Over the past week, two of the biggest names in college football coaching made recruiting gaffes that cost their programs top recruits and could sully their reputation going forward, which is saying something in the world of elite college football recruiting.
USC coach Lane Kiffin and new Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville each lost a talented in-state recruit when they exhibited a blatant disregard for the athletes' academic endeavors, according to separate reports.
Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High defensive end Kylie Fitts, who graduated a semester early, de-committed from the Trojans upon learning he could no longer enroll early at USC, his coach Kurt Bruich told Riverside's Press-Enterprise.
“Recruiting man, it’s crazy,” Bruich told the Press-Enterprise. “He’s wanted to go to USC for as long as he can remember and now he feels betrayed. He did everything he was supposed to do from his end and he was a loyal kid. I think they thought because of that loyalty he’d still want to go there. He said to me: ‘What am I supposed to do for the next five months?’ It seems shady. I think it seems shady to everyone.”
Rated as the No. 108 overall recruit in the nation by Rivals.com, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Fitts participated in Saturday's U.S. Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio, where USC assistant coaches told him they would see him when he enrolled at the university on Thursday, according to the report.
“Then two days later, they tell him not to come,” added Bruich, whose protege's list of offers includes Auburn, Cal, Georgia, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. “He’s going to de-commit and explore other options.”
Meanwhile, Tuberville infuriated Massillon (Ohio) High coach Jason Hall when Cincinnati apparently pulled a scholarship offer to Tigers quarterback Kyle Kempt in the aftermath of former Bearcats coach Butch Jones' move to Tennessee.
“It was an ugly situation,” Hall told Friday Night Ohio. “I think they thought he 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.”
If you're wondering why the Massillon coach just referred to himself in the third person, perhaps he's earned it. His program is one of the most storied in national prep football history, winning 22 state titles and nine national championships since 1894. Legendary NFL coach Paul Brown began his coaching career at Massillon, if that tells you anything.
In other words, Hall isn't somebody you want to piss off if you're a college coach in the state of Ohio. But Tuberville has apparently done just that by costing his brainiac QB a chance to chase a dream in Cincinnati's engineering program.
“Kyle is one of the best football players in the state of Ohio,” added Hall. “He has tons of schools looking at him. It will work itself out. The difference between Kyle and most kids is you’re talking about a 4.4 student, where the classes and majors matter to him. He’s focused on certain types of engineering and Cincinnati had what he wanted academically. He picked them … because the football was a good part of it, but they also have the engineering program.
“Kyle will land on his feet. Fortunately for him, he’s one of the top players in the state and people are interested. I know they could have used him in this all-star game I just attended.”
A three-star recruit as rated by Rivals, Kempt's list of offers includes Indiana, Ole Miss, Tennessee and West Virginia.