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Social media making college recruiting even crazier

The internet has brought many benefits to society, but there have been detriments as well, especially in the realm of social media. People post and share anything, and it’s nigh impossible to figure out what among it is actually true. I actually began a new web show ridiculing fake news stories because of this.

This is very much the case in sports as well. Any and all rumors will get sprawled all over Facebook and Twitter, fact checking be damned.

That has proven apparent as National Signing Day has drawn closer, and it appears that recruits everywhere are taking to one of the most infamous online practices: Trolling.

There have likely been multiple types of issues, but perhaps the most infamous of late has been that of Allen’s Kyler Murray, the supposed commit to Texas A&M. That is, until a few weeks back when he posted on Twitter an image of a University of Texas jersey. This came just after his friend DaMarkus Lodge had done the same.

Naturally, everyone pounced on this and went into a frenzy. Aggies on fan forums began roasting the five-star Murray for betraying them, claiming how A&M was losing recruits because the athletes were too “weak” to handle the SEC.

And… it all pretty much amounted to nothing, as just a few days ago, Murray sent another Tweet reading “Following my heart… #GigEm.”

It should be noted that the allure of another college may not even be the greatest threat toward Murray’s chances of actually playing in College Station, as USA Today recently reported that many baseball scouts believe he may have an even brighter future in that sport; it may very well depend on how much money the pro baseball leagues are willing to throw at him.

And it looks like Texas didn’t come up empty-handed in this, as reports are now saying that four-star quarterback Kai Locksley has switched his commitment from Florida State to come to Austin.

But ultimately, this is what happened: Kyler Murray punk’d you all. Did what he did get you all talking about him? Mission accomplished, then. He never had to make such a change, but he got his name back in the headlines for a few more days, stroking his own ego.

All of this is why I have been reluctant to talk too much about recruiting in the past few days and make a huge fuss about who has announced where and what school and what player has reportedly flip flopped. This has always been a part of the recruiting season, but it’s only going to get worse thanks to social media. And it’s going to be another one of those lessons that people never learn.

More than ever, this is why it has to be re-affirmed that “commitments” to college are all unofficial until the moment the recruits sign that letter of intent, which will start happening today. Only then will we actually know who is going where.

In the meantime, the recruits, a lot more savvy with the Internet than many of the writers covering them, will find new ways with the technology to troll them. And the writers will fall for it and keep feeding the athletes’ egos.


TCU, A&M are Having to Learn Some Hard Lessons

We still have a month to go before the meaningful college basketball games get started, so I guess if I’m going to talk about college sports, I gotta talk about football.

Not that there’s much to talk about that’s very good all of a sudden. Three years ago, absolutely. But now, one of the “little programs that could” suddenly isn’t now that it’s with the big boys.

Geographically speaking, TCU belongs in the Big 12, and it was a move they should have been able to make long ago. But fitting in regionally is still one thing; whether or not they can compete regularly sadly still remains to be seen.

After six 10+ win seasons in the previous seven years, the Frogs’ inaugural Big 12 season saw them finish 7-6 and not win a conference game at home. The next year did not get better, finishing 4-8.

Injuries and inexperience may have played a big part, especially given that more than half their conference losses were by a field goal’s margin. But the one that really stung had to be that Saturday night on Oct. 26. With the mighty but supposedly fallen Texas Longhorns coming to Amon Carter for the first time since 1994, Frog fans were prepared to kick the Horns while they were down. Instead, they got a three-hour storm delay and a 30-7 whooping after that.

The last game couldn’t have been much better, losing at home – to Baylor. The school that for years had supposedly been proving the conference made the wrong decision in picking them, now standing tall as being one of the best in the country. The first two years had so far proven that little private schools like the one in Fort Worth perhaps couldn’t compete with the big boys after all – except that the little private school in Waco was now doing so.

Still, I’m sure TCU believes joining the Big 12 was the right decision, and I do respect their reasons. While other schools keep bolting conferences to whichever one can get them more TV money, with TCU, I’ve always had the feeling the desire to be in the Big 12 lied in getting back to more regional matchups and renewing rivalries with old Southwest Conference foes. (And I’m sure that desire also remains with SMU and other former SWC schools that have not been as lucky).

That can’t be said for the school down in College Station. And while Texas A&M may not have had as bad a season as TCU, the disappointment there has to be greater – and is more deserved for its arrogance.

Following their fast-track entry into the Southeastern Conference that saw them beat Alabama and ESPN loverboy Johnny Manziel, the Aggies were beyond certain that this year would prove they made the right decision in telling every other school in Texas to eff off and their fans to get excited for playing the likes of Auburn and Ole Miss. They were going to prove that moving to the SEC was no big deal after having to settle for being UT’s lapdog so many years in the Big 12, and now they were among the best.

That came crashing down quickly with a 3-3 second half that included losing their last two games. Instead of playing the Longhorns on Thanksgiving like they’re supposed to do, two days after Turkey Day the Aggies got beat by fellow Big 12 mutineer Missouri to finish the regular season a pedestrian 8-4 and a .500 record in the SEC.

Chew on this, Aggies. You finished with the same record as North Texas. Rice is going to play for a conference championship, and you’re not.

The wake-up call was loud and clear. By being the new guys, Texas A&M has a target on its back by the conference who’s consecutive national titles I’ve lost count of. And they’re probably going to have to do a lot more if they’re going to move up the SEC rankings (including a few things I can’t mention without libel accusations).

Don’t expect either of these schools or their supporters to be backpedaling, though.

Gary Patterson insists he knew preparing for the increased competition in the Big 12 would take time. His program is hoping the likes of DeSoto’s Desmon White or All Saints’ Foster Sawyer will solve their quarterback issues.

