The head coaches of two of Texas’s biggest football programs are not making any friends at Florida prep power IMG Academy.
Speaking this week at the Texas High School Coaches Association clinic in Houston, Texas coach Tom Herman and Baylor’s Matt Rhule were critical of the football factory.
“It doesn’t matter whether you go to IMG or you go to Carthage High School, we’re going to find you,” Herman said Sunday, according to the Houston Chronicle. “I believe high school football is more than just getting recruited. It’s more than X’s and O’s. It’s about community, especially in this state. That community starts to get torn apart a little bit because people want to come in and recruit other players. I’ve got a problem with that.”
Herman also said he’s “nervous” an IMG-type school could open up in Texas.
Speaking Tuesday, Rhule went a step further and said his Baylor staff won’t be recruiting any players from athletics-focused schools like IMG.
The setting of coaches’ comments is obviously worth noting, since strong relationships with high school coaches play such an important role in recruiting. Herman and Rhule were telling the coaches exactly what they wanted to hear with regard to a school that poaches some of the state’s top talent.
Herman walked back his comments to a degree in a statement issued late Tuesday through the university.
Herman said it was his belief there was “great value in playing high school sports in your community and nothing like Friday night lights in our great state.” There are other opportunities, like charter or private schools or IMG Academy, were athletes can grow and flourish, he acknowledged.
“I do think it’s important to talk through it with people you trust, but ultimately that decision is up to each young man and his family,” Herman added. “As I said to the Texas high school coaches, playing football in our state is tremendously rewarding, but I also recognize the value for those who choose to pursue other opportunities.”
IMG, a boarding school in Bradenton, Fla., was founded in 1978 as a tennis training academy and added a football team in 2013. Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough and Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois are among the list of current Division I players who attended the school.
IMG will field two varsity football teams this season—one that will play other nationally ranked programs and another that will play the top teams in Florida.