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Northwestern pulls scholarship offer from Ray Davison, and why that's okay

Pat Fitzgerald is the only person in the world who cares at all about the value of a commit. It lost his team linebacker Ray Davison, but in the long run, its a strategy that's good for Northwestern.


Don't cheat on Pat Fitzgerald.

In case you didn't hear, linebacker Ray Davison was committed to Northwestern, but then went on a visit to Cal, and Pat Fitzgerald held true on his word that he'd pull scholarships from any commit who went on a visit elsewhere. On Thursday, Fitz pulled his offer, and now, Davison is commit-less. In the silly, silly world of college football recruiting, its an unheard-of move.

Pat Fitzgerald's dedication to things nobody else cares about is fascinating, and I love it. Every rational person acknowledges that for just about a million reasons, the idea of scholar-athleticism is a sham. Pat Fitzgerald built his program around it, and lo and behold, he has 100 smart guys who happen to be very good at football in his program. Everybody acknowledges that commitments are meaningless, to the point that people write articles about players committing to a school and follow it up by mentioning what other schools are still in the hunt. It's why I don't really cover recruiting here: its a wild goose chase amongst the hearts and minds of 17-year-olds, and as a former 17-year-old, I realize that that's extraordinarily dumb.

Every time Pat Fitzgerald holds on to random ideas nobody else cares about, I wonder whether he's being genuine. Is he actually offended by the fact a high schooler went to another school after committing to his school?

The truth is, it doesn't matter: it works.

Pat Fitzgerald thinks its a good idea to base his recruiting strategy around holding those kids to his word. Sure, it hurts him sometimes, like right now. But while other schools lose recruits willy-nilly, Fitz's tend to stay. And when other schools give up on players, Fitz holds his offers firm, and if you don't believe that pays off, remember that Kain Colter through a few touchdown passes to Christian Jones this year, just a few years after every other school gave up on both those guys.

For every Davison that Northwestern loses on this strategy, I bet there's other kids who commit to Northwestern and have second thoughts, but then decide not to look elsewhere for fear they'd end up without a scholarship. Is it genuine valor, or just bartering in fear masquerading as valor? My point is, it doesn't matter. Northwestern commits typically stay Northwestern recruits, and that's a good thing.

So Fitz, keep doing what you do. It makes no sense, but the fact that it makes no sense makes it work.