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Chuck Landon: NCAA rules to blame for recruiting problems

Jun. 07, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

Don't blame Mark Snyder.

Not this time.

When Marshall's most prized football recruit -- quarterback A.J. Graham -- was arrested and charged with felony armed robbery recently, the Herd's head football coach was roundly criticized.

First, Snyder was condemned for not doing a more thorough job of recruiting Graham and realizing he had character issues.

Next, Snyder was criticized for his handling of the incident, which culminated in Marshall's head coach rescinding Graham's scholarship.

The criticism was unfair and unfounded.

Look around the collegiate football landscape. Prized recruits are getting arrested all over the country.

Oregon's top recruit, cornerback Cliff Harris, has been charged with felony assault of a public official.

Oklahoma State recruit Colton Richardson, a linebacker, was arrested for drug possession.

North Carolina prized recruit, cornerback Angelo Hadley, was charged with three felonies, including third degree grand theft, grand theft of a firearm and armed burglary. As a result, Tar Heels coach Butch Davis pulled Hadley's scholarship.

Oklahoma recruit Justin Chaisson, a defensive end, was charged with four felonies after an alleged attack on his ex-girlfriend.

Virginia Tech's coveted defensive back recruit, Peter Rose, was arrested on felony charges of selling drugs. So, Hokies coach Frank Beamer rescinded his scholarship.

It's not just happening here at Marshall. It's happening everywhere in college football recruiting.

It has reached epidemic proportions.

And that's alarming.

But it's not the fault of Snyder or Beamer or Davis or any other coach.

Want to point the finger of blame? Then, direct it squarely at the NCAA and its ever tightening recruiting rules.

That is the culprit.

Snyder and his peers are limited to such little contact with recruits nowadays, coaches have absolutely no chance to actually get to know a recruit.

As one college coach remarked, "We get to know the people around the recruit better than we do him."

Are those people going to reveal anything negative about the prospective recruit? Of course not.

The high school coach is trying to sell the college on his player. So is the school principal. So is the guidance counselor. And on and on.

Thanks to NCAA legislation, recruiting never has been more of a crap-shoot for college coaches.

And we're seeing the consequences across the country.

So, no, Snyder doesn't deserve any criticism for not getting better acquainted with Graham.

As for his handling of the situation, I think Snyder's decision to pull Graham's scholarship was the exact right move. Remember, he handled the arrest of former recruit Kirby Watson the same way.

So, Snyder merely stayed with a successful precedent.

What's wrong with that?

Absolutely nothing.

Snyder handled this unfortunate situation perfectly.

As it turns out, Marshall officials were able to catch the 2009 football tickets mistake early enough in the printing process to minimize the cost.

Although the tickets included the typographical error of "John C. Edwards Stadium" instead of "Joan C. Edwards Stadium," the cost of fixing the mistake is $2,500 rather than $8,000, according to MU sports information director Randy Burnside.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 526-2827. E-mail him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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