Editors note: This piece is purely regarding the corruption of SOME schools, and in no way do I mean to shed unfavorable views on a particular FAN BASE. As someone who has seen the recruiting process for a few of my teammates in central Ohio, I felt the need to write about it.
Jaiden Woodbey didn’t go to Florida State because it was his dream school. Same with Greg Little at Ole Miss. Jarez Parks didn’t grayshirt at Alabama because he just wanted to pay out of pocket for his college for a year. Yes, a five-star offensive tackle from New York going to Georgia is weird. I’m not crazy, am I?
Over the last two or three years when I’ve really followed recruiting, I have noticed a LOT of outliers. Every cycle, the number of “oddities” in college football recruiting seems to go up.
Let’s get in to it, shall we? I suppose we should start with the SEC, or as some call it, the $EC.
Alabama is an interesting case. They have an awful class (by their standards) this year, and just lost DB Nadab Joseph (who we will discuss later) to newfound SEC rival Georgia. But in recent years, the Tide have dominated the recruiting trail. In fact, Alabama is on a seven-year run with the nation’s top class, although that run will almost certainly end this year barring something huge.
But how? How did Alabama go from relative mediocrity to THE program in college football? Here are the reasonable thoughts:
- They are in a talent-rich area: The south has long been known as the hotbed for college players. Alabama has dominated southern recruiting in recent years, stealing players from virtually every southern state.
- They have a good coach/recruiting staff: This one largely speaks for itself, but obviously a good coaching staff and head man will do wonders for recruiting. There’s a reason Urban Meyer out-recruited Clay Helton, and it isn’t because Columbus is more attractive than Los Angeles.
However, I’ve noticed some real oddities when examining Alabama recruiting in recent years. Some of these things just don’t happen with a little (ahem) “extracurricular” help.
Let’s start with the obvious. In recent years, the Tide have given “benefits” to players. They have. There is zero doubt in my mind, and hopefully any of yours, that Ol’ Saint Nick (Saban) and his cronies have illegally done this. If you don’t believe me, scroll through this gallery. EVERY PLAYER HAS A BRAND NEW CAR. THEY ALL PLAY FOR ALABAMA. It is well-known that a lot of these student-athletes come from poverty. The Washington Times did a special report on this a few years ago. HOW DO THEY ALL MAGICALLY AFFORD CARS? I promise it doesn’t come from great investments on the New York Stock Exchange. Oh, wait, Nick Saban owns a Mercedes car dealership? Hmmm… Isn’t it a little interesting that 18-year old kids with no credit and no income can secure leases on these very nice cars, all while managing to keep them fully insured and full of gas?
An interesting note from a 247sports.com poster:
It’s crazy that elite recruits are consistently willing to sign with Alabama even at positions of extreme depth, knowing they will likely have to sit for a few years before playing. It’s even crazier that so many high-round draft eligible juniors return to play their senior years (e.g. Ryan Anderson, OJ Howard, Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Tim Williams, Eddie Jackson), forgoing the potential of earning millions of dollars for the opportunity to play one more year for free (as well as receive a coveted degree from the University, ranked as the 103rd (tie) best university in the country by US News & World Report’s 2017 rankings).
Last year, Bama convinced a TOP-100 PLAYER to gray shirt, meaning he pays his own way for a year before he is placed on scholarship. Most recruits-unless they’re a kicker or something like that- don’t do this. Rather than grayshirt, they go play elsewhere. This happened to Ohio State quarterback Danny Clark last year. He’s now at Kentucky. But not Parks, he’s still at Bama.
Bama (and Saban) cheats. Majorly. I just invented a new word to describe the extent to which they cheat. They majorly cheat. But they’ve scaled back this year. Maybe it was the NCAA poking its nose around Oxford, Mississippi. Maybe Saban realizes that he needs to have a down year on the recruiting trail (by his standards) so everyone will shut up. But that hasn’t led the SEC to stop this year. That leads us to the next program.
The Bulldogs are an interesting case. From REAL mediocrity to the Mount Rushmore of the sport, the Bulldogs-led by second-year coach Kirby Smart– have the nation’s #1 recruiting class and a College Football Playoff Berth. It has been an incredible rise for the Peach State’s darling. After a decade or so of mediocrity under head coach Mark Richt, Georgia has stormed to the #1 recruiting class in the nation this season. But how?
The Bulldogs have had an INCREDIBLE run over the last two-ish weeks. They have flipped Cade Mays– a legacy and presumed lock to Tennessee. They have flipped Brenton Cox– the same thing, but to Ohio State. They flipped Nadab Joseph from Alabama just a few days ago, despite his name never appearing anywhere on UGA sites. They landed five-star quarterback Justin Fields, despite having two other five-stars in the two classes above (Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm), meaning that there is no easy road for Fields to start, especially the next two years while Fromm is forced to stay in Athens. How is this possible? Kirby $mart is at it again.
