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Random Internet Dude Knows More Than the Coaches

This post created some controversy when published.  For more information about this controversy, please see this fanpost

A few days ago a friend directed me to an online article to read about Cal recruiting.  After reading it I felt as if the author has a gross misunderstanding of recruiting expectations and realities - not to mention that the article contained many flawed arguments.  I felt so strongly about my views that I am compelled to write something in response to illustrate where the author's understandings and logic falter.  

The article at issue here is hosted at  The article starts out applauding Tedford & Co. for regaining some of its lost recruiting momentum.  This praise is apparently pretext for appearing balanced and fair in his writing because the heart of the article contains pointed criticisms at Tedford & Co. for their 2010 recruiting class failures.  Specifically, the author criticizes Tedford & Co. for offering scholarships to a few two-star recruits, having a few recruits de-commit from Cal, and not giving scholarships to recruits that the author has self-proclaimed to be better prospects than the ones that Tedford & Co. had recruited.

After reading his article, it became pretty apparent to me that the author was subtly boasting that he knew better than the coaching staff.  Perhaps he did.  I do not know his credentials.  I've heard he was a former Daily Cal writer.  Perhaps he was also football scout extraordinaire too - I don't know, but I doubt it.  I have a feeling he really does not know much more about evaluating football talent than you or I.  So I found it incredulous that he would make such bold statements that Tedford & Co. had made mistakes by recruiting X player over Y player.  I do have to give him credit for giving his opinion though.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how unqualified they may be.  However, although a person is allowed to give their opinion, their statements should at least be grounded in logical and sound reasoning, and have an adequate understanding of how football recruiting -- and life -- works.  I do not feel that the author had any of this understanding in his article.  My response will attempt to show this.

My first disagreement with the author's statements occurs when he criticizes Cal's offensive line recruiting.  Here's what he had to say:

The rather large hole on the left side of the offensive line, vacated by departing senior Mike Tepper, doesn’t look any different than it did three days ago.

Senior Donovan Edwards, who was the second option at both tackle spots last season, looks to be the likely candidate to protect presumed starter Kevin Riley’s backside next year.

But then what?

Chris Adcock is too small (Tedford said at his press conference Wednesday that he could see the Mesquite, TX native playing center) and Alex Crosthwaite and Geoff Gibson don’t have the footwork that made Tepper a decent left tackle.

In a year where Tedford and Co. made more strides in national recruiting than ever, they lost a Central Cali JUCO in Roszell Gayden, who appears to be a perfect fit on the blindside, to a team that’s over half way across the country. Not to mention, his twin brother, Rashad, signed to play his college ball at San Jose State.

The author's biggest gripe appears to be that Cal didn't sign a decent left tackle prospect to take over the left tackle position once Donovan Edwards graduates after next season.  Alex Crosthwaite and Geoff Gibson apparently don't have the footwork to be "decent."  Without giving the two recruits any benefit of the doubt, the author suggests their Cal careers won't be anything more than "decent" and perhaps nothing more than futile.  Do these recruits deserve some benefit of the doubt?  Certainly.  They haven't been exposed to college coaching yet.  They haven't been exposed to a stricter diet and training techniques.  After exposure to the higher level coaching and training, these two recruits could certainly develop into good offensive linemen.  I think this is quite obvious to anyone.  However, the author doesn't seem to think they have a chance to develop at all.  The two recruits haven't even stepped onto campus and the author has written them off.  I'm not even sure the author has seen them play in person.  He might have made his conclusions from merely watching a few minutes of grainy tape, or is just regurgitating another person's opinion of the two players.  Either way, doesn't it make more sense to at least wait until the kids step onto campus, are exposed to a year of college coaching and training, before making a decision on whether they're worth their scholarships?  I sure think so.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.  Based on what the author wrote, it doesn't sound like he would agree.  In fact, it sounds like Tedford & Co. really should have consulted the author before offering scholarships to Crosthwaite and Gibson!  Why didn't they?! 



Consensus four-star recruit (Scout, Rivals, ESPN) Alex Croswaithe will apparently never have a "decent" career as a left tackle.


