It’s one of the oldest debates in recruiting: Is one prospect worth two scholarships?
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin thinks not.
It happens quite often. One prospect requests (or demands) that his teammate, friend or relative be offered a scholarship before he makes his college decision.
“We don’t do that,” Kiffin said Wednesday on the News Sentinel’s radio show, The Sports Page. “It’s way too critical — the value of a scholarship to Tennessee.
“What I’ve been hired here to do is not to sign somebody to help us with somebody else.”
Rebuilding UT’s program is first on Kiffin’s mind.
“We’ve got to sign great players,” he said. “It’s too valuable at this stage right now to waste something just to get somebody. We have too many good things to sell and too many things going on. We don’t need to sign somebody else to get somebody.”
Kiffin could eventually face such a dilemma. Standout prospect Jesse Scroggins from Lakewood (Calif.) High School has said he’d love to play with cousin, receiver Jerry Anderson from Houston High School in Germantown (Tenn.)
As of last weekend, Anderson hadn’t received a scholarship offer from UT.
UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl isn’t as opposed to offering a partner to secure the right player.
“I recruited a brother combo one year and I made it really, really clear to the other brother … that this wasn’t about him, that he was a throw in,” Pearl said on WNML, The Sports Animal. “It was something that the family wanted and I thought he was going to be really challenged to play at our level.
“It was something that I knew was a game-breaker to get the kid we really wanted.”
There’s also the regret of deciding against a “one-for-two”. Pearl believes he could have signed Jon Scheyer, now a junior guard at Duke.
“I didn’t’ take his best friend and John didn’t come,” Pearl said. “If I had it to do over again, I probably would have given that (other) young man the 12th spot and gotten John Scheyer on our team. If it’s the game-breaker, you do it.”
Pearl said his main goal as a college coach is to help student-athletes be successful. Giving a player an instant friend on campus can do that, especially if the player is coming from a far away location.
Pearl, however, has his limits.
“I’m not into hiring (coaching) staff to get a player,” Pearl said. “That takes place.”
Pearl said the key to recruiting a prospect and another is honesty. The friend has to know he is more friend than true prospect.
Former UT coach and highly respected football recruiter Trooper Taylor, now at Auburn, isn’t a fan of the maneuver.
“To take from the football team or to take from another kid that could help you win, at the end of the day, I’ve never seen those things pan out,” Taylor said Tuesday on The Sports Page. “I’ve been doing it 19 years and the couple of times I’ve been involved in those situations they have never, ever, ever panned out because somebody’s unhappy.”
That someone is usually the lesser player.
“People refer to it as the cow and the calf,” Taylor said. “Usually when you get the cow, the calf is unhappy. He’s in that locker room and he usually becomes a type of cancer while the cow is playing.”
Clearly there are differences between the two sports. Football has many more scholarships to offer.
Yet the perfect basketball prospect can have a greater impact on a program than in football.
Kiffin has been selective in UT’s recruitment of quarterbacks, even in a year with few elite high school prospects. The Vols are slated to have only one scholarship quarterback on campus next year: Nick Stephens.
The debate rages on.