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Why the Mac Jones saga showcases everything that is wrong with college football recruiting

Last night, Mac Jones flipped his commitment from Kentucky to Alabama, an understandable decision for a 17-year-old quarterback, albeit one that stings quite a bit for the UK Football program. Over the past few months, Jones positioned himself as the centerpiece of UK’s 2017 class, going as far as to don a hard hat and pose in front of the program’s new practice facility. “Mac the Builder” being #AllIn with UK Football then flipping hurts, but more interesting to me is what Jones’ decision — and what happened afterwards — says about college football recruiting. Specifically, that it sucks.

Here’s why.

Verbal commitments mean nothing

Mac Jones committed to Kentucky back on July 27, 2015. At the time, he was a three-star prospect with offers from Mercer and East Carolina. First off, kudos to the Kentucky staff for having a nose for talent; Jones is yet another example of Mark Stoops’ staff getting on a kid early and snagging a commitment. Unfortunately for Kentucky, his stock soared. In the span of about ten months, Jones picked up a fourth star and 19 more offers, including four from other SEC schools, none bigger than defending national champion Alabama.

Last July, I don’t doubt that Mac Jones wanted to come to Kentucky. It was his first major offer and from an SEC school to boot; however, my problem here is that kids are allowed to commit to schools so early, before their junior seasons and many of the major recruiting events. With decommitments on the rise, expecting high schoolers to take their time with the recruiting process before committing is obviously asking too much, so the NCAA should prohibit verbal commitments until after National Signing Day for the previous class. So, in this case, 2017 recruits would only be able to verbally commit to a school after February 3, which was Signing Day for the 2016 class.

OR, if players really, really want to commit to a school before then, institute an early signing period in the fall. Otherwise, stop calling it a verbal commitment and call it, “Well, this sounds good for now, but let’s see if something better comes along.”


Grown men trolling each other on Twitter

An hour after Jones’ announcement, UK co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw tweeted a quote from renowned religious leader James E. Faust:

Now, unless Hinshaw is having some moral crisis none of us know about (if that’s the case, why share on Twitter?), that tweet clearly has to be about Jones’ decision, right? I’ll touch more on the merits of a grown man casting judgment on a kid’s decision in a public forum here in a minute, but first, we have to talk about Lane Kiffin’s response. Kiffin, a notorious troll, saw Hinshaw’s tweet and retweeted it, which some Alabama sportswriters claim is NOT an act of trolling, but most certainly is. I mean, come on, earlier in the day, Kiffin tweeted this bitmoji of himself wiping his hands and saying “Done and Done,” which has to be a reference to the Mac Jones flip because Jones retweeted it later that night:

(The fact that Kiffin uses bitmojis is mockable in itself, but Kiffin’s response to me would probably be a bitmoji of himself in sunglasses saying “Who got the last laugh?”, so whatever.)

Still, grown men using bitmojis and getting into Twitter wars over teenagers is what college football recruiting has come to, and that sucks.


Grown men “subtweeting” kids

I’ll preface this by saying I’m sure Darin Hinshaw is a great guy, and I’ve been impressed with him in interviews so far; however, commenting (even indirectly) on a 17-year-old’s decision on a public forum like Twitter is kind of a bad look. Sure, it may have been a “subtweet” (defined by Google as a post that refers to a particular user without directly mentioning them, typically as a form of furtive mockery or criticism), but it was clearly a reference to Jones in my opinion.

(As a side, the fact that the word “subtweet” even exists is embarrassing.)

I get that Hinshaw and the rest of the coaching staff were hurt by Jones’ decision, especially since he seemed so #AllIn with the program (as of Monday, he was scheduled to be a guest on the radio show later this week to promote it), but he’s a kid, so let’s just step back and let cooler heads prevail. Coach-on-coach Twitter attacks are fine, as are player-on-player (see Matt Elam’s subtweet), but when it comes to coach-on-player, that’s where you get in trouble. Case in point: the drama at Texas A&M last month when wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead subtweeted five-star QB Tate Martelli after his decommitment, which led to a string of decommitments and recruits eliminating the Aggies from their lists.

A much more mature response would have been one like Mark Stoops’ after losing Damien Harris to Alabama in 2015:

So, one more time for those keeping score at home:

FOOTBALL RECRUITING TWITTER WARS

Player-to-Player: âœ…

Coach-to-Coach: ðŸ™„ but âœ…

Coach-to-Player: ðŸš«

Fan-to-Player: ðŸš« ðŸš« ðŸš«


Until Kentucky starts winning, the big dogs will keep eating

This isn’t something that sucks about college football recruiting, this is just the reality for Kentucky football right now. Losing Mac Jones sucks, but until the Cats start going to bowl games, big time recruits will more often than not defer to bigger, better offers. Stoops and company can lean on the home state hero pitch to keep kids like Matt Elam, Landon Young, and Davonte Robinson on board, but expecting out-of-state players to remain loyal to a program that hasn’t proven itself over a perennial power is asking a whole, whole lot.

