Five memorable Pac-10 recruiting moments
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
With national signing day just around the corner, we're joining the other ESPN.com conference bloggers in recalling memorable recruiting moments.
Of course, the nature of the Pac-10 blog's memory might be a bit different, leaning toward the strange instead of the player-personnel moments.
1. Kevin Hart decides to play for California -- Not!: Hart, an offensive lineman, became the first FBS player from Fernley, Nev., when last year he picked the Bears over Oregon, saying, "Coach [Jeff] Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind of gave me that real personal experience." Only problem was: Hart had never talked to Tedford and wasn't offered a scholarship, by Cal or any other FBS program. He'd made his entire recruitment up and then staged a ceremony at the high school in front of television cameras.
2. Pete Carroll arrives at USC: USC had always recruited well, but Carroll has created a recruiting juggernaut that might even eclipse what Bobby Bowden had going at Florida State during its run of dominance in the 1990s. In 2001 and 2002, Carroll's first two seasons at Troy, UCLA finished atop the Pac-10 recruiting rankings. Since then, USC has owned the top spot every year and hasn't been ranked out of the nation's top-10. In fact, the Trojans have finished No. 1 in the nation, according to at least one of the major services, five times over the previous six years.
3. J.J. Arrington signs with Oregon -- Not!: Oregon and California were in a tight battle for the services of touted junior college running back J.J. Arrington in 2003. On the last night a JC player could sign a letter of intent, Arrington told Oregon assistant Gary Campbell that he wanted to be a Duck. Only the midnight deadline passed without a signed letter, with Arrington having second thoughts. According to the LA Times, "Campbell went to the hotel where Arrington was staying, and the player forged his father's signature and falsified the time on the letter of intent." When Cal uncovered the subterfuge and complained, Oregon released Arrington and Campbell was suspended and not allowed to recruit off-campus for a year.
4. Dirty recruiting 2002: Then-Washington coach Rick Neuheisel told reporters on signing day in 2002 that he felt like he needed to hose himself off because of all the dirty recruiting going on against him, specifically naming Oregon and UCLA. To support his case, Neuheisel pointed out that Oregon had been running a video at Autzen Stadium that juxtaposed an image of him with a movie scene of people vomiting. Lovely. As for then-UCLA coach Bob Toledo trying to lure offensive lineman Clay Walker away from Washington, Neuheisel said: "Bob Toledo tells (Walker) that 'if I'm gone, you don't think (Neuheisel) is going to be the next head coach at UCLA?' I mean Bob Toledo is basically telling (Walker) he's going to get fired." Toledo did get fired. And who's UCLA's coach now? Just saying.
5. Bolden's hat spat: On national signing day 2007, touted cornerback prospect Omar Bolden sat in a television studio with three hats in front of him: USC, Washington and Oregon State. Most assumed he was about to don the USC hat. He flipped the Huskies and Beavers hats aside. He picked up the USC hat. Then he tossed the hat away, reached behind himself and produced an Arizona State hat. "I ain't going to be no Trojan... I'm going to be an Arizona State Sun Devil," he said. The move went over way better in Tempe than at Heritage Hall.