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Success With Honor

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Wow. Sorry I missed the fun on Friday afternoon. While you were all calling Rich Rodriguez a scumbag and MGoBlog readers were attacking my credibility I was wrapped up in blankets with the chills and a fever occasionally taking a break to puke my guts out. Thanks to all for the spirited and relatively clean debate.

I was just going to let this go. But it never sits well with me when people attack my credibility. As bloggers that's all we have. If you don't believe the things I write here you have no reason to come here and frankly we're all wasting our time. So I'm going to address this one time, and then after this post we will probably never speak of this issue again.

In Brian's post he specifically mentions four players Penn State recruited after the player gave his verbal commitment to play elsewhere. Those players are

1.    Anthony Morelli
2.    Antonio Logan-El
3.    Deion Walker
4.    Corey Lewis

So let's go through them one by one starting with Anthony Morelli.

An interesting sidenote to the Morelli story is that Penn State originally thought they had a silent verbal from Chad Henne. As the story goes Henne called the Penn State coaches on a Saturday night to tell them he was going to Penn State, but then between then and the press conference on Tuesday he changed his mind and announced for Michigan. Who knows what happened there, but I've heard some pretty shady things from some of the locals (I lived in Chad Henne's school district just outside of Reading, PA at the time.) But that's neither here nor there. The fact is that when the opening came up it was Anthony Morelli who called Penn State first.

In the first week of the new year, new hope was given to the staff, as Morelli called the Penn State football offices and expressed his interest in giving the Lions a look.

"God has a plan for everyone," Jay Paterno said. "It's one of those things where one door closes and one or even two more doors open."

Before Joe Paterno gave the go-ahead to resume recruiting Morelli, he stipulated that the quarterback go tell Harris he was reopening the recruiting process, that he was no longer firm in his commitment to Pitt.

"Joe [Paterno] demands that people be up front in the whole recruiting process," Jay Paterno said.

So there you go. Anthony Morelli contacted Penn State first, and Joe Paterno demanded he be up front with the Pitt coaches. I defy anyone to show me anything shady here.

Now let's turn our attention to Mr. Logan-El.

Perhaps the easiest glimpse into Logan-El's off-field development came this May, when he met with University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen to inform the coach of his decision to explore other options because he had grown uncertain over his previous commitment to the Terrapins.

"I was a bit nervous" entering the meeting, the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Logan-El said. "You never know how a person is going to react. They could say, 'You go ahead and look at other schools, we're going to try to find another player.' But they didn't do that.

"I told him what I was going to do so everybody would be on the same page and none of the coaches from Maryland would have to read on the Internet and say, 'Wow, Logan-El is opening up his recruitment.' It was tough because I didn't know what the reaction would be like."

Did Logan-El contact Penn State before he decommitted or after? We'll probably never know that. But the key point here is once again the recruit informed the schools involved that he opened his recruitment.

The paint is still wet on the Deion Walker situation so it may be some time until we know what went down there. But there were rumors of Deion Walker second guessing his verbal to Notre Dame from the day he committed until the day he signed. Insiders say it was he who called Penn State on the Sunday before LOI day. Not the other way around.

As for Corey Lewis, Brian cites this article which says Corey Lewis was originally a verbal to Illinois.

Penn State looked as if it had a shot to sway Christchurch, Va., wide receiver Deion Walker and Cresco, Pa., tackle Corey Lewis from their original choices of Notre Dame and Illinois, respectively. But both players stuck with their initial choices.

Ah ha! If there was a pact between Big Ten coaches then Joe Paterno went against it! Not so fast, my friend. The problem with that is the article is wrong. Corey Lewis settled on Illinois on signing day, but he was originially a Virginia verbal.

Corey Lewis, a 6-foot-7, 292-pound offensive tackle from East Stroudsburg South High School in East Stroudsburg, Pa., decided to commit to the University of Virginia tonight after discussing the school with his father over the week following his unofficial visit there. Lewis also held written scholarship offers from Temple, Connecticut and Akron, but in the end his heart was in Virginia.

So rightfully Brian should retract his accusation that Joe Paterno recruited another Big Ten school's verbal commitment.

And the other members of the famed 2006 class with all the decommits we signed? Well, Pat Devlin had second thoughts about Miami after Larry Coker was fired. Bani Gbadyu was never solid in his verbal to LSU. The list goes on. High school kids change their minds. It happens all the time. Brian's right that it is part of the game these days. This year 200 kids decommitted from their original verbal agreement. I can't hold it against a kid for changing his mind, but I can hold it against him for the manner in which he does so. All indications were that Mike Shaw was going to Penn State right up until signing day. Even after he made an official trip to Michigan the Penn State insiders didn't seem worried. Why is this? Why didn't Rich Rodriguez insist that Shaw publicly reopen his recruiting? Why did Shaw string us along telling us he was solid to Penn State when he really wasn't? That's what I have a problem with here, and I'm curious to know Rich Rodriguez's role in it all. Did he instruct Shaw not to be upfront with Penn State? Did he plan this to make sure Penn State came up short in their recruiting needs?

Joe Paterno has a 41 year history of doing things the right way. Wolverine fans can point at the recent off the field issues, but Penn State fans can point at how those issues have been handled, with punishments, suspensions and dismissals. His program has always had exemplary graduation rates and has never once been investigated for recruiting violations. There is no reason to believe that Penn State does anything shady in the realm of recruiting.

Rich Rodriguez is another story. He suspiciously bailed on his alma mater after publicly proclaiming he was a West Virginia man for life. He called recruits to tell them he was going to Michigan before he told his own team. While his former team was playing in their bowl game he was sneaking into the office to shred documents. Now on signing day he steals recruits from Penn State and Purdue. You can say Tiller is crazy with his "gentleman's agreement", but it's not the first place I've heard of this agreement. Tiller just further confirmed it for me. So again, either RichRod was not aware of the agreement between Big Ten coaches or he blatantly chose to ignore it. For the sake of argument I'll say he didn't know about it. Regardless, isn't there any honor in recruiting anymore? I understand verbals are non-binding until they are signed, but still, isn't there a right way to do things? Why did the Penn State coaches believe Shaw was going to be signed and delivered right up until signing day? Why did Joe Tiller believe Roy Roundtree was going to Purdue? It just seems suspicious two players from the same high school would pull the same stunt. The common themes here are their high school coach and Rich Rodriguez. You can all draw your own conclusions. What's sad is that the Michigan faithful are so blind with rage toward beating Ohio State they can't see their fine program has sold its soul to win football games. I hope it's worth it.