Kentucky Football 2016: Just Win

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

45 Comments for Why the Mac Jones saga showcases everything that is wrong with college football recruiting



  1. Kevin C
    8:36 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    So you’re making this out to just be a “college football” problem ? Why, so we can conveniently ignore that we likely don’t win the NC in 2012 without Terrence Jones, who flipped his decision within mere minutes of announcing he was going to Washington, after talking to Cal?

    Yes, this sucks, but there’s no reason to be butthurt about it. We can’t expect teenagers to be held to their “decisions”, any more than we do the coaches for whom they play….or often never get to, because said coach jumped at a better opportunity.



    • Mrs. Tyler Thompson
      8:47 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

      Terrence Jones aside, for the most part, college basketball recruiting seems better to me. Kids take their time with their decisions instead of jumping the gun and committing to the first big team to come calling; however, that may just be how it goes with elite basketball recruits. Sadly, elite football recruits may do the same, we just don’t know.



    • runningunnin.454
      10:40 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

      It could be said that Jamal Murray was a done deal for Oregon until Cal called; and, I would imagine Memphis fans thought they had a pretty decent recruiting class until Cal split for Lexington.
      That’s just the way it goes; we have a basketball school, and Alabama has a football school…it will take a great deal of hard work for either school to flip the perceptions.



    • Ricky Blumpkin
      12:26 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Jones called Cal and said he messed up. So, not even the same thing.



    • Wah Wah
      12:17 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Jones

      Wall

      Cousins

      And many others…



    • catdaddyd
      1:18 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      How about KSR not putting football commitments on it website. Just put those who are signed to play with us. Give them the publicity.



  2. SmartCat
    8:51 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    My big question is, which has yet to be answered, when was the staff notified of his flip to Bama? Although I wish that Hinshaw had not posted that tweet because of the negativity it has generated, I can understand it if he was not forewarned of the flip beforehand. Anyone know when they found out?



  3. Dave Neals Ass
    8:53 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    I hunk there are PLENTY more things wrong with recruiting than the petty stuff listed in this article.

    An early signing period is fine, although I don’t know how much it would be fit the Kentuckys of the world; I think a lot f recruits would wait to see what other options open up and how things change. It already happens a good bit in college basketball and you’re talking about a lot fewer total prospects in that sport.

    Barring verbal commitments? Really? How can you ban something you don’t recognize in the first place? We are comfortable with the NCAA restricting speech?



  4. kjd
    9:37 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    So you don’t want verbal commitments until after nat’l signing day. Then you don’t allow scholarship offers until the same time frame.
    I think this whole piece is a bunch a crying over nothing. There are no guarantees until you have a signature on the dotted line. There is no guarantee for the school nor the player.



  5. KatsKlaws
    9:47 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    I guess I will put my 2 cents on this Mac Jones situation…..I don’t think anyone gives two sh*ts where he goes to school…it’s the fact that he acted like he was fully committed, all in, and all that other crap they say.

    If it still early in the process and you know you are still shopping schools don’t use that rhetoric. It’s ok to commit and sure things change, just don’t act like you are a done deal when you clearly know that is not the case.



    • runningunnin.454
      10:45 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

      Agree 100%. But there are few kids that age who have the maturity to understand that your word means something or it doesn’t. Randal Cobb said “no thanks” when Tennessee called; he gave his word to UK
      Actually, I would take one Randal Cobb over ten kids like Mac Jones. Character and honor come with maturity.



    • Ricky Blumpkin
      12:26 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      That’s my whole problem with this: he lied. Yes, I take honesty very seriously. I know he’s young, but don’t lie.



    • Blueblueblueblue
      7:20 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Cobb felt like he owed KY because they took a chance on him when he wasn’t highly thought of. They were much later to the party than Alabama was with this kid.



    • CatFanDu
      8:58 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Absolutely Agree! I may be a little seasoned, but there seems to be a real problem with character and integrity with society as a whole, and it is reflected in these types of “star” recruits. Regardless of what talent a person has, Integrity is important. If he does not have integrity, it may be best he did go elsewhere. Just my .02, adjusted for inflation.



    • Wah Wah
      12:21 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      These “kids” develop and become stars or develop their talent at a variance. If I am a Football Recruit and I have the chance to go to Bama, I take it. It is a potential difference of millions. This is life changing in its potential.

      Most people cannot grasp this because they’ve never had these opportunities and never will. Small lives. Small experience.

      Keep voting. lol



    • CatFanDu
      1:06 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      So Wah Wah, are you saying integrity shouldn’t still have a place or what??? Many have seized some big opportunities, and have let some pass by, but when you keep to your word, there are no regrets.
      If you aren’t prepared to put your word into action, then it’s best to just keep quiet. Especially when there is more at stake than just your own little world, because others may judge you by what you say in public.



