Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My unpopular look at Kater to Cincinnati

I haven’t ever done much with recruiting when it comes to college football coverage.
There are so many potential athletes, so many teams, and so little that can be said “on the record” by coaches about it, it is almost a lost cause for me.
But, recently, Central Michigan fans have been in an uproar about Montague quarterback Cody Kater switching his commitment from CMU to Cincinnati, jumping the ship with new coach Butch Jones.
Chippewa fans are upset, and I can understand why, but the simple fact is that this is the underbelly of college football.
Recruiting is a non-stop process for coaches and many, if not all, go to extreme lengths to secure the best players, which includes under-cutting the competition.
Kater and wide receiver Montrel Robinson’s decisions to leave CMU and head to Cincinnati are certainly no fault of their own.
Who can blame these kids for wanting to play for the coaching staff that they had been recruited by for the past few years?
Kater and Robinson don’t know what to expect of Dan Enos, but they do of Jones, and it is understandable that they would want to play for the Bearcats given the opportunity.
What really has gotten the CMU fans upset is a quote from Kater that he told WZZM, ABC 13 television:
"The day (Jones) signed his contract (at Cincinnati) he called me at 6 a.m. He told me that he wanted me there and he wanted me to go with him."
Does it hurt that Jones went after Kater and ultimately got him to go to Cincinnati?
But, the reality is that any other college coach would do the same.
Just look at Jones’ mentor, Rich Rodriguez, who just this week took defensive end Jibreel Black from the Bearcats. Black was committed to play at Cincinnati, but once Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame, Rodriguez jumped into recruiting him despite the fact that his good friend Jones was coming into Cincinnati.
It is all part of the game.
When Jones came to CMU, he brought in Antonio Brown, who was originally planning on going to West Virginia, but decided to stick with the guy that recruited him and became a Chippewa.
So, you can be upset and frustrated, but trashing Jones on the matter doesn’t change that this is the reality of college football.
I know many CMU fans that were hopeful that when Enos was hired, that he would bring recruits that were committed to Michigan State here to Mt. Pleasant. Why would that be okay, but what Jones did be such a big deal?
There is also a bit of rumblings among fans that the loss of these recruits is a sign that Enos is not a good head coach. I am not sure how that is a logical thought, but again, this happens at every other program that has coaching changes.
I know since arriving, Enos has been hot on the recruiting trails and doing all he can to maintain the recruiting class and add new pieces to it. It is far too early to make any decisions on whether he is the right man for the job or that Dave Heeke picked the wrong guy.
Also, let’s not anoint Kater the next Dan LeFevour.
Sure, Kater was a highly-touted recruit by recruiting websites, but that doesn’t make him a sure thing. He may never make it at Cincinnati and may have never made it here. There are some good young quarterbacks at CMU, and Kater would have his hands full moving up the depth chart. Let’s remember that LeFevour himself was not highly recognized by recruiting sites, but he turned out to be pretty special, yet a player like De’Onte Burnam was a three-star recruit, and he never amounted to much of anything.
I know my take on this whole situation may not be popular and that many fans will refer to me as a Butch Jones “slappy”, which is their right.
Jones gave me the opportunity to see the game from a new perspective and see how the machine of college football works, from all aspects, including recruiting. I am greatly appreciative for getting that opportunity, but in my reporting, I have always been fair. When the Chippewas played bad, I acknowledged it. When they played well, I acknowledged that.
It is easy as a fan (because I am guilty of it with the Lions) to see what happens on the field for three hours and make judgments on whether a coach is doing the right thing, but there is so much more to it. Most fans make quick, emotional reactions to everything relating to their program. This situation is no different.
Fans wanted Kater as a Chippewa, they are upset, and they want to blame Jones for what happened and they are still upset he left for Cincinnati carrying the same message he had when he was here.
I get that.
But, what you need to understand is that it is no different anywhere else and had CMU taken a coach from another school, his message would be the same as it was at the previous school. It is the way of the world.
If Kater doesn’t want to play in Mt. Pleasant, so be it. Let Enos find his guys that want to play his system and let’s see what develops.
Last time I checked, the football program wasn’t built on one player or coach, and it won’t be any time soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drew this is a wonderful take on the situation but you should check your facts.
Black opened his recruiting up after Kelly left and committed to Michigan. Although RR (Snake Oil Salesman) has had a history of poaching recruits. Antonio Brown had nowhere to go after being a late qualifier.
Jones on the other had hand called up Kater before he even addressed his own team. Huge and very unethical difference. He called up recruits while they were still verbal commitments to CMU. We know you were in Butch's back pocket. We understand that he had alot of people fooled. So there is no shame that you are still in denial of a man that is about me, myself and I.
If you would like to discuss this further then you can take it to the Chippewa Insiders Scout site. Zeke and the rest of the board members would love to educate you.

January 26, 2010 at 7:10 PM 
Blogger Drew Ellis said...