Texas A&M, meanwhile, appears to still have confidence in where they’re going, giving Kevin Sumlin a six-year contract extension. No one’s expecting Johnny Wonderboy, or whatever his name of the week currently is, to be wearing maroon next year, so now it’s really put-up-or-shut-up to see if the Aggies can bring in recruiting classes they’ll need in the SEC.

It remains to be seen if the local guys in Fort Worth will bounce back quicker than the ones in College Station. But so far, this hasn’t been what either school has hoped for with their new digs.

Manziel and Big-Time College Athletes Don’t Know How Good They Have It

I’ll give John Manziel this much credit. He clearly knows how to make money off of his name. He’s going to need that ability, as I doubt he’ll be playing much football once his time at Texas A&M is over, which may or may not happen soon.

Like I’m sure many are, I’m beyond tired of hearing what Johnny Goofball/Johnny Lohan/Johnny Khardashian or whatever you want do call him is doing next. But this most recent one is a biggie for sure, with reports that the most overly hyped college athlete out there took money from vendors in exchange for autographing so much stuff that his season might be in jeopardy from carpal tunnel. Or from the fact that that’s a pretty big no-no by the NCAA’s standards.

At first, it looked like Johnny getting the boot was a given. Then the press went and turned on the NCAA, pointing out how much stuff related to Johnny they were selling on their own website. Suddenly, people were no longer lashing out at a spoiled brat acting out like the rules don’t apply to him but instead going back to whining about the rules being unfair.

The NCAA actually acquiesced, and suddenly player shirts and jerseys were no longer for sale via the official NCAA shop. But the damage was done, with yet another outcry for the “owners” of college sports to stop profiteering and start actually  paying their athletes.

The ironic thing is that Manziel is one guy who more than anything is not hurting for money; he could have gone to A&M sans scholarship thinks to his supposedly wealthy parents. (I say supposedly because, according to guys like RIchie Whitt, Manziel’s family may not be as well off as some think.)

Yet he has become the new cover boy for the opponents of the NCAA’s strict guidelines on amateurism, saying it’s so unfair that student athletes generate so much revenue and get nothing in return.

Right. They’re getting shafted because all they get is a completely free ride to the college of their choice with room, board and no fear of leaving with any type of student debt. This argument is as old as what it’s arguing against, and it still stands.

Their supporters clam big time athletes should have the financial freedom to attend movies and buy their school’s own expensive clothing like everyone else. Never mind that most students who also work jobs can’t afford those activities either because they’re salvaging every dime they can to pay their student loans.

But above all that is the one factor so many ignore. Johnny Manziel and the athlete who could, in theory, deserve compensation, are the minority. Same goes for the schools that could actually afford to pay them.

To listen to the likes of Jay Bilas and Jason Whitlock, you would think every school in the nation that plays Division I football and/or basketball is a cash cow franchise that is just churning out millions of dollars on the backs of its beleaguered, hard-working, exploited athletes. Nothing could be further from the truth. For every University of Texas, there is a University of Texas-San Antonio, a school who’s entire athletics budget practically equals Mack Brown’s salary alone and struggles to stay within that. They don’t have obscenely wealthy boosters willing to fund UT’s decision to fly its entire football team to Dallas for its annual game vs OU, when Dallas is just a three-hour drive from Austin.

It doesn’t matter what sort of “compensation plan” these so-called experts could come up with that they think is fair, because 90 percent of the colleges out there still wouldn’t be able to pay it. I don’t think enough people know quite how bad the disparity between the haves and have-nots is; it’s already similar to forcing AA and AAA baseball teams to play against the majors every year, and you want to make it even worse? It’s bad enough that small schools have to subject themselves to getting blown out on Big U’s home field in exchange for a big check. (Really, UT? You’ll buy yourself an easy win vs New Mexico State but you won’t play A&M any more?)

Thus you would essentially destroy college sports by making it financially impossible for almost all of the schools who don’t play in those elite conferences (are there still six of those? My head’s still spinning from all the realignment.) to field a team. They now have to offer stipends for their athletes along with a full scholarship for a chance to compete? Hundreds of schools would be forced to say “I’m out.”

I will not deny that I am biased from having seen this first hand for years. My alma mater, UT-Arlington, hasn’t played football at even the I-AA level since Back to the Future was in theaters. As long as I can recall, our men’s basketball team couldn’t offer the maximum number of 13 scholarships; I can only hope that moving to College Park Center has helped alleviate this. What they do have, however, is an athletics program with integrity. They have never faced NCAA sanctions for cheating. They make sure they get student athletes who go to class. They graduate players.

There are actually more UTAs out there than University of Miamis, who just look to buy football players over real student athletes. The schools who use athletics the right way – allowing kids to use their abilities toward getting an education – greatly outnumber those who are using America’s obsession with football to make millions of dollars.

But too many people with microphones and keyboards think the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

Allowing the elite schools and programs to pay their athletes could only work if they were barred from competing against the rest of the NCAA programs. That’s even less likely to happen.

So, sorry to offend anyone, but here’s my take on Johnny Manziel and his cronies saying student athletes are being treated unfairly: Shut up.

You think it’s not fair that you toil for an organization that profits off your work without actually “compensating” you? Tell it to the millions of people who work unpaid internships during and after college just in the hopes that the experience will lead to something bigger.

Almost every athlete who could make money off himself from his play in college will once he’s eligible for the pros to come calling. Or, in the case of Manziel, just selling his own name.

The majority shouldn’t be forced to suffer just because you guys can’t be patient.