  6. 3 fan
    10:26 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    I agree to to commitments until after end of their junior season

    That being said, maybe if UK would win some mutha f%#!*g games we won’t worry about this. Just damn win Stoops!! And not over Sisters of the Poor. Win in the damn SEC!!!



    • Wah Wah
      12:24 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      If Stoops starts to actually win with what he’s recruited, this will change. He hasn’t won anything yet. He hasn’t grabbed the national attention. He hasn’t reached for the imagination. He’s done nothing so far.

      If he does, he’ll get the BIG TIME recruits.

      This kid may be something special. He may turn out to be a blip on the radar.

      Stoops needs to do something. If he makes some noise, the recruits will notice. If he let’s the Kentucky curse get him, he’ll be another casualty.

      Produce. Then…we’ll see.



  7. GroundControlToNumber9
    11:33 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    Kids can do what they want and programs need to have staff with resolve.



  8. Buster
    11:33 pm June 8, 2016 Permalink

    The verbal commit flipping is nothing new.

    Meanwhile, $200 million is a hefty price for mediocrity. At least the next coaching staff will have shiny new offices.



  9. Angelo
    1:20 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    Hinshaw is a marketing genius on par with Cal…Not!



  10. Ken Kratz
    5:36 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    MTT is correct. We need to win. Now.

    Nice article.



  11. Art Vandalay
    6:45 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    UK isn’t a national football power. We are forced to offer early and hope it sticks. Schools like Bama can decide who they want, offer late, and most of the time get who they want.

    It isn’t that we identify talent earlier, it’s just that the big boys wait to see who develops into what before they pull the trigger and make an offer. Cal does the same thing in basketball. This avoids offering someone that doesn’t fill out or missing out on a player that develops into a monster in his last 2 years of HS.

    We will continue to be the haves in basketball and the have nots in football until there are some pretty significant changes in the perception of the football program.



    • Blueblueblueblue
      7:21 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      This is 100% correct.



    • Wah Wah
      12:27 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Exactly!

      When Stoops starts winning, this will change. If he doesn’t win, it will be more of the same old Kentucky Football.

      Kentucky Football hasn’t been jack since the ’50s. Win or shut the hell up.

      All of this whining is part of the losing.



  12. BluKudzu
    7:01 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    The football program at UK is a mess. I agree, until you are able to prove you belong inside the velvet ropes, you can’t possibly have success when other schools with superior programs make an offer.
    There are too many problems at UK right now. Last year gave every school in the country ammunition to attack.
    I mean, think about it. Our third OC in 4 years vs. Lane Kiffen. The issue with Patrick last season. Alabama plays for the Championship we struggle at home in OT to beat EKU. The coach at Alabama speaks, people stop dead in their tracks and listen. The lack of respect Stoops received was evident at the kickoff.
    $200 million in upgrades to the program, millions invested in a coach, who turns in clunker seasons, and we expect a kid to give up Alabama football, whose annual travel and recruiting budget is equal to our once every 30 years commitment in football financially?
    If UK was serious about winning football, we would not have Stoops. He is a great person, no doubt, but commands no respect, nor can he with what he puts on the field or puts in the pros.
    Being a UK football fan is a very thankless situation. This staff and thier actions, on and off the field, is humiliating. It seems we can’t stop making things worse. Yet, with the way this program is managed, we do.



    • Blueblueblueblue
      7:23 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Drop out of the SEC. Drop UofL. Get in the AAC. Football would improve. Basketball would stay the same.



    • Booby Petrino
      8:47 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      lol drop out of the SEC for the AAC. People keep complaining about money, think about what a financial disaster leaving the SEC for the AAC would be.



    • ClutchCargo
      9:34 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Blueblueblue’s thought process positively identifies him as a UofL fan. Thanks for clearing that up, little buddy.



  13. shelby
    8:08 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    While disappointed, I honestly don’t feel the Mac jones decommit is all that harsh; I was, and still am, much more upset over Damien Harris. This kid hung around the team, was on the field, and essentially played the UK staff like a fiddle. He knew he wasn’t going to UK but wanted it to appear so until the last minute. That one hurt me much more because he’s a Kentucky kid who befriended the staff and led them on.



  14. kycats13
    8:44 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    Elam would have never played at Alabama and he knew it. That is why he is with us at UK. He can barely play at Kentucky.



  15. Jenny
    9:38 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    The NCAA doesn’t recognize “verbal commitments” in any way, shape, or form. To say the NCAA should regulate when and how a kid decides their college choice is silly. A) It can’t be enforced, which is why we are in the process of deregulating so many other rules right now and B) the school doesn’t gain anything when a kid verbally commits – nothing changes their status with the school until pen is put to paper. They can’t receive aid, they can’t utilize the facilities with coaches, they can’t receive gear or other benefits. It literally changes nothing. Coaches already know that and that’s why they continue to recruit kids that are committed, at their school or elsewhere.



