You are the owner of this article.

Shatel: Over-signing method too often overdone in football recruiting

  • 0
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh

Pulled scholarship offers show the seamier side of college football recruiting. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has pulled two scholarship offers recently — one from a player who was recruited by his predecessor, Brady Hoke. The recruit says he was encouraged by Harbaugh’s staff up until a week before the scholarship was pulled.

College football recruiting reform. Good idea. But who wants it?

Better question: Would you want Jim Harbaugh as your Nebraska head coach, pulled scholarship offers and all?

I know a lot of Husker fans who want to do things “the right way.” I also see a lot of hands raised out there, folks who say, “If it means winning a championship, heck yes!”

Recruiting is not for the meager. It’s a cold, cruel business. There was a famous book written about college football long ago titled “Meat On the Hoof.” That title still applies.

Harbaugh, the Michigan coach, is a wild and crazy guy, whose sideshows include having Michigan men Tom Brady and Derek Jeter show up for a signing day event this week, which will raise money for a cause.

But Harbaugh also has been cited for pulling two scholarship offers in recent weeks — one from a kid who was recruited by Harbaugh’s predecessor, Brady Hoke. The rub: The recruit says he was encouraged by Harbaugh’s staff up until a week before the scholarship was pulled. Or, until a better player became available.

This raised the ire of media types — as well as fans at Ohio State and in the SEC, who forgot that their coaches have done the same thing.

To be sure, over-signing is an unseemly aspect of college sports. But recruits also have the right to run a misdirection play at the last minute, correct?

Former NU coach Bo Pelini had a terrific idea a few years ago: Eliminate signing day. Allow recruits to sign with schools as soon as the offers come.

What needs to be eliminated is the fallacy of the commitment. The signing period should begin the first day of school in a recruit’s senior year, or the last day of his junior year, whatever. From that point until the following spring, recruits sign as soon as they accept an offer. No changing. No backing out by either party.

Most of the support I hear for this is in the media. I’m sure some recruits would love this concept, but others want that wiggle room, that extra wooing time.

As for coaches, the ones chasing championships — or those chasing the ones chasing championships — want the best players available. And most fans who want championships want whatever helps their coaches achieve that end.

That doesn’t mean you have to stretch rules or integrity like a rubber band to win championships.

But when Alabama coach Nick Saban accepted the national championship trophy last month, not one person asked him about over-signing.

They asked him when he was going to win his next title.

» All that said, we haven’t heard Harbaugh’s side of the story because coaches are not allowed to address specific recruits until signing day. I’m eager to hear that side.

» The Big Ten has always sold the image that it was above what the other leagues were doing with over-signing, wore it proudly like a button-down shirt. And no school is more button-down than Michigan. But if the Big Ten has three schools with top-10 recruiting classes this week, the national narrative will be that the Big Ten is strong. Button that shirt.

» You think Jeff Hornacek wishes he’d taken that Iowa State basketball job?

» Marcus Foster will help Creighton next season. But so would some big, athletic rebounders. Every time a CU shot went up last Saturday night, Seton Hall had three guys under the basket.

» The Jays still need to learn how to handle the mental rigors of the Big East. That includes the coaches, who had a hard time shaking the loss to G-Town. In the Missouri Valley, a loss could be devastating to your title chances and NCAA résumé. In the Big East, a loss is simply called another week in the Big East. Get over it and move on.

» Pet Peeve: putting players with two fouls on the bench for the last several minutes of the first half. Tim Miles had Shavon Shields and Tai Webster sitting next to him while Purdue made a crucial push before halftime. Veterans have to learn to play without fouling.

» Pet Peeve II: players who drive to the basket and then kick it out for a 3-pointer rather than go in for a higher percentage shot or a foul. When did that become the norm?

» Mark Turgeon comes to Lincoln on Wednesday, and even though he’s worn the ties of Maryland, Texas A&M and Wichita State, for me the Topeka kid will always be the walk-on at Kansas. Turgeon would have to be high on KU’s list when Bill Self leaves for the NBA.

» Oh, you say Self isn’t ever leaving Allen Fieldhouse? I’ll buy it. Especially when you can be part of games like Kentucky-KU on Saturday night. Won’t see that on a Tuesday in Salt Lake City.

» Some of these games are so good that the analysts are putting down their slide rules and RPI charts and cheering along.

» I’d like to see the Big 12 take on the Big East instead of the SEC. Both are 10-team leagues. Let’s get Kansas or Iowa State to CenturyLink Center.

» One of Clete Blakeman’s more memorable experiences in officiating was doing his first game at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. It was when the Huskers hosted Nicholls State in 2006. But he says it never should have happened.

“I thought, ‘Why am I (a former Husker quarterback) here?’ ” Blakeman said. “It just added a dimension to it. This can’t seem fair to (Nicholls State). Send me to KU or Missouri. It was uncomfortable. I just felt like I shouldn’t be there. The next year, the Big 12 changed the rule and officials with ties to schools couldn’t do those games.”

» I’m tempted to pick the Peyton Manning fairy tale ending, but I think Carolina sneaks out with a 24-21 win. I don’t see a blowout. Not with Denver’s defense.

As for Manning, beating Tom Brady and getting to the Super Bowl is still a fitting way to ride off into the sunset. In some ways, it’s like Manning already won the Super Bowl.

» I’m a get-off-my-lawn-and-hand-the-ball-to-the-ref guy. But I have no problem with Cam Newton having some fun. Right now he’s the NFL version of Steph Curry, one of the most popular athletes on the planet. All the things wrong in Roger Goodell’s world, and we’re worried about this?

In fact, there’s a chance Curry, a Carolina kid and Bay Area star, will show up at the Super Bowl supporting Newton. Would that make Newton OK with the celebration police?

» One more and I’m outta here: The Super Bowl prop bets are out. And you knew this would be one of them:

“Will the referee redo the coin toss? (Yes: 20-1)”

For Clete’s sake, I hope it flips.

Contact the writer:

Sports columnist

Tom is The World-Herald's lead sports columnist. Since he started in Omaha in 1991, he's covered just about anything you can imagine. Follow him on Twitter @TomShatelOWH. Phone: 402-444-1025.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.

OWHsports on Twitter