While Black opened his recruiting, Kater was doing the same. He was waiting to see if Bajakian was going to be named coach. Why else did you see other schools having him come on visits?
With Brown, there is more to it than him just being a late qualifier. I know West Virginia was still an option for him.
I understand why you don't like Butch right now and I know there are sides to every coach that are not flattering, Jones included. But, again, you tell me what coach you respect in college football, and I am pretty confident they have or would do the same thing if they were in this situation.
Does it suck that he called recruits like he did? Yeah. Is it dirty? Yeah. But, welcome to college football. The entire NCAA is nothing but business and dirty politics.
Pressure is on these coaches to do everything perfect, and that means getting your hands dirty. It is just the way of the land.
I appreciate you reading and your comment. I would love to continue to discuss this more if you would like.

January 26, 2010 at 7:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty sure it was an NCAA mandated recruiting dead period when Butchie took the Cincinatti job, so wouldn't contacing Kater at 6am that day technically be an NCAA violation

January 27, 2010 at 3:12 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can still call during a Dead Period.

January 27, 2010 at 5:12 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drew, pretty sure you are just sticking up for Butch Jones on this one which is pretty lame. I'm just calling it as I see it.

Just because it happens at other schools doesn't make it alright for Jones to do it too. Its pretty scumbag of him to do and its not something that us Chippewa fans will forget anytime real soon.

January 27, 2010 at 5:47 AM 
Blogger Drew Ellis said...

Again, you guys can have your opinions and that is fine. Call me what you will. I respect what you are feeling and I can't say that if I was in your shoes, I wouldn't feel the same, but having covered college football, I know that these things are a reality across the country. For the fans that want to feel like coaches are perfect angels, they aren't. They make mistakes and make tough calls that we all have to.
If you truly feel angry about what happened, that is fine. But, if CMU ever does this to another school or recruit, I want to hear you come back here with that same anger toward the Chippewas. Because if you are just mad that it happened to your program, that is my whole point in this column.

January 27, 2010 at 9:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a die hard CMU fan, the thing I will remember about Butch Jones is the two MAC Championships he helped bring to CMU as opposed to a phone call that Butch made to a kid who has never and apparently will never play for CMU. EVERY coach does it...I am sure Enos was on the phone with recruits from MSU as soon as he was hired by CMU. It does not make them scumbags, it makes them coaches playing the politics game of recruiting.

January 27, 2010 at 10:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drew is right on this one. Recruiting is very much "playing the game." Sometimes the reality of the world hurts. But, life is not always fair. Maybe we should be spending less time thinking about this one recruit and more time thinking about the new team and coach...as a whole. One more thing....It seems interesting to see how quick we have seem to forgotten about what Jones has done for the team over the past few years. I don't know Drew, but I have been reading his stuff for years, I am sure he will be just as fair with Enos as he was with Butch.

January 27, 2010 at 11:35 AM 
Blogger sman said...

Players are recruited by coaches, not schools. If a coach goes somewhere else that player is going to want to follow, and that coach is going to want to bring him along because he has spent a lot of time trying to get the kid. The reason why I don't have a big problem with Coach Jones is because I really believe that while he was here, he did everything he could to help CMU be the best team it could be. And I think he did a great job, as 2 conference titles and 3 bowl games, should show you. Now it is his job to do the best job he can at Cinci, just like Coach Enos' job is now to do the best job he can here, and not worry about MSU. He is going to try to get the best players he can here no matter if MSU is recruting the kid or not. I think it was a good hire and I think things will work out fine. I really don't think Cody is all that special and I would bet he never sees the field as a QB for Cinci, but that's just my own thought. It is time to move on.

January 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coach Enos already stated that he will not recruit athletes that are verbally committed to another program. If said athlete decides to look around then I can understand a kid changing his commitment.
Coach Jones is obviously from the RichRod "Big East" philosophy that there are no ethics in recruiting. This may be alright with some of you, but winning at all costs is not what athletics is all about.
I personally would much rather take the high road and do things with respect and class. Tom Izzo has always worked in this manner. Bo Schembechler worked in this manner. Jim Tressel has always ran his program following these same ethical guidelines. You don't have to stoop to the levels of Rodriguez, Jones and Kiffin to win at the college level.
Drew if you think this behavior is inherent in all college programs then I would have to respectfully disagree with your position. Of course, I do realize that the only real background you have on this subject was following around Butch. We already know his stance on this matter.

January 27, 2010 at 2:54 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about how you say things...Enos said that he will not recruit athletes, it does not mean he will not call them and let him know he is the coach of CMU....EVERY Coach has and does this...If Jim Tressel were to leave Ohio State, I guarantee he would be on the phone with the recruits that are verbally committed to OSU. Coaching in college football is about winning now. Also these coaches spend alot of time recruiting these players and getting to know them, the least they could do is call them and let them know they will not be the coach and let them know where they are going. If you honestly think that this behavior is not inherent in all college football programs then you are naive. Drew is so right on this one...

