Just last week SFN highlighted the difference between local recruiting budgets in this well-received entry.
Almost simultaneously, the University of Tennessee’s football program came under scrutiny for the use of its Hostess Program to ‘lure’ recruits to the University. We started talking about the news in real time in this thread on our message boards. As with most of our threads, I was a lot smarter about the topic when I finished reading through it. Thanks to the community for surfing the web, researching, and posting links and relevant information from a host of sources!
The anecdotal story about the ‘irony’ of this story breaking on a national scale out of Knoxville, Tennessee –
In 1985 through 1987 a friend of mine was recruited to play basketball at many ACC and SEC schools – including Jim Valvano’s NC State program and the University of Tennessee. He wasn’t as good as he thought he was, but was impressive ‘athletically’ on the court and I’m sure that the college coaches thought they could mold him into something better than they really could. I loved speaking with him about the recruiting process, especially since the Wolfpack was recruiting him.
Surprise, surprise…guess the focal point of the stories about his trip to Tennessee? That’s right – girls, girls, girls. This was in 1986! Not 2009. My buddy and teammate came back from his trip to Knoxville with a ‘permagrin’ on his face and said there was no way he couldn’t go to UT. Said he was set up with girls during the weekend and it was the greatest thing in the world. Said that the school would even set up recruits’ friends when they visited. He couldn’t stop talking about it.
It was at that point where I started learning more about the ‘truth’ of college athletics and started learning the ‘real stories’ of recruiting and that different schools had reputations for certain ‘niches’ of what/how they could/did offer certain benefits to players. I’m not saying that the practices from Tennessee are/were not replicated and utilized by dozens of other schools; I just found it particularly interesting that UT has been particularly famous for this stuff for such an extended amount of time.
Continuing on that theme, The Big Lead posted a couple of entries this weekend that are very enjoyable for long-time fans.
In the first entry focused on the 1980s, Big Lead highlights a, “very interesting article from the SI archives about college football recruiting and hostesses. The article is from all the way back in August of 1987 and its called “Persuasive Hostesses Help Colleges Lasso Top Prospects.” The main characters in this story are the University of Florida’s Gator Getters. Also mentioned are the Hawk Hunters, Bengal Babes, Hurricane Honeys, Catamount Kittens, Sweet Carolines, Tigerettes and the Garnet and Gold.” The Big Lead’s comments and the SI article are very interesting.
Speaking of the Sweet Carolines from the University of North Carolina — I was channel surfing past Pardon the Interruption on ESPN last week and Tony Kornheiser was discussing the ‘Hostess-gate’ and referenced that the “Sweet Carolines” started it all in the 1950s/1960s. I once dated a young lady whose father played football at UNC-CH in the early 1970s who shared that the ‘enticement’ of the Sweet Carolines was a great complement to the cash and other benefits that Bill Dooley’s program provided.
I felt like the cat who swallowed the canary when he made comments about receiving pay while playing at Carolina, and then I realized that everybody knows and nobody cares. If the local media or NCAA cared, then the Tarheel program could have never survived Lawrence Taylor autobiography of the mid-to-late 1980s. Then I realized that I better hold my breath because the more that Carolina made the NCAA mad, the more NC State’s program better watch out for retribution!
The Big Lead followed its hostess retrospective with “More Old School Recruiting” from the SI Archives in NC State’s glory years, 1974.
I’m aware there are no surprises here, but I’m fascinated by how frank everyone was back then.
“This year’s top high school basketball prospect, Moses Malone from Petersburg, Va., has been offered cars, a campus apartment and money.”
Malone signed a letter of intent to play at Maryland before going into the ABA. I wonder what Lefty Driesell offered him to actually get him to sign.