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NYT Story Re. Opulence In Recruiting & Building Relationships

In case you missed it, recently the New York Times ran a very interesting article giving us a little glimpse on what goes in the world of college recruiting. Thayer Evans from the NYT tracked the recruiting saga of Jamarkus McFarland, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle from Lufkin High School Texas, who is considered one of the best defensive recruits in America. The article got my attention for couple of reasons. First, it contained some unreal descriptions of what took place in Jamarkus’s recruiting trip to Texas (one of his four finalists which included LSU, Southern Cal, and OU). Secondly, the article contained couple of interesting tidbits wrt to his official visit for Southern Cal. He ultimately committed to Stoop’s OU program.

Anyway, here were the reports on what took place during one of his recruiting trip to Dallas, Texas, during the weekend of Texas/Oklahoma game:

He said he saw everything from flat-screen televisions in Texas Coach Mack Brown’s bathrooms to L.S.U.’s recruiting hostesses sitting on the laps of prospects.

But the best summation of his experience might have come from a paper he wrote for his English class comparing Oklahoma and Texas. The paper, “Red River Rivals Recruit,” includes a description of a wild party hosted by Longhorns fans at an upscale hotel in Dallas after the Oklahoma-Texas game on Oct. 11.

“I will never forget the excitement amongst all participants,” McFarland wrote. “Alcohol was all you can drink, money was not an option. Girls were acting wild by taking off their tops, and pulling down their pants. Girls were also romancing each other. Some guys loved every minute of the freakiness some girls demonstrated. I have never attended a party of this magnitude.”

He continued: “The attitude of the people at the party was that everyone should drink or not come to the party. Drugs were prevalent with no price attached.”

And here was what took place during his official trip to Texas:

McFarland had his official visit to Texas scheduled for two weeks later, the weekend of Nov. 8. Just days before, a false Internet report surfaced that he and his mother might not make the trip. The Longhorns began calling both of them so much that they almost did cancel the visit.

“Mama, I don’t even feeling like going,” McFarland told his mother. “I don’t want to do it.”

Before the visit, Adams called Texas and asked to speak with Brown. The associate head coach, Mac McWhorter, told her that she could talk only to him.

That bothered her because she had wanted to talk to Brown and commend him for the Longhorns’ dismissal of a player who had posted a racial slur on his Facebook page about President-elect Barack Obama.

During the trip, Adams said, she asked Brown about the Obama slur, and was told that the player had to be dismissed because the F.B.I. had become involved.

After Texas beat Baylor that weekend, McFarland and his mother ate dinner at Brown’s home. Flat-screen televisions were in every room, and there were two outside.

“Whose house do you like better, Bob Stoops’s, Les Miles’s or mine?” Adams recalled Brown saying.

Apparently his trip to Southern Cal was even more extravagant:

That opulence (he experienced during his official visit to Texas. BN Ed.) did not touch what McFarland saw on a visit to U.S.C. the weekend after Thanksgiving. After beating Notre Dame, U.S.C. players rented a stretch Hummer and took him to a party. It worried Adams that her son might become enthralled with such luxury.

Wish the report contained more detail on what took place during his trip to visit Petey Carroll’s program but I think we can get some idea if it was referred to as a more luxurious visit than the one he experienced in Texas. Also, I wonder if McFarland’s mom quizzed Pete Carroll about the racist facebook scandal involving the Trojan football program.

Anyway, as mentioned above, McFarland didn’t commit to either Texas or Southern Cal. According to the report he ultimately committed to the Oklahoma Sooners because Stoops and his staff (at least according to the report) did a better job of building a relationship with McFarland and his family early on. Now I am sure there are both sides to this recruiting story as this ultimately turned into an all out recruiting battle between Texas and Oklahoma but what was intriguing to me was the main point of the story which detailed the effort college coaches must put in to build strong bond with recruit’s families. I think this is an area UCLA will be well situated given Neuheisel’s natural charisma, command over details, and unmatched passion (at least on the public front) for UCLA. No doubt schools like Texas, Southern Cal and other programs will not shy away from throwing everything they have in going after elite recruits. For us to have a chance against the heavy weight programs it will be imperative for our coaches to use the power of networking and building relationships. Given what we have been reading this past year, I feel good about where we are headed in both short and long term future.


UPDATE - N: As I mentioned above there are two sides to this story. The NYT story was certainly written from the pov of a kid who eventually committed to Oklahoma. For the Texas side of the story make sure to read this well thought out post on Burnt Orange Nation. Again for me the most important part of the story was how it's imperative for college coaches to build meaninful relationship with recruits. On that front I think we are in good shape given what we have seen from Rick Neuehisel and his ability to talk up UCLA compared to his predecessors in Westwood from last two or three decades. GO BRUINS.