So, you and this girl have been dating for three years. Life is great. She's everything you could have ever wanted, you get along so great and you can't imagine life could get any better. It's Eden, Nirvana and Ecstasy all rolled up into one. Well, that's all you need, there's the motivation – you propose, she accepts and you get engaged.
Now is probably not the best time to start dating other people.
You try to convince her saying "Honey, we are going to get married. We are. But I just wanted to head to the bars to see what other options were available. Maybe you are the right one. But I just want to be sure."
How do you think that's going to go over with the spouse-in-waiting? Welcome to recruiting.
Welcome to recruiting.
Huh? You're kidding, right?
But yep, that's the trend in recruiting. It's everywhere now, seemingly. Kids committing for whatever reason, only to change their mind, but not officially. Nope, they won't say that they aren't officially going to that school anymore even though they are looking at the other schools. They are still a commit, but…..
Maybe some of it has to do with why they committed in the first place.
Here's a young man who grew up in that state, and he probably spent a few times playing football as a younger kid, pretending he was one of those players from the Huskers, Tigers or the Tide, who he grew up wanting to be.
Man, that would be something to be them, to do what they do and help continue the tradition of solid success at that in-state institution.
If that team comes and offers you, that's something. Hell, that's a dream come true. You get to live out childhood aspirations, play in one of the most potent offenses on God's green earth and you even get an education…all for free.
Life doesn't get any better than this. You aren't just feeling the dream, you are getting ready to live it.
They offer, you commit, and for awhile anyway you spend your days dreaming about all the plays you can make inside their stadium.
Then, it happens.
The offers started rolling in, and other teams with their own tradition, start telling that player they can be the next great (enter name here) who happened to play for them. And what he dreamt of doing as a Wolverine, he could do at their school, but their school had something different and perhaps better to offer.
If you aren't a commit to any school this is a golden opportunity. You have finally started to really see the rewards of all that hard work you have put in over your still-young football career. These offers, all these agreements of sorts, are justifications for everything you have done in trying to be the best you could be.
You'd be dumb not to check them all out. You'd be selling yourself short on the opportunity and if you haven't done as much research as you need to do in order to compare one program to another, you can't say that you really "know" that such and such place is the best situation for you.
You can take unofficial visits. So, take them. You get five official visits during your senior year. Yep, take those, too. Coaches are allowed to call you once a week during the season. Talk to them, get a feel for who they are, and next week talk to them again. It's simply the most logical process that one should take in figuring out where they are going to be for the next four to five years of their life. It only makes sense.
But you are supposed to do this before you commit, not after.
DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO
The problem with some of these decisions isn't that they made it. Some of these programs make perfect sense.
My problem is when someone chooses to look around, but still says they are a commit to that school.
If you are engaged, but start dating other people, what do you think your fiancée' is going to say? "Honey, I understand. You date all you want, I will start making the wedding plans and hopefully when you are done you still want to marry me."
You think Stanford is saying that to Will Hampton?
But I do honestly believe that these recruits who say they are commits but really aren't, think that as long as they say they are still committed, that school is going to hold their spot on the team.
There are a handful and a small one at that, of players who are so good that a school would put up with everything and do almost anything to get. These are the types of players which had double-digit offers almost immediately after their junior season began. They are the kind of player that a school will actually hold an offer for even if that kid doesn't plan on doing anything until "Signing Day" arrives.
99.95 percent (or more) of the rest of the players are not in that same boat.
If they pull that stuff, the school they are committed to is trying to find a replacement for them just as much as it would appear that player is trying to find a replacement for that school.
I can hear you now:
"But Steve, they are just exploring their options. They might have made the decision hastily, more on emotion than rational thought. You should give them a break. "
I have heard that, and this is my simple response:
Look at Cassius Marsh:
Rated as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com, Marsh committed to Cal in mid-April. At that time it seemed like a solid decision. But hey, if he's rated that high other schools are going to get into the mix or try.
"I had been thinking about a lot of other schools outside of California because I haven't really checked any of them out," Marsh told SCPlaybook.com. "A lot of schools outside of California were showing interest but weren't offering because they didn't want to offer someone that was already committed. so I felt that I needed to free myself up and continue the recruiting process and check out some other schools.
"I am pretty close with the Cal football team and coaching staff, and I just didn't want to be dishonest with them, so I just told them the truth."
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
Marsh hit it on the head: the truth.
And I am not talking about being idealistic, rather realistic. If you say you are taking visits, but still stay you are a commit to a certain team, who do you think will believe you?
The fan base of that school they committed to certainly won't. If that player is good, fans might be hoping they end up at their program, but you can bet they are hoping beyond hope that the coaches have already gotten on the phone or what have you, trying to find a replacement if this kid changes his mind.
The fan base of all those other teams certainly don't, very aware that there is blood in the water, he's looking around and now it's time for their coaches to swoop in and show that kid what they've got.
And you really can't say that the recruit actually believes it themselves, because they are the one who said it in the first place:
"I am a commit, but…"
GOOD INTENTIONS GONE BAD?
Now, I will say that I don't for one second think that when many of these kids made their choice there was this thought in the back of their mind which said ‘OK, I am committing here, but it's only to save a roster spot. I am going with them now, because it' safe. But I am still going to look around."
I don't believe that for even an instant.
When they committed I firmly believe that it was a decision that felt right at the time, seemed like the thing to do and based on the familiarity nothing could fit even better.
However, where many are at now, I think, is born from two particular things:
First, they didn't know how good they really were.
It's safe to say that if you are sitting on 30 offers or even more, you are one of the elite. But if you are sitting on a dozen, you're still pretty darn good. You don't need rankings or stars to tell you that. You've got 12 schools offering you to play football. You're legit. From the timing of the commit, which takes place earlier and earlier anymore, I don't think most really grasp that at that time.
Secondly, most of them I'd say, didn't think of their future the same way they do now.
When you are a super star football player at the prep level, and you are just starting to realize that you do indeed have a future of playing at the collegiate level, your thoughts linger to all the things that could happen down the road. Touchdowns, points, yards, tackles, awards, titles and maybe, just maybe a shot to play in the NFL.
You aren't thinking about which classes you want to take, how many you want to take your first year, where you'll stay, what advisors do, where you will park and how to better organize your time.
You are thinking about the social life, not the dorm life. You are thinking about the weekends after classes are done, not each week of classes and labs leading up to it. And you might be wondering if you can keep your jersey number instead of thinking about the number of jerseys you have to beat out just to get a chance to play.
It's only at a later point after many of these players have said that they are a commit and not a recruit, when all this starts to sink in.
Suddenly the luster of being the in-state team isn't there as much as it was. It doesn't mean that school was worse than they thought, but they never actually thought about the "school." Gosh, this place has a library.
That's nice. I didn't think that would matter. But now it does.
So, why not just decommit? What's with the game?
I understand in-state pressure. Nebraska certainly sees plenty of that. Unlike Missouri which has plenty of professional teams, Nebraska has none. When football season is going, that's all anyone in this state talks about. And when football season isn't going, that's all anyone in this state talks about. If you ask what the most popular religion in the state is, someone is likely to show you a media guide with an "N" emblazoned across the front.
That's how it is, and if you are a Nebraska kid with a Nebraska offer who ends up going someplace else, well, let's just say "fans" can be somewhat unforgiving.
The same can be said in Missouri. You can ask Missouri Tiger quarterback Blaine Gabbert about that, as he was at one point a commit to play for the big red. He wasn't exactly Mr. Popular down there during that span of time.
Of course, they all love him now.
Whether it's there, here, Oklahoma, Alabama, just the intimidation factor of being part of that in-state institution can be enough to sway you one way or the other. If you aren't a commit you might become one, because that's what everyone expects you to do. And if you are a commit there, you don't dare change your mind, because people around you will make you think you simply have no other choice.
You're going to be a Tiger. You're going to be a Husker. You're going to be a Sooner. If you aren't, you really aren't that good of a person at all.
All of this adds up to a recruit/commit coming to a decision based on probably everything you should never include in your decision-making process.
The first is emotion and the second is what everyone else thinks.
Most kids know who in their lives they can trust, who will give them good advice and who might just be full of it, as they say. And I doubt any of those who they believed, told them to commit with the clear idea that they would still look around.
Maybe they did, but I am of the mind that I believe at the time of each of these commits, each and every one of these kids felt like it was the right decision for them. It was only later that they realized they didn't put enough into making the decision in the first place.
That's fine. That's perfectly, OK. You are a kid. You might very well change your mind three times per minute. It's not a crime to say that you might have made a mistake or that you didn't think about your decision enough in the right context to feel now as if your criteria was sound.
It's one of the biggest decisions of your life. I get that. Be sure, do the research and know beyond a doubt that the place you go is where you want to go.
But don't commit until then, and certainly don't say you are a commit to another place while you are doing it.
"I'm a commit, but…."
Nobody believes it. I know I certainly don't, and you can bet the school they committed to isn't waiting around until Signing Day to see if that commitment will stand.
Try "I DEcommit, and….."
Then start over again.