  16. 2Dogs
    9:51 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    Boo hoo. We lost a recruit and now the whole recruiting system is flawed? He made a choice he thought was best for himself and that apparently upset some folks who felt led on. Get over it. I’d love to have him but if he’s the difference between success and failure we may be in worse shape than I thought.



    • Wah Wah
      12:31 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      The system should be geared towards the best interest of the athlete.

      The program is secondary to the athlete.

      If you want the Elite Athletes, create an elite program. Kentucky barely beats EKU. WHAT!!!



  17. 2Dogs
    9:55 am June 9, 2016 Permalink

    Could someone please explain to me what triggers “comment is awaiting moderation”?



    • Ricky Blumpkin
      12:03 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Even the people who run the site can’t answer that question.



  18. kybigblue
    12:05 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

    Football recruiting is an up hill battle at UK. In basketball we know UK usually has a better shot of getting a top recruit than teams who struggle to make it to the NCAA tournament. Stoops hasn’t make it to a bowl in three years so is it is not surprise a player would choose Alabama over UK. UK’s schedule is tougher this year. I would be happy if Stoops could just pull off an upset which he hasn’t really done in three years.

    Yes, Stoops is recruiting better than Joker but he is still near the bottom of the SEC each year in recruiting. There are programs that have turned around their program but UK doesn’t seem to be getting a good return on their recent investments.



  19. Wah Wah
    12:14 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

    Did you people get angry when T Jones switched from Washington to UK

    Would you have been upset if Anthony Davis had committed to Illinois in his Sophomore Year, decommitted and then committed to UK in his Senior Year.

    This is a business decision.

    Alabama can put you into the NFL. Kentucky MIGHT……..MIGHT put you in the NFL.

    You people whine too much and have double standards.

    We all wonder why a kid goes to Mississippi or LSU instead of Kentucky and think them fools with it comes to Basketball. It is the exact same thing in Football. A kid would be a fool to come to Kentucky for Football when Bama, USC or Michigan are calling.

    Kentucky fans crack me up with this hypocrisy.



    • CatFanDu
      1:10 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Can’t blame him for his decision to go to ‘bama. The UK grandstanding and then the switch, well that’s just wrong. Save the grandstanding until you commit, show some class. That’s all.



    • KyCat
      2:47 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

      Maybe I am missing something here Wah Wah, but in this thread where are all the hypocritical posts of UK fans crying foul on Mac’s decision to flip? I think your post count alone in this thread is greater than the combined number of posts that were critical of the flip. The fact is he made his commitment a very public spectacle by his own doing with his many pro-UK all in posts over the last 10 plus months. Many of which have been recent and even after initial reports of an Alabama offer. Now personally I do not blame him for changing his mind but when you make public proclamations on a regular bases for an extended time, it is only to be expected there will be reaction when you abruptly change.

      However your repeated posts in this thread come across as if you are reacting to an ongoing outpouring of fan outrage over his flip that quite frankly I have not seen in these comments. And your comparing the T. Jones “flip” to this circumstance shows a complete lack of familiarity or understanding between the two situations. It is like saying two snow events are the same thing when one drops an inch or two and another drops 10-12 inches. Yes, it snowed both times (both players changed schools) but the circumstances and affect are completely different.



  20. Howdy Doody
    12:34 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

    The kid did what I, or ANY of you would have done. Prime Time with a huge NFL pay out, or suffer for 4 years and never be heard of again.
    Yeah, that’s the ticket…to no where fast.



  21. Caliparty09
    12:40 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

    I like “Just Win”….but I think “Just Catch The Damn Ball” is a better start for this program. Our receivers were straight butt last year.



  22. sincitycat
    1:00 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

    This all goes back to when we let The Bear get away…the curse of The Bear.



  23. 2thepoint
    1:31 pm June 9, 2016 Permalink

    I doubt Jones is ever a starter for Bama. From his picture I thought all along that he was to fragile looking to be an SEC QB.

    I want to win as much as anyone, but how can we honestly condemn Stoops when he has been working with players that should never have been on the roster and some with talent that were bad apples left over from Joker’s time. Everyone knows it takes years to build a program especially at schools that are on the bottom. I feel this year will show improvement if not more wins, because he now has mostly his players on the field. Even so many of them are freshmen, red-shirt freshman, sophomores, redshirt sophomores, and a few juniors. We won’t have a viable chance to win many SEC games until the roster is packed with seniors and red-shirt seniors.

    The money spent on upgrading the football facilities was a must. It will bring results and help with a new football staff in a couple of years.