Next, the author rips Tedford & Co. a new one for missing out on Roszell Gayden.  Before we get to why the author rips Tedford & Co. for missing out on Gayden, it should be noted that Gayden has the author's stamp of approval for apparently being a "perfect fit on the blindside."  Tedford & Co. should be pleased that they gave Gayden a scholarship as since the the author considers Gayden worthy of a Cal scholarship too!  Glory be to God! 

Now why does the author rip Tedford & Co. for missing out on Gayden?  Because he signed with a team "that's over half way across the country" (Auburn).  Well, I'll be damned.  Schools should always lock down local recruits?  Certainly that's ideal but some recruits just want to get away from home and there's nothing the home school can do to change a recruit's mind.  Doesn't matter to the author though!  Cal should just put shackles on all local kids.  Nobody is getting out of state!   

Why doesn't the author show Tedford & Co. some love for getting four star linebacker recruit David Wilkerson from Danville?  Danville is only about 20 miles away from Berkeley.  That must count for something?  Apparently not.  The author is picking and choosing his battles.  He'll tell you about the local kids that Cal lost, and not tell you about the local kids that Cal nabbed.  He doesn't care or is ignorant of the fact that kids sometimes want to get away from home. 



Dude, it's completely unreasonable for you to want to go to college out of state!  What are you thinking?!?!


Now the author also rips Tedford & Co. for not getting Roszell Gayden when Roszell Gayden's brother, Rashad Gayden, signed with local doormat San Jose State.  The exact quote is:

In a year where Tedford and Co. made more strides in national recruiting than ever, they lost a Central Cali JUCO in Roszell Gayden, who appears to be a perfect fit on the blindside, to a team that’s over half way across the country. Not to mention, his twin brother, Rashad, signed to play his college ball at San Jose State.

Immediately, the faulty logic should be apparent.  The author is using the fact that Rashad Gayden signed with a local school as proof that Roszell Gayden should have signed with Cal.  Thus, because Roszell didn't sign with Cal that JT & Co. really screwed the pooch on that one.  I'm sure the amazingly flawed reasoning is obvious for everyone, but since it wasn't that obvious to at least one person on this Earth I guess I should elaborate.  Rashad and Roszell are two different people.  The choice that the brother made cannot be used as proof that Roszell should have signed with Cal.  Maybe Rashad wanted to stay in California.  Maybe Roszell didn't.  But the fact that Rashad signed with San Jose State doesn't mean Cal should have nabbed Roszell too. 

I've said this before in other threads, but recruiting is not grocery shopping where you can waltz down the aisles and pluck whatever your little heart desires right off the shelves.  Recruiting requires mutual interest.  The school has to be interested in the prospect, and the prospect has to be interested in the school.  Cal was obviously interested in Rashad Gayden.  Gayden wasn't that interested in Cal.  That's life.  That's recruiting.  The author fails to understand this.



Recruiting is not like grocery shopping. 


Next, the author proceeds to criticize JT & Co. for its WR recruiting:

What seemed like a promising group of wideouts to start (I don’t have to remind anyone that that’s been a weak spot for Cal over the last couple of years), turned downright ugly with the departure of prospects Josh Harper and Davon Dunn, both of whom left for "greener pastures" in the heart of some of the world’s most fertile grounds.

Yes, the Bears’ got a big lift with the late addition of Allen, but—with all due respect to Pat Hill and the Bulldogs—Cal should never (NEVER) lose recruits to Fresno State.

The same faulty reasoning that the author used in the Roszell Gayden situation is being applied again here - the recruit's specific college interests don't matter and regardless of those interests Cal should be able to get whoever it wants.  (Sigh)  This isn't grocery shopping, Mr. Random Internet Dude Author.

The author doesn't really explain why Cal shouldn't lose recruits to Fresno State, but I'm assuming his line of reasoning is something like Cal is > than Fresno State in everything blah blah blah.  Maybe that's true if you just consider academics, stadium size, fan attendance, or whatever.  But what about some of those other non-measurable aspects that go into choosing a college such as college and team atmosphere, personal preference in co-ed hottness, weather preferences, and playing time?  That doesn't matter to the author!  Apparently, that's all nonsense! 

