There’s an old saying that goes, “It takes great deal of time to build a good reputation, but only a few minutes to ruin it.”
Michigan hopped suddenly into the three-star prospect’s recruitment last week, and Mattison followed that up with a home visit Monday. That in-person interaction wound up being fodder for rampant criticism.
Neal and his father went on AM 1620 in Nebraska Tuesday morning to affirm the youngster’s commitment to the Cornhuskers, but in the process they singled out an alleged mishap by Mattison as the reason the Wolverines fell out of favor.
"Michigan was a powerhouse,” Neal’s father Abraham Hoskins Jr. said. “They came in and they stormed us. They made one bad statement and it ruined it. They said without football Daishon wouldn't be able to go to Michigan. Like we couldn't afford to send him there or that we couldn't get him in academically.
"He basically tried to call me stupid in front of my face," Neal interjected.
Added Hoskins, "Once he said that, we pretty much escorted him out of (the house)."
The adverse effect of the alleged incident manifested immediately for Hoskins.
"My uncle and me was leaning towards Michigan,” said Hoskins. “Academics, stats... well just academics alone. My thing is. What if he never played again in his life, that degree could take him anywhere.”
That salacious recruiting tale was picked up across the country. It would have been a surprising turn for any coach, but was especially so for Mattison. After 35 years of college coaching and three years in the pros the gregarious assistant had come to be renowned for his vibrant defensive mind on the field, and his personable nature off of it. As a recruiter the esteem in which he’s held may be even higher. While working as Urban Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Florida, Ohio State’s current headman called Mattison “the best recruiter in the country.”
So it’s amazingly shocking that such an experienced, successful, and well-liked recruiter would make such a serious gaffe.
Which begs the question, did he really make it?
GoBlueWolverine caught up with Omaha (Neb.) Central coach Jay Ball to see if he could shed some light on the situation, and while he certainly wasn’t going to publicly oppose or even come close to rebuking his star player, he did make it a point to say the account given by Neal and his dad was A version of events, but not necessarily THE version.
“To be honest I’m not going to say a whole lot just because I’m really caught between a rock and a hard place on this,” Ball explained. “I will say this… I have had a conversation with Coach Mattison. I think Coach Mattison is a guy that has a lot of integrity and deserves a lot of respect. I also will say that Daishon Neal is a great kid… and there are two sides to this story. I’m not going to make any judgments other than they’re both really good people.”
Under the circumstances had Ball decided not to return the call to fulfill the interview request, it would have been totally understandable. His silence on the matter wouldn’t have garnered any criticism. Michigan isn’t a common presence at his school, and he coaches right in the backyard of the powerhouse program for which Neal is about to play. So why say anything? One possible answer is principle.
“To be honest my opinions… I’m going to keep those to myself,” said Ball. “I think I kind of stated how I feel about both of those individuals and I have a lot of respect for Coach Mattison and what he has done throughout his career. He deserves that respect. And again like I said, there are two sides… and potentially a misunderstanding.”
“And Daishon Neal is a really fine young man.”
But clearly Mattison’s story differs from that fine young man’s. Unfortunately NCAA rules prohibit him from speaking on the matter.
He’ll have to let his track record do that for him.
For more perspective of Greg Mattison we focused our weekly segment with Marcus Ray on his Michigan recruitment. Mattison, after all, was the coach that recruited Ray to Michigan 22 years ago. To listen to that interview, press play below.