Recruiting is a game. Not a whole lot of fans want to hear this, but the hard-wired truth of recruiting is, you don’t win if you don’t play. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out for everyone in the end of either side of the recruiting coin (whether you’re the recruiter or the recruited), but it’s part of the process.
In two examples from Washington State this off-season, it’s been painfully evident that not everyone wins. There’s the Myron Turner situation, explained best in this article yesterday by Brian Floyd of CougCenter. And then there’s the other half, where recruits leave the coaches in a lurch and try to play the field, or have already played it and decommit last second for a different opportunity.
DeMarcus Ayers might have played himself out of the game in this case, where he committed to WSU and played it up a little too much. He then started getting some attention from the “big boys” and seemingly decided it would be best for him to open it up and use as much leverage and exposure as possible for his recruitment process.
However it’s worked out backwards as the big boys have since backed off, Washington State is now full-up and now it’s SMU and UTEP that are left. Not that those are bad schools, but Ayers was looking at the Tennessee’s and the Michigan’s. They’re no longer in the cards and the Cougs fallback plan got revoked too.
These stories and games happen every year and in multiple places around the country. But back to the Turner situation. As Brian pointed out in his article, we may never know all of what happened to the kid, but clearly Leach will be the bad guy for this because of his over-hyped track record.
Maybe he and his staff are to blame, taking a “bigger, more athletic” safety who fit better in the defense and decided to commit last second, dropping an unsuspecting and seemingly good, loyal kid on his head. Maybe Turner is partially to blame for any number of reasons, and maybe he should have continued his recruiting process with other schools because you never know.
Regardless, as coaches trying to build up a program, you have to realize that it’s possible some kids are going to get squeezed out when they commit early and then better players come along late in the process when there’s not very many spots left. That means it’s likely that nobody is to blame here. Heck, this exact situation has happened at Texas A&M (along with several other schools across the land) already a couple times this season and nobody has said “boo”. Instead, A&M and the others were just “getting better”, right?
That’s what happens. Similar to cutting guys from 90-53 on an NFL roster in less than a month’s time, if you don’t play the recruiting game to get better, you get left in the dust with kids you “want” but can’t help you achieve winning, at least in theory. If two guys want to commit to your school and there’s only one spot, you take the better player, by your scouting. That’s what head coaches are paid for, to find and attract the best players you can.
Maybe Myron Turner turns out to be the better player in the end, but Leach and co. are trusting their instincts and trying to fit together a winning program with kids that fit their physical and personality traits the best. Turner simply wasn’t the best fit, for whatever reason. The coaches tried to give him whatever time they could to find a home, unfortunately it’s just a couple weeks.