Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Tajh Boyd Predicament

I'm a hypocrite. I'm guilty of everything which I am going to write and complain about below. I have fallen victim to the high school football star, the next big thing, and the must-get recruit that Ohio State can't possibly succeed without. I log on to the Insider's boards to read the sketchy accounts of Player X's being spotted jogging in blue and orange colored track shorts, a clear indication of his unspoken desire to play for the Gators and Urban Meyer. I read the interviews and watch the videos, trying to ascertain Player Y's level of love for the Scarlet and Grey. And when a recruit, to whom I've dedicated countless hours researching and fawning over decides to commit to another team, I feel both betrayed and disgusted. And my thoughts turn negative, along the lines of - to hell with Player Z, the Buckeyes' don't really need him, he was overrated anyways.

Yesterday, Tajh Boyd made me realize just how ridiculous the college football and basketball recruiting processes are. Boyd, a five-star, consensus top 5 high school quarterback, committed to Clemson. Which would have been fine, had Boyd not called the Ohio State coaching staff to commit, yesterday morning. Not only that, but apparently Boyd was speaking with the coaching staff of Oregon telling them the same sort of thing. This, of course, was after Tajh initially committed to West Virginia, and then to Tennessee.

While I respect Boyd's final decision, I cannot condone how he handled his recruiting. It's one thing for a player to keep his options open, to visit a number of schools and to express his honest interest in each one. It's another to flat out lie to several programs, impacting not only the program itself but other high school players whose offers may have been affected by your actions. For example, OSU offered QB Austin Boucher a scholarship last night, after he had committed to Miami of Ohio earlier in the week, even though Boucher has expressed interest in OSU for awhile now. Boucher was most likely told that with Boyd presumably committing to OSU, the Buckeyes had no place for him. Now OSU is forced to go back to Boucher and say, you know what, we want you after all. And Boucher, who will be playing with his brother at Miami if he remains there, has to decide if he's willing to pull a "Boyd" break his own commitment, and be satisfied being the Buckeyes' second choice. I wouldn't blame him for telling OSU to shove it. Don't tell me you don't want to go to prom with me because you're going with head football player, only to come back to me later in the day to see if I'm still interested because he's now going with your sister.

The reaction of the Boyd situation by posters on the OSU message boards is comical. Prior to his commitment, Boyd was the second-coming, this year's Terrelle Pryor, and the next in a great line of quarterbacks at Ohio State. After his announcement, Boyd became a headcase, immature, and someone else's problem, as the boards began to melt down. Again, I'm not above the emotion exhibited by countless other Buckeyes' fans. I consistently refreshed my browser, hoping to get news of Boyd's decision before he went public. I even stayed late at work to listen to him announce. And I felt the pit in my stomach when he said he would be spending the next part of his life at Clemson. However, to be that affected by the decision of a 17 year-old or 18 year-old kid, well it's rather ridiculous.

The Boyd saga made me think back to Pryor's own recruitment last year. The love he showed Michigan, WVU and Oregon at various times. The contradictory statements he made, the colors he donned. The fact that he didn't commit until after National Signing Day because he was still "unsure."But in the end, when chose Pryor OSU, all the wavering was forgotten because he became our guy. Had he ended up at Michigan though, many of the same people who currently praise him, most likely would be trashing him as "stupid" and heaping on many of the same criticisms currently being heaped on Boyd.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make, as that as grown men and women, we shouldn't allow our emotions to be controlled by the fickle desires of high school kids. The whole recruiting network is built on experts attempting to figure out what a 17 year-old or 18 year-old kid is going to do, when that kid probably hasn't even decided who he's going to take out on a date that weekend. Many of these kids are being told for the first time in their lives how special they are, with exuberant promises being made. With all the attention, who can blame some of these individuals from falling in love with a number of schools, or being unsure of where they'll end up? And usually, our opinion of a kid is colored by our scarlet and grey glasses - if he chooses another program over OSU, there has to be something wrong with him.

Each athlete ends up making the decision which he believes to be the best for himself. In the end, we should rejoice and support the kids who commit to OSU, while respecting those who make other decisions. And we should not allow the Tahj Boyd's of the world to control our lives. At least that's the decision I'm making for myself.


Alvaro Espinoza said...

