Mon May 04 10:21am EDT
Last week, Renardo Sidney, a 6'10 power forward ranked No. 16 overall in the 2009 Rivals 150, decided to take his game to Mississippi State. It was a minor recruiting coup for the Bulldogs, and slightly out of nowhere: Since when do big power forwards with versatile perimeter games choose Starkville -- and no offense, MSU, but we all know it's true -- over places like USC and UCLA? What made the Bulldogs so appealing?
In fact, Sidney had already chosen USC. His family threw a lavish party for his signing announcement, and in dramatic fashion, Sidney pulled a USC cap from a box, packing peanuts and all, as the party clapped in celebration. But later, USC rescinded its scholarship offer, and now Sidney is headed back to Mississippi. Huh?
The Los Angeles Times got some athletic director subordinate types at USC and UCLA on the record about Sidney, and their answer for the confusing result is simple: They were worried about Sidney's money issues:
Though they are from rival schools who often wage intense battles for the same athletes, the sources agreed on this about Sidney: The reward of suiting up such a prodigious talent was not worth the larger risk. Bruins and Trojans sources both say they were wary of potentially intense NCAA scrutiny prompted by these issues: Despite what was perceived as a limited income, the family moved multiple times and resided in upscale homes during Sidney's high school years; and stepfather Renardo Sr. directed a club basketball team with financial backing that was unclear beyond a relatively modest shoe company sponsorship. Plus there was this: A source intimately familiar with Sidney's recruitment said a university official thought the stepfather had strongly hinted that he expected to be compensated if his son signed with the school.
In other words, even USC, a school that took in O.J. Mayo sight unseen and whose football program has been under investigation for what seems like the last five years thought Renardo Sidney's father was too much of a loose cannon to deal with. Same goes for UCLA before them. All jokes about recruiting stuff aside, how often do coaches just walk away from talented recruits like this? How seemingly dirty do you have to be for two major programs to just ... walk away?
(Oh, and apologies for the late start today. My alarm clock owes me lunch.)