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Lessons from Hart's hoax

How to tell whether a player is really being recruited

Posted: Monday February 11, 2008 3:08PM; Updated: Monday February 11, 2008 4:43PM
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Fernley (Nev.) coach Mark Hodges (right) may lose his job over the handling of Kevin Hart's recruiting hoax.
Fernley (Nev.) coach Mark Hodges (right) may lose his job over the handling of Kevin Hart's recruiting hoax.
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The Kevin Hart saga zoomed past weird last week and careened directly into surreal. How? Jerry Glanville got involved.

Sources told Portland, Ore., television station KPTV late last week that the black-clad, tickets-for-Elvis-leaving former Atlanta Falcons coach, who now works at I-AA Portland State, had asked Fernley (Nev.) High coaches for game film of Hart. This after Hart fabricated his entire recruitment and didn't get caught until after announcing a non-existent commitment to Cal at a very real assembly attended by everyone at his school.

The ploy will earn Glanville -- ever the showman -- attention for his program. It may earn Hart a chance to play college football, which seemed doubtful after he admitted on national signing day that he'd concocted the entire tale. So something positive may emerge from this mess, which, according to the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal, may cost Fernley coach Mark Hodges his job.

Still, something else needs to happen. Parents, coaches and school administrators need to understand the recruiting process. This could keep them from getting embarrassed, and it could help them nip a teenager's mistake in the bud before his lie becomes national news.

So print out this column and stick it on the fridge. It could save you a few headaches later. Thanks to an assist from Joe Hornback, a former Kansas offensive lineman and high school coach who wrote The Next Level: A Prep's Guide to College Recruiting, we present SI.com's Handy-Dandy Guide To Knowing Whether Your Child/Player/Student Is Actually Being Recruited.

Tip No. 1: Check the mail

Even Division III-caliber players get reams of mail from college football programs. Why? Coaches at Ohio State, LSU, USC and other cash-cow programs may spend their lunch breaks backstroking through piles of money, but most schools that sponsor football have to pinch pennies. Coaches who can't hop a private jet will bulk-mail questionnaires to any player who showed up on an all-district team. If the player's answers intrigue the coach, he will request film from the player's high school coach. If he likes what he sees, he'll keep sending mail.

Hornback, now a high school assistant principal in Kansas who advises potential recruits at Rivals.com's Five-Star Academies, said even a pile of mail from the same school doesn't necessarily indicate interest.

"At a Big 12 school I talked to recently, they had 450 juniors on their mailing list," Hornback said. "They're not going to sign 450 kids."

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