The Ugly Side of College Football Recruiting

It’s almost every young athlete’s dream, getting a full scholarship to a large, division one NCAA football program. It happens to very few of us, though, and the ones who are the best, most athletic, get offers from the best college football programs in the nation.

Whether it’s the University of Southern California, or the University of Notre Dame, or the University of Florida, college football recruiting is a big-time business where only the stout of heart and inflated of ego can succeed.

For some, college football recruiting can begin as early as at age thirteen. Take the example of the University of Southern California, one of the great and storied programs in NCAA football history. Their long-time coach, Pete Carroll, left this past offseason to take a job with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

The Southern Cal board of governors looks neither long nor hard for his replacement: they settled almost immediately on Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin, who is a protege of Carroll’s, had an unsuccessful stint as head coach of the Oakland Raiders of the NFL earlier in the decade, but had done decently in his one season as head coach at the university of Tennessee.

Kiffin’s also a world-class blowhard who feels that the most important thing to do as a head coach is raise his own profile and make headlines in the national media. Contrast that to, say, Jim Tressel, the soft spoken (and wildly successful) coach of the Ohio State University, a man who rarely grants interviews, and you can see why so many folks rolled their eyes at Southern Cal’s decision to hire Kiffin.

True to form, Kiffin made an immediate splash when he extended college football recruiting to middle school. Rather than focus on the most talented high school players in the nation, Kiffin actually solicited and received an oral commitment from thirteen year old quarterback David Sills.

Even though Sills won’t be college eligible until the 2015 season, and even though high profile high school football is littered with the careers of young phenoms who flamed out before they even reached college.

But such is the world of college football recruiting. Scruples are frowned upon, as is common sense and common decency. Lane Kiffin and the University of Southern California are the embodiment of that right now; of that there can be no doubt.