It's getting to be that time of year again when gifted high school senior athletes begin signing letters of intent to join college athletic programs at various institutes of higher learning around the nation.

Recruiting student-athletes has become a highly competitive proposition, almost like a business, and as coaches know, a good incoming class of recruits can make or break a program for years to come.

Colleges and universities use a number of techniques to entice student-athletes to make a commitment, and some even employ marketing agencies to get their points across to high school prospects.

The majority of recruiting techniques are above board, while others - well, let's just say they are subject to question.

At the University of Colorado a few years ago, football prospects were allegedly recruited at parties where alcoholic beverages and coeds were included. The incident cost the head football coach his job and resulted in a major shakeup of the Buffaloes' athletic department.

Other recruiting programs have also come under fire, many through no fault of their own, due to the actions of overzealous alumni, who enticed athletes with automobiles, free airplane tickets and plain-old, hard cash.

A new gimmick the University of Oregon is employing for recruiting football players could be called "innovative," but it undoubtedly will cause a few laughs from other college athletic departments.

Taking a cue from Hollywood's current trend of featuring comic book characters in major motion pictures, the U of O is making a pitch for new recruits by creating personalized comic books featuring players as "superheroes."

Here you have a high school halfback from Greenville, Miss., being elevated to superstar status in a recruiting comic book running wild over the Southern California Trojans, (yeah, right), during his college career if he signs to play for the Ducks.

What I would like to know is what happened to kids who wanted to play ball simply because of the tradition the school's athletic program had developed over the years, or the fact Dad or Uncle Frank attended a particular school?

Not long ago it was the goal of every Catholic high school athlete in the nation to play for Notre Dame, simply because of the tradition the Fighting Irish had built up in South Bend. The same was true of Mormon kids wanting to suit up for BYU.

If a kid is a basketball player, Duke, North Carolina or Syracuse are the choices; and years before that, Cincinnati or Butler, or at Indiana playing for Bobby Knight.

It's a shame, but the glory of a Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock with Arkansas squaring off against Alabama for the SEC football crown has somehow faded into the mists of time, being replaced by a newsprint recruiting magazine depicting how a "Hero is Born."

Not wanting to slam the program in Eugene too much or the "Quack Attack's" league record over the past couple of seasons and the lack of a major bowl bid, or the overall quality of teams the Ducks have put on the field, but you can bet your last money Texas and Oklahoma don't have to resort to comic book tactics to get kids to play for the Longhorns or the Sooners.

Maybe its just the way things are these days, but I'll take the Trojans over Electra Woman and Dyna Girl anytime. You can have the point spread plus a touchdown, too.

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