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The Northern Front

There are a couple related developments to talk about, so I'm going to pull some material from tomorrow's recruiting post for here.

First up, there's the ongoing Malcolm Cater saga, a tug-o-war between Rutgers and Syracuse for the Suffolk County LB. Now, these sorts of developments are becoming far more common in recruiting circles, and the base idea of a recruit vacillating between two schools happens pretty much everywhere these days. There's nothing novel about that. Just ask Coach Schiano.

"I'd rather guys not commit until they're ready to do just what the word states, and that's commit," Schiano said. "Once a guy commits you like to be able to go to other young people and say, 'We filled this slot, so for your good it's better you keep looking elsewhere.' You always worry about doing that if your commit doesn't stand through, then now you've lost the other gentlemen you're recruiting. So it's a definitely delicate balance; that's why I really emphasize to our commits how important it is, how serious it is."

Looks like Schiano is now on the record as a supporter of an early fall signing day. We've been on the both ends of this phenomena (in the past week even). He has to play the game, but clearly is in the Joe Paterno camp, wanting to take the pressure and craziness out of the process. Some other interesting bits in that piece too.

Now, here's the interesting part that you don't see all too often. Jordan Thomas is a highly touted class of '10 prospect out of the Binghamton, NY area (halfway between Rutgers and Syracuse, but considered very much in SU's sphere of influence, lots of good symbolism there) that Rutgers pulled away from Syracuse and other competitors this year. What's odd is that Jordan's father posted a plea on the ScarletReport ( forums last week to Malcolm's uncle. Apparently Malcolm Cater is dead set on staying home attending Rutgers University, but his uncle is intent on Malcolm going up to Syracuse. Mr. Thomas pleas for Malcolm to be allowed to make his own decision.

Now, there's a lot of confusion out there about whether or not Malcolm Cater, who's 18, will be able to sign his L.O.I. on Wednesday without a guardian's signature. Here's what the NCAA definitively says about their N.L.O.I. program (bolded emphasis added is mine).

PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN SIGNATURE REQUIRED: A prospective student-athlete's parent/legal guardian must cosign the NLI with the prospective student-athlete if he or she has not reached the age of 21. Falsification of a signature or a signature by a party other than the prospective student-athlete and the prospective student-athlete's parent/legal guardian may result in a prospective student-athlete forfeiting the first year of eligibility at any NLI participating institution.

INSTITUTIONAL FINANCIAL AID AGREEMENT: If the institution requires that a parent or legal guardian must sign the financial aid agreement, which accompanies the NLI, for a prospective student-athlete who has not reached the age of 18, the parent or legal guardian signature is not required on the institutional financial aid agreement if the prospective student-athlete is over the age of 18. Thus, the parent or legal guardian signature may be required for the NLI (under 21) but not for the financial aid agreement (under 18).

The first paragraph would seem to contradict the assumption that Malcolm is free to sign a L.O.I. without guardian consent. However, that is a voluntary program (players can still enroll and go on scholarship without a letter, it merely binds players to schools - found what's purportedly the formspring account of their new defensive back commit from Florida Keondrick Lyn. That's a major no-no, as any booster contact with a recruit is a NCAA violation. As spurred by SU fan queries, Lyn declared "yep we gone do a repeat again this year just like what syracuse did to them last year", later implying that it was in jest.

Now, the Rutgers staff is always involved so many players down there that not all of that comes back to the premium sites up here, but Lyn is a new name, and it's difficult to gauge exactly how much interest the staff had in him and other prospective offers. For the record, Lyn said that he talks to Gareef Glashen every day, who suddenly switched his verbal yesterday to Rutgers.

Syracusefan posters believe some really stupid nonsense, just like any other board on Rivals or Scout. Which, of course, meant that eventually the Rutgers side would find out about this and match insult for insult. Well, crap. Now the Rutgers athletic department has to report violations along with Syracuse. There is absolutely no good, whatsoever, that can come with contact from a recruit in-person, or on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc... Coaching staffs do not need your help. Do not make life even more difficult for them through these mediums. It happens to be super creepy.

Unfortunately, this stuff is becoming a nationwide trend too. Last week, spurred by fan taunts, a Tennessee signee named Corey Miller (who's a teammate of Chas Dodd at Byrnes) posted on his Facebook wall (since deleted), that UNC assistant coach John Blake offered him and other prospects money to sign with the Tar Heels. Something like that makes our little dustup look like child's play in comparison.

The real irony in all this is that for all the talk, for Doug Marrone's promise to take over New York City, for his deputy John Anselmo vowing to aggressively poach players committed to other Big East conference schools, the supposed recruiting rivalry between Rutgers and Syracuse has been a dud for the most part; a silly myth perpetuated by blogs and message boards. If you look at the players that both programs went after this year, there wasn't all that much overlap. Rutgers primarily stays in the Northeast, and our chief competitors are primarily Pittsburgh (especially, they're our biggest recruiting rival by far), Maryland, and Penn State.

What Syracuse is doing is roughly akin to what Schiano and staff did so masterfully when they first took over, by heavily targetting Southern Florida with commits like Jeremi Wilkes. Syracuse largely struck out with a thin class of 2010, and early reports have them not doing much better with 2011. The Northeast is still a tough sell, so they're naturally going to look south for players who think they can win anywhere. All of this was probably a big reason why Marrone recently canned three assistants (Spence from NY, Jackson from NJ, and Elizondo from MD) with ties to the Northeast (their RB coach also left for Florida). He did add Rob Moore from Long Island, but the three other new assitants are from the South and West.

Anyway, stay tuned while I try to put up some more recruiting content later this week.