Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Recruiting: How times have changed

Last week two big events occurred back-to-back at Schembechler Hall. First, on Tuesday, February 5, 2008, thirty players from the 1969 team (Bo's first squad) returned to meet with the current players and coaches. Secondly, on Wednesday, February 6, 2008, Coach Rodriguez announced the incoming class of freshmen as Wednesday was National Letter of Intent signing day. The back-to-back events made me think about how things have changed in the world of recruiting since the days of the 1969 team. One of the players from the '69 team that returned for last Tuesday's event was Michigan legend Jim Betts. According to the book What It Means to be a Wolverine, Betts played high school football in the mid-1960s at Benedictine High in Cleveland, Ohio. His coach was Augie Bossu, a former Notre Dame player. Betts was a QB and was recruited by about 175 colleges during his senior season. However, Coach Bossu did not want Betts to be distracted during the high school season so the coach boxed up all of Betts' recruiting letters and the coach did not give the box to Betts until after the final game of the season. It was only then that Betts learned of all the schools that wanted him to come play for them. Betts' wound up visiting six Big 10 schools but committed to Michigan after a 2-hour home visit by Coach Bump Elliott during which the coach sold Betts' mother on the virtue of a Michigan education.

Contrast Jim Betts' recruitment to that of Ryan Mallett. Mallett was also a top high school QB prospect. However, in 2006, Mallett verbally committed to Michigan while he was still a junior in high school. After playing his senior year of high school football, Mallett graduated just months later and early enrolled as a student at Michigan. In January, 2007, Mallett was a freshman on the Michigan campus while his high school classmates were attending prom and preparing for their regularly scheduled graduation in May, 2007. Back in 1967, when Jim Betts was a freshman, there was a rule that freshmen could not play. That rule was abolished many years ago and Mallett, in 2007, played in 11 games as a freshman. How the times have changed. Go Blue!
*NOTE: Photo of Michigan legend Jim Betts addressing the members of the current team on 2/5/08 from



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