Mark Richt vs. Paul Johnson on controversial “commitment” issue

There may not be another recruiting topic that gets UGA and Georgia Tech fans fired up as “what commitment means” and related issues.

If a longtime commitment decides to visit elsewhere a few days before signing day, do you still consider him to be "committed" to your school?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

This year, Georgia Tech had two longtime commitments (both pledged since last summer) abruptly decide to take recruiting trips on the final weekend before signing day. Although neither ended up having their Georgia Tech scholarship offers withdrawn, the Yellow Jackets lost both with OL Will Adams signing with Auburn and DB Antonio Crawford going to Miami.

When things like that happen, it’s a complicated, baffling, heart-breaking, sometimes understanding, sometimes disappointing, and all-too-common in the modern era of recruiting.

We asked about a hot-button issue to both UGA’s Mark Richt and Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson: If a recruit has been committed to your school for six months or longer but then decides to visit another school on the last weekend or two before signing day, do you still consider him committed to your school?

  • UGA’s Mark Richt: “You know what? I would say (pause) … there are … I don’t have a hard and fast policy about that. I’m not going to say if a guy visits somewhere else, that all of a sudden I’m taking him off our list and pulling his scholarship offer from him. However, I would say that if any guy does something like that, he does take that risk. But I’m not going to sit here and say I have a [blanket] policy that says every time a guy does that, that’s what we’re going to do.”

While Richt sort of sidestepped the issue on whether or not he would still consider the player “committed” to UGA, his in-state coaching adversary gave a detailed and more direct answer.

Mark Richt (right) and Paul Johnson give opinions on a hot-button recruiting topic (AJC photo)

Mark Richt (right) and Paul Johnson give their opinions on a hot-button recruiting topic (AJC photo)

  • Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson: “Basically what you tell them is ‘If they’re looking, [we're] looking.’ What do you do? Do you just sit there and don’t recruit anybody else? Now if you don’t fill up, sure, yes, you take them. But if somebody else comes along and says they want to come, why are you going hold something for somebody visiting somewhere else a few days before signing day?  Common sense would tell you that nobody does it that way. There’s no way you could do it that way because could never hit your target [of signees]. Whether other coaches say that or not, nobody is doing that. You can either recruit on top of them, if that’s what you want to do, and then if you get somebody, you can cut them loose. But the bottom line is this: If guys are visiting that late, then you need to be looking yourself. And if guys are visiting you, I don’t view them as being committed somewhere else. Now they still might go to school at the other place. But, in my mind, they are still shopping around. They’re not satisfied with what they got if they’re still looking. That’s just kind of the deal. It’s not like if you go visit, you’re going to get your scholarship pulled. It’s like if you go and somebody else takes it while you’re visiting somewhere else that late, then you may not have one. You can’t have a reservation and then keep shopping around. That doesn’t make sense, and 90-percent of college coaches feel exactly the same about it. I don’t care whether they say it [publicly] or not, but they are exactly the same on this. Because if somebody could tell me a different way to do it, then I would be all ears. So you’ve got 22 scholarships, you’ve got 22 kids committed, and five of them are visiting other schools … How many are you going to sign? What are you going to do? You just hope that none of them go anywhere else? How unlikely is that?”

RELATED: Avery Young’s high school coach says he was NOT part of a UGA “package deal” that went wrong. The 5-star OL prospect ended up signing with Auburn over UGA, and there was an interesting twist that his coach says is just a “coincidence.” (click on story link)

WHAT YOU MISSED OVER HOLIDAY WEEKEND

IT’S RAINING RECRUITING STORIES

INSTANT AJC RECRUITING CLASSICS

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

  • So much is happening so fast. Have you missed anything over the last few days? Catch up with our feed by CLICKING HERE
  • BOOKMARK the NEW AJC Recruiting homepage here
  • Want to see a list of the top 125 prospects state of Georgia who signed with D1 schools? It’s looong. Go here.

Note: Inappropriate BLOG comments and personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. We love the lively discussions but hate-filled, harassing and irresponsible comments are unacceptable.

