I very much remember the conversation the two of us had about Laremy Tunsil the day before Signing Day 2013. Kublanow and Tunsil had both committed to UGA - Kublanow publicly; Tunsil privately - and were going to sign with the Bulldogs that February 3rd.
But something happened on the way to Tunsil becoming the future left tackle at Georgia - Ole Miss. Needless to say, Tunsil turned his back on Mark Richt, Will Friend and UGA and went on to have what has to be called a complicated, but means-to-and-end career in Oxford.
When you are the No. 13 overall pick of the NFL Draft something went right along the way no matter how bumpy the road traveled.
But I still remember quite clearly Kublanow showing me, with disappointment, the text messages he had traded with Tunsil the few days before the two of them signed with their respective schools. The gist of the conversation was that Tunsil “wanted” to sign with UGA, but “couldn’t.”
Kublanow seemed to know why, but didn’t come out and say it.
I’ve not written or talked about the story publicly until now because at this point its pretty clear what happened - at least according to the many statements of Tunsil himself not only back in 2013, but on Thursday night in Chicago at the NFL Draft.
Somebody isn’t telling the truth. It doesn't seem like Tunsil, who is free from Ole Miss’ muzzle, is interested in continuing perpetrating the myth that he decided to sign with the Rebels because everything was on the up and up.
“I’d have to say yeah,” Tunsil answered when asked about being paid by Ole Miss.
Those five words probably led to the only time that Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said: “Oh shit” in his entire life.
Who says something like that? Really, the question is who actually tells the truth about the dirty little secrets of recruiting?
Answer: No one.
Rarely does the public get to see what those of us in this industry hear and assume all of the time. And, frankly, it's rare that those of us in the industry get to see it. That’s why it really was fascinating to watch… disappointing and unnerving on a lot of levels for Tunsil, but fascinating nonetheless.
I asked Will Friend, who recruited and all but had him signed while at UGA, about losing Tunsil when I visited with him and Mike Bobo last May at Colorado State. We didn’t talk about Tunsil very long - it was so far back in the distance and new and wonderful things were happening for Friend at Colorado State, so I didn’t want to focus on the negative.
“Yeah, that one hurt,” he said.
Signing Day 2013, like so many of those critical days, was so very consequential for everyone involved. But looking back on it, no one seems more damaged in the entire process than Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, who defiantly tweeted that day:
“If you have facts about a violation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If not, please don't slander the young men.”
You have to wonder if anyone shot an e-mail to that address on Thursday night just to make sure everyone in Oxford heard everything everyone else did that night. Perhaps Freeze will be asked about the entire affair on Thursday’s SEC Teleconference with reporters. Jake Wallace of WALB in Albany reports that Freeze has already made clear that “he will not have time to speak w/ media” during a FCA event in the area on Tuesday night.
Someone isn't telling the truth.