DON’T DO IT, Jimbo
Don’t bend to public pressure.
You might come out looking like a good guy if you do, but you would be setting a very bad precedent.
We are talking about Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher and the controversy surrounding one of the elite recruits in the country — linebacker Matthew Thomas — who wants to be released from the letter of intent he signed with the Seminoles in February.
Now Thomas says he never really wanted to go to Florida State, but signed the letter of intent to please his mother. He wants the Seminoles to release him so he can transfer to either Southern Cal or Georgia. If FSU doesn’t release him, he still can transfer but would have to sit a year before he becomes eligible to play.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Let the kid go to school where he wants to go to school! He’s just a teenager. He made a mistake. Let him out of his scholarship so he can go where he wants to go.”
I’ve got a better idea: How about welcoming Matthew Thomas to the real world — a world where your word and your signature on a contract is supposed to mean something. What sort of life lesson is Thomas learning if his first exposure to the adult world is the message that it’s OK to break promises and walk out on commitments?
“A lot of kids need to understand that when you make a commitment to attend a university, it’s not like you’re making a reservation to a hotel and you can just cancel it and not show up,” UCF coach George O’Leary says. “A lot of times the recruiting process is the first big commitment these kids make in their lives, and they need to understand that.
“With all the time and money spent on recruiting, that’s why we have a National Signing Day. The NCAA takes that piece of paper (National Letter of Intent) very seriously and they should. It would have to be an extremely extenuating circumstance for me to let a kid out of his letter. If you let one kid go, you’re setting an agenda for the future.”
Fisher won’t talk about what decision he is going to make on Thomas, but I’m almost certain O’Leary speaks for him and most other college football coaches. In fact, in a conversation with the Tallahassee Democrat, FSU Athletic Director Randy Spetman echoed O’Leary’s words.
“You’d get into a situation where if you release him (Thomas) then people would be doing that every year,” Spetman said. “We would be more than happy to release someone if there is a compelling reason.”
Thomas has no compelling reason except for the fact that he has changed his mind. Frankly, you wonder why he has changed his mind. You especially wonder why when Southern Cal and shady coach Lane Kiffin are involved.
O’Leary has been a college coach for a long time, and he says when a kid wants to transfer there’s traditionally somebody in the kid’s ear. “I’ve found there’s usually a fly in the ointment,” O’Leary said.
Think about what would happen if Fisher or any other coach let his players transfer without having to sit out a year — coaches such as Kiffin and Urban Meyer never would stop recruiting players, even after they signed with a school. Every backup player in the country would transfer to a school where he is promised a starting job the following season. There would be anarchy — a mass exodus of players every year from every top program in the country.
The fact is no college football player needs permission to transfer. He can leave anytime he wants to go anywhere he wants. The only thing is that he will have to sit out a season before he can play.