Please Follow me on Twitter @RecruitingAJC + Please be my Facebook friend here

502 comments Add your comment

Lagdawg

February 20th, 2012
6:14 am

If they take a visti a few days before NSD, they are going to flip if that team has a good recruiting. As we say with UGA on NSD, they couldn’t flip none of the kids on the offensive side of the ball. It’s a tough business, especially when you are dealing with 17,18 and 19 year old kids. You never know what is going through their minds. Seems to me that both of the in-state schools need better recruiters.

Lagdawg

February 20th, 2012
6:14 am

Oh Yea. First!

Auburn07

February 20th, 2012
6:17 am

Or you could be like evil Nick Saban and let a kid commit to Alabama on signing day and then tell him he doesn’t have a scholarship after another DT signs there, forcing the first kid to sign with Arkansas without ever seeing it.

How were all these parents of Georgia kids that signed with Alabama this year brainwashed to trust Nick Saban?

GTBee

February 20th, 2012
6:21 am

Paddy

February 20th, 2012
6:42 am

CPJ is not pulling any punches. No “coach speak”. I like that alot. Do you think Kiffin and Petrino would be that honest? Yea, right!

GTBee

February 20th, 2012
6:42 am

CPJ:  If they order the Speedy Gonzalez, it means they’re fast and can be satisfied by something average. 
 
CM:  Kind of like a winning record for the regular season followed by a Bowl loss?

=======================
I’m not certain who is the punch line…Georgia or Ga Tech?
 

FL Jacket

February 20th, 2012
6:57 am

Why is this so hard for people to understand???

TR

February 20th, 2012
6:58 am

Mark Richt and Paul Johnson think exactly alike on this but Richt is too much of a girl scout to come out and say it like a man.

Insider

February 20th, 2012
7:01 am

It’s sad to see how Saban gets away with the stuff he does but he doesn’t care about those kids. It’s all about him and winning!. All those Bama foks think he is true blue Bama but he’s not. Time will prove it!

mp

February 20th, 2012
7:02 am

in other words, both coaches are saying the same thing. duh!!! some of the media in the ATL area just like to hate on johnson because he’s honest about his approach and doesn’t talk around the issue–as other coaches do. any kid taking a visit on the weekend before NSD knows full well his slot is gonna be up for grabs if the present school he’s supposedly committed to finds someone to take his place. that’s a no-brainer. geez . . .

NSD

February 20th, 2012
7:05 am

NSD should also be held on DEC 18th(+/-)– once most high school playoffs are over.One day only early signing day. This will help most schools get a base foundation of where they are with recruits and it will give some kids an idea if a school really wants them. Its a win win for everyone.

Football Fan

February 20th, 2012
7:13 am

An early signing period would do away with most of this.

You have to like how CPJ doesn’t side step any questions and talks straight. It’s a welcomed sight in this day of spin talk and coach speak.

Sopwith Camel

February 20th, 2012
7:24 am

I think what is upsetting to everyone is the use of the word “committed”. I wish that the word would not be used by the kids, the colleges, or sports writers when talking about this issue. “Committed”, to most people, means that you have made up your mind once and for all and have made a decision that will NOT change. You have basically pledged yourself and it is written in stone. When kids say they have committed to a school and then keep looking around at other schools……..they show that they don’t even know the meaning of the word. Kids ought to NEVER use the word “committed” until they have signed on the dotted line. Until then, they ought to just say something like “I’m leaning toward Alabama as my choice” or “Georgia Tech is at the top of my list right now”. It’s a sad commentary on our society that kids don’t even understand the true concept of “commitment”.

Ending the misuse of this word wouldn’t help coaches know which kids will truly come to their school, but it would at least help ease some ill feelings about what kids actually mean and the view of them by some that they have no integrity or character because they went back on what was a considered to be a pledge that was not and could not be undone.

footballfan365

February 20th, 2012
7:27 am

Well The ajc strikes again. The line has been cast and The stage is now set for The daily pissing contest between uga and tech fans. Lets see which dumb a@$ falls for this old trick first!

zbulldawg

February 20th, 2012
7:41 am

Johnson’s right !! You can’t just sit around holding a spot for someone who’s not sure. You need players. It’s not right for someone like Saban who makes promisses and then reniges on them ! Then again Richt’s practice seems to be backfiring on him ! I think sometime when another school sees a school getting a commitment from a player they start looking at them for that reason only. Best thing would be for all the georgia players to stay in state and let the schools here “GA.”fight for them.Then all national championships would have to come through the state of GEORGIA

[...] from attitude and verbosity, is there any difference in how the two coaches respond to Michael Carvell’s question about how each treats a kid with a longstanding commitment who decides to take a last-minute trip [...]

