|Hood: The word "commitment" has lost its meaning|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 10:46 AM||
Welcome to the world of college football recruiting, where a person’s word is good for only a day.
I have a friend named Bruce who cares nothing about college football or recruiting, a man who lives his life by a certain code, and he would rather kill himself than break that code. His word is his bond, and if he tells you he is going to do something, it will get done. He doesn’t cut corners, and words such as honor and commitment and integrity mean something to him and aren’t just something you see on a commercial about the Marine Corps or read in a book. It was something passed down to him by his father, and probably passed down from his grandfather to his father.
I kidded him via text not too long back - he was frustrated that the people and the bosses in his workplace don’t live by the same code that he does, and it has cost him money time and time again. He expects everyone to live by the same ideals he lives under, and when people fail to live up to those expectations, he winds up disappointed and disillusioned with the way that things are today.
I sent him a text and kidded him, told him that he was a dinosaur, a relic of an age gone by when gentlemen considered a handshake a binding agreement and your personal guarantee was a matter of honor. He laughed, and admitted that he belongs in another era.
And that’s a shame.
It’s also shame that more and more of our young people can’t learn a little something from my friend, a point driven home the more that I cover college football recruiting, where young men hold coaches and schools hostage and expect them to live by their word, yet offer no guarantees in return.
Clemson coaches learned that Monday morning, when previous commitments DeMarcus Robinson DeMarcus Robinson
View Full Profile and Ryan Jenkins Ryan Jenkins
View Full Profile announced – a month before National Signing Day – that they were headed elsewhere.
Robinson’s recruitment has been full of drama since day one, his school of choice changing almost daily. His high school coach wanted him at Clemson, his mother seemingly wanted him at Florida and the young man himself never seemed to make up his mind about where he wanted to be. The good news for all of the college coaches involved is that Robinson is supposed to enroll at Florida sometime this week – given another week or another month, he might have changed his mind four or five more times and held even more schools and coaches hostage to his whims.
And therein lies one of the true downsides to college recruiting – coaches had been allowed to over-sign on signing day and then cut prospects that don’t measure up, while recruits use their leverage to beg college coaches to not recruit anyone else at their position or try to get their buddies scholarship offers with empty promises.
Coaches have to deal with a prospect getting angered if another prospect that plays their position makes an official visit, yet see that same prospect spend hours each night on Twitter re-tweeting posts from fans of other programs. Where is the commitment? There isn’t any, it’s as non-existent as a verbal commitment can be, more of an idea than anything tangible.
Clemson has seen its share of this drama this season – No. 1 recruit and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche Robert Nkemdiche
View Full Profile committed to Clemson last June, but only after he made it known that his buddy David Kamara David Kamara
View Full Profile would be a nice incentive for his verbal. He then made it known that he had another buddy in Ryan Carter Ryan Carter
View Full Profile, and that if Clemson’s coaches would pony up another offer, he would be as good as signed.
A few months later, Nkemdiche has fallen prey to his own immaturity and the legions of people who have input into his life, and the shame of it all is that sometimes the best voice to follow is the one you hear inside your own heart and mind. However, that voice is all but drowned out by those who want a piece of a young player’s future, the adults who have input and make a young man listen. Unfortunately for Nkemdiche – who is by all accounts a fine young man - his promises to the Clemson coaches are as empty as the Ole Miss trophy shelves have been over the past 20 years.
I see other Clemson commitments and commitments from other schools playing the social media game, using tools such as Twitter and Facebook to gain legions of followers who can stroke their ego at all hours of the day, grown men and women begging for a piece of a teenager and acting as recruiting agents for their favorite program.
There are a few that make a commitment and stand by it – Grayson’s Wayne Gallman Wayne Gallman
View Full Profile has let everyone know he is a Tiger through and through and his commitment hasn’t wavered as his teammates play the “flavor of the day” game. It is young men like Gallman who turn into future leaders, but they don’t get the attention that the others receive.
In today’s day and age – the electronic age – the attention span of young people is no longer than the time it takes to send a quick text message that is barely readable by the older generation. What looks new and shiny today is old and forgotten by tomorrow. A school that impresses one day is forgotten the next as they move on to the next greatest thing.
I have often wondered about Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile’s policy about not allowing verbal commits to take visits elsewhere. Deep down, I’ve wondered if his harsh policy hurts recruiting more than it helps, leaving young men to wonder if they’ve made the right decision.
I will wonder no longer. Swinney is merely doing what Bruce’s father did to him and my father did to me – trying to make young men understand that there are lessons to be learned from the old ways, and that there is more to being a man than just re-tweeting the ramblings of sycophantic followers on social media sites. Sometimes being a man means honoring something you have committed to.
Alas, I know that it will never happen. The good old days are gone, and men like Bruce Kingsbury will soon pass into lore, fables we will tell our children and grandchildren about along with other men of honor that have passed through history.
It’s doubtful that many of those stories will concern the ideology of today’s young football players, the same players who happen to be the heroes of fawning fan bases.
And that’s a shame.
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