We follow recruiting specifically because of situations like this. (Wait, that didn’t come out right.)
We love the recruiting world because at any moment one program can come crashing down, allowing others to shovel through the wreckage and add to their already impressive hauls. (No, that’s not it either.)
Recruiting brings us a joy we can’t equal because every so often a school has a jailed booster that feels so slighted he blows every whistle he can find in order to show his former "friends" that he means business, if this really is all a business. (Okay, I give up. I’m just not getting it right.)
We all know how we got to this point. Miami booster Nevin Shapiro told all and Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports wrote one of the better sports investigative pieces you’ll read. There’s more than a handful of items we either have discussed or could discuss: the death penalty, the NCAA, improper benefits, payments to players, Miami’s new image, Miami’s old image, Miami’s seemingly forever image, the two Florida players named – Andre Debose and Matt Patchan, the Florida coach named – Aubrey Hill, and the list goes on and on. Somewhere in there is recruiting and that’s how we came to this piece.
This is one of those moments where you have a choice, where I have a choice. You could pull any item impacted by this to focus on and if you land on recruiting, you could pick a number of aspects of that as well. I’ve chosen to focus on the ways this could possibly benefit other programs. The reason is simple: at this time, I have to be a fan of the game. That may not be the case in a week or a day or even an hour, but it is the case now. I want to know what will happen with the members of the 2012 recruiting class, the 2013 recruiting class, and and beyond. I’ve read enough about the "problems" with the sport over the last few days, so for now I’m a fan. A fan that follows recruiting and wants to know what will become of the high school athletes affected by this situation, if you want to call it that.
Miami’s current recruiting class is big, one of the bigger classes nationally. 24 strong as I write this. That number could be very similar come National Signing Day, but it’s hard to imagine it consisting of all of the same names. The number could also be impacted by sanctions, whatever those may be, but it’s those 24 and all of those others even momentarily considering joining the Hurricanes that we’ll be looking at until letters of intent are signed. Those 24 have some thinking to do, and so does anyone that lists Miami among their top schools.
Some will stick with the Canes. There are currently six recruits from Miami and others from the surrounding area. All told, Miami’s class — which ranks fifth in the nation according to Rivals, right behind FSU and Florida — has 20 members from the state of Florida and the Seminoles and Gators are licking their chops. How committed is Brandon Holifield — an athlete from Tallahassee? What about Raphael Kirby, who strongly considered Florida and could rethink joining two of his high school teammates with the Gators? Jelani Hamilton comes in at No. 79 in the Rivals 100 and Kirby, Angelo Jean-Louis, Randy Johnson and Amos Leggett aren’t far behind. If you don’t think the rest of the nation is awake and looking at the 24, well, then you aren’t thinking. It’s open season.
You may hear a number of them reaffirm their commitment to Miami. They’ll say things like how they want to be part of the rebuild and how they hope to put their mark on the once proud program. How they won’t back down from a fight and this will be a challenge they’re willing to accept and run with. It all sounds good; it’s also all talk. Some will stick it out, but all will question their decision and maybe more importantly so will their parents.
Parents are influential, too: there’s a Cam Newton parallel here somewhere that we’ll just go ahead and avoid. In many situations, the choice is just as much theirs as it is the recruit’s. Many, and I won’t speak for all, want what’s in the best interest of their child. Is Miami in its current state in anyone’s best interest? Was USC? How about Ohio State? There are parents out there looking for more than a bag of money. There are those looking for a future for the child. What they may want that future to be is debatable, but a program in what looks to be a pile of trouble that may take years to dig its way out of may not be it for anyone. It’s the recruit’s choice, but there are influences at every step of the process and parents are one of the biggest.
As you read this, the state of Miami’s 2012 recruiting class may have already changed, and if it hasn’t, there are those that haven’t committed that have already crossed the Canes off of their list. Among those could be Tracy Howard. Rumored by many to have the state’s big three at the top of his list, this situation would greatly impact his choice if true. Tyriq McCord described Miami as a "perfect fit" only a few days ago. Is that still the case? The 'Canes are among the final six for Deon Bush, or at least they were. And that’s just a small sampling.
What you or I would do in a similar situation is irrelevant, but we are fans. We love the game. We’d like to think that the recruits do as well, that their goal is our goal — a national championship. With Miami’s recent history, the 'Canes may not have had a shot at one for a few years anyway, but if the NCAA brings down the hammer as many expect, even the smallest chance could go right out the window. The question then revolves around a recruit’s thought process and if that title dream even enters in. Let’s be honest: for some, it might not. Their goal may be to find the best place they can showcase their talents and have an NFL audition, and we all know Miami’s track record of turning college football players into professional football players. To those types, everything occurring might not matter. But not everyone falls into this category. There are plenty of programs out there that give an athlete the ability to prove himself for his future employer while also competing for national titles. Look no farther than this year’s no. 1 overall draft choice.
What eventually happens is, as with most of the recruiting process, anyone’s guess. The saying "anything is possible" couldn’t be more true after this week. Go back only a handful of days. You’ll see a world in which there was nothing more than minimal chatter about Texas A&M and the SEC and no talk about Miami’s program crumbling after a tell-all investigative report. We could be talking about anything in another few days. Miami’s class could still be 24 strong. It could also be 23, or 22, or even 25 players strong. But as I said before, it’s open season. Those Miami commitments aren’t signed and are being recruited by a number of other programs regardless of their verbal status. Now take that additional recruitment and amplify it, turn it up to 10 on the dial, multiply it and carry the one, do whatever you want that means everything just hit insanity.
Recruiting is a roller coaster with as many or more peaks and valleys as any other aspect of the sport. In a matter of moments, Miami was knocked down to the deepest of valleys and all others are looking to climb to the highest peak. Things didn’t just start to get interesting; they already were. But if you weren’t paying attention before, now’s a great time to start.