Well, talk about your sticky situations, huh? After today’s breaking news that five-star Florida State Seminoles LB signee Matthew Thomas would like to explore his options at either the University of Georgia or the University of Southern California instead of continuing his athletic career in Tallahassee, the Florida State program is now stuck between that proverbial rock and a hard place.
Back on National Signing Day on February 6th, it was actually believed that Thomas was going to indeed choose between UGA and USC–with the last word being that he would be going to L.A. to play for Lane Kiffin and company. However, as we learned since then, mom stepped in and pushed her son in the direction of Jimbo Fisher and FSU instead. Surprisingly, Thomas even admitted to this, however seemed content with his decision.
Well today a different song was sung and now Thomas wants a ‘do-over’, so to speak. More or less, he wants to put himself back in the chair he sat on that Wednesday morning (pictured above) and choose again. Unfortunately, once you sign your name on that Letter of Intent paper, it doesn’t exactly work that way.
I can understand how people feel bad for the young man because I do as well. As messy of a situation as this is, the fact is that he’s an 18-year old kid. It doesn’t matter how great he is when he puts on those pads and chases down a ball-carrier, he’s a teenager at the end of the day. Since the news broke, some have called Thomas arrogant, ignorant, and selfish–among other things. I am never one to speculate about the attitude of someone of his age and current situation–due to the fact that we don’t know what happens when the adults (I use this term loosely nowadays) are around.
Now, while most of the focus is on how bad we should feel for Thomas, it also can’t be forgotten that the Florida State Seminoles aren’t exactly in the most envious of positions at the moment neither.
I’ve already seen the cries of, “Oh, just let the kid go, he made a mistake.” And, “Florida State would be in the wrong if they were to hold this kid hostage.”
You see though, Florida State is not the bad guy here.
Whatever the case may be, back on Signing Day, Thomas signed a legally binding agreement to play football for the ‘Noles. While mama may have gotten her quick fix in regards to her son staying near home to attend school and play football, I’m not exactly sure that anyone involved on Thomas’ side understood that they weren’t signing an agreement on a piece of composition notebook paper like a middle-schooler passing a love note in class.
Basically, if Thomas was advised to sign that agreement just to get it out of the way and give people a temporary piece of happiness, then they picked the wrong piece of paper to sign.
Then, there’s the money perspective. Come on, did you really think that we were going to talk about college football without bringing up the almighty dollar? Any school, not just Florida State, spends an enormous amount of cash on recruiting. They especially open up the wallet when it comes to a five-star prospect like Thomas.
Coaches recruiting trips cost money. Housing recruits on visits costs money. Bringing in Thomas to take in the spring game a few weeks ago–where he was said to be in good spirits, by the way–costs money. FSU spent a lot to ensure Thomas’ happiness and willingness to commit to the program, only to get run out on three months later.
Finally, there’s the dangerous precedent releasing Thomas from his LOI would set. Basically, by releasing Thomas, he would become a free agent. Last time I checked, free agency doesn’t exist in college football among players who haven’t at least earned degrees yet.
There are a lot of people in the wrong here, we just haven’t definitively pointed out who yet. But it needs to be remembered that Florida State University, Jimbo Fisher, and the rest of the coaching staff are not in that group.