Clearly, the author has no understanding how many factors go into kids' decisions on where to attend college.  Some of those factors are measurable objective factors such as stadium size, academic rankings, etc.  Other factors are immeasurable subjective factors that none of us may agree with or understand.  They might even be very irrational factors, such as how hot the coeds are.  But the author doesn't want to believe any of those real life explanations.  Fresno State sucks, and Tedford & Co. sucks even more because a few kids wanted to go to Fresno State for college.

Anybody want to know why Davon Dunn and Josh Harper de-committed from Cal?  Here's what Dunn had to say:

"I think I might go with Fresno [State] because I feel like that is the best fit for me," Dunn said. "I am more comfortable with their staff, I am more comfortable with their players and atmosphere and it is a little bit closer to home, as well."   (link to article)

Well, what do you know?  The kid is more comfortable with the staff.  Nothing wrong with that so long as Tedford didn't punch the kid's mom in the face.  After all, some kids just click better with other people.  The kid likes the players and the team atmosphere better at Fresno State.  Nothing wrong with that.  Every program has its own culture and atmosphere.  And he wants to stay a little closer to home.  Again, nothing wrong with that.  The kid just has interests which don't quite match up that well with Cal.  No biggie.  But the author doesn't give a rat's ass about what this kid wants.  Screw his interests!  The author just wants Cal to get Dunn.  Cal should have gotten Dunn because RECRUITING IS LIKE GROCERY SHOPPING!

Now why did Harper de-commit from Cal? interviewed Harper after his de-commitment and he had this to say:

"[I have] more of a chance to compete for playing time ...  It was nothing bad towards [Cal].  Fresno State lost five receivers, and they're bringing in five, so even though there's going to be a lot of receivers there, there's going to be a lot more opportunity to compete for a spot." (link to source)

The kid wants playing time!  Who can blame him?  The author can, and will.  God have mercy on poor Josh Harper's soul for preferring to go to a school where he felt he had a better opportunity to get playing time!  Mr. Random Internet Dude, you are one unforgiving human being!  Remind me to never piss you off!

So Cal lost Josh Harper and Davon Dunn.  I don't really bat an eye because ... you know, I understand how life works.  The author on the other hand... well, nevermind. 



Harper: "I just want to play ball!"
Mr. Random Internet Dude Author: "Nobody in their right mind would EVER want to go to Fresno State." 


Next, the author kicks Tedford & Co. to the curb for signing two two-star wide receiver recruits after losing Harper and Dunn:

Not only was the Harper/Dunn saga embarrassing, but it put the Bears behind a pair of eight-balls as they attempted to scrounge up a couple of pass catchers.

And scrounge is what they did.

Here’s a quote from Tedford’s presser, when he was asked as to how accurate he felt recruiting sites were in ranking players like Kaelin Clay and Terrance Montgomery (two receivers that Scout has as two-star prospects):

"Some of these receivers, like Kaelin Clay and Terrance Montgomery, I don’t know if anybody ever watched them on tape," Tedford said. "Because if you watch them on tape I don’t see how in the world you could say that they were a two-star at some point."

Two things immediately come to mind when reading this excerpt.

First off, tape is different than seeing an athlete in person.

Clay is from Long Beach Poly, a big-name school in the realm of high school football. He’s been in the spotlight, people have SEEN him play, yet he had just a few other offers (from the likes of Portland State, Northern Arizona and Utah State).

Secondly, if the tapes were so grandiose, how did no one else see them, not just the recruiting guys?

Did Paul Wulff, Mike Riley, Steve Sarkisian (insert EVERY other Pac-10 coach’s name here) completely neglect such wide receiving talent? Or is this simply a case of the Bears reaching for a couple of guys that nobody else believed to be Pac-10 talents?

