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To get the blood boiling, nothing beats recruiting

Posted: February 10, 2013 - 12:13am

Outside of the trials and tribulations of Romo’s bad mojo, or maybe the still bitter memories of Game 6 in St. Louis, there’s little else that stirs it up around here quite like college recruiting.

So with last week’s National Signing Day closer than you think in the rearview mirror, here are three items up for discussion this morning:

Mack’s verbal throw down.

The Gumps of Alabama.

A personal apology to the Aggies, particularly Aggie Bill.

Let us start with, yes, Mack Brown.

- It was, of course, a small recruiting class in Austin, but seemingly rather strong in quality, and in past years, there would have been no reason for whiny orange panic.

I’m not saying Mack is panicking.

But based on his comments at the media gathering to discuss UT’s class, there was an obvious defensive tone attached to his remarks. And the defensive tone came with a good reason.

It’s unheard of for the Longhorns to have five key verbal commitments flip on them. Texas flips players. Players don’t flip on Texas. Yet, it repeatedly happened this time.

Mack got rather hot about it, and vowed that verbal commitments to UT will now be binding.

“If you look, we’re gonna go look,” he said. “It’s dog eat dog out there right now. The 15 (recruits) we got are very passionate about being at Texas.

“If a young person tells you they are coming, and their parents tell you they are coming, and they back out, you don’t want them to be here, very honestly.”

And his kicker line was: “We’re going to ask the families not to commit to us if there’s any chance they’re going to look elsewhere.”

Easy, Mack.

He’s asking kids who are 17 and 18 years old (and in Mack’s latest early recruiting push, juniors who are 16) to have their mind made up and cast in concrete. That will not happen, particularly not in today’s social media rodeo.

It sounded desperate. Mack declared war on flippers at a school where that hasn’t been a worry. Just a sign of the changing times, and a sign that stories of Mack’s job security issues are being used against him in recruiting.

Some will call that negative recruiting. Others will call it the recruiting truth. Mack does seem to have job security issues.

And if the flippers are now taboo in Austin, will Mack also cease attempting to lure flippers? The Longhorns yanked an offensive lineman away from Baylor in this current class.

If flippers at UT are bad, aren’t all flippers bad?

- Those Alabama fans are an interesting breed. The Gumps are full of it, and you can’t blame them.

But last week I wrote a column about a “5-star” recruit in our state whom I had watched play, and without rehashing the circumstances, I could not believe his lack of effort in that game.

I didn’t use the name because he’s a high school kid, but, as expected, most who follow recruiting knew who he was.

Plus, the reaction of coaches in his high school district was severe enough that a 5-star recruit wasn’t even voted first-team all-district in a district that had only one elite team, meaning it wasn’t a particularly tough district.

But I will go ahead and say he flipped from Texas to Alabama.

A website for ‘Bama football picked up the column, and, man, some interesting email exchanges followed.

First, it’s not unusual that fans in faraway states think everyone in Texas is a Longhorns fan. Obviously, that’s not close to the truth, but in one- or two-college team states, particularly those without pro teams, it’s the mentality.

So the Gumps I heard from were certain that column was written by a UT apologist, which is pretty dang funny. And also convinced the high school coaches all had UT ties.

Actually, the game I saw, and then the all-district voting, and the opinions of the coaches, all came when the kid was seemingly a confirmed commit to Texas.

His flip happened less than a week before signing day.

But I will say if anyone can perform an attitude adjustment on this player, it’s Nick Saban. It will be make or break time. For his own good, I think the player made the tough choice, and the right choice.

As far, however, as the Gumps are concerned, go poison a tree, OK?

- They told me. They kept telling me. Texas A&M’s move to the SEC would be a recruiting bonanza, that’s what the Aggies told me.

I hated to see them leave, hated for the old rivalries to be broken up, and thought leaving was a serious mistake, both short and long term.

But the Aggies saw it as a new beginning, and the opportunity to leave the UT cloud.

They were right. My old friend Aggie Bill has been nice enough not to leave me a “told ya so” message, even thought we debated long and hard on this issue.

Of course, at Big 12 departure time, no Aggie knew of Johnny Manziel. And no Aggie expected the immediate first-year impact on the field. Certainly the instant success contributed greatly to maybe the best recruiting haul in school history last week.

Admittedly, however, Kevin Sumlin had already built a strong recruiting class of verbal commitments even before Johnny Football emerged. No doubt, that was an SEC impact, followed by the Johnny impact.

By midseason, seemingly every receiver in the high school football world wanted to call College Station their new home, along with recruits at all positions.

As of right now, the Aggies own the state of Texas. Amazing.

Aggie Bill, you told me so.

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