The University of Florida’s recruiting relationship with onetime commit Tre Bell – and the ending of it – has turned into a big PR mess for the Gators.
The cornerback from New Jersey had been committed to Florida since last April. According to ESPN’s Derek Tyson, Bell’s commitment to the Gators was accepted with the contingency of him working out at one of Florida’s summer camps so they could evaluate him because his high school did not have spring football practices.
This is where it gets confusing.
Bell showed up at Florida’s Friday Night Lights football camp a few weeks ago but did not participate because he said his high school coach did not allow camps after July 15. However, Bell competed the next day in a national 7-on-7 tournament, which apparently upset Florida coach Will Muschamp and started a chain of events to led to Bell and the Gators parting ways – and Bell committing to Vanderbilt this past weekend.
The Gainesville Sun’s Zach Alboverdi wrote on Monday that Bell was dropped for “dishonesty” reasons:
Understandably bothered by what happened, Florida contacted St. Peter’s Prep coach Rich Hansen to get an explanation and discovered that Hansen never gave Bell those orders. When confronted about the situation, Bell continued to be dishonest with staff — and that’s why he is no longer a Gator.
Muschamp, and other college coaches, are not allowed to comment on prospective student-athletes, per NCAA rules.
But everybody else is. And they have, over the past couple of days, in reaction to the “dishonesty” allegations.
Bell told 247sports.com’s Barton Simmons that Florida “never made it mandatory that I had to work out” at Friday Night Lights. After the 7-on-7 camp, Bell said, “I found out that Coach (Will) Muschamp was really mad. I called him up to see what he had to say and he wasn’t happy at all …”
On Tuesday, Bell’s coach finally spoke to the Gainesville Sun and said his phone conversation with Florida’s coaches went in another direction than reported (click here for full story):
“[Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn] called me and he said, ‘Rich I got to ask you this question, do you guys have a rule about participating?’ I told him we do,” Hansen said. “The rule is after July 15, you don’t work out for anybody. If you sprain an ankle it will be an issue for our team. It’s been my rule for 25 years. You can look it up and ask any player that’s ever played for me and they’ll give you the same rule. Now what happened after that is totally Tre’s fault, but that was my conversation with Danny.”
Bell’s father also spoke to the Sun, saying his son “made a mistake” by breaking his high school rules by working out at the 7-on-7 tournament. However, the elder Bell said Florida “never told us we had to camp. If they had told us that, then we would have camped. That’s what caused all this.”
The Florida newspaper also finished the updated story by saying, “Sources close to the football program told the Sun a different version of what happened.”
What are your thoughts? Which side do you believe? What is right and what is wrong? Please post below.
What do we think? It’s not just happening at Florida. It’s a growing trend for colleges to “accept commitments with contingencies” and, in the majority of cases, is an awful idea. What could go wrong? Lots of things. It can lead to a lot of confusion, a destroyed level of trust between the two parties, and — most importantly – a heap of bad PR for the participating college that could damage other recruiting efforts. Surely, rival SEC recruiters will be using Bell’s fallout against the Florida Gators with the “Can you trust them?” lines in the living rooms of recruits. If colleges want to do something like that, then why not simply make “conditional offers”? Why the rush to publicly accept a commitment if there’s a chance it’s going to be revoked? Lots of issues here.
THIS JUST IN …
BECAUSE WE MISS THE OLYMPICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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