Today was national signing day for college football, the day that most of the coveted high school football players make their public declarations to their university of choice. At first glance, two players from North Miami Beach High School signing with my school, UCF, doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone outside the state.
But in this case, it has ruffled the feathers of both North Miami Beach High coach Jeff Bertani and Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit. Bertani claims that the players were all but signed, sealed and delivered to the Michigan school, when the Knights of UCF came in and scooped them up at the last minute.
“If we’ve got people who are not on the up-and-up … it always works out. The guy I kind of feel bad for is Coach Bertani,” said Cubit.
This is the first time in four years that one of Bertani’s players hasn’t ended up at Western Michigan. This makes me wonder why Bertani is so bent upon sending his players north to a relatively small school well over a thousand miles away. Is there some kind of “arrangement?”
“Really, he (referring to Bertani) picked the school for me,” (PLAYER A) said. “I took two visits but I really didn’t know where I was going to school until he called me that morning and told me, ‘(PLAYER A), get here. You’re going to sign. This is where you’re going. No if ands or buts.’ And I knew he knew the best situation for me. Coach Bertani’s word is strong. When he says something he means it. And we all abide by it.”
“Before my visit I already knew I was going to come here,” said (PLAYER B), a freshman running back and the youngest of the group. ” … We (Bertani, too) already had in our mind that Western Michigan was a for-sure thing.”
Can you say, “brainwash?” Something stinks, and I think it’s Western Michigan’s recruiting class this year. Mr. Cubit’s recruiting class is rated #86 out of 119 Division I teams, and he’s looking for a scapegoat. As for “Coach” Bertani, one can only venture a guess at his agenda.
These kids should be allowed to change their minds. They are, after all, just that – kids. Besides, coaches are allowed to leave one school for another regularly despite the promises they made to their own recruits – and nothing is ever said about that.
You think this is the first time someone has changed his mind? UCF has lost a couple impact players at the last minute over the last few years (some to a rival school just over an hour down the road, the University of South Florida). Additionally, you can bet the Knights are the subject of all kinds of negative recruiting in the wake of everything that’s happened over the last 12 months (the death of a player during workouts, battles between coach George O’Leary and our local newspaper and its 4-8 record last season after winning Conference USA two years ago).
The only thing that saddens me is that we’re battling with Western Michigan for recruits, and not the big boys like Florida, Florida State and Miami. It is my sincere hope that someday, before I’m taking a dirt nap, I will live to see UCF be very relevant in the world of college football. In the meantime, I’ll keep cheering them on as all good fans should.
One final quick thought: If you live in Central Florida and have not caught a UCF basketball game, you’re missing a fun team to watch. They have a potential NBA’er in senior Jermaine Taylor, not to mention eight energetic and talented freshmen. Plus, Coach Kirk Speraw is widely known among his peers as an excellent tactician. We nearly beat Memphis a couple weeks ago – we were actually ahead at halftime before their depth and experience won the day.
Have a great weekend, everyone … and I promise that next week’s blogs will be more relevant for everyone, not just Central Florida-area football fans. I just got angry today when I heard what these “coaches” were saying about my school. Fortunately, I have the forum to voice my displeasure.