  I am not willing to give Mr. Butler a free pass as an 'innocent' party in all of this though.  Since I don't have knowledge of any criminal or ethical wrongdoing, I won't automatically indict him either.  But the fact remains, under the guise of 'caring for the kids', he tried to capitalize (monetarily) off of the demand for Brown's services.  I do applaud Brand for trying to correct some of the problems with recruiting but there is much more work to be done.


Since: Mar 30, 2008
Posted on: March 17, 2009 7:50 pm

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

This foolishness isn't much different than what the high profile AAU leeches, er coaches, do in basketball.  They have supplanted the family and the high school coach as the 'student's' source of guidance.



Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: March 17, 2009 2:39 pm

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

"While that was a lifetime achievement good enough for me, some wondered how an academic would do leading the National Collegiate Athletic Association."


By italicizing the word collegiate .  I'm in favor of making the NCAA permanently headed by academics; athletic programs need to be subordinate to academic interests, particularly academic integrity.  This is not a business (well, it shouldn't be).  Good article though, I just wanted to add a point of emphasis.  Brand has done a great job, and I think part of that is due to the fact that his background isn't in the  system of big time college athletics which too often goes rogue to the university's academic interests.  Many university presidents are pressured into neglecting their duties of oversight by well-bankrolled athletics departments.  If the money flows in the winds get your school's name on SportsCenter every night, just give them free reign.  Brand fired one of the best coaches in college basketball history, wins be damned.  He's the right man for the job.



Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: March 17, 2009 1:24 pm

What we learned from the Bryce Brown saga

Alright Dodd, I crushed you on your preseason top 25, but you could not be more accurate with this article.Cool

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