War of words
In recruiting, negativity mirrors presidential election
Posted: Friday February 1, 2008 1:18PM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 5:30PM
With national Signing Day on Wednesday and 24 states holding presidential primaries on Super Tuesday, mudslinging could reach an all-time high this weekend. Some coaches will trash rival schools as part of their final recruiting pushes, while candidates certainly will trash one another to win delegates. What's amazing is how the negative campaigning seems to parallel negative recruiting.
Don't sign with/vote for my conference/party rival. He/she is a sleazy, inexperienced loser who will never win a national title/balance the federal budget.
The race for the Democratic nomination almost mirrors the recruiting race in the SEC. Coaches routinely rip conference rivals to recruits and then spend late November and early December preaching that because of the quality of players and coaches in the league, the SEC champ deserves a place in the title game. Ditto for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who have spent the past few months trading barbs with one another, even though the loser will likely sing the praises of the winner prior to the general election.
But does the negativity work? One player who committed to an SEC school said that shortly after he announced his commitment, an SEC and an ACC coach trashed his future coach.
"They'll make up information," the player said. "They'll tell you stuff about your coach. It kind of gives you a sour taste."
Still, the ploy occasionally works. Last year, Alabama coach Nick Saban dropped in on West Monroe, La., defensive lineman Luther Davis, who had committed to LSU, where Saban had previously coached. "He was saying that the coaching staff he has at Alabama is pretty much the same coaching staff he had at LSU when he won a national championship," Davis told LSU fan site TigerBait.com. "He said that there is no way that the coaching staff at LSU can compare to the coaching staff he has at Alabama right now."
Intrigued, Davis visited Tuscaloosa. When they learned of the visit, LSU coaches yanked Davis' scholarship offer, according to reports. Davis signed with Alabama.
You don't want to sign with/vote for that guy. He's so old that he won't be around for your senior year/a second term.
Republican candidate John McCain, 71, can identify with Penn State coach Joe Paterno, 81, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, 78, and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, 66. McCain has spent time on the campaign trail trying to assure voters that, despite his age, he can handle the stress and pressure of the office. Meanwhile, Penn State, FSU and Kentucky assistants have spent months trying to convince recruits their bosses can still get the job done.
Should McCain win the party's nomination, he could bolster his campaign by choosing a dynamic, younger running mate. That's exactly what Bowden and Brooks did when they designated offensive coordinators Jimbo Fisher and Joker Phillips as their successors. In Tallahassee, the plan seems to have worked. FSU recruits have raved about Fisher. Brooks hopes the same thing happens in Lexington.
"I don't want any insecurity by parents and players that all of a sudden, if their son comes here, somebody will come in and change the whole program if I step down," Brooks told The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader last month. "Coaches will always insinuate, 'Why do you want to go to Kentucky? He's old and isn't going to be there that long.'
"This will hopefully clear up any continuity issues ... It's my hope he'll take it to an even bigger level after I leave."