Bruce Pearl loves Atlanta so much that he ought to be given honorary membership on the city’s chamber of commerce.
Since being hired as Auburn’s new basketball coach, Pearl has taken every media opportunity possible to speak about his affinity for Atlanta. Of course, it has everything to do with the city’s insane production of college basketball talent.
“Atlanta has got great coaching, they’ve got a lot of players, we’ve got a great alumni base in Atlanta,” Pearl said on his radio show via al.com. “And Atlanta is still SEC country. It’s not ACC country. Atlanta is SEC country and that’s where we’re going to focus a big part of our efforts.”
Since Pearl can’t recruit until Aug. 24 because of an NCAA show-cause penalty (he can’t even contact high school coaches over the phone or via email), expect the coach to continue chatting up Atlanta at every media opportunity. It’s a smart plan, given the restrictions he is under.
Here are five other recruiting stories this week people are talking about:
1. SEC AGAINST EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
Despite the fact that most SEC head coaches support some form of an early signing period for football, the guy who runs the SEC’s daily operations said that the conference, as a whole, does not support the idea at this point. “There’s not been an idea that’s been put on the table that adequately deals with all the issues,” the SEC’s Greg Sankey told al.com. “There needs to be a full consideration of the issues.” An NCAA committee will review the possibility of an early signing period at a June meeting. Of course, the biggest hurdle is that while a majority of college coaches across the country support a version of an early signing period, each coach has a different idea on how to do it – which, in my opinion, makes this issue more confusing not less.
2. CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?
Man, there are some sensitive hockey and soccer fans in Columbus, Ohio. Urban Meyer had to issue an apology (or clarification) after my Q&A with the Ohio State football coach. When I asked him why Georgia’s elite 2015 football prospect ought to consider signing with the Buckeyes, part of Meyer’s response was that Columbus is “a large city that really has no professional sports teams.” Even though he didn’t specify, I felt like was referring to NFL’s Browns and Bengals. And his tone of voice while making the comment certainly wasn’t condescending. But the fans of Columbus-based NHL and MLS teams had a meltdown on various message boards. Meyer texted an apology via the Columbus Dispatch: “I have great respect for both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Columbus Crew organizations. The intent of my comment about football recruiting was that Columbus doesn’t have professional football. I should have made that point clear, and I do apologize for the misunderstanding. I am pulling for the Blue Jackets in their playoff drive and I wish the best for the Crew under its new leadership.”
3. THE OUTSPOKEN CHARLES BARKLEY
Charles Barkley loves the quality of basketball in Atlanta, too. Not the Atlanta Hawks, but the city’s high school talent. Barkley, an Auburn basketball alum, told a radio show last week, “Atlanta, Georgia is the preeminent hot spot for college recruiting right now. If you go and look at all these college rosters the last five or six years there has to be at least 25 players starting in major colleges that are from the Atlanta area. It is unbelievable how many players are from the Georgia area. That’s got to be our second priority.”
4. WHY CAN’T MARK FOX RECRUIT ATLANTA?
If you read message boards, this week’s running joke is that the reason UGA basketball coach Mark Fox can’t effectively recruit Atlanta is THIS.
5. SEC APPEAL OF NCAA RULE
Greg Sankey, the SEC’s chief operating officer, also explained in his al.com interview the reason the SEC is appealing the new NCAA interpretation of early financial aid agreements – where the NCAA basically says only the first college the kid signs the F.A.A. with will be awarded “unlimited contact.” The SEC’s big concern (and they are exactly right) is that unlike with the letters of intent, the colleges don’t have to share the F.A.A. signings with each other, and that could lead to colleges unknowingly committing NCAA recruiting violations. Again, they’re exactly right. Sankey’s reasoning sort of reads like legalese but here goes: “There’s an interest in changing the recruiting structure. That should be a full and complete conversation, not something that’s done interpretatively.”
BONUS: UGA vs. Clemson
Round two of UGA DE commit Chauncey Rivers vs. Clemson OL commit Mitch Hyatt will take place at Saturday’s Rivals camp at Marist high school, if both show up. There was a lot of Twitter smack talk after the showdown (mainly from one side) between the two at last week’s Nike camp. Rivers is from Stephenson High School while Hyatt hails from North Gwinnett. And Scout.com has posted a new video (below) of the matchup: