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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Recruiting process can drive fans crazy


By Ferd Lewis

Spending a lot of time around college football recruiting can often mean two things:

Letter of intent day can't get here soon enough and, sometimes, neither can the opportunity to take a shower and wash off the dirt that increasingly engulfs the process.

Today is the first day that high school players can sign letters binding them to a school, a day of celebration and relief for most.

And for some both players and coaches it will be the first time in months of waltzing that they will be bound by something more than a bazaar tout's promises.

It also lays bare the hollowness of the over-used but apparently little-understood definition of the term "commitment." In the wink-wink lexicon of recruiting, there are "commits" "soft commits" "de-commits" and "re-commits" all of which, the events of the preceding weeks remind us, amount to little more than a lukewarm "maybe" when it comes to pledging a player to a school or vice versa.

Some players "commit" for as long as it remains the best deal on the table. Some coaches "commit" a scholarship only until a more promising recruit enters the picture or the shopping basket is full.

It has been reported that Brigham Young University told a recruit, Kahuku's Kona Schwenke, who ostensibly committed to the Cougars, that it would rescind a scholarship promised to him if he took a visit to Notre Dame or Washington.

Never mind that the NCAA permits official visits to five campuses or that you would think it is in the best interests of all parties to have an informed and comfortable decision.

We've also heard rumbles of a player stringing out as many as four schools while leading fans from several of them to believe that he was headed their way.

As recruiting hit its 11th and most cut-throat hour this week there were more than the usual amount of the annual whispers of schools "poaching" from the "committed" lists of others in a reaction down the food chain and of the pressure to "turn" previously committed players.

Undoubtedly part of it is that recruiting can be so dizzying for 17- and 18-year-olds that they and their families can be overwhelmed. Some genuinely find it hard to turn anyone down. Others shamelessly milk the attention.

Not that recruiters are blameless, either. With all that can be riding on the decisions, coaches acknowledge "the gloves come off" when a coveted player makes a "commitment" to another school.

Finally, today is letter of intent day, when the recruiting battles, sometimes no less pitched than the ones to come on the field, can end at the dotted line.