PROBLEMS AT RIVALS.COM

Official admits it can’t police its publishers

Rivals.com has been embroiled in controversy over how its publishers have behaved. The Auburn Rivals.com site edited a video it posted once complaints of recruiting violations surfaced; conveniently, the Auburn website removed the most damning portions of its video. In other words, the publisher of the Auburn website aided Auburn’s cheating.

Now the regional recruiting analyst for Rivals has admitted there is a problem.

According to the Birmingham News, Jamie Newberg, the Southeast recruiting analyst for Rivals admits, “his recruiting service could educate the owners and publishers of Web sites, but couldn’t police each and every one under its corporate banner. And he knows there are problems.”

However, nobody wants to fix the problem. The Birmingham News provides this enabling quote from a former Michigan recruiting coordinator, “This was a problem 10 years ago and it’s a problem now, only worse,” Mark Ouimet said. “But these are individual businesses. The NCAA can’t stop them any more than it can stop the gas station or pizza place down the street.”

That is naïve. This can be stopped through serious sanctions against ANY university who works with recruiting sites. Cease their access. Ban them from campus and remove scholarships from any school with a site contacting recruits as a booster. You will force fans to stop buying subscriptions to the sites guilty of recruiting violations. Why? Because fans want to win. Hurt the school and subscriptions will evaporate. It is as simple as that.

This is something that has the potential to destroy college football as we know it. It has already introduced million of dollars into the recruiting process, and it will only get worse as the beast grows. If money corrupts politics (think Richard Nixon) then how can we say these multimillion dollar businesses are not corrupting college football?

Other notes:
The Doug Segrest column linked above also includes other insight from Scout’s Andrew Bone. It is a must read on this important issue.

ESPN’s recruiting guru Tom Luginbill was on Tuesday’s Paul Finebaum Radio Network (audio here) where he admitted recruiting sites routinely work to recruit for the schools they support.

“It is a dangerous animal that is part of the recruiting landscape now,” Luginbill said. “It is something that I do not think is going away either.”

Luginbill first mentioned the potential for “influence with individualized team sites” on Finebaum’s show two signing days ago. In that conversation with Finebaum, Luginbill ridiculed industry leader Rivals.

There seems to be a trend here: Rivals.com. It doesn’t mean Scout and ESPN aren’t just as guilty; however, the Auburn site’s reckless and public editing of video illustrated in a powerful way just how corrupt this business is. The NCAA must act to preserve the sanctity of the game.