It is no secret the link between Kirby Smart and Nick Saban. Smart was the defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa. for seven years, from 2008-2015. Perhaps Kirby learned some tricks from Ol’ Saint Nick.
Nadab Joseph is a four-star cornerback from Miami, Florida. He took an official visit to Alabama on Dec. 4, and committed to the Tide one day later. Just two weeks after that, he flipped his commitment and signed with Georgia, despite NOBODY expecting it. No Crystal Balls put in, no message board rumors, nothing. Joseph never visited Georgia. Yet for some reason, he flipped to the Bulldogs.
Tight end Luke Ford, from ILLINOIS, committed to the Bulldogs a few days ago. This comes a bit after tight end Isaac Nauta pledged, and played a big role this year. How many tight ends can be on the field at the same time? Nauta is a star, and has at least one more year in Athens, meaning Ford will have to play behind for at least one season. But that didn’t stop Luke Ford.
The same exact thing happened last year with five-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson. Wilson is from Brooklyn, New York. You know, in the northeast. Where elite Big Ten programs such as Ohio State and Michigan go to recruit, and ACC programs like Boston College and Syracuse come to pick up the scraps. Georgia doesn’t go up there… Oh, but Kirby $mart does.
Michigan held 76% of the Crystal Ball predictions for Wilson. Alabama had 12%. Georgia came in third with a whopping 6%. Six percent! Despite minimal contact, Wilson took an official visit to Georgia and committed a week later. Interesting, huh.
The Seminoles have just went through a coaching change, switching from Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart, but the sliminess remains.
Fisher was always known as a bit of a “dirt ball,” mainly because of the quarterbacks he chose to recruit. First off, Heisman Trophy winner, national champion, and #1 overall draft choice Jameis Winston of course had the now infamous “Crab Legs” incident, and has been labeled as a bit “immature” in the NFL, but that’s not really enough to blame Jimbo.
Those aren’t really “violations” though. Fisher didn’t cheat to land those players. He did for five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, however.
Wilson was one who really seemed to enjoy the process of his recruitment. He took all five official visits (to LSU, Ohio State, USF, Oklahoma, and Florida State), but was pegged throughout the process to stay close to home at LSU. In fact, the Tigers held 63% of his Crystal Ball predictions, while Florida State held just 29%. But the Seminoles won out. When asked why, Wilson cited the “honey fried chicken.”
After Fisher left for Texas A&M, the Seminoles hired Willie Taggart away from Oregon, and he immediately flipped five-star safety Jaiden Woodbey from Ohio State. At the time of Taggart’s hiring, Woodbey didn’t even have an offer from the Seminoles. That was quickly changed, however. He then took a visit to Tallahassee for less than 24 hours, and committed to the Seminoles on early signing day this past week, spurning both the school he committed to almost a year ago (Ohio State) and the school in his backyard and to which he is a legacy (USC) in favor of the school with NO defensive backs coach, a head coach who has been there two weeks, and a team that went 6-6 last year and offered him two weeks ago. Seems fishy, doesn’t it?
Oh, let’s not forget when five-star running back Khalan Laborn announced his commitment in an FSU-adorned Lambo. That was kind of neat.
Ah, Dabo Swinney. You know, I actually had respect for this man until five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman admitted that Swinney negatively recruited against Ohio State.
Dabo Swinney told Jackson Carman during his recruitment that Urban Meyer is on the back end of his career in terms of years left. “It wasn’t a major factor, but it was an underlying one,” Carman said.
— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) December 20, 2017
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Clemson cheated in any way (other than slimy negative recruiting tactics) to get Carman. I think that Carman was just looking for any way possible to get out of the state of Ohio.
I do, however, think that Clemson has done some very dirty things. For starters, five-star defensive lineman Xavier Thomas bought not one, but TWO new cars. Coincidentally, they were acquired the day he committed to Clemson and the day he signed with Clemson.
Another interesting note regarding Thomas is that his father was in prison for a long while, but when he got out, his car detailing business was sold for well above market value.
His imprisoned father's run down car detailing business was recently sold to a Clemson booster for a greatly exaggerated amount. A new truck came with the deal which he wrecked. Now he just buys car today after signing with them. Yep. Real stinky.
— yema (@sclowyemac) December 21, 2017
The truck was (is?) a 2011 Ford F-150, valued well above $20,000 (as the truck includes $2,000 rims). Someone please explain to me how someone under the age of 18 with no credit history was able to get a loan or lease for that truck, and how he could afford it with a father who was incarcerated. There are two options.
- The sale of his father’s business (supposedly brokered by Clemson boosters) generated the money necessary for the Ford F-150 Truck.
- Clemson is paying for it.
I’m not a scientist, but both of those seem like violations to me.
Oh, and for all the South Carolina fans crying foul over this, just know that your four-star signed quarterback Dakeron Joyner just bought a new car the day after he signed with the ‘Cocks.
Welp, that’s it
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Oh, one final note: The Big Ten certainly is not innocent here. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Image Credit: 11alive.com