It didn't have to be this way for Bryce Brown. A poster child for what's wrong with recruiting today, Brown was originally talked about only as a great talent and humble kid willing to follow his linebacker older brother out of Kansas even into the bubble screen-rinse-repeat offense of former Hurricanes OC Patrick Nix. He fasted with his family, said he felt God wanted him in Coral Gables, and committed to coach Randy Shannon.
And then things spiraled out of control: he made visits elsewhere while conflictingly repeating his commitment to the Hurricanes. He announced plans to graduate in December and enroll early for spring ball, then continued his recruitment instead of packing up. Miami hired Mark Whipple to helm their offense; the well-respected coach reached out to Bryce in his first official move on staff and was publicly dismissed in an interview. Bryce said he saw himself at Oregon. His adviser/mentor Brian Butler repeated that Bryce was still committed to Miami, but asked other schools to explain how they'd build an offense around his client. Signing Day came and went, The New York Times published some rather sketchy information about Butler, and the NCAA showed up in Wichita to investigate. It was officially a mess.
Sources at Miami began leaking news that the Hurricanes had had enough and would not be reissuing a letter of offer nor planning on giving Bryce the official visit he promised was coming while he traveled elsewhere. Bryce's father, Arthur Sr., was apologetic in the media, embarrassed and horrified over the carnival-like tone of his son's recruitment and the strained relationship with his friends at Miami. Butler got quiet. Shannon announced on the radio he would not work with "street agents" and said Miami was done recruiting.
And now the Browns and their adviser are fasting all over again in advance of Bryce's March 16 announcement at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. It's as hard to imagine Shannon rejecting an apology as it is that Brown ever really wanted Miami in the first place, and by all accounts it's well and over between the former suitors. Signs point to a Tennessee-Oregon-Kansas State trio of hats.
What will happen on Monday at the big event? An exasperated college football world will breathe a sigh of relief, and Bryce Brown will be disappointed to find that wherever he's finally chosen will do no more to ensure a bright NFL future than anywhere else. There is no magic pixie dust, no distinct advantage between Tennessee, LSU, Oregon, USC, or Miami in the long run. The road to the NFL is littered with former high school stars, and the League boasts players from no-name schools. No matter where he goes, Bryce will excel if he puts in the effort, learn if he dedicates himself to study, and play if he's good enough; if the process and its importance wasn't blown completely out of proportion he could have realized that in the same time frame it takes every other prospect out of high school without burdening himself with all the extra attention and resulting expectations.
In conclusion: no one will care where he goes anymore, but they'll be sure to hang the whole debacle over his head if he under-performs. And that would be no one's fault but his own.
Janie Campbell is a Florida native who believes in the pro-set and ballpark hot dogs. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the internet.