A news report out of Tuscaloosa announced that Alabama’s defensive line coach, Bo Davis submitted his resignation last week. Davis, who was the Tide’s top-ranked recruiter (named the SEC’s Recruiter of the Year by 247Sports), resigned after he committed recruiting violations. The infractions were for making multiple out-of-state contacts with recruits during a dead period, compounded by lying to the NCAA investigators when confronted with the accusations.
Davis had coached at UA for three years, beginning with the 2007 season. In 2010 he left to work at Texas, then returned to the Tide staff for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Why would a guy jeopardize a half a million dollar a year job (actually, $475,000, but factoring in the cost of living in Tuscaloosa, it can safely be rounded up) for a few recruits? At the best football school in the nation? Was it that he didn’t think he could land the guys without an extra contact or two? Did he think he was above the archaic rules? Were his competitive juices flowing and he just didn’t want to get beat on big time recruits? Or was it that he’d developed such a close relationship with the kids that it didn’t seem like violating NCAA rules but simply showing genuine concern for future student-athletes? (For another blog on the subject, check out my 3/13/16 post).
Each year coaches must take – and pass – a recruiting rules test or else they are not allowed to recruit. Breaking the rules, though, can always be justified. In many cases, the rules appear absurd and nit picky. Often, when the smoke clears, the coach who was the perpetrator is slapped on the wrist, e.g. not being allowed to recruit off campus during the next recruiting period. However, when lying is involved, the NCAA is just like anyone who feels a trust has been violated – and the fangs come out and the punishment is severe.
If there was video surveillance on every high school campus or recruits’ homes, the public would be shocked at how many other coaches might be acting in a similar manner to Davis. It’s been said so many times that college football at the FBS level is big business that it’s become a cliche. But it’s much greater than big business. Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, IBM, GE, Apple, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Amazon – we’ve heard of all of them. Yet, other than the company’s employees and stockholders, who really roots for them? Alabama football, Kentucky basketball, Oregon track & field, Miami baseball, Iowa wrestling, USC tennis – they, and hundreds of schools like them, have fanatical bases of supporters throughout the country and the world – and score is kept, and publicized for every contest.
College football recruiting is a sport in and of itself. People make money rating scholastic players – teenagers - and fans (grown up individuals) subscribe to these publications so they can discuss, argue, call talk shows, text, email, blog, instagram, snapchat, whatever the latest means of communication is – about the successes and failures of the kids who signed a piece of paper (actually, two of them) with their favorite university. Before any of them ever put on a uniform!
Bo Davis is the latest coach (athletics department employee) to be caught by college football’s governing body. He’s not the only one and he certainly won’t be the last so don’t be surprised when another story pops up regarding a coach losing his (or her) job for violating the rules. No matter who it is, however, each situation seems to end in the exact manner Davis’ did – with a release from the head coach (or AD) that says:
“We appreciate the contributions he made to the program here and we wish him the very best in the future.”