Recruiting edits have no real purpose. Schools create them, send them to their recruits, the recruit tweets them out, and then fans talk about how great they are. That's pretty much the gist of the recruiting edit process. No recruit in the history of the world has ever made a decision to sign with a specific school because of an edit that they received from that school.
But boy oh boy that should change now!
SMU just created the greatest recruiting edit that the world has ever seen. It is unbelievable in every sense of the word. Let's break this bad boy down.
If you're unfamiliar with the story of SMU, this looks like an edit of a bunch of their coaches surrounded by a crappy gold Pontiac Trans-AM. It's unspectacular. In fact, youngsters in the comments of the tweet where this graphic went out said, "Why wouldn't SMU use a Ford Mustang instead of a Pontiac?"
We have failed those people, folks. Their ignorance isn't their fault, it's ours. We must educate on the legendary stories of college football, and somehow, this one has fallen through the cracks.
Let's get into our Hot Tub Time Machine and go back to 1979. Running back Eric Dickerson is the top running back recruit in the nation and the recruiting landscape in college football is absolutely bonkers.
This is a time when SMU was a powerhouse in college football. This is a time when SMU was thought of in the same like as schools like Texas and Texas A&M. This is pre-death penalty SMU and they were just as serious about college football as any other school in the country.
That meant that they were in the mix for the biggest names on the recruiting trail, including Dickerson. But, they thought they missed out on Dickerson when he made a verbal commitment to Texas A&M with a few months left before National Signing Day.
Shortly after Dickerson verbally committed to the Aggies, he was seen driving a brand new Pontiac Trans-AM. (Yes, the same one pictured in the SMU graphic.)
Dickerson grew up in humble circumstances, but his grandparents did okay for themselves. His grandpa was a crane operator at a steel mill so there was enough money in the household to be considered 'fine.' But there wasn't enough money in the household to make anyone believe Dickerson when he said that his grandma has bought him the new car.
I mean, everyone knew it came from A&M. Everyone.
So, he's got his new car and a verbal commitment to A&M... recruitment is over, right?
Dickerson had a change of heart and eventually drove that gold Trans AM to the SMU campus where he signed and played out his college career. What did he get from SMU that was better than the car? Nobody really knows, but the program was shut down later on for recruiting violations, so go ahead an use your imagination.
A&M was stuck. They had given a car away (and who knows what else) but didn't get their guy. What were they going to do? Complain to the NCAA? Not an option. Report SMU for shadier dealings than their shady dealings? Nope.
So, Dickerson drove his gold Pontiac Trans A&M to SMU and played out his college career with the rivals.
Legend has it that A&M boosters found the car later on, but in Dickerson's book, he refutes that story. He says that he sold the car. By that time, an SMU booster had already hooked him up with a Corvette. The story in Dickerson's words is incredible:
"Even though I turned (a $50,000 cash offer) down, A&M stayed after me and remained in the picture—there was that much pressure for me to go there. And then, a few weeks later, I mentioned to my stepdad in passing that I really liked the new Pontiac Trans Am. I’d seen it at a dealership on I-10 that I used to drive by to visit my grandparents in Houston, and I just liked it: the bird on the hood, the fins on the side, how sleek it was.
It was an innocent comment. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have remembered even saying it. But recruiting isn’t a normal circumstance, and before I knew it, I was talking to Shear, the big A&M booster in town.
—We can make that happen, he said.
Then he told me to go to the dealership, and all of a sudden I’m there with my mom and my grandma, then the staff is telling me to pick any car on the lot. That’s the way things were in those days: one minute I’m a broke kid idly fantasizing about a nice car. The next, a bunch of grown-ass men are falling over themselves to give me that car.
I had my pick of a Corvette and three Trans Ams: black, silver, and gold. I liked the gold one.
The dealership guy said he’d be right back, that he just had to make a phone call. When he returned, he gave my grandma the paperwork to fill out.
Now, until the present day, I’ve always said publicly that my grandparents bought me that car. My grandfather made good money from his job as a crane operator at a steel mill, and my grandma’s name is on the paperwork, so that’s technically true. But behind the scenes, A&M had agreed to reimburse her. And that, my friends, is how the notorious Trans Am was paid for.
It was a verbal commitment. I was 18 and it seemed like the thing to say to make a lot of adults happy. But my heart was never really into it, and I’d soon renege on it. I know a lot of A&M fans are still pissed at me about that, but I really don’t care: if they want to be pissed at a kid whose head was spinning and was being pressured by all different kinds of adults, then that’s their problem and not mine.
There’s this urban legend that angry A&M boosters destroyed the car, but I’m here to tell you that never happened. I had the Trans Am my first few years at SMU, before I sold it to my best friend and fellow SMU running back, Charles Drayton. Thanks to an SMU booster named George Owen, I was driving a Corvette by then."
This story has nothing to do with BYU, but Dickerson's SMU squad was the team on the other end of the Jim McMahon Miracle Bowl win. Dickerson and the rest of the 'Pony Express' SMU team thought they had a win secured until BYU went nuts in the last 5 minutes of the game. You know the story, so no need to rehash that.
But the Trans AM... now you know. And now you have the duty to pass on this legendary story to everyone else.
Huge kudos to SMU for bringing the Pontiac back into the conversation. Even Trans AMs paid for by Texas A&M still lead to SMU. Dope.