Friday, February 5, 2010

How is This Even Ethical?

Allow me to put on my 'old scold' jersey.

Do you really think it's a good idea to put the pressure of playing college football on the shoulders of a kid who is 13 years old? I certainly don't. Lane Kiffin has now done it twice.

He did it at Tennessee and
now he's now done it with the USC Trojans:
Go ahead and laugh, but this time, Lane Kiffin may have outfoxed us.

Kiffin's scholarship offer to a 13-year-old seventh grader has turned into a national joke, right down to the obligatory Chris Hansen/Dateline NBC references. It's positively hilarious that Kiffin -- whose just-spell-my-name-right style of attention-grabbing recruiting has earned him a reputation bigger than his 7-6 record as a college head coach -- would promise a scholarship in the class of 2015 to a player who might not shave for three more years.

I'll admit it. I chuckled, too. Until I searched for David Sills on YouTube. Then everything made sense.

The description of the clip touts the Bear, Del., quarterback prodigy as "the best young phenom since Tiger Woods." (Get your minds out of the gutter, sickos.) The clip itself is a 117-second commercial for DreamMaker, the newest project for quarterback guru Steve Clarkson, whose past students include Matt Leinart, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley.

Let's not discount the fact that Sills is a promising young quarterback who, at 11, was profiled on this site. But even if Sills stops growing and remains stuck at 6-feet, even if he never throws a football one mile per hour faster, Kiffin has accomplished his mission. He has done a huge favor for Clarkson, whose DreamMaker project is a made-for-TV event, an American Idol for quarterbacks. We all know how rich Simon Cowell is, so if I'm Clarkson, I'm eternally grateful to Kiffin, whose scholarship offer to Sills made the ESPN crawl and sent college football fans scrambling to the Web to find video of the kid.

I don't care if the young man becomes the best quarterback in the land--that's not the point. The point is, how the hell do you, ethically and otherwise, recruit a 13 year-old to play in a sport five or six years from now?

You don't.

Shame on the NCAA for not having a basic rule in place to prevent this sort of nonsense.

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