Freehawk

February 20th, 2012
7:50 am

A reading, from the Book of Lou:

In a ham and eggs breakfast, the chicken is “involved,” but the pig is “committed.”

Words without end, amen, amen.

Rusty

February 20th, 2012
7:59 am

Man that Paul Johnson is such a straight shooter. Paul Johnson talking like that is like Screech from ‘Saved By the Bell’ getting a commitment for a date from Kelly Kapowski and then when she wavers on the commitment he cockily tells her; “If you’re looking, I’m looking too”. Nice sentiment but probably should look in the mirror before you start flapping you gums, Paul.

Rusty = not smart

February 20th, 2012
8:02 am

Durrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Rusty = not smart

February 20th, 2012
8:04 am

Saved by the bell, Really!

GT Fan

February 20th, 2012
8:06 am

Other schools don’t have a problem the last week because they over sign.

RedandBlackDawg

February 20th, 2012
8:06 am

The simple solution is to have a period where these kids can sign the papers early. If they are truly committed to that school, get the paperwork out of the way. Now the reason most coaches don’t want that is because conditions and situations change sometimes, and you can have a kid who was close to borderline to begin with and suddenly, goes below the acceptable threshold for some reason or another. There would have to be some stipulations put into place to protect the school and the athlete, not to mention the fact, that the kid’s guardian would be the one responsible for the contract being signed. A 17 year old kid, can’t enter into any kind of legal contract or obligation. At the very least. the kid would have to have satisfied the entrance requirements as far as ACT, SAT and whatever else the minimum requirements are.
If you don’t have some way to satisfy the early signing and it just continues the way it is going, the crap will just continue as more and more coaches keep recruiting these kids already committed to another school. The competition is fierce for these young kids services, but as was seen for a couple of kids committed to Alabama and a few places else in the mid west, some kid is going to get hurt occasionally, because a coach talked a better deal with another kid he thinks will do a better job, and either switches things around or pulls the offer, already made to an earlier recruit. The early kid gets hurt in the end.
Just think if you could cut down on some of these ridiculous signing ceremonies as well. College football is all about money and that is the way it is. Win a championship, you school gets more money. If a kid thinks his chances to get in the NFL are increased by going to a particular school, in the long run, he is thinking about the bucks to be made in the NFL, and the higher you go, the bigger the money. The more successful a coach is, the bigger his paycheck. We all have our loyalty to the schools we support, but in the end NCAA football, is nothing more than the NFL minor leagues in most cases, and the NFL doesn’t pay a dime for the athlete while he is in school. In fact, the NFL enables a kid to put just the minimum effort into his school work, if he is a good athlete. They will draft a kid after his third year in school is completed or he has been out of school for three years after his High School graduation date, and no consideration is given to that kids education or lack of it.

Hal

February 20th, 2012
8:14 am

I have been following Tech since 1951 and I have never seen so many in state players simply ignore Tech. It’s not Tech vs Georgia in recruting . It’s Tech vs Georgia, then any other SEC school in recruiting. The players that are comming up today do not want to contribute their talent to a program while they get an education. They want to dream of the NFL and ride along, go three yeras and jump to the NFL. They don’t feel that an education is a fair trade for their talent because they reason “When the motherload from the NFL comes in I’m set for life. I don’t need school” That can be seen by some outrageous behavior once they settle in at college in many cases. The NCAA is from another time and another pace. They don’t see TV contracts, TV networks and such as an unfair advantage to smaller schools and confrences. I bet they all still watch back and white TV’s.

