Credit Where Credit is Due

Recruiting stories are immensely popular. They tap into our desire to be optimistic about the future. They allow us to follow an athlete’s exploits from the beginning, which in turn allows us to appreciate the growth of that athlete during their college football journey.

Mostly, though, I think what attracts people to recruiting is that anyone and everyone can be an “expert.”

It doesn’t take much money to watch high school players in action, and with the abundance of quality football here in the state of Ohio, you probably wouldn’t even need to travel far to watch a meaningful game.

Public relations officials would probably keep “Joe Fan” with a blog from interviewing the star college quarterback. That’s doubly true when we’re talking about professional sports. However, there’s no such roadblock when high school athletes are involved.

And at the very same time that fans have unprecedented access, football players are experiencing the joys of the spotlight for the very first time. However, they may still be immature enough to appreciate all the traps of the limelight.

They may also not possess the wherewithal to be able to differentiate a fan from a reporter, a booster from a fan, an agent from a booster, a person with innocent motives from someone who may not.

Unfortunately, we know there are certain boosters who selfishly seek to feed their own egos. Their lives are so empty, they can’t find satisfaction in who they are; thus, they seek to define themselves by whom they associate with.

An even darker truth, there may be those who follow these young men in order to feed their own perversion.

Understandably, linebacker Alex Anzalone has been spooked by his coming across one such possible individual. He has decommitted from Ohio State, but that stance may have softened.

After telling ESPN that he was eliminating OSU as a possible college destination Friday, his father backtracked Friday night saying there was still a chance that Alex could end up a Buckeye.

Unless the Anzalone family is using Charles Waugh as a pretense, or unless there are facts that have yet to be uncovered, it’s quite possible that the emotion of the moment is passing into a more rational reflection.

Perhaps the Anzalones are recognizing that no school runs a background check on every fan attending the spring game. Perhaps they are realizing that this had the potential to happen on every single campus.

What may not happen elsewhere is this: Fans, even without knowing Waugh’s background, started alerting OSU compliance that he was contacting recruits. Buckeye compliance officers far from fearing negative publicity or dismissing this as being beyond the scope of their powers, alerted Ohio State athletes about the issue.

Whether this is enough to make Anzalone reconsider (he certainly isn’t obligated to, and shouldn’t go somewhere he isn’t comfortable), those fans and those compliance officers deserve credit.

It’s one of the great things about college sports: The team goes so far beyond just the athletes on the roster. Kudos to those who were part of the team effort to alert the Buckeyes to a possible danger!

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