Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Signing Day Part III: Notre Dame

Want some insight into how fine and upstanding the Notre Dame football program's recruiting tactics are? Check out the following excerpt from this story in today's Washington Post (props to the reporter for some good investigative reporting):

"I thought I'd make my decision and that would be it," said Arrelious Benn, who announced his commitment to Illinois on ESPNU on Nov. 9 before graduating from Dunbar in December and enrolling in Champaign last month. After the commitment? "That's when it got worse. These are grown men. Why can't they live with the decision I made?"

Throughout his junior school year, Benn said he had considered Notre Dame his top choice, but when he felt as though the Fighting Irish coaching staff was putting too much pressure on him to commit he stopped considering the school. Once Benn orally committed to Illinois, Notre Dame assistant Peter Vaas continued to pepper Benn with text messages and voice mails, some of which Benn provided to The Post:

"FYI, ILL is telling Robert Hughes that they will build their offense around him? Didn't they tell you that?

Coach Vaas," Vaas wrote Benn on Dec. 17.

Earlier that month, Vaas left this voice message on Benn's phone: "You don't want to do anything except bury your head in the sand. . . . I guess you're not tough enough to compete at the big level."

Vaas, who was let go as quarterbacks coach by the Irish after their 44-14 loss to LSU in the Sugar Bowl, did not deny leaving the messages. He said last night that even though Benn made his announcement on national television, that isn't necessarily a recruit's final word.

"Did he say [he was going to Illinois] to me? Did I see him on TV?" Vaas said. "There's an awful lot of rumors or innuendo out there . . . and kids change their minds after they do that. A lot of times, it depends upon what kind of conviction a kid has about a place. You know how you read between the lines? As a recruiter, I have to hear between the lines."

A Notre Dame spokesman declined to comment last night.

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