Last week, Fox 17 News Nashville featured an interview with Kirk Herbstreit where he revealed that his twin sons, Jake and Tye, would be attending Clemson University next year as preferred walk-ons with the football team.
This news doesn’t make much of a difference from a pure football perspective. Jake is a 6-0, 175 pound, 2-star cornerback. Tye, similar in size, is a 2-star wide receiver. Both will redshirt, become hard working contributors to the practice squad, but are unlikely to play a crunch time snap at Clemson.
So…why is this news?
Kirk Herbstreit is the undeniable king of college football in sports media. The Big Lead ranked him as the 15th most powerful talent in all of sports media today and touted him as the “slam dunk first overall pick” in the site’s College Football Media draft. We follow him on Twitter, casually run into him at Home Depot, watch him on College Gameday, listen to his color commentary at night, and then debate the playoff rankings with him each Tuesday. He speaks, and we listen.
College football has become the embodiment of everything that is wrong with today’s student-athlete. New scandals, accusations, and embarrassment strike annually. Just look at Baylor, Ole Miss, Maryland, and…Ohio State…in the recent past. Everyone knows the best players come with a price. The men in power, from the NCAA to head coaches throughout the country, routinely make decisions that prioritize the business and their own self-interests above the players they mentor. Then there’s Dabo, who has shown time and time again that is not how Clemson’s program operates. He is one of the last true stewards of student-athlete development and won’t cut corners.
I write all of that to make this point: Clemson is different than the other top tier programs in college football. Herbstreit has said this himself. There is the family culture, a tenured staff, internship placements, mission trips, state of the art facilities, healthcare technology, absurd graduation rates, and the PAW journey. The fact that the most influential man in college football has decided to send his twin sons – who undoubtedly could have been preferred walk-ons at any school in America – to mature into men under the tutelage of Dabo Swinney and his staff speaks volumes to the program’s success, authenticity, and staying power.
To illustrate my point, let’s imagine you are the parent of a blue-chip recruit who is listening to pitches from top schools around the country. You are well aware of college football’s reputation and believe many of those in charge are snake oil salesmen. What could be more reassuring when sending your son away for college than knowing the Herbstreit twins play for Clemson?
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program. If you need any proof, look no further than the Blue Chip Ratio – which will extend it predictive success to 14 years in 2018. To be the best, you must recruit the best and to recruit the best you must distinguish your program from everyone else. Any tangible gaps in recruiting get closed as quickly as a board of trustees can approve them. The real separation derives from the intangibles. Clemson didn’t receive the commitments of two 5-star studs last week, but they did receive two commitments that personify the difference between Clemson and the rest of y’all.