Friday, December 26, 2008

Actual Sports Journalism

It doesn't happen often here at The Theorem, but every once in a while we stumble upon a particularly intriguing piece of sports journalism. Here's one by Thayer Evans in the New York Times about the lurid and mildly-shocking details surrounding an elite college football recruiting battle.

The fight was over Jamarkus McFarland, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle from Lufkin High School who is considered the state’s best defensive prospect this year and one of the nation’s most promising players. He is also a top student and the president of his class.

[In other words, this kid sounds like an elite prospect AND a classy dude.]

Along the way, McFarland was wined and dined. He visited the house of the president of Oklahoma, where he was promised a spot in the prestigious President’s Leadership Class. He rode in a Hummer stretch limousine in Los Angeles. He attended parties, including one in Dallas, where he said there was free alcohol, drugs and young women taking off their clothes.

[Actually, that last part might have been redundant-- that is simply the weekly agenda for Oklahoma's prestigious President's Leadership Class.]

McFarland made four official visits during his recruitment — to Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana State and Southern California. He said he saw everything from flat-screen televisions in Texas Coach Mack Brown’s bathrooms to L.S.U.’s recruiting hostesses sitting on the laps of prospects.

[Uh oh. I don't think I like where this is headed....]

But the best summation of his experience might have come from a paper he wrote for his English class comparing Oklahoma and Texas. The paper, “Red River Rivals Recruit,” includes a description of a wild party hosted by Longhorns fans at an upscale hotel in Dallas after the Oklahoma-Texas game on Oct. 11.

[Sure as hell beats a book report on "Oliver Twist," right?]

“I will never forget the excitement amongst all participants,” McFarland wrote. “Alcohol was all you can drink, money was not an option. Girls were acting wild by taking off their tops, and pulling down their pants. Girls were also romancing each other. Some guys loved every minute of the freakiness some girls demonstrated. I have never attended a party of this magnitude.”

[Despite the unsavory scene described, I still, for whatever reason, find his diplomatic description humorous. A party of this "magnitude?" Ha, nice.]

He compared that with a house party hosted by a sorority at Oklahoma. “Drinks were plentiful, but not to the extent they were” at the Dallas party, he wrote. “Some people were tipsy, but in control of themselves.”

[Not "romancing each other."]

After Texas beat Baylor that weekend, McFarland and his mother ate dinner at Brown’s home. Flat-screen televisions were in every room, and there were two outside. “Whose house do you like better, Bob Stoops’s, Les Miles’s or mine?” Adams recalled Brown saying.

[I don't quite know how to put this.... I'm... kind of a big deal. People know me. I have many leather-bound books. And my apartment smells of rich mahogany.]

In mid-November, McFarland and his mother had their first extensive sit-down conversation about his future.... Yet he worried what an Oklahoma degree would mean for landing a job in Texas. He also thought that the Longhorns offered him the best education and that Austin had the most entertainment.

[None of the other schools had entertainment of that "magnitude."]

Adams presented her son with a list of pros and cons for Louisiana State, Oklahoma and Texas. One of her dislikes about Louisiana State was that a maid would clean her son’s dorm room weekly.

[Really?]

Texas made another visit to McFarland’s school, but again, they did not see Adams. After the visit, Adams received an e-mail message from Brown. “It is obvious that the recruiting has put a strain on your relationship,” the message said. “JaMac wants Texas, and Mom wants OU. We want you to still come to Texas, but we are going to slow our process down because you two need some time to get on the same page. We do not want players at Texas if everyone isn’t on the same page.” McFarland’s mother and grandmother were offended.

[I-- I'm friends with Merlin Olson, too. He comes over on occasion.]

On Dec. 17, Stoops and Shipp visited McFarland on behalf of Oklahoma.... While at McFarland’s house, Stoops offered to set the table for dinner and helped carry in ribs and potato salad. After a second serving of ribs and some peach cobbler, he sat on the couch with McFarland and his grandmother and watched the movie “Beauty Shop,” starring Queen Latifah and Alicia Silverstone.

[Alicia Silverstone was in "Beauty Shop?"]

Earlier this month, a former classmate called Adams and asked if she would coax her son into attending Texas. If so, a banker had promised the former classmate any type of loan.

[Random bankers are getting involved now??]

A week later, McFarland’s mind was made up. “I’m pretty glad it’s over,” he said by Thursday. “This is a good thing to have out of the way. Everyone’s satisfied.” Especially Oklahoma, which received a Texas-size Christmas gift.

[Stay classy, college athletics!]

1 comment:

brianjkoscuiszka said...

KLaw had a nice post and discussion about this on the Dish a few weeks back. Worth checking out.