Larry Blustein

FRIDAY FOCUS –The Word ‘Commitment’ Has Become Hollow - At Best!

Larry Blustein
December 14, 2018 - 10:26 am

If you are surprised with the recent de-commitments at the University of Miami, maybe you need to follow today’s recruiting a little bit closer.

Having been around recruiting cycles in high school for 49 years, you tend to roll with times and understand that NOTHING is for sure. You also see some things that have become part of this big money relationship between high school and college football.

When we started to follow, promote and evaluate high school football locally, statewide and nationally in the early 1970’s and throughout much of the 80’s, there were very few people involved in this process. But today, never before have so many people gotten involved with an athlete and the way he is recruited. 

For someone who is as progressive as anyone when it comes to this, I am also a lot old school – and remember when guiding athletes to one college or another was done by parents and the college coaches - and not by someone who believes that they have the athlete’s best interest in mind.

Recruiting didn’t just get this way. For decades it was perceived as the colleges with the most money would end up winning battles – and for the most part – if you look back through the 1970’s – it was true.

But with Howard Schellenberger setting the table for the Hurricanes’ run, the late 70’s only ushered in an era where 4 and 5-star athletes meant nothing. Miami was winning with players that very few major programs were looking at, and they more than held their own, proving that solid coaching and discipline won games and end up attracting players.

What Howard did at a small, private school is get local kids from Orlando to Key West to buy in – and they did. Sure, they lost mega Miami-Dade and Broward stars, but went after football talent that they evaluated – and not looking at list from people who knew more how to write than project and evaluate talent.

When all is said and done, I am indeed a realist and fully comprehend that everyone wants their slice of the pie – and every college coach in America has come to grips with it.

Many of these youth coaches have taught the game to these budding superstars – and have given plenty of solid advice. But there is also the other side that is NOT good and will never be appreciated.

What recruiting has come down to is a lack of respect for programs. Using the word commitment has become hollow. It means nothing anymore. Not what it did back in the day.

Have we gotten to the point where someone’s word means nothing at all? Is there nothing that we have been taught that would make us think that by making a pledge and then taking that pledge away, it would end up hurting someone – somewhere?

I recalled the other day when former Carol City head football coach Walt Frazier told then University of Maryland assistant Ruben Carter, (who had grown up in south Florida, attending Stranahan and the University of Miami), that if he offers one his players, that offer stands and cannot be taken away.

While Carter was stunned by Frazier’s comment, he was more relaxed when this classy coach told him: “if my athlete commits to your school, he will never back off that commitment. Around here we value that word.”

To put University of Miami fans – and fans in general – in a better mood as we approach the first National Signing Day next week – those athletes who cut ties with this program were “in the moment” prospects.

A majority of football talent that had committed the “U” did it because of the Virginia Tech and Notre Dame domination last year. They did it because of a 10-0 start and high national ranking. They did because Paradise Camp and meeting head coach Mark Richt at a lineman camp or a 7-on-7 event.

“For the ‘in the moment’ athlete, it’s convenient for them to commit when the iron is hot,” said Dana Wiley from South Florida Prep Films. “That immediate response gets page views on the internet and gives that athlete that 15 minutes of fame. The sense of loyalty is no longer in place.”

But as much as the athlete has to do what they do in the process, the colleges are busy year round, guarding against de-commitments and having that backup plan. The stakes are way too high.

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each Tuesday night (8-9) on WQAM (560AM - https://wqam.radio.com/media/podcast/south-florida-high-school-sports-radio). For the past 11 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot about football recruiting!