It was all smiles and FSU hats for Thomas on signing day… Not so much anymore
(Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports/Steve Mitchell)
First it was Eddie Vanderdoes making the rare late switch just before school starts, going from Notre Dame to UCLA. Now, late on Monday night news broke that FSU commit and consensus top two linebacker Matthew Thomas is also heading out west – but this time to cross town rivals USC.
Well, that's if you believe Thomas' father in all of this. According to the reporting of Joe Schad it appears that Thomas' commitment to the Seminoles had more to do with his mother's wishes than his true intentions.
"On signing day he didn't want to hurt his Mom," said Thomas' father in the ESPN.com report. "But he's more excited now. It's about tradition. And surroundings. And excitement."
That's the funny thing about not being 18 years old and making a potentially life altering decision – you don't get to make that for yourself. You're still a minor and thus mom and dad must sign off any decision. So, this should be an open and shut case of momma didn't know best and Thomas, who's now eighteen, can rectify the situation by signing at the school of his first choosing all along. Except it's anything but open and shut at this point in time.
See, Thomas' mother is out of the country as we write this, according to the ESPN.com report, and this whole mother/father (who aren't together) dynamic sure seems to have played a role in it all. If this report turns out to be true it will be interesting to see what FSU does in this situation.
They could go the Notre Dame route and not release him, which means Thomas would have to sit out one of his four playing years and his freshman season (this coming year) as a penalty for making the late switch. Or…. FSU could play nice and release him from his scholarship and the National Letter of Intent group (don't forget it's a voluntary organization) could let him out of that and this will all go away quickly.
No doubt this will have a major affect on both teams as FSU is out one of, if not, it's best recruit from national signing day in February and USC just got a whole lot better at a position group they're already pretty damn loaded at for 2013. So, perhaps they can afford to take whatever penalty that's coming should Jimbo Fischer and Co. not let him out of his scholarship.
While the Vanderdoes and Thomas situations have very different variables, one thing is clear – when it comes to college football recruiting, never underestimate the power that family can hold over the entire process. Unfortunately, it can also make the process rather messy and not fun for all involved.
For more of Andy's musings on all things college football and more follow him on Twitter @andycoppens.