February 2nd was officially the NCAA Letter of Intent day. The day all high school football players announce the new College they will attend in the fall. It’s been a time-honored tradition, sometimes over-shadowing the game itself.
However lately, the athletes have taken this to a new level. It seems now the player wants the stage all to himself. A chance to shine above all others, looking down from their perch. Not sharing the spotlight with competitors or even your future teammates. That is what this day has become, or rather the subsequent days.
It started 3 years ago with the recruitment of Terrell Pryor. Pryor was the outstanding quarterback entering college from Pennsylvania. Highly touted and much recruited. Pryor could do no wrong, except pick a school on time. You see it appears Pryor was perplexed, unsure of the school he wanted to attend. Would it be The Ohio State University, or Michigan who at the time, had just hired a new head coach in Rich Rodriquez. Certainly a plumb like Pryor would have endeared Rodriquez to his new alumni buddies.
The rest is history. Pryor chose to play for the Buckeyes days after the National Letter of Intent day, almost two weeks after. But he had the pulpit all to himself. ESPN flogged all over this youngster, waiting for his decision. All Pryor needed was a microphone and a room full of reporters to take the stage from all the others and announce his decision.
This method was perpetuated this past summer, and it wasn’t by a high school football player. It was none other than the NBA’s LeBron James. James chose to have his swan song in Cleveland held at a Boy’s club in Connecticut and broadcast nationwide on ESPN. It was a suggestion by his entourage he approved, and to date has not been able to live down. He was the only free agent to make his decision on such a stage, and not only did it enrage the fans in Cleveland, but also players all over the NBA. James has yet to live down his “decision” to broadcast the “Decision.”
Then today, the latest. A touted Defensive end waiting the extra 12 days to make his choice on the school he would go to this fall. Jadeveon Clowney told reporters he woke up last Tuesday night, almost one week ago, and walked into his mother’s bedroom to announce he wanted to play at South Carolina for Steve Spurrier. Wooed by Clemson and Alabama, Clowney chose the school that is 70 miles from home. An understandable decision.
What’s confusing is the timing. Why the wait? Why the show? Why the calling of a press conference just to announce the chosen school? All good questions that nobody bothered to ask. More important to the press were the 12 years his father spent in prison. His character in doubt, Clowney was the premier defensive end in high school with 29.5 sacks. He stands 6-6 and weighs 250. To date, Clowney still has not qualified academically to play at the Division One level.
It’s a growing fad. Making the college pick after everyone else. It’s a legal thing to do, according to the NCAA. The choice for D-1 players is April 1. But it’s bothersome as more and more players opt for the spotlight rather than the team. Pryor started it. LeBron encouraged it, and Clowney is struggling academically to use it.