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Friday, March 12, 2010

Texas Tech/Adam James incident illustrates why colleges should think twice before recruiting the kid of a former standout athlete

Recent videos that have surfaced showing former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach berating his players after two different games once again brings to the forefront the whole Adam James debacle. However, rather than rehash that whole scenario, I would like to look at that story from a different perspective. Adam James, the Texas Tech player who allegedy was mistreated in this situation, is the son of Craig James, a former NFL player and current ESPN analyst. It is not uncommon for the sons and daugthers of former athletic greats to be recruited by colleges nowadays. In fact, two players on Ohio State's football team are the sons of two former standouts for Ohio State: Duron Carter is the son of former All-American and Minnesota Viking Cris Carter, and Adam Griffin is the son of the two time heisman winning running back Archie Griffin. Even going back a little further, Jarret Payton, son of the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, played football for the University of Miami. The situation with Adam James and his father Craig, is unique, however, in that it underlies the peril in potentially recruiting such an athlete. Adam seems to indeed have felt that because of his pedigree he was somehow "entitled", and that subsequently he did not have to work as hard as the other athletes on scholarship. Craig James for his part used his position as ESPN analyst and former NFL player to force Texas Tech in a corner regarding the investigation surrounding his son, thereby raising an ethical issue that ESPN will ultimately have to address prior to the start of the 2010 college football season. So as appealing as recruiting an athlete that comes from a strong pedigree sounds, it can definitely have its drawbacks. Even the younger Carter did not escape his freshman season without trouble, having been reported skipping class on a routine basis and being declared academically ineligible to play in the Rose Bowl vs. Oregon. My suggestion to coaches who want to recruit such players is that they tread lightly when doing so. They should first have their assistants conduct thorough interviews with the players, and then the parents. The head coach should be able to rest easy knowing that the parents of such a reruit want their kid to be treated just like any other kid on scholarship, and that the player does not have any expectation of playing time just because of who his or her parents are/were. The university/college should relax in the comfort that they will not lose the thousands of dollars spent on the student athlete when the parent's decide to use their influence to sue/threaten to sue them. If university programs and/or head coaches adopt this advice, then I believe incidents like the one surrounding Adam James will become less frequent.

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