Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Much ado about nothing on transfers

April 30, 2003

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— Thanks to a few whining basketball coaches and sky-is-falling media members, college football now has a legitimate reason to not have an early signing period.

There's a growing hysteria (some of you may not be aware of it, though) over the national letter of intent (NLI) because basketball recruits who sign in November can't go to another school if the institution they've signed with has a coaching change.

This issue has been brought up before, but when the much-respected Roy Williams publicly agreed with the bellicose Dick Vitale that it was a shame the kids he signed at Kansas can't attend another school, that gave the issue some credibility.

Kansas read Williams' remarks as tampering. Williams responded that he was speaking philosophically, not encouraging his KU signees to back out of their commitments and transfer to North Carolina.

But fueled by Williams' comment, some columnists have now joined the basketball analysts in making this the topic du jour of the season.

NLI administrator Greg Sankey of the SEC office told Andy Katz of ESPN.com that the NLI perhaps needs to look at the wording of the letter of intent so that players can find a new school if there's a coaching change.

Former New Mexico coach Fran Fraschilla, who is now a TV basketball analyst and thus has a responsibility to make mountains out of molehills, said he'd advise any top recruit not to sign a letter of intent.

In other words, he's promoting chaos.

It seems to me this is much ado about nothing.

How can anyone in his right mind believe that what is today will be what it will be tomorrow?

What fantasy world are these people living in?

Heck, some players who sign and enroll with their beloved coach transfer. National champion Syracuse had three players depart after the 2002 season. Do you think when they signed with Syracuse, they'd find things not to their liking and want to leave?

Circumstances change, so what?

Although players sign in basketball primarily because of their relationship with a coach, they truly don't know how he'll be until they actually play for him. The recruiting process is all sweetness and sunshine. But once they get there and practice starts, players get the other side of the coach.

To suggest that a player believes so-and-so coach is the only one he can play for is to say so-and-so coach is some kind of God. He isn't. Roy Williams is a good coach, quality human being. But so is Bill Self. It's not like Williams can do something extraordinary for a prospect that Self or some other quality coach can't.

Allowing players an out if there's a coaching change, in this day and age when athletic directors don't have the patience they once did, is to invite chaos.

Schools are already having to deal with losing top players to the NBA after one or two years. College basketball doesn't need to create personnel headaches.

Can you imagine seedy characters and coaches encouraging players to back out of their commitments? There's a reason the Pac-10 has a two-year penalty for intra-conference transfers: To discourage cannibalism.

While Williams, Fraschilla, Vitale and others in the coaching and media business harangue about the "injustice" of it all and the need for changes in the NLI wording, I have a very simple solution for them.

Get rid of the November signing period.

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