USC. Notre Dame. One of the most prestigious rivalries in sports, spanning 22 national championships, 14 Heisman Trophy winners and nine Hall-of-Fame coaches over more than eight decades. Two wealthy, balanced programs known for maintaining solid academic reputations alongside athletic excellence, on two of the most storied campuses in the country. Two programs that expect championships and count anything less as a disappointment. All of that junk.
Choosing between the Irish and Trojans is not really a decision you can get wrong, is what I'm saying. Which is precisely the reasoning behind four-star Fresno, Calif., cornerback Tee Shepard's apparent decision to choose his destination by picking between two slips of paper in a hat:
Shepard, committed to Notre Dame since March, said during Friday's practice that at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 he will put two pieces of paper with Notre Dame and USC written on them in a hat, pull one out and sign with that school.
"I'm going to pull it out of a hat on game day," Shepard said. "Whatever I pull that's going to be it. It's kind of crazy and then it's not because both schools are good. There are no bad choices."
Shepard seemed genuine in his plan and said USC has continued to recruit him following his and Greenberry's visit there in the last few weeks after Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union won its state title game.
Okay, maybe "reasoning" isn't the right word. "Juvenile stunt" would probably be more appropriate. But then, Shepard is a juvenile, and as the No. 82 overall player in the 2012 recruiting class according to Rivals, he currently commands the attention of professional scouts, millionaire coaches, hordes of fawning Internet recruitniks and assorted hangers-on alike. So who can blame him for playing to the audience?
At any rate, USC's part in the equation will come as a major disappointment to Notre Dame, which has counted Shepard as a solid verbal commit for months. His equally hyped high school teammate, Deontay Greenberry — a blue-chip wide receiver who's earned explicit comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald — has also pledged his signature to the Irish, and has shown no signs of waffling. In fact, Greenberry told Rivals' Adam Gorney today that he's ruled out USC entirely, and is bound for South Bend even if Shepard winds up picking the Trojans. Not he buys the lottery gimmick, anyway: "[Shepard]'s not going to SC," Greenberry told Gorney. "I know."
Whatever you say, man. Hey, I'm not here to judge the decision-making process of a 17-year-old. I'm just saying: If the kid actually goes through with it, he sounds like Lane Kiffin's kind of guy to me.
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