Crap

February 20th, 2012
8:20 am

Boring subject and well overdone. Let’s stop this discussion until it’s time to recycle the topic during next recruiting season – when it also won’t be settled and will still be boring.

SECIsFootball

February 20th, 2012
8:21 am

Auburn07….3 posts in and an AU fan has to bring up Alabama in a blog topic that doesnt even discuss Alabama. I am not surprised at all.

Slow news day

February 20th, 2012
8:35 am

Are you kidding with this?

WalterEgo

February 20th, 2012
8:36 am

Anybody understand why college football doesn’t have an early signing period like basketball?

Big Dog Dick

February 20th, 2012
8:38 am

PJ is correct 100 % and Richt is his typical hypocrite self. As Saban said…”You shop we shop”. Any auburn person making comments on any team is stupid for your team has been buying players since Pat Dye came to auburn and it’s documented! NicK Saban is kicking all your azz and all you do is cry but that is our society. Let everybody play two innings. Nick Saban is not an Alabama Man but was just a guy looking to get back to college and Bama needed a Coach thus the deal. Now he has all the resources he needs to build a great program in addition to a staff that works 24/7/365 and that is what is killing you lesser teams. Keep on running that mouth because you get further behind by the day.

The Grinch

February 20th, 2012
8:38 am

Both coaches need to do what’s comfortable for them and I don’t have a problem with either.

The only thing I would say about Johnson is maybe his lack of consistency, for lack of a better term. When the recruit from Florida visited Auburn a couple of years ago it was big news that Johnson “pulled” his scholarship. Many articles were written on the subject and Johnson explained in great detail his position of pulling the scholly. This year two (2) kids were looking elsewhere yet Johnson didn’t go public with his “pulled scholly” policy and would have loved to have signed these kids.

I know what both coaches say, but both are going to do what’s best for their respective programs at that given time.

Slow news day

February 20th, 2012
8:39 am

Of course NO coach enjoys for his recruits to visit other schools, not even Richt, so I do not know why this is even an issue? Of course I can see how CPJ is focused on with his laughably hypocritical policies. Not only is his entire stance on recruiting hypocritical, but how he enforces it is even worse. He has gleefully pulled scholarships in the past for kids doing EXACTLY what the two this year did. So why did these get a pass???? Oh that’s right, because he is slooooowly figuring out he needs any halfway decent player he can get just in hopes of being able to compete in this worst BCS conference in the nation.

@Big Dog Dick

February 20th, 2012
8:42 am

The last name in your handle suits you just fine. You are an idiot. You clearly do not even know what the word “hypocrite” means.

DIT

February 20th, 2012
8:46 am

@Hal

Good post. There is no wonder why this country is “dumbing down” There is just not any emphasis on a good education any more.

bucket

February 20th, 2012
8:58 am

I am getting a little sick and tired of people calling Mark Richt a “hypocrite.” You can criticize CMR for a lot of things, but the hypocrite label doesn’t fit. His coaching and recruiting decisions are fair game, but slandering a good man’s name because you cheer for another team is wrong! I have seen the man in action and he is a true blue Christian. If a recruit is committed to another team and they don’t want to talk to anyone else, all they have to do is tell the other teams to get lost or refuse to talk or visit. If a recruit is still taking phone calls or visiting other campuses, then they are not committed.

Brent

February 20th, 2012
9:00 am

they should have two nsd’s. one early before the season. the risk is the kid could get hurt but the reward is you have him locked in. of course saban would find a way to get his scholly rejected.

Joey

February 20th, 2012
9:00 am

As a UGA fan, I love PJ’s attitude about this – “If you are looking, then we are looking.”

bucket

February 20th, 2012
9:03 am

BTW, some coaches obviously don’t know the meaning of the word committed either. Especially when you have kids who gave a verbal commitment months ago and never took phone calls or visited other campuses only to be told later that they didn’t have a spot in this year’s class.

Brent

February 20th, 2012
9:06 am

rusty really a sbtb example? wow was that pathetic and lame. a tv show as real life. what a tool.

