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Friday, February 08, 2008

Radio. I'll be on WCBN around 7 tonight talking about the 2008 recruiting class, if you're interested. 88.3 on your dial or

Certain slighted folk are making much of Joe Tiller's claim that some sort of "gentleman's agreement" to not recruit each other's verbal commitments exists between Big Ten schools . Black Shoe Diaries:

Shaw led the Penn State coaches to believe he was going to be a Nittany Lion. ... I can understand a kid changing his mind. It happens. But when he first started having doubts he should have informed the Penn State coaches he was reopening his recruiting. How many kids did we stop calling after Shaw gave his pledge?

The other untold story here is that many insiders say the Big Ten coaches have an unwritten gentleman's agreement not to steal each other's recruits. Once a kid commits to a Big Ten school the other Big Ten coaches back off and stop recruiting the kid. Rich Rodriguez being new to the conference either has no knowledge of this pact or he blatantly ignored it as he openly pursued Shaw after he was committed to Penn State. So it appears RichRod is bringing more than just his spread offense to the Big Ten.

We'll get to the "gentleman's agreement" later. Now, let's flash back to February 4th, 2004, the day before signing day:
Blue-White Illustrated is finally reporting what most of us already knew was a foregone conclusion: former Panther recruiting class headliner Penn Hills Quarterback Anthony Morelli has reneged on his commitment and will instead sign with the Penn State Nittany Lions. ESPN just confirmed it. Ouch.
And how about January 25th, 2006?
Logan-El said he remained committed to Maryland while he took official visits to other schools. Despite this "commitment", Logan-El held a press conference in late January, just about a week before Signing Day, that was televised by ESPN at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. He invited the Maryland coaches (they could not attend due to recruiting rules) and welcomed Maryland fans to attend. On television he put on a puppet show of sorts by holding up the hats of Florida, Tennessee and Maryland and saying why he liked each school but wasn't choosing them. Then he held up a picture of himself and Joe Paterno and committed to Penn State, causing a near riot at the Zone between his family and some very irate turtle lovers.

Logan-El knew he wasn't going to Maryland for weeks, if not months, but he strung the coaches along regardless. He used Florida, Tennessee and the Terps as well as ESPN to make a mockery of the recruiting process. And he ticked off his head coach, Charles Harley, in the meantime.

Logan-El was part of a Penn State class featuring nine layers who decommitted.

How about... uh... Wednesday?
Penn State looked as if it had a shot to sway Christchurch, Va., wide receiver Deion Walker and Cresco, Pa., tackle Corey Lewis from their original choices of Notre Dame and Illinois, respectively. But both players stuck with their initial choices.
Penn State fans should be the last to complain about anyone's recruiting tactics. I know it sucks to lose a kid, especially late, and it sucks double when the kid makes a production out of "pulling a shocker," but this is a rampant issue across college football. Over 200 recruits decommitted this year. Singling out Rich Rodriguez is sour grapes.

And what about the "gentleman's agreement"? Last year alone featured at least four intra-conference decommitments:
  • Cedric "The Entertainer" Everson switches from Michigan State to Iowa on signing day.
  • Jerimy Finch switches from Michigan to Indiana.
  • Renaldo Sagesse switches from Illinois to Michigan.
  • Quincy Landingham switches from Michigan State to Wisconsin.
This year opposing schools across the Big Ten battered at Michigan commitments in the wake of Michigan's coaching change. Boubacar Cissoko scheduled visits to Illinois and Penn State he didn't end up taking. Michigan State pursued every in-state Michigan commitment fervently, and long after each had publicly reaffirmed their decision. They continue to recruit 2009 defensive tackle Will Campbell despite his commitment to Michigan. Ohio State offered Michigan commit Patrick Omameh just before Signing Day. As noted above, Penn State was chasing an Illinois commitment. Some gentlemen.

There is no gentleman's agreement, just one oatmeal-loving old coot who will run to Tom Dienhart this summer and rip on the rest of the league "anonymously."

