College football has seen a rise in elaborate, college-basketball-style recruitments wherein the already-famous star player waits as long as he possibly can before putting his name on a piece of paper. The last three Rivals #1 prospects—Terrelle Pryor, Bryce Brown, and Seantrel Henderson—have all extended their decisions past signing day. Because of USC's sanctions Henderson is still a free agent less than two months before the season starts.
Coaches must hate this, as they hate anything that is not strict obedience to whatever their desires are, but at least college football prospects aren't getting shipped around the country by teams of handlers all summer like their counterparts. At least, not yet:
â‡¥Welcome to the nascent world of elite travel football, the burgeoning sport that could someday mirror AAU basketball, with apparel companies footing the bill for teams loaded with top prospects to criss-cross the country to face other teams loaded with top prospects. Until that happens, [Brett] Goetz will continue to scrounge for sponsor dollars, cut deals with bus companies and stay only in hotels that offer a free hot breakfast. Last week, Goetz allowed SI.com to ride along as his 25-man team -- made up of some of the best skill-position players in South Florida -- visited colleges en route to the Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 National Championship in Tuscaloosa, Ala. â‡¥
That's part of Andy Staples's latest piece on the underbelly of college sports, and to be fair to Goetz the picture painted by the piece is nowhere near the sleaze-drenched realm of AAU where lists of player's names and numbers go for hundreds of dollars and the assumption is that anyone not on the take isn't trying. Goetz rounds up a bunch of college prospects, takes them to camps and whatnot, and visits a bunch of schools along the way. (Actually, only on the way back because the NCAA has (surprise!) a bizarre rule prohibiting visits made en route to schools.)
Goetz isn't alone, though, and teams called things like "Raw Talent"—which had five star safety Latwan Anderson, amongst others, last year—are increasingly prevalent amongst the usual array of high school outfits at 7-on-7 passing tournaments across the country. Ted Ginn, Sr., (the former Ohio State star's father) has been taking big packs of recruits across the Midwest for years now.
Nothing untoward has been made public about those organizations, but the same can't be said about Brown's sketchy "advisor" Brian Butler, who found himself under NCAA investigation after Brown was abruptly dropped by Miami and ended up with Lane Kiffin at Tennessee, where he left after Kiffin did. Where there is money and a prohibition against that money going to the people who generate it, there will be a shadowy class of folk attempting to bridge that gap.
With the rise of this class—basically the institutionalization of the Reggie Bush scandal—along with NCAA's attempt to step up enforcement in its money sports, compliance is going to have its hands full over the next few years. That's bad news for most except the detail-oriented unemployed.â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.