Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Oregon revisiting 'no visit' policy?
By Ted Miller
Interesting recruiting story here from ESPN.com's Mitch Sherman on schools that have a "no visit" policy for committed players, a group that included Oregon under Chip Kelly.
The idea is that once a player commits, he's committed. If he wants to look around, he's not really committed, therefore the school feels justified in yanking his scholarship.
The Pac-12 blog commented on the frustrations for fans and teams. But this is different. This is teams trying to gain leverage.
The policy seems to make sense on the surface. After all, college programs need to guard against the recruit who simply wants to reserve his spot in case nothing better develops. And the school's pledge to the committed prospect, in theory, provides insurance. If the recruit gets hurt, the coaches say they'll honor his scholarship.
Under closer inspection, the whole thing reeks of a certain hypocrisy and arrogance -- and, in the case of Texas, perhaps a hint of desperation.
Sherman notes the policy only works when your school is rated among the elite as a destination school. Oregon is that. Or perhaps was that with Chip Kelly at the helm. When Kelly bolted to the Philadelphia Eagles, the program the athletes had committed to became a different entity. So new coach Mark Helfrich wisely decided to be flexible with some of his top recruits.
Dontre Wilson of DeSoto (Texas) High School, who was among Oregon's top pledges, took visits to Texas and Ohio State and signed with the Buckeyes. Twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson of San Diego Lincoln visited USC and Washington while still committed to Oregon. Fellow pledge Darren Carrington of San Diego Heritage visited Arizona.
So much for the no-visit policy.
While the Robinsons and Carrington eventually landed in Helfrich's class, which slipped to No. 26 after the loss of Wilson, Kelly's policy meant little to anyone after he bolted. The Ducks' leverage disappeared. It can happen anywhere.
Those close to the Oregon program expect Helfrich to take a softer stance than Kelly in this area.
Here's how this works.
If you are a super-elite recruit, you can do what you want, though there are some coaches -- Kelly was one; Nick Saban is another -- who are secure enough that they sometimes will cast aside a player just to make a point. See how Kelly forced his top recruit, running back Thomas Tyner to decommit when Tyner wanted to visit UCLA. The visit never happened and Tyner recommitted and signed.
The policy certainly makes things easier for teams. They know where they stand with a player. You'd also hope the commitment goes both ways, with the school feeling an obligation to fulfill the scholarship offer, even if a more glittering prospect shows up.
It's important to note, however, a decommitment doesn't always hinge on a visit. A player could visit Alabama, USC, Indiana and Oregon in October, commit to Oregon in November, but then, upon getting a December offer from longtime favorite Indiana, dump the Ducks and commit to the Hoosiers.
A "no visit" policy intends to make the recruiting process less complex. But, as with most things, there are unintended consequences that tend to muck up efforts to make things simple.