Well, I think it’s safe to say we’ve reached critical mass when it comes to the recruitment of Robert Washington. And I don’t know about you folks, but I’m pretty relieved that tomorrow is decision day, because even as someone with no real connections to the recruitment other than being a lifelong Syracuse Orange fan and graduate, I’ve found myself getting far more wrapped up and invested in his recruitment than I ever could have imagined.
Now, this is a potentially program-changing recruit. I will never back down from that sentiment. If Robert Washington chooses Syracuse at 3:00 p.m. EST tomorrow, it will be one of the biggest recruiting wins in program history. That probably seems like hyperbole, but honestly I think it’s pretty appropriate. How many players over the history of Syracuse University’s football program could have the singular impact that Washington could have, both on and off the field? Particularly when you consider where the program is, in terms of national perception. Honestly, I think you’d have to go all the way back to Tim Green to find a recruit with as much of an impact as Washington could potentially have on the Orange.
That said, the entire recruitment of Robert Washington really has to make you sit back and look at things with a renewed perspective. Based on a few articles this week, we’ve gotten more of a glimpse behind the scenes than we probably should have, in terms of potential family dynamics. I don’t know what the real story is with Robert Washington and his family, and honestly, I don’t want to. It’s absolutely none of my business. It’s been a little distressing to see so many people pick apart some comments made by both Robert and his father, trying to play armchair psychologist and wondering what the family dynamic is actually like.
And again, I reiterate: it’s none of our business.
Being a sports fan tends to give us a sense of entitlement when it comes to our teams, and in almost every case, that entitlement is unearned. I’ve seen people posting on message boards and reacting on Twitter insinuating they’re owed information about what the relationships in Robert Washington’s family are like, and that’s about when it finally hit me that getting too invested in any particular recruitment – unless you’re the recruit, a family member, or a coach – is remarkably unhealthy. It brings me back to something I wrote back in January, which is something I stand by 100%.
The only area in which we as fans have a right to voice any concerns or curiosity is on field production. We’re fans, that’s what we’re going to do. But we’ve got to draw the line at pretending to know the inner workings of a recruit and his family simply because we’ve read a few quotes in a few articles. I feel the need to toss in a quote from Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting” when I say, “Do you think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist?”
It’s unfair and a little grotesque to speculate on the private lives of high school kids who may or may not wind up playing for your favorite college team. There’s really no getting around that rather simple fact. At this point, I’m glad that the recruitment of Robert Washington is coming to a close, for a few reasons.
The first is that, quite frankly, I’m just ready to know whether or not I’ll get to root for a kid who is by all accounts an exceptional talent and person, wearing my alma mater’s colors. Even if he doesn’t pick Syracuse, well, at least I’ll know.
The second is that it will hopefully put an end to the rampant speculation and rumor mongering – of which I admit I’ve both taken part in and helped create over these last few months – and let us all remember that hey, we actually have real lives, and should stop becoming so consumed with where a 17 year old will or will not be playing in college.
And third, I’m hoping that by deciding on a college, Robert Washington is able to get a little normalcy back in his life. The way he’s conducted himself over the course of his recruitment has been commendable. He’s been a true class act every step of the way, and it’s unfortunate that as he nears his decision, it’s being a little bit mired in drama.
But here’s the bottom line, no matter how the big decision shakes out tomorrow: this is the most important decision being faced by a 17 year old kid in his young life. It is not a decision he is making for any of us, or any of the coaches at the schools he’s considering, or even anyone else in his family, for that matter. This decision is – and should be – entirely about Robert Washington, just as any prospective college student’s decision on where to attend school after graduation should be entirely about them.
So Robert, don’t worry about what anyone else is thinking, or saying, or pleading. Choose the school that you think will make you the happiest. It’s your life, and it’s your decision. Keep that in mind as 3:00 p.m. nears on Saturday afternoon, and I know you’ll choose the school that’s absolutely the best one for you.
I mean, obviously I still hope it’s Syracuse. But I know that I – and hopefully every other Syracuse fan – will wish you well if it’s not. Robert Washington has acted with a tremendous amount of class, humility, and dignity throughout his recruiting process. Here’s hoping that the fans of all five schools that aren’t fortunate enough to win his talents tomorrow will return the favor.