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The Wooing Game
Steve Rushin
November 29, 1993
Lusting after recruits, college basketball coaches resort to epistles, poetry and pestering
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November 29, 1993

The Wooing Game

Lusting after recruits, college basketball coaches resort to epistles, poetry and pestering

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As a public service, we herewith provide answers to some commonly asked questions about the men's college basketball recruiting process. Our research will greatly benefit your son, who, unless he's recruited, will never know the self-discipline, the self-esteem, the self-restraint that only a college basketball coach can instill in him.

QUESTION: Who turns out more letters, Vanna White or George Raveling?

ANSWER: Raveling. In two weeks last spring, the USC basketball coach sent 900 letters to the home of a single recruit. Raveling wrote as many as 50 letters a day to Avondre Jones, a 6'11" center from La Puente, Calif., 20 more each day to Jones's mother and another 20 to Jones's stepfather. Every day for a fortnight. Following the letter-writing campaign, Jones verbally committed to USC, while Raveling was verbally committed to Bellevue. The parents have signed with Duke.

Q.: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

A.: Not if you're a recruiter, you shouldn't. At least one coach wrote poems to Chris Herren by way of recruiting the senior guard from Fall River, Mass. "One guy wrote, 'Roses are red, violets are blue, blah blah blah blah, and this school's for you,' " Herren told The Boston Globe. He declined to identify this bard of the hardwood, but he did say he wasn't going to attend that coach's school. Instead, Herren has signed with Boston College. At one point Herren received a recruiting letter from Wisconsin—while on his official visit to Syracuse. And the post office can't find you without a nine-digit zip code.

Q.: What is full of pages and embarrassingly ineffectual (besides Congress, that is)?

A.: The NCAA rule book. Under NCAA guidelines, Raveling may mail you 90 letters a day and Wisconsin may send a heat-seeking missive to find you, but until the rule was scrapped this year, no recruiting letter could be written on stationery printed in more than two colors of ink. Also, coaches are still forbidden to send the recruit "greeting cards." If the NCAA were an airport security guard, it would order you to remove the handgun from your suitcase. Then it would confiscate the suitcase.

Q.: Speaking of air travel, why is the main cabin of a plane called coach?

A.: Because most of the passengers in the main cabin of a plane are called Coach. You see, at many Division I schools, it takes three round-trip tickets to fly one recruit to a campus for his official visit. That's one ticket for the recruit, one ticket for a coach to fly to the recruit's hometown and pick him up, and a third ticket for a coach to accompany the recruit back home after the visit.

Q.: How many coaches does it take to screw in a light bulb?

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