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Mike Weber situation highlights hypocrisy in coaching, player standards

Mike Weber was sold on Ohio State University by his position coach Sean Drayton, even spending all night Tuesday and in to the early hours of Wednesday assuring Weber that his fears and concerns shouldn’t be. One day later, Drayton was off to a new job with the Chicago Bears.

It left Mike Weber blindsided and clearly hurt.

It also left him wondering if he made the right decision all along. Were the words of Drayton and Meyer really real, or just a mirage to get him to sign by whatever means necessary.

The frustration also boiled over to Weber’s Cass Tech high school football coach, Thomas Wilcher, who is also a Michigan graduate. He took to Detroit radio station 105.1 to air his grievance with Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

“I think Urban Meyer is going to have to step his game up,” Wilcher told the station, via MLive.com. “I’m mad at the protocol, that’s what I’m mad about. When you’re out there recruiting, tell the young men what’s going on so they can believe in the university. That’s just it. I think it’s a black eye on the university also.

“They’re getting these young men under false pretenses, and that’s just it.”

To say the pressure to go to the home-state University of Michigan was high before national signing day would be an understatement, and now this situation unfolds in front of Weber out of nowhere.

Now the “I told you so” refrain is just as loud as the pressure to sign with the Wolverines was around Weber. It’s a sad situation for Weber and his family to be in, but there’s also the flip side of the coin.

Shouldn’t a recruit be going to the school, for the school, and not for a specific head coach or position coach? I’ve spoken to plenty of college coaches who report that is the exact advice they give to kids in the process.

Mainly coaches come and go, but school isn’t leaving you behind. So, a kid is wisest making his choice based of the comfort with a university as a whole, not just based off a coaching staff.

Still, Weber’s situation just doesn’t sit right. The coach feeds him what he wants to hear, gets him to sign and fax his NLI in and jumps ship the very next second.

However, Weber is just the most high-profile example of what is becoming a very disturbing trend in college football coaching.

That trend is coaches sticking around through national signing day in order to not rock the boat in a recruiting class, only to take off when the fax machines are put away for another year.

Weber’s position coach was one of four major coaches to leave just hours after national signing day was done and dusted.

Former Michigan recruit Roquan Smith held up on his pledge to UCLA because word got out that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was headed for a job with the Atlanta Falcons. Notre Dame’s QB coach left for an NFL job and Florida and Washington State also experienced coaches taking off for the NFL.

No one should be held back from getting a job which they want, and coaches getting hired and fired happens all the time. Still, is it too much to ask for some honesty in the process?

[quote_left]”Mike Weber was straddling on the fence,” said Wilcher. “He wanted to go to Michigan but he wanted to stay committed (to Ohio State), his parents want him to understand commitment and that’s what he showed Ohio State in the end. They’re at least supposed to show him the same courtesy.”[/quote_left]

That’s the hardest part of the Weber issue to swallow, he was asking the right questions about the coaching staff and the future plans. All he got in return were words the coaches wanted to give him to make him sign a few hours away.

Simply put, Weber was sold a bill of goods. There’s no way in hell Drayton didn’t know he was going to the Chicago Bears come Thursday. If he didn’t, that hire would have to set some sort of land-speed record in the world of coaching hires then.

I’d have more respect for Drayton leaving if he was just 100 percent honest with Weber. Instead, Drayton continued to tow the company line and do what was needed to be done for them to win this battle with OSU’s bitter rival up north.

Win at all costs right Urban?

Now it’s true that players can be granted a release from the letter of intent because of a coaching change or other situations, but the power lies in the hands of the school they signed with. Ohio State doesn’t have to let Weber or anyone else out of their national letter of intent if they don’t want to.

Which means the student-athlete is completely at the mercy of the school he signed with, and a coaching staff he may no longer trust.

Do you really think Ohio State is just going to hand over a full release from the national letter of intent knowing he’s likely to go right to the University of Michigan and likely hurt them for the next four years.

If he isn’t granted a release from his national letter of intent, said player sits out a season and losses a season of eligibility in the process. How is that fair?

It’s akin to your employer telling you you’ll be hired at xyz salary, getting you to accept employment and then saying we aren’t going to actually pay you that salary because the person who made the offer went on to a different company.

How this all goes down just doesn’t sit well, and yes I know life isn’t fair and coaching changes happen all the time. It doesn’t mean something can’t be done either and it’s completely hypocritical for the NCAA to punish a player because a coach takes off on him after selling him a complete bill of goods.

There’s a simple solution to the problem:

If the position coach, coordinator or head coach leaves the school at any time (fired or hired elsewhere) between national signing day and the start of fall camp all incoming players are immediately able to transfer to any school they want without having to lose a year.

For me, it’s akin to truth in advertising — at least this way there’s a check and balance for coaches who want to lie their way to landing a kid for his binding NLI before taking off for his own selfish means.

If coaches can be hired and fired at any point in time (which, as a capitalist, I’m fine with) at least allow the same freedom of movement to the players they are coaching as well.

You can also bet this move will have repercussions for Meyer and the Buckeyes when heading to Cass Tech in the future.

(Meyer and I) are going to have to meet,” said Wilcher. “He got the No. 1 athlete in my school two years in a row and that’s big. But you can’t come up here, up to the north, and walk out of here with your pockets full without giving us respect. You can’t walk all over us. This is not going to happen again, I can tell you that right now.”

Weber may end up sticking with his commitment to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, but maybe this situation can be the straw that broke the camels back on the hypocrisy of the standards the NCAA has for coaches and players movement.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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