Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin may have gone a little bit too far in the recruitment of 5-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
The Rebels had an epic year on the recruiting trail and head coach Hugh Freeze got much of the credit. That said, anybody who follows recruiting knows that assistants and coordinators also play a huge role in the recruiting process.
Much like his brother, USC head coach Lane Kiffin, Chris is developing a reputation as a big-time recruiter. He played a big role in bringing Tunsil into the fold for Ole Miss, but his tactics, while not illegal, were questionable to say the least.
According to a report by Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion Ledger (h/t LostLetterman.com) Kiffin was very active on social media with Tunsil. He also sent around 400 messages to Tunsil's girlfriend as well:
In addition to the 800 Facebook messages to Tunsil, there were another 400 or so to Tunsil’s girlfriend. By the time Tunsil confided to Kiffin that Ole Miss was in the top three, with an official recruiting visit to Oxford still to go, Kiffin said he had a good idea what would happen on signing day.
“A lot of coaches have (staff) guys run their Facebooks, but I wanted it to be like if you’re texting somebody,” Kiffin said. “I asked about his family. A lot of it is daily motivational. There’s a target on your back. Good luck against whomever. It’s just striking up conversation.”
On one hand, I have no choice but to applaud Kiffin for his ability to use social media to his advantage as a recruiter. Social media has directly changed the way recruiting works down to its very core, so coaches and recruiters who are on the cutting edge of those changes will find an advantage.
That said, 400 or so messages to a kid's girlfriend? That's a little bit over the top.
To be very clear, I am not insinuating that there's anything inappropriate about messaging his girlfriend. Where my issue lies is with the amount of messages.
From a recruiting standpoint, it's smart to reach out to friends and family of a recruit and at least touch base—show the recruit that you care about his life outside of football.
One can only assume that Tunsil's girlfriend is an important figure in his life, so Kiffin was smart to develop a rapport with her.
At what point does it go from recruiting to intrusion though?
As a recruit, you know that you're going to be bombarded and stretched for attention, and that's just part of what you've worked for your whole life. These kids know that it's part of the process, and it's simply what they have to deal with if they want to be an elite recruit.
Is it fair for family and friends, or in this case a girlfriend, to have to deal with that constant recruiting barrage though? She may have known what she was getting into by dating a big-time football recruit, but still, 400 (ish) messages?
I've heard of coaches having to recruit the family to get the player, but at that point it just seems like an unnecessary intrusion into Tunsil's girlfriend's life.
In the recruiting world, we often times worry about the burden that is put on players during the recruiting process. They can't necessarily live the life of a normal high school student because of the rigors of said process. It's somewhat of a necessary evil for these players in order to accomplish their dreams. They know the deal and they sign up for it, but often times friends and family can get caught up in the crossfire.
In this case, Kiffin basically recruited Tunsil's girlfriend as well, and that's just going a little to far. I understand trying to win her over in an effort to win Tunsil over as well, but at what point does it go from recruiting to an unnecessary annoyance?
The recruiting process is already disruptive enough as is. Perhaps it's time we start thinking about how we can protect the family and friends of a recruit from that stress.
A ban would be over the top, but so is sending hundreds of Facebook messages.
The happy medium is most likely somewhere in between.