The other day, I was going to scout a football game at the request of a father who wanted me to come and watch his son.
I called the high school in advance to request a field pass so I also could observe several sophomores, juniors and seniors from both of the participating schools. I was surprised when I was informed that the head coach doesn't allow "recruiting people" on the field.
It was the first time a high school coach has ever prohibited me from going on the field to scout players. And I've been to hundreds of games over the last 31 years.
But the most bizarre incident happened at the Class 7A championship game in Champaign in 2004.
I was there as a guest of then Illinois coach Ron Turner and I was writing for USA Today and ESPN. I had been watching the games from Turner's office, then moved to the bleachers at the north end of Memorial Stadium.
Jim Flynn of the IHSA staff saw me and ordered security guards to kick me out of the stadium. He said I had lied about working for USA Today and ESPN. He said he ran the state playoff, not Turner, and I didn't belong on what he described as "his" field.
Flynn never apologized for his arrogance and stupidity. But let me try to set the record straight for parents, players, coaches and fans who still might not understand what I do for a living.
I have helped hundreds of kids over the years and never, ever have charged a penny for advice or anything else. I obtain subscriptions for my newsletter through the colleges and fans. Sometimes there is a misconception by some coaches who believe everybody involved in recruiting is out to profit off the kids. Some are, but not me.
Each year, I evaluate the top 1,500 players in the country. I travel the country from coast-to-coast to personally talk to the players and their coaches and to evaluate their film. Then I publish a 300-page book that provides a scouting report on each prospect. I also attend as many games as possible and scout the top underclassmen.
One coach told a father of a recruit: "We don't like to talk to Tom Lemming because he charges kids money."
Absolutely not true. The coach is ignorant because he never has talked to me. He assumed that, because some recruiting analysts charge fees to kids to promote them on their Website or display their videos, I was one of them. But the fact is I have paid thousands of dollars out of my own pocket over the years to help get kids noticed and receive scholarships without ever charging a penny.
I want to get that point across to coaches and anyone else who is unaware of what I actually do.