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The larger meaning of Bryce Brown

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I don't care where Bryce Brown goes to college.

It's my job, however, to inform you the latest on the highly rated running back. And the latest is Bryce Brown is fasting.

Why? My cynical guess is his "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler" wanted another headline on his Web page that exploits... er, mentor/trains Brown.

That link says Brown is fasting so he can make his decision between a host of schools, including Oregon and perhaps USC.

He's fasting because, "We would hope that everyone understands that this is the most important decision of Bryce's life."

And therein lies the utter lack of perspective surrounding the folks who are exploiting Brown.

This is not the most important decision in Bryce Brown's life. Not even close. When Brown looks back on his life 60 years hence, it likely won't rank in his top 10.

The truth is his and his family's decision to allow a "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler" to attach himself to Brown, is a much bigger decision than whatever school Brown chooses.

It's certainly netted more publicity. The negative kind.

Brown can get a great education wherever he goes to college. He just has to look for it and care about it.

Brown can earn All-American honors wherever he goes to college. He just has to put up the numbers.

Brown can go to the NFL wherever he goes to college. He just has to be good enough.

Fact is, there is little difference between BCS programs. The biggest differences between Oregon, LSU, Tennessee, Miami and USC? Climate. Demographics. Traffic. Jersey color.

Football teams? They all block and tackle and practice hard. There are temptations and dubious entitlements and potential roads to ruin -- and success -- at every school.

But Brown and his family's decision to put a "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler" at the attention-getting center of Brown's life is a decision that likely will have lasting ramifications.

Brown will start his college life and football career known mostly as the guy who had a "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler" involved in his recruitment, unlike the other 99.99 percent of prep athletes who were able to make a decision by national signing day on their own.

Fair or unfair, it will stigmatize him.

Think veteran players will pick at him about it? Endlessly.

But let's say Brown shuts everyone up by rolling up huge numbers and proves to be a good teammate and citizen off the field.

Up next? The NFL.

And the first thing Brown will be asked about at the NFL combine? "Is that 'Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler' still around?"

Brown should say "thanks for the help but it's time for me to become a man on my own" to his "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler."

He should stand on his own two feet and make his own decisions.

Further, parents of potential elite recruits, please understand this as a cautionary tale.

Anytime a guy volunteers to play a role as a "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler" to your son, say "No thanks."

He will add nothing.

All the schools that pursued Brown would have done so without him having a "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler."

There are few secrets in recruiting these days, and considering Brown topped most lists as the nation's No. 1 running back, the elite programs would have come to him ready to tap dance and make googly eyes at him without any prodding from a "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler."

Elite recruits, such as Brown, don't need help.

And, at 18 years of age, they should be able to make a college decision on their own.

What good might come of this?

Perhaps all the negative attention means this is the last we'll hear about a self-indulgent "Mentor/Trainer not Street Agent/Handler" in recruiting.

But I doubt it.