Florida running backs coach Brian White apparently "bumped" Curtis Samuel, a running back/athlete from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., in April; this much is more or less indisputable, because that ended up being written up at Inside the Gators, Rivals' Florida site. Ohio State's compliance office told The Columbus Dispatch's Tim May on Wednesday that it turned White in to the Big Ten office for a possible NCAA recruiting violation, this is also indisputable, unless you think an Ohio State spokesman is telling flat-out lies to reporters.
What is disputable is Urban Meyer's involvement, because while Meyer flatly denied being responsible for turning in White to the Dispatch and to The Gainesville Sun, Clay Travis has "sources" saying that "Meyer and Ohio State" turned in White for the violation, and his story of Meyer turning in a man he hired at Florida and his former school over a big-time recruit is the breathless stuff that makes message boards hum.
White's visit to Erasmus Hall happened on April 16, the second day of the NCAA's Evaluation Period for the 2012-13 recruting calendar, and NCAA rules prohibit off-campus contact between recruiters and recruits during Evaluation Periods. Here's the relevant NCAA rule:
An evaluation period is a period of time when it is permissible for authorized athletics department staff members to be involved in off-campus activities designed to assess the academic qualifications and playing ability of prospective student-athletes. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts shall be made with the prospective student-athlete during an evaluation period.
So, great: White reportedly broke that NCAA rule, as Samuel told Inside the Gators he had a "face-to-face meeting" with White, and was offered a scholarship. Samuel later contacted Inside the Gators to say that Will Muschamp, not White, offered the scholarship, but White's actions as reported by Samuel are in excess of the standard for violation of that rule — even if Samuel approached White, instead of the reverse — according to my reading.
The NCAA, however, disagrees with me: The Dispatch notes that "White was found not to have committed a violation," and the Sun reports that Florida was "cleared of wrongdoing" by the SEC and NCAA and that the only consequence Florida has suffered was White having to stay off the recruiting trail for three days during the NCAA's investigation.
With White's actions done and innocent determined, though, this story once again becomes Ohio State turning in Florida for recruiting violations. There's one problem with that being played up as sensational and dramatic, as Travis does: It's what Ohio State, and any school, is supposed to do.
Meyer told Pat Dooley of the Sun that, while he wasn't aware of the possible violation being reported, the practice of turning in potential violations is "standard procedure," something backed up by Pac-12 Networks writer (and former recruiting writer) Bryan Fischer. The Sun's additional detail, that Ohio State turned in Florida in 2012 regarding a ride given to recruit Jordan Sherit by a friend who was a Florida player, reinforces the idea that this is more commonplace than Travis thinks, and undercuts this notion:
Meyer's willingness to turn in a former coach - one he hired - as well as the program he led for six seasons is unheard of in college athletics. Indeed, no one Outkick the Coverage talked with could recall a former coach turning in his former program and a former assistant coach.
Coaches and programs turn in other coaches and programs for recruiting violations rather routinely, and Meyer has routinely been at the center of a number of prominent recent instances of that, whether in regards to his and Lane Kiffin's recruitment of Nu'Keese Richardson in 2009, the rumors that he had something to do with NCAA investigations into Mississippi State's and Auburn's recruitments of Cam Newton, or Bret Bielema alleging Meyer's Ohio State staff "bumped" a prospect in 2011. (Meyer turning in Mississippi State would, of course, mean turning in his former offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen.) The vast majority of "recruiting violations" are benign, and sometimes not even violations, as this case with White proves. And the contact alleged here apparently did nothing for Florida's chances with Samuel: Even though he's remained a high-profile prospect, and was, ironically, catching passes from Florida commit Will Grier at The Opening on Wednesday, Samuel isn't considering Florida. Those observations are less exciting than "MEYER TURNS IN FORMER ASSISTANT," but seem more true and fair.
This also seems more true, at least to me: The use of short-sighted hyperbole to buttress scarce and skimpy facts is a Clay Travis staple, will remain so as he begins his new gig as a columnist with FOX Sports, and does him no favors as a journalist.