January 28, 2010 at 10:12 AM 
Blogger Drew Ellis said...

I appreciate the last comment and to the comment before that, if you think Jim Tressel is the standard for ethical behavior, then you need to look into his past too. It is pretty well known that years ago he was doing shady business and turning a blind eye to Maurice Clarett. With all of the advancements in technology and communication, all coaches have to go to new lengths. I am not saying it should be accepted, I am just saying it is the reality. If you want to see things chance, complain to the NCAA that let's it all happen.

January 28, 2010 at 11:45 AM 
Anonymous ST said...

Inherently, college football is a dirty game, it’s a cold business, and by its pure nature, everything that surrounds it is mostly unethical. I am as big of a college football fan as anyone; I don’t think there is another sport in the U.S. that can duplicate the passion that it creates. But the ugly side of the sport seems to get uglier as the years pass and the pressure continually mounts on these coaches to succeed.

Is it ok that Butch started plucking recruits from his previous job the second he agreed to take over Cincinnati? No, in a general sense probably not, but only in a general sense. Lane Kiffin got slammed by the national media for essentially doing the same thing after he left Tennessee for USC. But that’s the world of college football; It s a do or die profession. Butch is no better or worse than the rest of the majority of college coaches in America, he is doing what he thinks he has to do to succeed at his next job. It looks like a ruthless move, but you must remember the ruthlessness of the profession itself.

I think one of the problems is that some CMU fans bought into the fact that Jones was a cut above a guy like Brian Kelly. That he somehow worked with more integrity than the others. I am a booster of the CMU program, and I really liked him as a coach, but if you spent 1 minute around Jones, you could tell he was good at what he did. And to be good in that business, you unfortunately have to make some questionable moves to succeed. So let’s not fry Jones over this, he is no different than most other coaches in the business. I am not saying the culture of the sport is a good one, fair, and or right. In fact, it’s pretty sleazy by its nature, but Jones actions since leaving CMU are no better or worse than any other coach in America, and unfortunately, that just a cold hard fact.

I say forget about this 18 year old kid.

January 28, 2010 at 12:35 PM 
Anonymous Front Row said...

CMU has a stud QB in waiting- don't be worried about Kater going to Cinci- I think in the long run, its best for CMU. Kater, while a good athlete, doesn't compare to Westendorp as a person.

The funny thing about this whole issue- no one would be angry about anything if the Chippewas were 4-8 last year and 5-7 the year prior.. my point and take on this from the start- if we have a coach move on every 3-4 years, ENJOY IT. It means we are a winning program.

January 28, 2010 at 8:17 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the guy that said: "I personally would much rather take the high road and do things with respect and class."

He then sights someone (Tom Izzo) from another sport! (basketball) that recruits 1 or 2 players a year sometimes. Then he sights a guy who retired 25 years ago prior to modern day recruiting. And then he sights Jimmy Tressel who's staff still works kids hard that have given verbals.

You sir, are either a phony or you are a loser who is more interested in pretending to be a nice guy than being a winner.

January 28, 2010 at 9:16 PM 
Blogger freznhimer said...

First off, it should be a "rule" that the coach immediately calls his recruits and lets them know that he has just accepted a head coaching job at another program and let them know that he sees the bright picture he painted for the kid to still come true, "conference championships, you leading the offense, immediate playing time, bowl victorys," for his new program. These kids are committed to the coach and what he brings to the table. It's the coach talking about the system the program will be running and why the recruit will fit so well. The AD doesn't sit in these kids homes, take them out to dinner and spend time getting to know them. The coach(s) invest that time.

Another point of view... why don't you just take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of an 18 year old kid making the biggest decision of your life, up until this point, which is deciding which school you’ll be playing ball for. Here you are, young and impressionable, with 20+ schools all calling and telling you why you should play for them. What do you think is the criteria that you would use to choose schools? Who do you think is one person who controls all those criteria... the coach? The coach overturns objections and sells the player on himself, his abilities, and the prestige of the program. So, that means, with this rule, you just verbally commit to this program and this coach who you feel good about, you feel it’s a good fit, you bond, you have a good feeling about him... it just seems right, and ooops... your coach just switched teams and you cannot even speak to him. ha ha ha ha ha ha. You see how ridiculous that is. What about the legitimate concerns the coach has for the player? He spends all these hours with this kid and then leaves him to a coach he knows nothing about. I would feel terrible leaving a kid I just sold out to and made him understand why he was making the right decision to play for me and then I leave after being offered a job I cannot refuse. The first thing I would do is make the phone call and let them know what just happened and what I said I meant, “I don't know a lot about so and so, but I know the AD is a great guy and I’m sure he made the right decision.. so you can keep your commitment, or you can un-commit and come play for me at X program.” Enos is going to have to earn his first recruiting class, after that, when he moves on after 3-4 bowl victories, he'll have a following of recruits too.

February 15, 2010 at 10:49 PM 

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