The Big Cat Weekend? (3 Up/3 Down)
Basic concept in 3 Up/3 Down? 2 sets of items. Each related to the topic at hand, but two different groups of thinking. In this case 3 basic questions that explain the BCW (Big Cat Weekend) and the three questions everyone really wants the answers too:
3 UP (The Basics)
1. What is it?
2. Who's Here?
3. What's the plan?
3 DOWN (THE REAL QUESTIONS)
4. Is it Legal?
5. Will it Work?
6. What's next?
WHAT IS IT?
Like the Tiger Prowl, the BCW seems like the latest tool or trick of the trade the Auburn coaching staff is using in the recruiting battle. Essentially, One Big weekend, Some of the Nations top recruits, all enjoying what Auburn has to offer.
Jay Tate has a list of partial visitors:
Here is a partial look:
TB Lache Seastrunk, 5-star (Rivals and Scout), ESPN 150 watch list
TB Marcus Lattimore, 5-star (Rivals and Scout), ESPN 150 watch list
WR Trovon Reed, Scout.com 5-star; Rivals.com 4-star, ESPN 150 watch list
WR Jeremy Richardson, Rivals.com 4-star; Scout.com 3-star
WR Antonio Goodwin, Rivals.com 4-star (unclassified by Scout)
WR Demarco Cobbs, ESPN 150 watch list
LB Kahiri Fortt, Rivals.com 4-star (unclassified by Scout)
DE J.C. Copeland, Rivals.com 4-star (unclassified by Scout) **Tenn. commit**
OT James Stone, 4-star (Rivals and Scout), ESPN 150 watch list
OG Eric Mack, 4-star (Rivals and Scout), ESPN 150 watch list
Charles Goldberg adds a couple others to the list:
Shaun Kitchens of College Park, Ga., (he's already committed to Auburn)...
Shon Coleman of Olive Branch, Miss., (said to be a soft Auburn commit)...
... Jake Holland of Pelham (already committed to Auburn), Jawara White of Troy, Nigel Terrell of Pelham, Victor Beasley of Adairsville, Ga., LaDarius Owens of Bessemer and Jessel Curry of Buford, Ga.
I'm sure there are other guys here, or guys who might have thought to come but never showed up. We won't have anything official (or unofficially) until Monday.
WHAT'S THE PLAN?
Well that's when it gets a bit tricky. Technically this isn't a recruiting weekend. There will be no evaluations/no tests/drills/ etc. It's just a fun weekend for these to come experience Auburn. I've heard activities such as video games/pie eating contests, etc. It's a bit of a break from the normal recruiting schedule. However, everything is unofficial and nothing is being given to these players from the university. That's the most important caveat to this entire weekend:
THESE ARE UNOFFICIAL VISITS.
IS IT LEGAL?
Technically? Yes. However, it's flirting dangerously close to the edge (too dangerous for my tastes, personally). All of this recruiting rules/regulations/by-laws can get pretty complicated, so hang on while I try to wade through it:
(f) April 15 through May 31, 2009, [except for (g) below]: Evaluation period
Four weeks (excluding Memorial Day and Sundays) selected at the
discretion of the member institution and designated in writing in the
office of the director of athletics [as provided in (1) below]:
(1) An authorized off-campus recruiter may use one evaluation to assess
the prospective student-athlete’s athletics ability and one evaluation to
assess the prospective student-athlete’s academic qualifications during
this evaluation period). If an institution’s coaching staff member
conducts both an athletics and an academic evaluation of the
prospective student-athlete on the same day during this evaluation
period, the institution shall be charged with the use of an academics
evaluation only and shall be permitted to conduct a second athletics
evaluation of the prospective student-athlete on a separate day during
this evaluation period.
(g) Those days in April/May not designated above for evaluation
opportunities: Quiet period
More specifically the "Spring Evaluation Period" :
188.8.131.52.2 Spring Evaluation Period. [FBS] In bowl subdivision football, the head coach shall not
engage in off-campus recruiting activities during the April 15 through May 31 evaluation period. (Adopted: 1/14/08)
That's another reason why Gene Chizik wasn't on any of the "Tiger Prowls" throughout the state.
So what can you do during the evaluation period?
An evaluation period is that period of time when it is permissible for authorized athletics department staff members to be involved in off-campus activities designed to assess the academic qualifications and playing ability of prospective student-athletes. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts shall be made with the prospective student-athlete during an evaluation period.
So basically, the athlete can come to the school, the school can't come to the athlete. You can use this time to scout the potential player, and that's about it.
