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Visitation rights (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday January 30, 2008 1:36PM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 5:34PM
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Mark Richt
Georgia coach Mark Richt recently invited a group of recruits over to his house for a wild night of ping-pong.
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Unlike the Pac-10, which limits schools to $60 a day to cover meals for a prospect, the ACC has no specific meal guideline. Battle said conference officials discussed a dollar limit, but they realized a reasonable price to cover a recruit at FSU or Virginia wouldn't provide much for a recruit visiting Boston College or Miami. At any rate, it's unlikely a recruit ever could recreate Williams' meal at The Rusty Pelican during his Miami visit. According to Williams' diary, he ate three lobster tails and two steaks. Using the restaurant's current menu prices and assuming Williams ordered the cheapest lobster tails and steaks, his meal would have cost $165.75 before tax and tip.

So what happens on an official visit now? Interviews with several of the top prospects from the class of 2008 have allowed SI.com to create a basic composite schedule. Some schools may alter the schedule, but the basic elements seemed consistent for BCS-conference schools.

Friday

Late morning/early afternoon: Fly in coach class to campus site. Typically, a coach or graduate assistant will pick up the recruit and his parents -- if they chose to pay their own way -- and drive to campus.

Late afternoon: Check into hotel (a standard room, with no hot tub or waterfall). Prepare for dinner.

Early evening: Dinner with recruiting host (current player), fellow recruits, their hosts and coaches. Dinner can be at a restaurant or at an on-campus site.

Late evening: The host player is responsible for entertaining the recruit. NCAA rules allow schools to give hosts $30 a day to cover their recruit's entertainment expenses. Nights typically begin at the dorm room or apartment of a player, usually playing video games. Hosts then typically show players the nightlife, either by taking them to a nightclub or to a house party.

Saturday

Morning: After breakfast, recruits tour academic support facilities and meet academic advisors.

Afternoon: Recruits tour the athletic facilities (stadium, locker room, weight room) and meet with position coaches to talk football. Another academic presentation may follow.

Early evening: Before dinner, recruits get a chance to see stadium with lights turned on and JumboTron blazing. NCAA rules forbid personalized scoreboard presentations or pregrame introduction simulations.

Late evening: After dinner, which may have been at the head coach's home, recruits and hosts repeat Friday night.

Sunday

Morning: Recruits meet again with position coach and sometimes meet one-on-one with head coach. At these meetings, scholarships often are offered and/or accepted.

Late morning: Depart. Recruit hopes he doesn't miss connecting flight.

The new rules haven't completely prevented misbehavior. Pete Swink, a "father figure" to Muskogee, Okla., receiver Jameel Owens since Owens was 9, said he received a phone call from Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer late at night on Jan. 11 informing him that Owens had been in the back seat of a car driven by Volunteers receiver Gerald Jones and that Jones and fellow receiver Ahmad Paige were cited by Knoxville, Tenn., police for marijuana possession. Knoxville police never accused Owens of any wrongdoing, but his name wound up in media reports about the incident.

Muskogee coach Matt Hennesy said Owens did not realize Jones and Page had joints in their possession when he got into the car. Fulmer did not suspend the players, but he did ban them from hosting recruits for a year and will force them to do community service and submit to more frequent drug tests. The following Monday, Vols assistant Steve Caldwell flew to Muskogee to assure Owens' family that Owens had done nothing wrong.

Swink and Hennesy said they don't blame Tennessee coaches, who they said can't be expected to babysit players 24 hours a day, but Swink did tell Owens that a U-Haul might be necessary if he signed with Tennessee. "If you go to Tennessee, I guess I'll be moving," Swink recalled telling Owens. A few days later, Owens committed to Oklahoma, which, Hennesy said, probably would have happened anyway.

Still, maybe the Vols would have had a better chance at landing Owens had the players just driven Owens to Fulmer's house for a rousing game of ping-pong.

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