Coachin'. Rodriguez (and Lloyd Carr) reeled in 17 four-star players this year, which is more than Rodriguez picked up during his entire tenure at West Virginia. We know the results there. Elaboration:
Under former coach Rich Rodriguez, WVU's classes were generally rated from the mid-30s to the mid-50s. But the Mountaineers have won two BCS bowls in the past three seasons, have consistently been highly ranked and came within one win of playing for last year's national title.

"They've done a good job identifying kids from around the country that may get overlooked," says Bobby Burton of "And they've done a very strong job of going into the South and getting speed guys, historically."

WVU quarterback Pat White, who is from Alabama, originally committed to LSU, which was interested in him as a wide receiver or defensive back. "Rodriguez had the right offense and told him the right things," Wallace says.

The 180. Michigan's gone from the most paranoid, information-hoarding program in the country to perhaps the least. Part of that will be a new coaching clinic held this spring:
Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the University of Michigan football team will host his initial clinic as a member of the Wolverine staff, conducting a three-day spring coaches clinic Thursday-Saturday, April 3-5.
Just 40 bucks, Dantonio. There's also going to be a seven-on-seven camp immediately following Michigan's traditional summer camp.

Rodriguez on other topics.

Rodriguez on yet further topics. Varsity Blue got to talk with Rich Rodriguez after his recruitment press conference:

The most notable content: yes, Michigan plans to have a spring game somewhere or other for the express purpose of getting the program publicity. Schwing.

There's also an interview with DC Scott Shafer; I don't want to steal all their content so you'll have to click through to see that.

Rodriguez on imports. He's giving it his best shot at assimilating into the Michigan hivemind:
Thirty members of the 1969 Michigan team visited with the current Wolverines during a team meeting Tuesday.

The message from the 45-minute session was simple: They understand the transition from one coach to another.

The 1969 team, after all, was the first under the late Bo Schembechler , and this year's team will be the first under Rich Rodriguez .

"They talked to them about, hey, they were in a similar transition 38 years ago with a bunch of new coaches and it was really neat," Rodriguez said. "Reggie McKenzie had me fired up, Dan Dierdorf , Dick Caldarazzo these guys were outstanding. They had everybody on the edge of their seats.

"It's amazing the parallels between that team and the team right now. If we could come even close to the success they had, I'll be happy."
There's also an event scheduled for sometime in the next couple months where Rodriguez has invited ever letter-winner back for a meet and greet.

Mealer. The local TV station in Toledo had a feature on local recruits signing that focused on Mealer; kid seems as upbeat as possible given what's happened to him over the past couple months. There's also a Rivals article on him.

(Via Genuinely Sarcastic.)

Slight chance of expansion. Michigan is, of course, waiting on PA QB Terrelle Pryor's probably-disappointing decision. But there's another recruit lurking out there who Michigan might pick up:
[FL WR Martavious] Odoms was the team's top deep threat this season and remains the area's biggest mystery. Blaze Thompson said Odoms is considering offers from Miami, South Florida, West Virginia and Michigan. A source close to Odoms said last week the race is really between South Florida and West Virginia, but that may have changed after Odoms visited Michigan last weekend.

"He hasn't decided yet - that's the God's honest truth," Thompson said. "He's torn. Each school has something to offer. He's been a UM fan for years. West Virginia runs the style of offense he likes, and so does South Florida. Michigan is going to start running it, and they don't have any wide receivers.
With Terrence Robinson, Michael Shaw, and Roy Roundtree in the fold Michigan's need for receivers of any sort (but especially in the slot) is no longer critical, but Michigan's going to be short scholarships the next couple years and Odoms is one of those little fast guys. Still seems like a longshot.

Vision quest. The Houston Chronicle has an article on Sam McGuffie's odd Signing Day sojourn:
"It was weird," [teammate and A&M commit Chris] Lathrop said. "He hadn't answered the door for anyone. He was doing exactly what everyone thought — sitting there thinking what school he wanted to go to.

"He told me 'My heart wants to go one way and my (head) is telling me to go another way.' "
I wonder which was which. (Via MSC.)