You were going to Miami, you committed early–and, by the way, you certainly aren’t the first or last to make an early commitment and change your decision–was it any one thing that you just said LSU is a good fit to leave town. Or was it the lack of success the Ely guys had had down there? Because a lot of those Ely guys didn’t work out like a lot of people thought would from that 2002 championship team: “Right. I didn’t want to go in there and get that bad name those guys gave my high school. I wanted to go to LSU and start my own legacy. I believe LSU was the perfect fit. Those guys breed and groom defensive backs. Those guys put good defensive backs into the NFL. I just wanted to go there, at a winning program that so much wasn’t struggling, a program that was on the winning side.”
OK, valid enough reason. But then I read this:
Ruh roh. I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but something’s not right here. 5 star recruit is all set to go to UM, then some guy says that Texas A&M must match an $80,000 offer in order to get him and he ends up spurning UM for LSU.
Remember, Johnson was one of the top recruits in the country in 2008. Rivals had him listed as the third best prospect in the entire nation, behind only Terrelle Pryor and Julio Jones. He was an awesome physical specimen (still is) and had offers from virtually every major school. He verbally committed to Miami in the Spring of 2007. But that didn’t stop schools from coming after him. Hard. The following was written by recruiting guru Larry Blustein in October of 2007:
‘If the University of Miami gets a signature from Patrick Johnson on Feb. 6, National Signing Day, the Hurricanes will have weathered a recruiting blitz like none we’ve seen in recent memory.’
Sounds to me that it was common knowledge that agents, schools, and donors were putting the full court press on Patrick and his family. Then, upon playing in the U.S. Army All American bowl in December, he announced he was spurning the Hurricanes. This, from Rivals.com:
‘Johnson had been flirting with many teams since his commitment to Miami but for him to de-commit and eliminate the ‘Canes upon his arrival in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All American Bowl was a shocker. LSU was the choice in the end and the Tigers are getting the nation’s top cornerback.’
Shocker? Not if you ask Mr. Blustein. Or others that had insight on the recruitment of this young man. The picture posted atop this article was taken from a blog in 2008 after Johnson announced he was signing with LSU (the title of the 2008 article was ’Patrick Johnson Got Paid’). Not exactly a well kept secret. Did the Petersons take money? I don’t know, but it sure looks like it. Can you fault them if they did? Eh, not really.
My only concern is that you have to have a level playing field. Miami is a private university that does not have the alumni or donor fan base that other public state schools do. It is hard to envision a scenario where Miami – not to mention smaller schools – could match cash offers for prized recruits. Which is why it is so important for the NCAA to fully investigate and prosecute these types of scenarios. I’m not talking about ‘cash handshakes’ or ‘pay for play’ incentives, which are common everywhere and have even been documented at UM. I’m talking about giant lump sum Cam Newton-esque payouts to sign with a school.
The problem here is that Cam Newton‘s dad asking for $180,000 from Mississippi State was actually a bargain for the Bulldogs. Whoever turned down that offer made an (all be it morally correct) poor economic decision. Auburn has reaped millions in revenue and sales due to Newton’s presence. And, while having the nation’s best cornerback the past few years probably would have done little to improve Miami’s postseason efforts, reading all these articles leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Canes fans.
I found this 2008 quote from Johnson/Peterson quite telling (it helps if you use the key below to decipher what is being said):
”I just didn’t feel a positive vibe from Miami,” Johnson, 17, said. “I know it’s a great program, and I really didn’t look around at other schools when I committed in April. It was a childhood dream to play there, but they just weren’t showing me enough love lately.”
‘positive vibe’ = wad of cash
‘enough love’ = enough money
Just to clarify, he recently told Joe Rose that he didn’t go to UM because he didn’t want to follow fellow Ely graduates who have had difficulty finding success at the collegiate level. But back in 2008 his story was that UM’s staff failed to pay him enough attention once he committed. Really? Was it the ‘attention’ that they weren’t paying you Patrick?