Online Now 209

Tommy Tuberville An Unfair Target?

“Yellow Journalism” is a term used in media for a situation where the reporter presents little or no well-researched news and instead uses eye catching headlines to sell his product. Tommy Tuberville may be the victim of such a tactic both in print media and the on radio.

One month ago, an internet story surfaced on 247sports based on the recollections of Devonte Danzey of Hutchinson Community College. The junior college offensive lineman, who has since signed with Auburn, claimed the night before Tommy Tuberville was announced as Cincinnati’s new head football coach (replacing Butch Jones), he prematurely walked out on a Texas Tech recruiting dinner.

Danzey claims he asked Coach Tuberville and the other Tech coaches how long they expected to be in Lubbock, Texas.

“I asked Coach (Charlie) Weis at KU and Coach (Dana) Holgorsen at West Virginia (the same question), just so I know my relationship with them,” Danzey said. “(Tuberville) was just telling me he coached at Miami and Auburn, he coached 10 years and recruited Ray Lewis and kind of blew the question off I didn’t even realize.”

Danzey added: “The waitress brought our food out, and we thought (Tuberville) went to the bathroom, but he never came back to dinner. Then next thing I know, the next day, he made an announcement that he’s going to Cincinnati.”

The story took on a life of its own soon afterward and became the No. 1 referenced story in 247sports.com history and prompted Tuberville to be a guest on The Dan Patrick Show the next day in an attempt to refute the charges. Unfortunately, everyone assumed Danzey’s recollections were accurate and no one even attempted to report the recollections of the other recruits present at that recruiting dinner in Lubbock, Texas. That is until now.

BearcatLair.com contacted Sunny Odogwu from Hargrave Military Academy on Wednesday night to do what others had evidently neglected to do. Odogwu has since signed with Miami, Florida but remembers the night in question quite well.

“I remember that night,” said the 6-foot-8/300 pounder. “I’m surprised that story got so popular because I remember talking to Coach Tuberville after my dinner. He left after the dinner. As I recall, he was there as I was eating. He talked to me about coaching Ray Lewis and showed me some pictures that night, and he tapped me on my back as he was leaving the dinner. That man is innocent of this. He was there that night. It wasn’t like he just disappeared.”

BearcatLair.com also attempted to contact Jarvis Blue, a recruit that was also present at the 50-Yard Line Restaurant that evening, but we were unsuccessful.

Since then another story has surfaced questioning the ethics of Tuberville. Todd Porter of Cantonrep.com wrote a piece on January 3 suggesting the new UC head football coach may have treated Massillion Washington star quarterback, Kyle Kempt, unfairly.

Massillon head football coach, Jason Hall (referring to himself in the third person), had the following to say about Tuberville and the UC football program.

“It was an ugly situation. I think they thought he (Kempt) was going to go to Tennessee with Butch Jones, and they offered another quarterback. But that wasn’t the case. Cincinnati will not be allowed back in Massillon on our campus as long as Jason Hall is in Massillon.”

After admittedly speaking to Coach Tuberville and others in the Cincinnati athletics’ department, Hall said, “They think it is a misunderstanding. I got the political run-around. The way they came in conducting business, I’m not sure Kyle would have ended up going there anyway.”

Kempt had been contacted by multiple reporters since Butch Jones took the Tennessee head coaching position, and although the talented quarterback always maintained he was still “committed” to Cincinnati, he also followed that statement with either “I’m keeping my options open” or “I’m looking around.”

Hall also coached Gareon Conley last season, and the talented senior was at one time a Michigan commit. However, Conley started having second thoughts and also started looking around and keeping his options open.

That led to Conley eventually decommitting from Michigan and committing to Ohio State on December 7. Hall was very much involved in the process as he is quoted in a story on November 30 where he said the following:

“My job is to get these kids all the opportunities I can.”

Of course, Tommy Tuberville's job is to win games, and it's difficult to do that if he turns away solidly committed recruits for those that are admittedly "looking around."

Clint Brewster of the 247sports site for Michigan spoke to Bearcat Lair about how Michigan generally handles commits that are still looking at other options.

“Michigan usually tells a kid they are recruiting a certain number of players at a position. They won’t continue to recruit over a commit unless that person starts to look at other schools. If another recruit at the position makes a firm commitment, they will pull a scholarship.”

That is essentially what Tommy Tuberville and UC did with Kyle Kempt when Brent Stockstill informed BCL that he was verbally committing to the Bearcats on December 17. Interestingly, Kempt informed BCL earlier that same night that he had decommitted to Cincinnati, but our website also received a message from someone obviously close to Kempt earlier this week claiming UC pulled the offer.

College coaches are not permitted to talk about prospects until they have signed their letter of intent so speaking with Coach Tuberville was not an option.

Still, the situation begs the question- Why is it okay for a high school coach to help a player to “look around” or “keep his options open” when colleges coaches aren’t afforded the same right?

An early signing period might help to alleviate some of these kinds of situations, but until that occurs, some high school coaches will continue to try and get their kids all the opportunities they can while colleges will occasionally have to pull offers because of it.

Regarding the media, many will continue to be attracted to the sensational headlines and do little to actually research the story.

Already have an account? Sign In