With me so far? Good. Here's where it gets a little tricky. In order for everything to be above board, the following things have to occur:
1) The Visit Cannot be an official visit
Why? well here's where Auburn is getting close, but not over the edge. It can't be an official visit because official visits aren't allowed until the player starts their upcoming school years. So it has to be an "un-official visit" for the Prospecive Student Athlete (PSA):
13.02.15.2 Unofficial Visit. An unofficial visit to a member institution by a prospective student-athlete is a visit made at the prospective student-athlete’s own expense. The provision of any expenses or entertainment valued at more than $100 by the institution or representatives of its athletics interests shall require the visit to become an official visit, except as permitted in Bylaws 13.5 and 13.7. (Revised: 2/22/07, 5/9/08)
13.5.3 Transportation on Unofficial Visit. During any unofficial recruiting visit, the institution may provide the prospective student-athlete with transportation to view practice and competition sites in the prospective student-athlete’s sport and other institutional facilities and to attend a home athletics contest at any local facility (see Bylaws 13.02.5.1 and 13.7.3). An institutional staff member must accompany the prospective student-athlete during such a trip. Payment of any other transportation expenses, shall be considered a violation.
For violations in which the value of transportation is $100 or less, the eligibility of the individual (prospective or enrolled student-athlete) shall not be affected conditioned upon the individual repaying the value of the benefit to a charity of his or her choice. The individual, however, shall remain ineligible from the time the institution has knowledge of the receipt of the impermissible benefit until the individual repays the benefit. Violations of this bylaw remain institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1, and documentation of the individual’s repayment shall
be forwarded to the enforcement services staff with the institution’s self-report of the violation. (Revised: 1/11/89, 1/27/00, 3/10/04, 4/28/05, 1/9/06 effective 8/1/06, 4/27/06)
Ok. Now that we've waded through that mess, you still have all the hassles and haggles of an "Un-Official Visit" which has a complete section in the NCAA Handbook (13.7 or page 109-111)
I'll fly through this really quickly and give the quick and dirty basics:
13.7.1 - A PSA can make any number of un-official visits. They can make these before their senior year begins.
13.7.2 - The school can give 3 free passes to sporting events on campus within a 30 mile radius
184.108.40.206.1- The school can't pay for meals
220.127.116.11.1.1 - Except if the put a cap on the number of official visits at 25 can offer a free meal in an on campus dining hall during an unofficial visit (I don't know if this applies to Auburn)
18.104.22.168.2 - The PSA can stay in a dorm, provided he pays for it (this is determined by the cost of housing/divided by the time period)
22.214.171.124.5 - No special parking
126.96.36.199.6 - They CAN meet with an academic advisor
188.8.131.52.7 - They CAN have a student host
184.108.40.206 - Basically, a student can come to campus for a fraternity recruitment/band field trip/etc but it can't have any to do with athletics. If it does it become an official visit
220.127.116.11 - Any type of benefit or payment is considered "illegal" when on an unofficial visit. However, if said benefit was less than $100 then the PSA can reimburse the school and not face any penalties. The PSA becomes ineligible until he pays his restitution.
13.7.3 - Nothing personalized. No personalized recruiting aids. No Game day simulations (No smoke tunnel, like Tennessee)
So that's that. Breaking any of these rules turns this visit into an Official Visit and by turning it into an official visit. Turning it into a recruiting visit (at this point/day at time) turns it into a recruiting violation
2) The Visit has to take place on Campus. Since this isn't a "Contact Period", Having any activity or visit off-campus becomes a violation. That one's a little easier to explain than reason 1.
So again, it's all legal. It's all allowable. As long as everything stays "unofficial". At any rate, I'm sure Auburn's compliance department is working like crazy this weekend to make sure everything is above board.
WILL IT WORK?
Put me in the camp of hopeful but still doubtful. Yes, the "Tiger Prowl" and "Big Cat Weekend" are nice and all, but until these guys start committing and giving firm offers, then it's going to be all for nothing. Also, there are a couple of interesting players absent from the BCW. Including
DeMarcus Milliner (DB/5*/Millbrook)
Jarrick Williams (DB/4*/Blount)
Corey Grant (RB/4*/Opelika)
C.J. Mosley (LB/4*/Theodore)
Solomon Patton (WR/4*/Mobile)
All these are in-state, Rivals 250 guys, with interest in Auburn. Yet, each one is absent this weekend. In fact, the only instate, Rivals 250 guy in attendance? Jeremy Richardson (WR/4*/Springville)
If the "Tiger Prowl" was supposed to jumpstart in-state interest and gain steam on Alabama when it comes to instate guys, why were some of the top players in the state not at the BCW? According to some, it's all stinks of the Red Elephant Club. I personally think that's all Black Helicopters and Big Foot, but who knows.
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
Hard to tell really. Once this weekend is over, we enter into another quiet period in NCAA recruiting. Tiger Prowl? Big Cat weekend? I'm sure there's another animal themed recruiting tool up the coaches sleeves. It just all keeps falling to that "crazy it just might work" type thinking. That "why didn't I think of that" mentality. These things just seem so simple but somewhat brilliant that it just reminds me of an episode of Mad Men with all the Auburn coaches sitting around brainstorming like Don Draper, trying to figure out the latest and most creative way to attract potential clients (i.e. recruits)
Oh and while we are on the Mad Men theme:
Damn you Joan Holloway. Why must I have to wait so long for Season 3.