All's fair in love and war, but not in college recruiting.
Not that schools don't explore those boundaries, or in the case of Southern Cal, violate them repeatedly without conscience.
Now LSU Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron is the latest to test the limits of the rules, though some would say he's already gone past any measure of reasonable behavior and decency.
Today marks the start of the final weekend for football recruiting and U.C.L.A. has invited several of its favorite recruits to come to Westwood for their final official visits before National Letter of Intent signing day on Wednesday.
Three of those recruits are coming from the (very very cold) state of Louisiana. They include Devon Godchaux, a 4* DE who is committed to LSU, Kenny Young, a 4* LB who is reportedly high on U.C.L.A., and Malachi Dupre, a 5* WR who could be the huge play threat that the Bruins really need.
There was another person of note on their flight. Cam Cameron.
Desperation: When an LSU coach travels on same plane as recruits on their way to a #UCLA official visit.— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) January 31, 2014
Greater level of desperation: when he's on the same return flight home. #UCLA— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) January 31, 2014
And if you believe the follow up tweets citing both BRO and various LSU sources, Cameron actually sat next to Dupre on the flight and is also staying at the same hotel in Westwood where Bruin recruits and their families stay on official visits. Considering there are several thousand hotels in the Los Angeles area, this is no random coincidence as some intellectually dishonest Tiger supporters would claim.
There is no word on whether Cameron had any contact with Dupre on the flight. If he did, I'm guessing it wasn't to tell Dupre or the others that U.C.L.A. is one of the top 2 or 3 public schools in the U.S. and the degree is invaluable. Or that the Bruins' football program is already in the national championship conversation. Or that Dupre could be an immediate game breaker kind of player reeling in passes from a Heisman trophy candidate. Or that breakfast at Headlines is awesome.
I wonder if Coach Mora gave him Cameron an earful when he picked up the trio of high school kids at LAX, though I expect that Mora would be too classy to pull that. I actually hope he offered Cameron a ride. Nothing to fear, you know.
Like most D-1 coaches, I don't happen to know all the details of the recruiting rules. So I have no idea whether Cameron or any other coaching staff is permitted to talk to a recruit when the recruit is on an official visit which is being paid for by the host school. I do know that it is both bush league and smacks of desperation.
Of course, maybe I have Cameron all wrong. Maybe he's out visiting U.C.L.A. himself and looking out for his own skin and seeing if there is a better opportunity in Westwood. Sure, it's the other side of the ball, but we do have an open defensive coordinator spot, after all. Or maybe Cameron just wanted to see what it's like when it's the end of January and the weather report says 63, sunny, and no fire ants (48 and cloudy in Baton Rouge, for reference). Or maybe he wanted to see a University with gorgeous views and a gorgeous campus and gorgeous coeds, all of whom are all freakin intelligent to be there in the first place.
Or maybe I'm right, and Cameron is just freaked at the possibility of a prized recruit, or three, leaving his state and his program.
I remember one year in college where I was getting pretty concerned about my girlfriend's interest in a certain dude. However, I didn't go jealous creepy stalker and follow her on her spring break trip that particular year, where she did happen to end up shacking up with said dude. But all ends well. Those two are still married and have a family all these years later, so maybe that's the way it was supposed to work out and it's a good thing I didn't tamper with fate. I also met a different girl on my spring break trip that year coincidentally. Ahh, college....
Anyway, the point is that college football recruiting is a dirty game, although some people have pretty different thresholds for sleaze, and Cameron's threshold looks to be pretty far beyond most everyone else.
I specifically want to add that I don't want to paint LSU with the same broad stroke. We've had nothing but great interactions with PodKATT and the great folks at And the Valley Shook, and there is nothing to say that LSU or Coach Miles have anything to do with Cameron's actions. I'll leave it at that for now.
I'll finish with this perfect quote from our own IE Angel, who has plenty of personal experience with the college football recruiting process, who said this when we were all discussing this issue late last night.
I'd be so embarrassed if it came out that UCLA coaches did anything like that.
That's genuinely creepy. Win or lose on recruiting battles, I think it's basic morality to let the kids experience things pressure free. If the relationships a coach develops is genuine, they want the best for the player, not just to gobble up talent for personal gain. That's part of why I hate transfer rules so much.
Like everything else in the world besides physics, college football is all about money. Really really really big money. And it's clear that in the recruiting game money and its power outweighs things like trust, decency, or the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for 17 and 18 year olds to explore and discover and create their own way in life. Sad.