This morning, Syracuse University got pulled into the increasingly complicated world of what does and what does not constitute a “committable” scholarship offer. As Syracuse.com reported, New Jersey linebacker Solomon Manning was apparently ready to pledge to the Orange on Saturday, but was told to wait despite already holding an offer from Syracuse. And unfortunately, this is something that happens throughout the world of college football, and we’re still struggling to define how or why it happens in the first place.
Last week, we saw another instance with the University of Miami when 2017 wide receiver recruit Daewood Davis – who is also a Syracuse target – tried to commit to the Hurricanes on Twitter, but a day later found out that his commitment would not be accepted by the Miami staff just yet.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Back in 2009, Bleacher Report wrote all about the idea of committable versus non-committable offers, and coaches like Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson and Alabama’s Nick Saban have gone on record admitting that not all offers they extend are necessarily valid. And it makes a little bit of sense to categorize scholarship offers a little differently. After all, have you ever noticed how many offers college football programs extend each year? According to Scout.com, Syracuse currently has 107 offers out for the class of 2016, which will consist of around 18-20 players when it’s all said and done. Alabama, the school that more than any other can afford to be ultra selective? They’ve got 129 scholarship offers extended.
Obviously not all of those offers are going to be deemed “committable.” So what does that mean, exactly?
Well, in some cases an offer will be committable on the spot, though that’s seldom the case. That typically only happens with the highest profile recruits, or based on in person evaluation. The unfortunate thing is that not all high school football players are aware of whether or not their offer is a sign of legitimate interest, or just a way for the college to plant a flag and then come back to evaluate them at a later date, to find out if they’re really interested or not.
In a lot of cases, offers are contingent on the athlete meeting a variety of goals, and can be used to entice a recruit to visit campus or come compete at one of the coach hosted camps. That was the case with Manning, who also unfortunately, reportedly, had an ultimatum placed on him by Rutgers to make a decision by today or else risk losing his offer. Manning reportedly wanted to commit to Syracuse after going through camp on Saturday, but Syracuse wasn’t quite ready to take his commitment and, sadly, it left him in a tough spot. He could either wait on Syracuse to potentially decide they wanted him and risk losing his spot with Rutgers, or he could abandon his desire to play for the Orange and pounce on an offer that was tangible, but only available for a limited time.
That’s a tough position to put a 16 or 17 year old kid in, don’t you think? And again – it’s way too common. I know that during the 2015 recruiting cycle, there was a recruit who wanted to commit to Syracuse early but was told to wait and attend camp, despite holding an offer. Once he got to camp, the coaches fell in love with his ability and, when they told him they wanted him to commit, he still wasn’t entirely sure the offer was real.
And again, this happens everywhere. I’ve heard another story about a different 2015 prospect who held an “offer” from another northeastern college, and wanted to commit. However, coaches from that school didn’t get back to him for months, basically leaving him in recruiting limbo. By the time they finally got back in touch to talk about a commitment, he’d already moved on.
Committable versus non-committable scholarship offers open a dangerous door when it comes to college recruiting. Recruiting is a dirty enough game as is, to add the prospect of offering a young man a scholarship but crossing your fingers behind your back while you do so just makes it worse. It’s also why you can’t necessarily take a player at his word when he mentions having 20 offers, because only half of those – or less – might actually be committable at any given time. And again, unfortunately, he probably doesn’t know it. He just knows that SEC and Big Ten and ACC coaches offered him a scholarship, and he’s young and naive enough to actually take the word of an adult who’s supposed to know better than to screw with a teenager’s head.
“To get some of them to come here in the summer I think is a really big tool in evaluation as well as an opportunity to get to know guys, to see if they have the right character and attitude to fit in your program,” Saban told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. What he’s talking about is the use of “offers” to get a kid on campus, but what he’s actually admitting to is going to great lengths to trick a kid into believing you’ve got genuine interest, when it might actually be tepid at best.
The recruiting waters are fraught with enough dangers as it is. It’s unfortunate, to say the least, that the shady area between committable and non-committable offers has to make those waters even murkier and more difficult to traverse.