On February 6 the saga of Alex Collins and his mother played out on the Internet as something of an anomaly.
Collins, a Plantation, Fla., native, had reportedly been poised to sign his letter of intent with the University of Arkansas on national signing day when his mother—who wanted him to sign with the University of Miami—confiscated his paperwork. Collins would later sign the paperwork with his father present.
Unfortunately, Alex Collins wasn't the only prospect whose meddling mother tried to prevent her son from signing with his first choice of schools.
Five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas (Booker T. Washington, Miami, Fla) had his mind set on going to the University of Southern California, but once again the forces of nature interrupted his plans and instead of going to USC, Thomas signed with Florida State University, according to 24/7 Sports' Josh Newberg.
Thomas told Newberg that as of the morning of February 6, he was set to sign his letter of intent (LOI) with USC. "The night before I was honestly thinking USC," Thomas told Newberg.
"I was trying to get the LOI and everything ready and signed first. But my mom didn't want to sign it. She didn't want me to go to USC."
If Thomas' mother had signed his LOI, he said he "would have been a Trojan" but that didn't happen and now he's a Seminole. Unfortunately for Thomas, he didn't understand that neither he nor his mother has to sign a letter of intent.
In fact, some prospects don't sign them at all—all that piece of paper does is end their recruitment from other schools. Yet prospective student-athletes under the age of 21 are under the impression that the LOI needs to be signed by a parent or guardian.
John Infante, author of the Athletic Scholarships Bylaw Blog, tweeted the problem rather succinctly:
John Infante @John_Infante
There’s clearly a branding/messaging problem around the NLI if athletes think parents can use it to prevent them from going to a school.2/14/2013, 5:15:07 PM
So can Thomas still attend USC? Of course. Thomas has not enrolled at Florida State, according to 24/7 Sports, but he says he isn't upset with his decision. "No I think everything works out how it's supposed to," Thomas told Newberg.
"I'm going to make the best of my situation. It's not like I'm unhappy, I really like Florida State. It's not a problem, I'm happy with my decision."
Make the best of his situation? When you're stuck in a car during a blizzard, you are making the best of your situation by singing songs and keeping warm until you are rescued. When you only have 20 bucks in your budget for food and it has to last the whole week, you eat Top Ramen to make the best of your situation.
Being happy with a decision doesn't translate to making the best of a situation. You don't hear Lotto winners claiming they're making the best of their situation, do you?
It sounds like Thomas isn't completely sold on going to Florida State. Then again, maybe he just couldn't find the right words to express his complete joy over going to his second-choice school.
Maybe he doesn't want to upset the person in charge of his welfare over the next six months.
Maybe the real problem here is that college football has finally peaked in its popularity. Not because of the free education and millions of dollars worth of publicity a high-profile athlete gets every fall Saturday—it's the big NFL payday that awaits for less than two percent of all NCAA student-athletes playing football.
What used to be a free ride at an institution of higher learning is now a three-year job interview process for the NFL. And the mothers of these student-athletes know it.
But instead of sitting back and enjoying the notion that their sons are going to get an education—and that three-year NFL job interview—they are making what should have been one of the happiest days of their sons' lives all about them instead.
They appear to be living vicariously through their sons' lives. Aren't there enough Dance Moms and Toddlers and Tiaras reality shows on this planet? Must we now endure new episodes on signing day?
Come on, ladies, knock it off.
We hope these young men are happy at their new schools and these moms finally back off with the heavy hand—they're embarrassing us good moms.
And, no, not all student-athletes' mothers act this way, but interestingly, both Collins and Thomas' mothers have something in common: both live in Florida and both of their sons wanted to attend schools out of state.
Away from the nest.