It's January and the name of the college football game has shifted from what you did on the field to what you are doing on the trail, the recruiting trail.
For many coaches this means road trips around the country and numerous calls to blue chip recruit. For one coach, it also means a few calls from the ultimate recruiter: God.
Florida Gators coach, Urban Meyer, the man who retired, and then un-retired soon after, has pulled the ultimate recruiting strategy: a epiphany from the BIG GUY upstairs, seeing him returning to coach the Gators and, more importantly, five-star recruit Sharif Floyd.
If this seems impossible to believe allow me to quote the story floating around from one of Floyd's coaches:
"Sharrif was really confused and put a call into Coach Meyer. When they spoke Coach Meyer told him that he had a ‘dream' the night before, and that Coach Meyer saw himself on the sideline coaching Sharrif. Told him that is was a 'message from God that I should come back and coach, as I guess if it's my time to die, I'd rather die on the sidelines coaching you than anywhere else in the world.'"
"Sharrif talked to us the next day and said Ohio State is great and all, but Coach Meyer said he would DIE for me. That's pretty intense. From that day on Sharrif mainly kept to himself. But that was the turning point in my eyes."
This story appeared on a South Carolina Blog when it was passed around the blogosphere. A retort was immediately issued via a Florida message board.
The problem with these reports is that credibility is becoming harder and harder to establish within the college ranks. We've all been bombarded with Lane Kiffins, Brian Kelleys, Urban Meyers, etc. who are more worried about their next job as opposed to what they currently have on their plate.
Men like Chris Petersen, Kyle Wittingham, Gary Patterson, and Pat Hill are forgotten about in the world of college football because of their ability to stay put and attempt to build a program for the fans in the area.
Just recently Rick Stockstill of Middle Tennessee turned down Memphis and East Carolina to stay with the Blue Raiders.
"I could not look in the eyes of these recruits and their families and tell them the things I believe in and what I want them to believe in and then leave Middle Tennessee with only two weeks left in the recruiting process," Stockstill said.
"Also, I have so much respect and admiration for our current players that they were ultimately the reason I could not pursue this any further. We have invested a lot together during these four years which played a major role in this decision."
That is the definition of integrity, one that many coaches are losing every day with their quick-score mentality. The time of the Bobby Bowdens and Joe Paternos is nearing a close, not because of retirement, but because of the unwillingness for coaches to build a program.
What Florida and many major programs need to realize is that integrity is just as much a part of college football as wins and loses. The more teams are allowed to skirt the rules and take advantage of 18-year-old recruits, the sooner teams with credible coaching staffs will gain ground.
No, this isn't a BCS vs. everybody debate. Rather, this is a call for teams to see the big picture. Recruit to your strengths, your facilities, or your offensive or defensive system. Don't recruit using scare tactics or promises to see a player graduate or go to the NFL.
To quote Super Bowl champion Mike Ditka: Promises are empty word if you're not keeping them.
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