Pick-a-hat is show business

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After I reported on Friday that linebacker Aaron Lynch of Cape Coral, Fla., would commit to Notre Dame on Saturday, I was criticized by a few readers who argued that I had "stolen the thunder" and "ruined his coming out party" and "trashed his big moment" by breaking the story before he made his formal announcement.

Horse feathers. Those critics are either too naive or too ignorant of the recruiting process to understand how the system works. In this case, they obviously weren't aware that Lynch already had made his decision known to many and there was no secret involved.

It didn't take a genius to know what Lynch was going to do. And I would have been derelict in my duty if I didn't report it as I saw it. Only naive and out-of-touch Notre Dame fans didn't know what was happening.

It isn't stealing anyone's thunder to state the obvious, to reveal where everyone else knows a recruit is going. If Lynch wanted to put suspense in his announcement, he would have kept his mouth shut or made his declaration in Fort Myers, not South Bend.

Instead, Lynch informed other schools that he was going to Notre Dame a week ago. And he formally announced on Saturday on WNDU, an independent radio-TV station on the Notre Dame campus. So what do you think he was going to do? Announce for Florida State from a Notre Dame media outlet?

Don't get me wrong. If kids want to conduct press conferences to announce their commitment and indulge in the game of pick-a-hat, which has become a TV staple, I don't mind it. It's show business. It may be too phony or glitzy for some purists. But kids see other kids enjoy the experience so they want to feel the Hollywood atmosphere, too.

My problem is kids can't keep their mouths shut. Most of them, including Lynch, tell the schools about their decision prior to making an announcement and the schools tell the media. There is very little suspense. Journalism is a very competitive business--that includes recruiting web sites--and nobody is going to wait for a noon press conference if they have the information in advance.

One exception was Seantrel Henderson, the offensive lineman from St. Paul, Minn., who was the top-rated player in the nation last year. He was able to keep a secret because his father made sure that his son didn't say anything to anybody.

Henderson was in our CBS Sports studio on the morning of signing day in February, prepared to make his formal announcement. No one had a clue. Some Internet people tried to sneak into the building to get a scoop. Henderson's father personally chased one of them away. No one knew that Seantrel was going to commit to USC until 2 p.m., the planned time for his announcement. That was a rarity. If you want to keep a secret, don't tell anyone.

Of course, that was then as this is now. In the wake of USC's sanctions imposed by the NCAA for recruiting violations, Henderson chose to leave USC for Miami. But he didn't call a press conference to make that announcement.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on August 1, 2010 10:46 AM.

Notre Dame lands two blue-chippers was the previous entry in this blog.

When recruiting goes bad is the next entry in this blog.

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