A Recruiting Tale

Columnist Phillip Marshall turns his attention to football recruiting with a satirical look at the annual ritual.

It's getting close to signing day and Billy Bob Goldenarm has welcomed Coach Slick from State U. into his living room for an in-home visit. Go with me to listen in.

BILLY BOB: Hi, coach. How's everything going? That was a heck of a game over the weekend. I loved the way your guys kept trying even after they were behind 42-0 at halftime.

COACH SLICK: Well, son, that's why I'm here. We think you are the quarterback to take us to the national championship. I've seen a lot of quarterbacks in my day, but unless I miss my guess, you'll be the starter as a freshman.

BILLY BOB: Dang, Coach, I was thinking I might need a redshirt year. And you are recruiting all those other quarterbacks. At least that's what I hear.

COACH SLICK: Now, Billy Bob, you keep this under your hat. Those guys will change positions if you come. No way they can compete with you. You've got Heisman in your future.

BILLY BOB: Well coach, you know, I've been thinking about taking all my visits. Some of those other schools seem to have a lot to offer, too, especially that one on the other side of the state you never mention by name.

COACH SLICK: I was afraid of that. Billy Bob, you know I care about you. I care about you as a person, not just as a football player. I want what's best for you. Confidentially, there's something you need to know about that school. They've got 10 guys under indictment for felonies. Nobody ever graduates. On top of all that, my sources tell me they are being investigated by the NCAA and are probably going to get the death penalty. Now, I don't believe in negative recruiting, but that's just telling it like it is.

BILLY BOB: Doggone, Coach. I never knew all that. The coaches up there told me they graduated 90 percent of their players. They said something about you guys having NCAA problems.

COACH SLICK: Well, you know, you can't believe everything you hear, son. We've got people on the inside in the NCAA. Nothing is going to happen to us. We don't have to cheat, especially since we've won 45 national championships.

BILLY BOB: Forty-five? I was looking through a magazine the other day and said you guys had won one, back in 1932.

COACH SLICK: Well, son, like I said, don't believe everything you read. We've won all those championships. Of course, 44 of them were awarded to us by the local TV station poll. That counts, though.

BILLY BOB: I think my mom's got supper ready. We're have fried chicken, collard greens and poke salad. You ready to eat?

COACH SLICK: Dad gummed right, son. Collard greens and poke salad have been my favorite, ever since I was growing up in upper Manhattan.

BILLY BOB: Coach, I hope you enjoyed your dinner. I had something I wanted to ask you about. A quarterback needs to have fresh legs. It can get pretty tiring walking around campus all day. Man, if I had a pickup truck like all those I saw parked at your football dorm, I'd be a lot more ready to practice every day.

COACH SLICK: No problem. We sure don't want our quarterbacks walking everywhere. We've got some people with car dealerships that will lease you one at a good price, a real good price.

BILLY BOB: Tell me again, Coach, what you think my chances of playing early are?

COACH SLICK: Billy Bob, I'm telling you. I knew Joe Montana personally. I watched Joe Namath play when I was a kid. John Elway is one of my best friends. None of those guys had anywhere near the talent you have. You'll be our starter. I don't think there's any question about that.

BILLY BOB: Well, coach, it all sounds good, but to be honest with you, I called Coach Smooth up at that other school today. I told him that's where I want to play. They said I'd redshirt my first year, and I think I need it.

COACH SLICK: To be honest, son, I didn't want to tell you, but I think you ought to be redshirted, too. Sounds like a good plan to me.

BILLY BOB: I appreciate it, Coach, but my mind is made up. I felt like I owed it to you to hear what you had to say since you've been sending me those shirts and shoes and stuff. I especially liked what was in that Fed Ex envelope, but I'm going to Upper State U.

COACH SLICK: Hell, son, I don't blame you. I don't know if we'd have had a scholarship for you anyway. You're just not quite what we are looking for in a quarterback. In fact, if I were you, I'd consider a Division II school. You're probably not good enough for this level.

BILLY BOB: What are you saying coach? Forrest Newberg rated me the top quarterback prospect in the South, said I could go straight to the NFL if that's what I wanted to do.

COACH SLICK: See you, son. By the way, I hate collard greens.


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