Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Recruiting Expert?

You hear it all the time: These day's everyone's an expert. Well, one guy tried to prove it. Plus: An American hero, a primer on the NBA lockout, the ongoing Greg Oden saga, Barack Obama, and Amish teenagers taking London by storm.

You hear it all the time: "These day's, everyone's an expert." Well, one guy tried to prove it. Plus: An American hero, a primer on the NBA lockout, the ongoing Greg Oden saga, Barack Obama and Amish teenagers taking London by storm. Talking Points is a daily series that highlights some of the best stories in sports (and elsewhere). Read the archives here.

You can try, but no fake identity will ever top the 40-year-old American man who used the Internet to become a lesbian from Syria, writing "Gay Girl In Damascus." After he staged a kidnapping to cover for his planned vacation, he had to come clean with readers.

So, yeah. Before we go any further with this ... Nobody's topping that guy.

But as far as Internet hoaxes go, becoming a fake recruiting expert still scores pretty high. This one was even more fascinating because the writer planned it as satire all along. By assuming the name "Jonathon Paige" and tweeting about prospects, blogging and aggregating breaking news from a handful of reporters that have real information, he quickly made his way onto the radar of several big-name reporters and college basketball sites.

You can read the entire post to see exactly which reporters and websites he fooled, but more than anything, the whole experiment proves how ridiculous the recruiting business is to begin with. Basically, you can start a rumor, and fans will either believe it or discredit depending on how the (completely fake) news affects their favorite team. To wit, "Jonothan Paige" explains:

I found that the easiest fanbase to sway was Kentucky, followed closely by UNC, Duke, and UCLA. This was unsurprising as all three programs have huge fanbases with passionate fans that take a sincere interest in recruiting. Also unsurprising was the reception given to different sorts of recruiting news. If Jonathon Paige tweeted that a recruit was "leaning towards" school X, there would be multiple re-tweets and messageboard posts by fans of that school about the news. If another school in the race for the same recruit saw the tweet and it was brought up on a messageboard, the source and news would be summarily dismissed...

It's mostly self-evident, but this experiment proves it. The world of recruiting news is full of fools selling fool's gold to even bigger fools, Captain Obvious might say. The only people making big money in basketball and football recruiting are "scouts" like Willie Lyles, who doesn't even try to be competent.

(Then again, Lyles--the "recruiting expert" who may have swayed players toward Oregon football in exchange for $25,000 in "service fees"--was providing a much more valuable service.)

But if you think about it, it's not just recruiting. Editorials and playoff predictions, mock drafts and electoral projections--all of it works just like recruiting rumors, as news is parsed by guys who may or may not deserve the authority the Internet gives them and it's all treated like gospel by those who happen to agree with authority. 

Eloquence and entertainment are still the fastest ways to success, but telling people what they want to hear (and making it easy to find on Google) goes farther than you'd think. Last week, we linked to an interview with David Carr of the New York Times, in which he talked about the internet, the rise of "citizen journalists" and the implications thereof. Here's an excerpt:

My worry is that people will ... gather what they need in order to reinforce their existing notions of the way things are, and there won’t be a civic common anymore where fact rules.

In other words, trusting people who tell us what we want to hear isn't limited to recruiting message boards. The lesson from this experiment may be self-evident as far as recruiting news is concerned, but it goes deeper. Our fake recruiting expert ended his triumphant post with this:

All anonymous or fictional sources.... all innuendo or general information. All a joke.

Thanks for Reading. Yours Truly,

Troll

Didn't he just describe like 90 percent of the media in 2011?

Yours truly,

Dr. Know-it-all
Recruiting Analyst
Syrian Lesbian
Internet Expert

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ALL HAIL DR. SPACEMAN. Now, let's get into Talking Points...

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Meet Shawn Hibbard, An American Hero Turned American Football Player. From Spencer Hall, a profile of a U.S. Military veteran who's trying to play professional football:

At 6'4" and 230 pounds, Hibbard did have pro-style size. At 4.65 in the 40, Hibbard would prove to have viable football speed. His hands were good enough, and he took punishment while giving an equal share back to his defenders.  He also did not have the wear and tear on his body that many 32-year-old football players did.

