Friday, August 29, 2008

Coach Cal's Recruiting Part II

There has been a huge backlash from Memphis fans after my post yesterday (both in the comments and on this message board) so instead of getting in arguments in either place, I'm going to post my defense and be done with it.

First of all, I want to make it clear that in no way was I trying to insinuate that Memphis and Kansas are the only two schools that partake in such tactics as offering package deal (Seth Davis has a nice list here) . Don't get me wrong, I think Calipari is a fantastic coach - he is incredibly loyal to his players, he is passionate about his team and winning, and I love the style that his Memphis team plays. I also am not so naive as to believe that Memphis is the only school that skirts the boundaries when it comes to recruiting, but it is very hard to overlook the fact that three people recently added in some degree to the University of Memphis all had ties to players being recruited by Memphis.

CJ Henry, as I said in my original post, is probably not a package deal. He used to be a top 10 recruit, he doesn't need a scholarship, and he had a prior relationship with Memphis (although, he did originally commit to Kansas, where both of his parents happened to go to school, and Kansas and Memphis are listed as Xavier's top two schools), but it still looks fishy to me. The hirings of Bilal Blately (Nolan Dennis) and Lamont Peterson (Tyreke Evans) were after both players were committed to Memphis, and both jobs are seasonal, non-salaried, with out benefits, and low-paying (I believe less than 35k). But you have these three issues as Calipari just finished saving face from the Gaddy-Bronzcek phone call, and this is the same guy who was the coach of the UMass Final Four team that had their season removed because of money that Marcus Camby was getting.

Can you crucify Calipari for the Camby thing alone? Probably not, especially since the NCAA has cleared him. Can you criticize him for the phone call by itself? Probably not, because most reports have it as an over-zealous booster. But when all of this stuff is piled on top of each other, how many times can you give the guy a pass. Either he is very good at keeping his nose out of the dirt, or he is a guy that doesn't have complete control over his programs. Neither are good things to say about a coach.

But, I am willing to wager everything I own on every other big time school in the country having things like this happen, including my UConn Huskies. It is a flawed system, rather than a flawed coach, which is why I have no problem saying that Coach Cal is one of the three or four best coaches in the game right now.

With all that said, the point of the post in the first place wasn't the rip apart the Memphis program or to criticize Cal. It was to say that I didn't agree with the idea that hiring a parent or coach of a recruit is a bad thing, although it is technically illegal (the rule is poorly written, which is why teams can get away with it. These are the five rules that deal explicitly with this problem, if you are interested). College basketball is a cutthroat world, and I don't see a problem with allowing a kid to have someone there with him that he knows and trusts, as long as the person that was hired gets the normal pay.

There are a lot of things wrong with the college basketball recruiting process and amateur basketball, and this does not seem like one of the most important.

1 comment:

MTiger said...

"With all that said, the point of the post in the first place wasn't the (sic) rip apart the Memphis program or to criticize Cal."

Hey, relax Rob. Why even "post your defense?" Heck, anyone who would think an article entitled "Coach Cal and His Shady Recruiting" was intended to criticize Cal would have to be delusional.

And if anyone did arrive at the wrong conclusion on the first article, your following it up with this piece should certainly clear up any misunderstandings, especially the parts where you accuse Cal of asking Bronzcek to call Gaddy's mother to influence him to come to Memphis (on which Bronzcek and Cal both agree that no one asked him to do so and Gaddy's mother states that no pressure was put on her at all) and of having inside information about Marcus Camby receiving money from an agent (which the NCAA has already investigated and dismissed -- by the way, how old are you and how do you know stuff that happened in Massachusetts 20 years ago?)

But your chief defense would have to be the statement "Milt Wagner worked for Memphis for six years as a result of his son DaJuan deciding to play there." Wow. I wonder what DaJuan, who is planning a "comeback" since he hasn't even played in the NBA in years, had on Cal to make him keep his dad for 5 years AFTER HE LEFT THE PROGRAM? And what kind of idiot was Tony Barbee, who had worked with him on staff the entire time and hired him as his assistant when he got the head job at UTEP?

I don't know, maybe your best work was exemplified when you quoted the NCAA rule as "When an institution hires an individual who has either coached or is related to a prospect who ultimately enrolls" and then stated the obvious problem with trying to make that fit the situation, "The hirings of Bilal Blately (Nolan Dennis) and Lamont Peterson (Tyreke Evans) were after both players were committed to Memphis" but still concluded "But when all of this stuff is piled on top of each other." ALL WHAT STUFF?

Whatever you do about this sports caster idea, don't quit your day job. Oh, by the way, we OWNED UConn last year. How did you and Calhoun like that?