Told you so; Recruiting sites have no ethics

Websites are recruiting against Alabama. It isn’t shocking because websites have served as cheerleaders and surrogate recruiters for some time, but maybe a new round of attention will reform the corrupt way outsiders are interfering in the recruiting process.

“That should be addressed by somebody and should be brought to bear,” Saban told the Birmingham News. “If people are just covering recruiting with honesty and integrity, (there’s no problem). But all those guys that work out there for (recruiting sites) are for the school. Everybody roots for a team. And they get information for a team.”

I pointed out the bias of recruiting sites last year during SEC Media Days when Auburn websites were asking negative questions about the arrests of Alabama football players. (Here.)

Before the national guys and the blogs start attacking Saban for bringing up this issue, he wasn’t the first to allege recruiting sites work for the teams they cover. Steve Spurrier brought this up last year. Spurrier told The State, “Usually when a guy’s arrested for whatever, that always make the headlines. And the guy that runs the Clemson Web site, he likes to send those articles to recruits all over the state,” Spurrier said.

This is a major problem because if ordinary fans were to contact players in this manner, does anyone thing the NCAA would allow it? Of course not. These people are using the cloak of the First Amendment to bypass NCAA recruiting rules and attempting to bring a competitive advantage to their teams.

Auburn sites have functioned as recruiters this year in the promotion of the Big Cat Weekend pep rally. Perhaps the most egregious example of how these websites are fans and not journalists can be seen in how the Rivals’ Auburn website edited out of a video proof of Auburn recruiting violations at the Big Cat Weekend pep rally. The secondary NCAA recruiting violations aren’t the big issue here; what is a big issue is the corrupt influence these sites inject into the recruiting process.

Saban didn’t specify the website. All we know about this is from the Birmingham News story, “It would always come from a reporter who covers a team’s recruiting on a fan site.” It could be an Auburn website. It could be an LSU website or a Tennessee website. It doesn’t matter. The entire process of recruiting coverage must be reformed.

Neither Scout or Rivals responded by press time for the Birmingham News to include their corporate comments in the story. I wouldn’t hold my breath. I sent an email to Rivals over two weeks ago, and still haven’t heard back from the organization. YAHOO/Rivals and Scout hope this issue will die. However, fans who love college football should not let cheerleaders corrupt the very thing we love.