His only major injury was not football-related in the least, but certainly not a common concern for most football players. Hibbard had a shrapnel wound on his leg from an IED explosion.

Best story you'll read today.

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Because You Know What Else Is Fun? LOCKOUTS! Over at NBA.com, David Aldridge put together the best overview of the NBA Lockout you'll find anywhere. He lists three issues at the heart of it all:

• The owners continue to seek a hard salary cap along the lines of those in football and hockey, eliminating most of the exceptions that currently exist.

A hard cap would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in player contracts, including those of star players. The league's most recent proposal to the players, a 10-year contract, would phase in a hard cap after three seasons and lock it in for the remaining seven years.

• Owners also want to reduce the players' take of Basketball Related Income (BRI) from its current 57-43 split in favor of the players to a split that favors them.

...The initial proposal the NBA made during All-Star Weekend in 2010 would have reduced player contracts in length and eliminated guarantees, to the point where owners would recoup $700 million off the top of revenues before the rest was split with the players, creating a system that would have essentially given owners 61 percent of revenues, with players getting the remaining 39 percent. Stern said on Friday that both sides have come off of those initial positions, but the owners still want a major BRI shift in their favor and are holding firm.

• Owners also want to eliminate exceptions to the cap that allow teams to exceed the cap to re-sign their own players (this is the so-called "Larry Bird" exception), or to add players via the mid-level exception or veteran player's exception.

The mid-level is tied to the average salary in the NBA (this past year, the exception began at $5.765 million) and can increase up to 8 percent per year up to five years. Eliminating most, if not all, of these exceptions would take hundreds of millions more from players.

He deals with each of those issues--and plenty more--in much greater depth throughout the piece, and if you're like me and you've been consciously avoiding all NBA lockout talk and hoping it'll all just go away, then this primer is a perfect resource to get you caught up in 10 minutes.

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A List Of Potential Movie Character Names. I'm already obsessed with Paige Camembert.

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An Interview With Bismack Biyombo. Who seems like pretty much the greatest.

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Checking In With Greg Oden. Here's the longform companion to this video, where Greg Oden gets mistaken for LeBron James and tells a reporter, "I tried [basketball], but I'm not good at it." The full story of Oden, and where he is psychologically right now, only gets worse.

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On A Happier Note, Here's President Obama And A Baby. Quieting a crying baby is one thing, but quieting a baby after your wife's failed? That's about as good as it gets.

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Can't Wait For Dennis Rodman To Become "Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman" ... First from The Basketball Jones:

Maybe you were thinking that since Dennis Rodman has been voted in to the Hall of Fame, he would chill out and gracefully enjoy his status as one of the NBA’s all-time greats. That doesn’t sound like something he’d do, but you have high hopes for people. You think they’re capable of so much, and you figure that if Ron Artest can be honored for his work with mental health advocacy, then even Dennis Rodman can become a well-respected elder statesman of the NBA.

And then from TMZ:

Dennis Rodman got real physical at a bar in Akron, Ohio earlier this week, TMZ has learned — allegedly shoving a local patron after the man uttered two unforgivable words … "LeBron James." According to the police report, obtained by TMZ, the man in question — named Michael Douglas (NOT the actor) — stopped by a local bar after he heard Rodman was drinking there.

According to the report, Douglas walked up to Rodman and joked with him — asking if he was in town to check up on LeBron … and for some reason, Rodman flipped and shoved him back.

His Hall of Fame speech might be the highlight of my summer as a sports fan.

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In Case It Wasn't Obvious.. Leo Spaceman is the best doctor of all time.

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Finally, A Reality Show About The Amish. Tonight at 9, the National Geographic Channel airs the premiere of "Amish on Break", where "Five Amish teenagers leave their sheltered community for the first time to spend four weeks abroad in the United Kingdom. It's a trip full of firsts — first time on an airplane, first visit to the ocean and first nightclub. We'll see how they react to the seedy streets of London, street performers and the hedonistic lifestyle of an indie rock band they befriend."

Amish Teenagers + Indie Rock Band = ???

(Obviously watching this)

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