Look what you did,
You also ruined the official visit for every star football recruit to follow.
Thanks partly to your mouth-watering recruiting diaries, published in
To understand how the official visit -- the two-day, all-expenses-paid trip that allows prospective athletes to see what a school has to offer -- has changed since your tour, Willie, consider the wildest part of the biggest visit weekend at Georgia this recruiting season. On the night of Dec. 6, some of the nation's top players gathered at the home of Bulldogs coach
"[Richt] is pretty dominant. He didn't lose the entire night," said
Let's not pile on Willie, who has enough problems after he was dismissed in September from Louisville following an arrest on a charge of marijuana possession. While Williams' decadent diaries raised eyebrows, it was reports a month later of the bacchanals at Colorado that rang alarm bells at NCAA headquarters. The president of a Denver company called Hardbodies Entertainment Inc. confirmed that Colorado players had hired strippers on multiple occasions to perform at parties attended by recruits. Later that year, an independent investigation conducted for the Colorado Board of Regents found "evidence demonstrating that sex, alcohol and drugs were used as football recruiting tools by some player-hosts and possibly a football recruiting assistant."
The NCAA acted quickly, forcing schools to formulate and submit written policies that would govern official visits. It outlawed recruiting hostess groups, instead forcing schools to use the tour guides available to any prospective student. Private planes were banned along with personalized jerseys, "gameday simulations," swanky hotel suites and anything but a "standard" meal.
So did the rules, first enforced during the 2005 recruiting season, change anything? Yes and no. All recruits now must fly coach, which can put them at the mercy of the airlines. Recruits still get a chance to sample the nightlife at most schools, but they'll probably spend as much time touring academic-support facilities as they will touring the bar and house-party circuit. And while they'll be well fed, recruits shouldn't expect unlimited surf-and-turf for every meal.
Meanwhile, athletic department officials are happy they no longer have to drain coffers trying to impress the latest future Heisman Trophy winner.
"[The rules] standardized things. It did away with the excessive nature of things," Battle said. "Everybody was playing by the same rules."
FSU received a black eye in 2004 when Williams said the Seminoles flew him from Miami to Tallahassee on a private jet and that he put "four lobster tails, two steaks and shrimp scampi" on FSU's tab at a pricey Tallahassee restaurant. Battle said Williams did not fly on a private jet -- he was the lone passenger on a commercial flight -- and he said Williams exaggerated his gustatory prowess. Still, the rule changes allowed the Seminoles to develop a more uniform visit policy. While teams with a smaller squad size still take recruits to restaurants -- think Chili's instead of Ruth's Chris -- large groups of football recruits eat at FSU's campus dining facility. Battle said the recruits' dinner is a simulation of the meal Seminoles players eat the night before a home game. On one night of the visit, recruits eat dessert at coach
Unlike the Pac-10, which limits schools to $60 a day to cover meals for a prospect, the ACC has no specific meal guideline. Battle said conference officials discussed a dollar limit, but they realized a reasonable price to cover a recruit at FSU or Virginia wouldn't provide much for a recruit visiting Boston College or Miami. At any rate, it's unlikely a recruit ever could recreate Williams' meal at The Rusty Pelican during his Miami visit. According to Williams' diary, he ate three lobster tails and two steaks. Using the restaurant's current menu prices and assuming Williams ordered the cheapest lobster tails and steaks, his meal would have cost $165.75 before tax and tip.
So what happens on an official visit now? Interviews with several of the top prospects from the class of 2008 have allowed SI.com to create a basic composite schedule. Some schools may alter the schedule, but the basic elements seemed consistent for BCS-conference schools.
The new rules haven't completely prevented misbehavior.
Swink and Hennesy said they don't blame Tennessee coaches, who they said can't be expected to babysit players 24 hours a day, but Swink did tell Owens that a U-Haul might be necessary if he signed with Tennessee. "If you go to Tennessee, I guess I'll be moving," Swink recalled telling Owens. A few days later, Owens committed to Oklahoma, which, Hennesy said, probably would have happened anyway.
Still, maybe the Vols would have had a better chance at landing Owens had the players just driven Owens to Fulmer's house for a rousing game of ping-pong.