Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:29 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 7:30 pm

Davonte Neal a no-show at own announcement

Posted by Bryan Fischer

I have the tab still open, ready to go at a moment's notice, with a commitment story about Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal. I don't know when I'm going to be able to post it or what school will ultimately follow "committed to" in the opening paragraph, but it's there.

In case you haven't heard, the Scottsdale Chaparral receiver/defensive back left plenty of people confused and, in an apt metaphor for the situation, standing at the altar Tuesday morning. He was supposed to announce his commitment on FoxSportsArizona.com in front of thousands on the Internet and a couple of hundred elementary kids in his hometown. He didn't show up but instead showed us a little bit about the drama of the modern day recruiting process. The way things are going, you half expect TNT to sign him up to commit on their air tomorrow.

Neal has waited 20 days after Signing Day because he wanted to take his time, make the right decision for himself and his family and commit to a school he truly wants to be at. At the heart of the issue, according to reports and sources, is the head-strong Neal clashing with his equally head-strong father over where exactly he'll be signing papers to play at. Most say the recruit wants to go to Arizona to play close to home and fit in Rich Rodriguez' spread offense while his dad Luke has pushed for Notre Dame. Arkansas and North Carolina are also considered finalists, followed by Stanford and Ohio State.

And for all that has surrounded Neal's recruitment, this will all come down to a decision by a talented young athlete. It will be made, people will move on and we'll see how he does this fall and for the next four years.

People follow recruiting not because they are really interested in the player but because the impact they can have on programs - especially their own. Recruitniks see the circus surrounding Neal and shrug their shoulders, filing the story away as just another one in the long list of unexpected twists that happen year after year. Columnists and beat writers, who check in a few times a year to write about recruiting, wave their fists. Fans get upset, angry and a select few might raise an eyebrow but couldn't give a damn. Hopefully they'll all learn that this is recruiting and it's not abnormal but very much part of the norm nowadays.

We've seen recruits delay their decision after Signing Day before. We've seen hat dances and live animal acts. Clothes have been ripped off and players rushed to a nearby car after making a crowd angry with their decision. Some kids see it as a game and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and they're going to use every last second of it. They're wanted as recruits, they're just a number - with some expectations attached of course - when they step on campus. Nobody is at fault except those that care far too much about the whims of a teenager.

The ground the game is played on is still shifting. Major media companies are making investments in recruiting coverage which means more players and storylines in the spotlight. Twitter and Facebook has changed what information gets passed around and how quickly it gets from 1 to 100 to 1,000. It's fun, it's exciting, it's trying and above all interesting. Heck, coaches are offering athletes on Twitter and not-so-smartly tweeting out their cell phone numbers as well. Shaq Thompson enjoyed toying with fans during the Army All-American Bowl and extended the drama when he had the opportunity to assess things differently after top recruiter Tosh Lupoi went from Cal to Washington.

It's a bold new era and like it or not we're all just going to have to roll with the punches.

Neal is a talented player and many think he can be a dynamic scorer on offense in college or a very good corner on defense. He is smart, nice and a competitor with a drive to be a great player. Across the country last summer, Neal showed up for camps and only wanted to go against the best in order to prove he was the best. No matter what happens, that will serve him well as a player and young man.

Don't place blame for the saga on Neal, he will eventually do what he has to do. What he did Tuesday will be part of his story but it doesn't have to define him. We'll see where he winds up committing to soon and figure out what it means then. For now we'll just wait.

The elementary students at Neal's no-show were no doubt happy to miss class this morning. Based on the looks on their faces, they were probably more disappointed in having to go back to class than not seeing a football player make a decision.

They did end up learning a lesson, as did everybody watching - recruiting means turns when you're expecting twists and drama when you least expect it. Don't fret, just nod, at least it's not you on the other side of the lens.

Update: Neal committed to Notre Dame

Photo by Chris Pondy

Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 1:24 pm

SEC proposing major changes to recruiting model

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The Southeastern Conference is proposing several major changes to NCAA bylaws concerning football recruiting, according to a letter obtained by CBSSports.com.

