Time to Change?

The country said it was time to make a change when they elected our country's 44th president. Is it time to change the way college coaches recruit our country's top high school football players? Trent Richardson is one of the top running backs in all the land and has been committed to the University of Alabama since the summer.

Soon after he went public to head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, Trent Richardson told people that he was wide open between three - Alabama, Florida and LSU. While never having any or little interest in Florida State, Richardson decided to visit Tallahassee this weekend, the last official weekend players can visit college campuses before National Signing Day on February 4.

Why would any player go public to a school then quickly come out and tell people he won't make any sort of decision until National Signing Day? The reason was simple, either Richardson was seriously opening things back up and taking a hard look at Florida/LSU/Florida State or he wasn't.

Why would he say such things if that wasn't the truth? Could it be that Alabama told Richardson to get back in the game so to speak and put the word out there that he was still on the market? It takes a pretty determined head coach to tell your prize recruit to go take some visits and pretend you are interested in them.

Is this a big conspiracy so Richardson can have a big television announcement on a sports station? Would that same sports station put him on television to reaffirm he was indeed going to Alabama or would he and Alabama need to create a bit of recruiting commotion to attract the interest? The world won't know until a few more days, but I have a pretty good idea it may have gone something like this.

I believe that it was Alabama that told Richardson to create the drama to make this look like some sort of big secret when all the while both he and the Tide have known all this was a song and dance. It all comes down to publicity for the player and university. Anytime you have one of the top players in the country commit to your program, it is a big deal, but the spectacle that has become the Trent Richardson recruitment is in a word exaggerated.

Did Richardson ever seriously consider any other possible destination than Alabama? I think he did. Alabama, in my mind, set him out to drum up some excitement and almost lost him. They underestimated how good some of these other teams would be in their pursuit of the talented running back from Escambia High School.

At the coach's convention a short while ago, one of the hot topics was recruiting and the overall process as it unfolds throughout the year. One of the things that was discussed among several of the top coaches in attendance was moral/ethical responsibility. Should the coaches display moral or ethical responsibility once a player decides to go public to their respective university?

Take the University of Florida for example with four committed players for the class of 2010. Trey Burton, Demar Dorsey, Matt Elam and Ian Silberman have all gone public to the Gators. Does the rest of the college football world back off from these four players? Do they lie to them and tell them no way in the world you can play at Florida they have won 2-of-3 BCS titles and could make it 3-of-4 in 2009? Do they have a moral responsibility to let these young men decide for themselves where they want to play college football with no interference from questionable coaching tactics?

I for one believe that the college coaches could take back the power of the overall recruiting process by displaying these values, core values that are surely on display when dealing with their own families. These values were on display from the University of Florida with how they handled the recruiting process and Richardson. Richardson will tell you himself that he feels closest to Gators' running backs coach Kenny Carter. In talking to other players that Coach Carter has recruited, they all say the same thing. Kenny Carter is a man of moral obligation not only for the university that he works for but his family as well and these are the same traits he showed when recruiting Trent Richardson to Florida.

In today's recruiting circle, the power lies with the players once they receive the offer they are looking for and sometimes even before that. Is that too much power/control that 16-18 year old kids should have placed in their laps? Is there a way to place the power back with the coaches/universities that recruit these players? Should players be allowed to go public before they can technically even receive written offers? How can those offers/commitments behind closed doors even be regulated?

The NCAA can't be there behind every crack and cranny to maintain the balance that is required to regulate this kind of activity. At some point, the coaches need to get together and restore the balance of order in today's recruiting world. The question is will they do it or will they allow the high school juniors and seniors to set the stage moving forward?

As for Trent Richardson, I am 100 percent convinced, based on some things that I learned late last night and early this morning, that he will indeed wake up Wednesday morning and give his pledge/signature to Alabama and head coach Nick Saban. Will that make the last 6-7 months a waste of time/money/energy spent by these other respective universities and coaches? In a word, yes.

If he wakes and signs with anyone else, well that's an entirely different story all together and one I would love to tell.


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