The author critiques the coaches for pursuing Montgomery, whom was rated two stars by Scout.  But the thing about Scout is that they give two stars to every player regardless of whether that player has actually been scouted and subsequently rated, or has never been scouted.  In other words, it's not really known whether Scout actually reviewed Montgomery's film and gave him two stars, or his film was never reviewed and hence he got the usual two star rating.  So to really rely on that two-star rating is tenuous, at best.  On the other hand, lists Montgomery as a three-star recruit with a 5.5 rating on their scale of 4.9 to 6.1.  

The author also critiques the coaches for pursuing Clay.  Clay was listed as a four-star WR early on in the recruiting process by  He was later downgraded to three-stars, perhaps because he never received a lot of attention from big schools, but has been given a 5.7 rating on their scale of 4.9 to 6.1.  While he never got a scholarship offer from an FBS school, reports that he was also getting interest from Arizona State, UCLA, Washington, Michigan, Florida State, San Diego State and Utah.  Those schools wouldn't be showing interest unless they thought he was even worth some consideration for a scholarship, right?  And even if he didn't get a scholarship from one of those schools all that really means is that they gave their scholarships to other players that they thought were better; that doesn't necessarily mean that Clay is bad - perhaps just not as good.



If Cal is your only big scholarship offer, you must suck.  Clearly.


Maybe the coaches are reaching a little bit with these players.  Maybe not.  Many other programs offer scholarships to players who are unheralded and relatively unknown.  That doesn't necessarily mean that these players are bad, but just that they're unknown. 

Does the name James Rodgers ring a bell?  Oregon State was the only FBS school to offer the two-star recruit (Scout profile). reports that he also had offers from Utah State and Texas State.  Rivals gave him a 5.3 rating (on a scale of 4.9 to 6.1).  He sure turned out pretty good.  Why did a lot of teams probably not offer James Rodgers?  Because he was 5'6" at the time.  Clay and Montgomery are 5'9" and 5'11", respectively.  They are both considered short for WR standards.  The fact of recruiting is that a lot of teams will shy away from short recruits despite being talented.  Cal hasn't really been one of those schools.  To wit, a few of Cal's undersized players: Will Kapp at 5'10", Robert Mullins at 5'11", Jared Price at 5'11", Jeremy Ross at 5'11", Isi Sofele at 5'7", and Shane Vereen at 5'10".  A few of those kids, despite being on the shorter side (and yet still having grown since high school), are pretty good players.  I wouldn't discount the coaches for offering a two-star player. Coaches are professionals.  They know football and most can recognize talent and potential.  Frankly, and I'm sure I'm not alone on this, I'd rather trust the opinion of Tedford & Co. on Clay and Montgomery rather than take the word of Scout.  But that's just me.  I think the author feels differently though. 



If Oregon State is your only big scholarship offer, you must suck.  Clearly.


Finally, the author treats us to a little QB analysis: 

At Berkeley’s regional Elite 11 quarterback camp, I fell in love with two athletes; neither was Austin Hinder and, interestingly enough, neither would ever have Cal offers.

That is pretty interesting.  I think the author would like us to believe that the Cal coaches aren't seeing what he's seeing and that he's right, but I'm pretty sure all this really means is that he and the Cal coaches aren't seeing the same thing. 

Moving on, the author treats us to more bulletproof commentary:


The Bears passed on Stockton product Marcus McDade, a late-bloomer whose arm strength is unparalleled amongst 18-year-olds in America, and Brett Nottingham, a UCLA decommit and Stanford signee who had more of a total package than any other QB in the West, BYU’s Jake Heaps and USC’s Jesse Scroggins included.

Maybe Cal passed on McDade because, um, you know, arm strength isn't everything?  McDade is also rated two stars by Scout.  Earlier, the author says Tedford & Co. were "scrounging" by signing two-star WR recruits Kaelin Clay and Terrance Montgomery.  Now the author is implying that Tedford & Co. should have given a scholarship to McDade - a fellow two-star recruit?  Can we get a little consistency here?

I'll be fair and note that lists McDade as a three star player with a 5.7 rating, but as since the author has been using Scout ratings against Tedford & Co. then its the Scout ratings which are relevant to this analysis and not the ratings.