The letter, from SEC commissioner Mike Slive to Leeland Zeller, the NCAA's associate director of Academic and Membership Affairs, was sent June 15 ahead of the Recruiting and Personnel Issues Cabinet meeting that was held this past weekend.

In it, Slive details the SEC's position on several hot-button recruiting issues after they were discussed at conference meetings in Destin, Fla.

Among the highlights:

  • The SEC endorses the return of text messaging. Currently, coaches cannot text with recruits (at all) but they can email them or send them a Facebook message. The current rules have already caused several coaches to self-report violations after accidentally texting a prospective student-athlete and some coaches privately gripe this is one of the rules they'd like to seen thrown out sooner rather than later. In talking with several administrators from other conferences, there should be plenty of support if the SEC puts forth a proposal to allow texting. The letter does note that while the conference's position is to allow texts, there should be limits in order to not overwhelm prospective recruits.
  • An earlier date for the first off-campus contact by coaches with recruits.
  • Current rules force compliance to monitor follower requests on Twitter and friend requests on Facebook sent to institutional staffers (coaches, administrators, etc.). The SEC says this monitoring "presents a significant compliance challenge" and wants staff members to be able to accept them without having to go through compliance first.
  • The SEC will introduce a proposal for the upcoming NCAA legislative cycle that will permit any coach or staff member to receive phone calls placed by recruits, recruits' parents or recruits' coaches. Phone calls to and from recruits is currently tightly regulated and the SEC proposal would expand contact with recruits as a way to alleviate some compliance concerns associated with monitoring and reporting. Essentially, the SEC is looking to deregulate a lot of the legislation concerning phone calls and texting.
  • The conference would like to redefine the four recruiting periods (Contact, Evaluation, Quiet and Dead) on the calendar into three (Off-campus, on-campus and dead). The SEC wants the off-campus period to be a combination of the current contact and evaluation periods with the rationale that they would eliminate the media from blowing up reports of the so-called "bump" rule being violated. The bump rule, the letter states, "is a source for media reports questioning the integrity of involved coaches, create the expectation that high school coaches arrange incidental contact during an evaluation period, and place college coaches intent on following the rules at a distinct disadvantage." The change is significant and would allow spring football recruiting to take on an even greater importance in the recruiting cycle. Coaches would be able to talk to players freely when they visit campuses in the spring and it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the number of verbal commitments to skyrocket as recruits commit when a coach comes to visit.
  • Although the letter states the conference supports earlier official visits - especially taking visits during the summer - they do not propose a specific date the visits should start because "no clear consensus exists around the date that might be established." Slive notes that there is some concern that summer official visits would allow some schools to pay for recruits to come to campus and then allow them to participate in their summer camp at the same time, thus covering travel costs for recruits to camps where players would be evaluated.
  • It has been previously discussed, but the SEC will submit an NCAA-wide proposal that bans 7-on-7 and other so-called "non-scholastic" events from college campuses. The conference also will submit a proposal that bans coaches from involvement in local sports clubs.
Needless to say, the SEC is making a major legislative push to alter many of the rules governing recruiting. Given the way the NCAA legislative cycle operates, it will likely be awhile before proposals turn into bylaws, but the SEC is certainly sending a message that its members want changes to the way things are currently operating.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 7:34 pm

Isaiah Crowell latest to get a social impostor

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Ahh the perils of social networking have struck once again. This time it was Georgia commit and Columbus (Ga.) four-star running back Isaiah Crowell, who had an imposter start a Twitter account under Crowell's name and began asking fans and media to get him more followers.

Things started to appear a bit fishy upon reading a few of his tweets however, mainly once a few tweets started to contain profanity.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with the real Isaiah Crowell and he said he's definitely not on the social networking bandwagon.

“No sir, I’ve never been on Twitter; I had a Facebook account but I erased it because it was creating so many problems” Crowell told the Journal-Constitution. “It’s deleted.”

Crowell's high school coach weighed in on the matter and was upset that someone would feel the need to fake an account of a player.

“That’s crazy,” Dell McGee told the paper. “I just read some of the comments on there and they are stupid. That’s not Isaiah and I hope you get the word out there that it’s not him.”

Given that we've seen recruits and Twitter have negative consequences already, perhaps we'll see more players start to take precautions against these sorts of stories.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com