And, Boucher has indeed told the Buckeyes to shove it:

Daniel said...

Awesome post. As a WVU fan, the nice part of the Tajh Boyd saga (Part I) is that during his brief commitment to the Mountaineers, he lobbied at a number of the SuperPrep camps these recruits are invited to and analyzed at for many other players to commit to WVU. I counted four other commits from last Wednesday who Boyd had a hand in bringing to Morgantown (a DT and RB from his high school, and two stud WR's from the region). When Boyd decommitted, none of these recruits followed suit, and it took all of two/three weeks before WVU had another highly ranked quarterback, along with another high ranked WR to boot, verbally committed (and ultimately signing) to play at WVU. I know that in many cases, the number of stars by a players name on signing day doesn't translate into long term collegiate success (see: Xavier Lee), but Tajh Boyd made a tremendous impact on WVU's recruiting class this year without ever having signed his letter of intent to play there.

Alvaro Espinoza said...


Thanks for the comments. I think it's interesting to see that Tajh had almost an opposite effect on the Mountaineers than he did with the Buckeyes. Though we may be light on the WVU coverage here on the site, I hope you continue reading. I'm guessing you probably share our dislike for Dick Rod.

Daniel said...

You can say that WVU has as much hate for Michigan in both football & basketball; John Belein was lured away by "that school up north" a year before Rodriguez. And yes, although I am a Mountaineer fan, I made sure to circle my calender for when the Buckeyes played the Wolverines; watching Rich Rod scowl his way through one of the worst seasons of Wolverine history had a certain feeling of bittersweet victory for WVU and its fans.

I never understood the coddling that coaches do with their quarterback recruits; a sort of "you're the man, I'm not recruiting anyone else" mentality for star quarterbacks (i.e. how Dick Rod screwed Michigan when Terrell Pryor decided to go to OSU). It's like going skydiving without an emergency parachute; if the guy bolts (which Boyd did to both WVU and OSU) you're left scrambling. What's wrong with a coach or recruiter saying "Yeah, I'm bringing another quarterback in with you in this recruiting class; the program knows you're the man, I know you're the man, you know you're the man, go in there at camp and earn that #2 QB spot." It's a win-win situation for the university; they get the guy, and if he doesn't pan out, they get a capable back. Also there's a distinct possibility that the other guy they bring in could surpass the highly acclaimed recruit.

The semi-happy ending for the Boucher saga is that OSU has a stud at QB in Pryor; but I can totally understand the desire to have good, highly skilled talent in case of injuries.

I will definitely check back on your blog; keep up the good posts.

Alvaro Espinoza said...

I think a lot of high school athletes want instant gratification at the next level and they don't want to compete for their positions. Hence, the focus that a lot of recruits place on the dreaded depth chart. I think that's the problem with recruiting two quarterbacks in the same year, because someone isn't going to end up playing and both guys know it.

Personally, I'm a fan of the guy who has the mentality that he doesn't care who's ahead of him - the position is his because he knows he's better than everyone else (or at least brings that attitude to the team).

Oh -and to welcome you to the site, I almost posted something about Jock Sanders being arrested for a DUI. How do you think that's going to play out?

Daniel said...

Jock Sanders becoming *shudder* our new Pacman Jones. He got in trouble last year in the offseason for getting into at a bar off campus with Noel Devine against two students. Because they were minors, and they were *ahem* provoked, the charges were dropped. However, they were put on probation, if I am not mistaken. Thus, this DUI is some serious business, and not good for the team, as Jock was our leading receiver. Fortunately, runningback is a position that WVU is particularly deep at (plus we brought in three with the recruiting class), but WVU will miss Jock's ability to get open in space out of the slot receiver position. Hopefully, one of the young WR's brought in with this year's recruiting class can step it up and get it done if Coach Stewart decides to take Jock off the team (he's actually [surprisingly] a bit of a disciplinarian when it comes to run ins with the law, despite his "gee whiz, gosh golly, Gomer Pyle persona," and yes, a lot of Mountaineer fans characterize his persona like that). It will be interesting to see how this plays out; though I certainly wouldn't want the team to lose him, it very well might happen.

Alvaro Espinoza said...

I just hope Jock and Alex Boone never decide to carpool together anytime soon.