Scout rates you as a two-star prospect and the 125th best QB prospect in the nation.  Normally, if a college were to give two-star prospects a scholarship they would be "scrounging," but the Random Internet Dude has deemed you an exception.


And as for Brett Nottingham, perhaps the coaching staff passed on him because Nottingham didn't have much interest in Cal.  Remember: mutual interest.  Not: grocery shopping. 

Even if Nottingham was more of a total package than Jake Heaps and Jesse Scroggins then why wasn't he getting more attention from more bigger name schools?   Height isn't a factor.  Nottingham is 6'4". 

Perhaps the scouts and coaches think that Heaps and Scroggins are better prospects than Nottingham?  Certainly that's very possible.  Some of the biggest programs in college football came calling for Scroggins along with many others: USC, Florida, LSU, Nebraska, Tennessee, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, North Carolina, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, and Washington State (Scroggins profile) (Scroggins profile).

The same goes for Jake Heaps: Notre Dame, Cal, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida State, Brigham Young, and Washington (Heaps profile) (Heaps profile).

As for Nottingham: UCLA, Stanfurd, Boise State, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, and San Diego State (Nottingham profile) (Nottingham profile).  That's not quite the same impressive list of schools that Heaps and Scroggins are sporting.



Random Internet Dude says you're a better "total package" than Jake Heaps.  If Jake Heaps was rated as the #1 QB in America by both and Scout. com, I guess that makes you the next Tim Tebow.


Maybe Nottingham did get attention from some of those top programs and Scout and Rivals just aren't showing it.  Either way, the author thinks Nottingham is better than Scroggins and Heaps.  The recruiting services don't really agree with the author, and neither do the coaches for many top football programs across the country.

I think by now it's quite obvious what's going on.  The author thinks he is a better talent evaluator than Tedford & Co. 

If that wasn't true, then why would be he be lambasting Tedford & Co. for signing Clay and Montgomery?  Why would he be criticizing Tedford & Co. for passing up two-star QB Marcus McDade?  Why would be criticizing Tedford & Co. for passing up Brett Nottingham whom the author thinks is a better "total package" than Jake Heaps and Jesse Scroggins?  Why would he be criticizing Tedford & Co. for offering scholarships to offensive linemen Crosthwaite and Gibson who have footwork problems and presumably are never going to be "decent"? 

The author thinks he knows more than the coaches.  In fact, he might be right.  There's perhaps a good 5% chance he's right.  But for the rest of us, for those of us who know that we don't know crap about talent evaluation, we'll just trust the coaches.  After all, they are the professionals.  It is their job to do that kind of stuff.  They wouldn't have gotten to where they are today without some level of competency in the areas of talent evaluation.  And even if they aren't gold medal winners in their talent evaluation, I'm pretty darn sure they're going to be better at it than the author.

I myself went through a phase where I thought I knew more than the coaches.  I even wrote a few posts a long time ago breaking down some recruit film.  Back then I was naive and arrogant.  In hindsight, I regret writing those posts.  Although my time on the practices fields with the team and coaches has taught me a small amount of what makes up a good player, I eventually realized I didn't know squat in the grand scheme of things.  Perhaps, at the most, I knew a sliver more than your typical lay fan.  Because of that realization I am not quick to judge Tedford & Co. for their recruiting decisions.  And even if I do judge them, I make sure to at least maintain some level of reasonableness, some basic understanding of how recruiting works, and how life works before I lambast the coaches for not giving a scholarship to X recruit, or for giving a scholarship to an unknown or low rated two-star recruit, or for losing a recruit to another school. 

When you're on the outside looking in, and when you're not privy to inside information or professional knowledge, then showing some restraint to your criticisms is probably the fairest course of action.  To do otherwise makes one's self look like a know-it-all.  And if a person still feels the need to declare themselves superior in knowledge than the coaches, then that person should at least have some damn good arguments to support themselves.  Even more importantly, that person should at least have a basic understanding of how recruiting, and especially how life works.