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Tom Izzo estimates that 20% of college basketball recruiting involves cheating

Everyone knows that cheating goes on in the world of college athletics, they just don’t know to what extent. There are some who will tell you everyone does it. Others believe there’s no way their favorite coach could possibly stoop to that level. Whatever the case, the NCAA claims it is aiming to clean up college football and basketball — particularly the influence of sports agents on recruits. According to Tom Izzo, that’s going to require cleaning up about one-fifth of the game.

“I am not saying that cheating is 80% of the game,” Izzo told USA TODAY. “It’s probably 20%. But it’s probably 70% of the top 20% (of player recruitments). College basketball is a business. This (recruiting) is a business now because it leads to ours.”

In other words, most of the highly-sought after recruits wind up where then wind up because of some form of cheating. At least, that’s what Izzo thinks. If you don’t believe that then you need to pay closer attention. Izzo also said he has lost many recruits because he refuses to cheat.

The NCAA is attempting to prevent another Cam Newton scandal by both changing its rules and cracking down on violations. For example, college basketball coaches can now send unlimited text messages to recruits. The truth of the matter is there are always going to be ways to get around the rules. If the NCAA is somehow successful in preventing one form of cheating, another will be born. In the age of technology, we all have to just accept that cheating is a part of the game.

Rivals, Scout, More Power than Coaches?

The Wiz has an interesting piece on a story not many people are giving much mind (with the exception of everyone in the SEC). Not long ago the NCAA introduced what is known as The Saban Rule. The rule limits coaches from making off-campus visits between April 15 and May 31st. Saban is understandably pissed about the rule because it keeps him from doing what he does best — hitting the streets and making the rounds. How else was he able to pull such an elite recruiting class in so little time as coach at Bama? Well, one consequence of this rule is what the Wiz pointed out — Rivals and Scout now become the center of potential scandal. How so? He explains from Ron Zook:

Because operator/writers for Internet sites, such as Rivals.com and Scout.com, are the only ones who have unregulated access to recruits when coaches can’t talk to them, it’s an area that’s ripe for corruption.

“Some programs have secretly allied themselves with the Web sites that report on their school as another way to communicate with recruits.

“In return, the Web sites get better information, more traffic and make more money.

It’s the bottom line here — rules are broken and people are always looking for a way to bend the rules and create shortcuts. They’ll figure out ways to get in contact with players if they really want to, and it’s crazy to think that Rivals and Scout all of a sudden become the primary vehicle of communication between coaches and recruits for that six-week span.

Great Story: Terry Bowden and Bobby Bowden Fought Over Recruits

I’m a big sucker for great anecdotes, and this would not be an exception. Joining Roc and Manuch on Sporting News Radio Sunday was former Auburn head coach and current college football analyst, Terry Bowden. Terry was breaking down the recruiting scene in light of the recent national signing day. He was asked to share his favorite recruiting story, one that would properly delineate the intense level of competition between the coaches. His anecdote was priceless:

Recruiting against my father in 1994, the No. 1 player in the state of Florida was a kid named Martavius Houston — he was a great player for me at Auburn. He had narrowed his decision down to Florida State and Auburn. That last week I was able to make my one official home visit and the last night possible, I go in there at 6pm. And I’m walking out at 7:30, and a stretch limousine pulled up in front of the house. I had a town car and thought I was fancy. A stretch limousine pulled up in front, driver lets out my old man. He walks up to the front porch, he says hello to momma, he shakes the boy’s hand, and he pats me on the head and he said ‘Terry, when you get home, your momma wants you to call.’ That was all he said! That’s dirty recruiting right there; that tells you how ugly it is.

Great story. Turns out Houston went to Auburn and had a good career there, though he didn’t do anything in the NFL. I also came to find that Terry wrote about this same story for the first time in print a few days ago at Yahoo! Sports in case you want to see a full version of it. Great, great, story. Gotta love Bobby — he’s always struck me as the type to get the perfect zinger. He would make George Costanza jealous.

Personal Sidenote: If Bobby Bowden were to ever sit in my living room and recruit me, my answer would be an unequivocal “yes.” I don’t care if he were pitching me to jump out of a plane in hopes of saving a manatee — that dude’s a legend. I’d run through cement walls for his ass.

Texas and Florida Now Testing High Schoolers for Steroids

Unless you hail from this area, you probably wouldn’t think steroids usage in high school athletics existed. What would athletes between the ages of 15-18 possibly need to stick needles in their butts for, right? Especially if you consider they’re not on the big stage of college, much less professional athletics. Well, turns out there is actually is some steroids use in high school sports, and we’re going to find out how much it exists in some states.

It has come to my attention that Texas and Florida will join New Jersey by invoking random performance-enhancing drug tests for high school athletes. In two weeks we are set to find out how much of a problem steroids use is in New Jersey high school sports when the results of their tests are released. For now, a recent University of Michigan report suggests 2.7% of high school seniors have used steroids. I just hope that number is exorbitantly high. Kids using steroids for high school athletics? I can’t think of much else more disheartening than that.