The New York Times caused a brief kerfuffle over the weekend when they published a story suggesting that Jadeveon Clowney’s academic record strongly resembled the academic record of someone who might have to attend a prep school prior to attending a university.
Clowney says this will not be an issue for him:
“That’s taken care of … I’m going to get in.”
The practice of sending recruits with suspect academic records to a prep school is very common, with recruits usually landing some place like Hargrave Military Academy for a year or two prior to entering their committed university. This in itself is not the interesting part of Clowney receiving some kind of assurances about his academics.
Clowney’s case is interesting in the larger context of South Carolina recruiting. Prior to 2007, Steve Spurrier had difficulty getting certain recruits through admissions at South Carolina. These certain recruits often had what you might call challenged academic backgrounds, and turned out to be a point of debate between Spurrier and the school administration.
Admissions issues between Spurrier and the administration have been all but nonexistent recently. Not coincidentally, Spurrier’s first SEC East championship team and the team’s first appearance in the SEC Championship happened once Spurrier started getting his recruits into the school without friction.
This should not suggest that Spurrier’s greasing the wheels inappropriately for his recruits, but should suggest that one of the issues keeping South Carolina from taking off sooner under Spurrier was his inability to get his recruits the same exemptions granted to athletes at some other SEC schools. Without that change, Spurrier never gets his hands on someone like Clowney, and certainly wouldn’t be the coach of the likely favorite in the SEC East for 2011.