Big Crimson 75

February 20th, 2012
9:06 am

…….and of course it’s ok for Coach Parton to “pull” his offers if a GT commit visits elsewhere — but will he take another teams verbals?
Why yes — hope y’all enjoy that QB we gift-wrapped for you!
Good luck Justin Thomas — Can’t say I blame you for not wanting to run the scout team @ Bama for the next 4 years.

George Stein

February 20th, 2012
9:07 am

The issue isn’t commitment; it’s all about numbers.

FL Jacket

February 20th, 2012
9:08 am

bucket…

Completely ignore that the recruit in question had to meet a certain ACT score and never did…

dawgfan

February 20th, 2012
9:10 am

I thought both coaches’ comments were very reasonable and I’m not going to take the AJC’s bait on this. I don’t think Richt sidestepped anything. He doesn’t have a hard and fast policy. What is so difficult about that to understand? Is he supposed to state some hard and fast policy when he doesn’t have one? That wouldn’t be very honest, which is exactly what some of you claim to want. CPJ seems to have a hard and fast policy. Good for him. That doesn’t make him any more of a “straight shooter.” It just means he has a hard and fast policy.

Good grief. Dumbest blog ever.

FL Jacket

February 20th, 2012
9:11 am

BC75…

It’s CPJ’s right to pull an offer if a Dontae Aycock or Tre Johnson make an OV without telling him first.

I would love to see how Saban would handle that same situation.

Big Crimson 75

February 20th, 2012
9:14 am

Jacket — it would depend on how good the player is.

FL Jacket

February 20th, 2012
9:20 am

BC75…

It’s CNS’s prerogative to continue dealing with players who may or may not screw him on NSD…but I guess he chooses to be the “other 10%” of coaches who make offers on top of their available number and let he chips fall…

gbal

February 20th, 2012
9:22 am

Someone explain what would be wrong with letting the prospects SIGN whenever they are ready to COMMIT. Why does it have to ba a SIGNING DAY?

I think this works…..

Schools can not make an OFFER to a prospect until Feb 1 of their Junior year. They can recruit earlier and talk… tell them they intend to make an offer if they like but no OFFER of any type until Feb 1.

At this point the offer is official and the prospect can sign it any time he likes and this is a commitment.

The schools on the other had can pull an offer at any time they like (prior to it being signed) by notifying the prospect in writing that the offfer is no longer open for acceptance.

All win here… Kids can sign when they like, coaches can get commitment and plan the balance of their recruiting, if a kid wants to drag out making a commitment and they coaches decide to go in another direction, it is understood up front that the an offer can be pulled.

Its crazy to have soft offers and soft commitments made 12 months or longer befor a NSD. Kids continue to get pressured… coaches count on a verbal commitment…. This problem is just so easy to fix.

Am I missing something here?

Big Crimson 75

February 20th, 2012
9:24 am

I got to say Jacket — that underground railroad from Tuscaloosa to North Ave has helped us more.
I’ll take the Colin Peak for Chris Jackson trade any-day!
In all seriousness — what happened to Jackson any-way?

gbal

February 20th, 2012
9:27 am

This would solve the oversigning to some degree as well. Everyone knows who has committed and knows where schools stand with their 25 limit at any given time. When Saban or others hit 25…. STOP. That simple and easy.

And no offers can be made to a rising senior to fill next years class.. NO GREY SHIRT.

foothills

February 20th, 2012
9:31 am

FL Jacket got it right…the difference was that Aycock and Jackson were going to visit WITHOUT telling the staff they were going…leaving GT without an opportunity to replace them. The DB from Tampa was replaced this past yr. but whats-his-name OL ping-ponged around until it was too late to bring someone to take his ’ship

FL Jacket

February 20th, 2012
9:34 am

BC75…

Chris Jackson is going to be a senior in 2012. He hasn’t cracked the two-deep since he’s been at Tech because of injuries, attitude, you name it. As a WR, you have to be able to block to see the field, and I wonder how well he can do that.

Colin Peek, Taylor Bennett, and and few other players were bound to leave given the nature of the offense.

Big Crimson 75

February 20th, 2012
9:36 am

Gotcha.
Yea, Jackson seemed to have “baby” written all over him if memory serves…..