Crazy Sports Recruiting Stories
Everyone wants to feel wanted, and as we've seen in sports, a few athletes really get the A-list treatment from other people.
With current prized NBA free agents LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh on the open market and teams trying to woo them with every ounce of ammunition that they can, it got me thinking about a few other crazy recruiting stories we've seen in sports.
From mocked-up jerseys and Jumbotron messages to giant billboards, some sales pitches are just better than others.
Honorable Mention: Jesus Shuttlesworth
Since this one isn't technically real, I can only give it an honorable mention here.
Still, when fictional hoops player Jesus Shuttlesworth from the movie He Got Game was being recruited by several college programs, the schools pulled out all the stops.
Just look at what Big State did to try to snag Jesus, tossing money, girls and the illusion of a good time at every turn for the star recruit—which, let's face it, happens at most big-time programs these days, too.
Arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game—especially in the stats-crazed world we live in now—when Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts following the 2012 season, he may have been the most sought-after free agent in NFL history.
With billboards popping up in places like Miami and hope in Tennessee that his collegiate state could land him, Manning had every team after him.
But the Denver Broncos were the team who won the prize, getting Manning to listen to the pitches of two-time Super Bowl champand former Denver quarterback—John Elway, longtime owner Pat Bowlen and veteran head coach John Fox, who, no doubt, showed off any Super Bowl bling they had.
In the competitive landscape that college football has become, schools need to do what they can to make sure they keep top recruits.
And the Oklahoma State Cowboys football coaches went to extremes to do so.
Following a report that came out last year, several Cowboys players were quoted as saying they not only got money to come to Stillwater, but also received a few sexual favors from hostesses to prove why Oklahoma State was the perfect school for them.
A Hall of Fame cornerback and one of the best athletes of the past 25 years, Deion Sanders had quite the collegiate career while playing for the Florida State Seminoles.
But before being named an All-American and finalist for the Heisman Trophy with the Seminoles, Neon Deion had to decide between the Florida Gators and UGA Bulldogs, too.
So what sold him on FSU?
According to Sanders, he eliminated Florida because another recruit was promised the same jersey number, and FSU had a buffet-like cafeteria with a lady named Miss Betty who cooked, making Deion’s decision all about that grub.
Bulls, Rockets Recruit Carmelo Anthony
One of the best scorers in the NBA since coming into the league back in 2003, current free agent Carmelo Anthony has been making his rounds these past few weeks to decide which team he’ll be playing for next season.
With his most recent team—the New York Knicks—making promises to give him a max contract, teams like the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets have decided to take things up a notch, even displaying Melo in their respective team jerseys during his meetings to give him an idea of just what he may look like donning their team colors.
Surprisingly, the more traditional approach made by the Los Angeles Lakers of meeting and showing off Larry O’Brien Trophies might be the biggest threat to Anthony departing the Big Apple.
You might be asking yourself what in the hell the Catfish Hole—a small, unassuming diner in Fayetteville, Arkansas—has to do with college football recruiting.
Apparently, the restaurant has a bigger influence than some of us would ever imagine.
While other programs pump silly amounts of money into state-of-the-art training facilities to blow the minds of recruits, the Arkansas Razorbacks football team is having the Catfish Hole cook up some goodness for recruits to salivate over, using food as a way to a player’s heart—and name on the dotted line.
While some may think that everything rapper Jay Z touches turns to gold, sometimes the MC needs to pull out a little extra effort to get his guy.
That’s what Hova did last month when he wanted former Kentucky Wildcats guard James Young, who was looked at as a mid first-round pick in the NBA draft a few weeks ago—with Young eventually going No. 17 to the Boston Celtics.
Rather than flash some gold records or show up in a Maybach, Jay simply used the old adage of having sex sell, sitting the 18-year-old next to Rihanna during a playoff game to work on getting him to become one of Jay Z’s clients.
Of course, Young couldn’t resist signing after that.
When I was 14 years old, I was just trying to figure out which girl I was going to try to kiss on the playground.
But for current eighth-grader Zadock Dinkelmann, it seems he has the daunting task of deciding which college he will be playing for.
That’s because the LSU Tigers and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron offered the kid a scholarship earlier this year, with the kid verbally committing to play for LSU in five years.
Standing 6’4” and having a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback as an uncle is great, but this kid hasn’t even taken a snap of freshman football yet, so this is a little premature.
When a school is going after one of the top recruits in the country, no penny should be saved in trying to get that player on campus.
And during Georgia Tech’s recruitment of former hoops star Stephon Marbury in the mid-‘90s, they did just that, cutting a few mega checks to make sure Starbury landed with the Yellow Jackets.
Apparently, the Yellow Jackets paid more than $7,600 to wine and dine Marbury, which included over $4,500 for a private jet from New York to Atlanta, a few days at the swanky Occidental Hotel and a catered meal at then-men’s basketball coach Bobby Cremins’ house.
It might seem excessive, but it worked, with the former prep star playing one season for the Jackets.
The Chick-Fil-A Recruit
When it comes to knowing what he wants in his stomach, current Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy doesn’t have to think too hard.
After being recruited by several top southern schools like Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, McKinzy actually admitted that part of his decision in spurning both for the Auburn Tigers came about because of his love for Chick-fil-A.
I mean, football players need to eat what they like, so McKinzy was just making sure he didn’t have to travel too far in order to get some of his favorite chicken.
The False Signature
College football recruiting has definitely become an up-to-the-second news cycle thanks to Twitter, Facebook and rumors that swirl on the Internet.
But amongst all the rumors, you’d think that a recruit would at least tell his mom his final decision to play ball.
Unfortunately, Floyd Raven didn’t do that back in 2011, as his mom forged her son’s signature and faxed in a letter of intent to Ole Miss.
There was just one major problem—Floyd changed his mind and wanted to go to Texas A&M—causing some serious confusion between everyone involved before the recruit ultimately ended up with the Aggies.
Pat Riley Gets His Trio
So how does one get three future Hall of Fame players to sacrifice their roles, star power and, most importantly, salaries to join forces?
When you’re Pat Riley, you just show them the gold.
That’s exactly what happened in 2010 when the Miami Heat president sat down and pitched the idea of playing in Miami with then-free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh, with Bosh actually getting to keep one of Riley’s rings until he won his own—which he has done a few times since playing in South Beach.
I wonder what Pat has up his sleeve this summer to try to convince the Big Three to stay together now that they’ve all opted out of their deals?
Former University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro sure is a bad dude, isn’t he?
Currently serving a prison sentence for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, Shapiro used his wealth and high-end connections to make sure no top talent slipped through the cracks of his beloved Hurricanes sports teams.
Paying for prostitutes, various entertainment outlets like mansions and yachts and, in one case, an abortion, Shapiro had no limit in making sure some of the biggest names in college sports—especially football—wound up playing for The U.