PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 03: Justin Combs #5 of the East Team stand on the field for introductions to the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl against the West Team at Chase Field on January 3, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
UCLA signee Justin Combs is a model football recruit. The cornerback from New Rochelle, N.Y. school Iona Prep drew attention from Pac-12 and Big Ten schools, among others, was a Semper Fi Bowl All-American, and sported a 3.75 grade point average.
He's also the son of a media mogul, musical icon and multi-millionaire, which is enough to incite outrage from unnamed groups.
Combs did nothing differently from countless other Division I recruits around the nation. If anything, he should be applauded for his academic portfolio, particularly at a time when critics chastise football as a drain on the academic process.
Indeed, in several key ways Combs is just like any other recruit. But few recruits come from substantial family means, the apparent crux of this debate. Further, none besides him have fathers partying alongside Aaron Paul a.k.a. Jesse Pinkman in Chiroc vodka commercials.
Ultimately, how Sean Combs -- I'll skip the stage names since they change weekly -- accrued his wealth is more the topic than his wealth itself. Former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's father Oliver earned $405,600 last year. While hardly the kind of money that will having one popping Dom Perignon corks in Vegas, that's no inconsequential chunk of change, either.
So maybe the elder Combs' fame is in play here. His exploits are well known, including the purchase of a $360,000 Maybach for his son's birthday.
Yet while perhaps more renowned, Combs isn't even the only recruit from a famous lineage coming into the conference this year. Arizona made a splash this past winter when Rich Rodriguez inked Trey Griffey to a scholarship. Trey, the son of future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr., also grew up in the spotlight of fame. Griffey signed a $112.5 million dollar contract with the Cincinnati Reds before the 2000 season, at the time a remarkable deal.
There was no outrage over Griffey's scholarship. A skilled wide receiver and All-American, he earned his accolades. Similarly, there not much of a peep when John Elway's son Jack signed at Arizona State in 2007.
Perhaps Griffey and Elway's commitments registered less because each signed in the state of Arizona. While the Grand Canyon State's universities have faced economic hardships, the UC system has been hit particularly hard. The approximate $54,000 in scholarship money Combs' offer is worth is sizable, and could be used elsewhere.
Then again, this is hardly a unique circumstance for UCLA football. Quarterback Jerry Neuheisel received a scholarship last season despite his dad's nearly $1.3 million contract.
The most comparable situation to Combs' comes from Los Angeles rival USC. Then-head basketball coach Tim Floyd signed Romeo Miller to a scholarship in 2008. Miller's father Percy earned millions as a musician and record label founder, much like Combs. However, much of the criticism I remember stemmed from Miller's less-than-impressive on-court resume, and his signing was seen by some as a ploy to land his friend, DeMar Derozan.
Further, and comparable to Luck, Miller signed at a private university. All roads lead back to UCLA being a public university.
Perhaps limits can be set on athletic scholarship offers from public schools to children whose parents earn an arbitrarily set income. However, if such impositions are set on athletes, the same must be extended to academic scholarships. There isn't much outrage emanating on that front, is there?
The gap between classes continues to widen exponentially, which has increased tensions. But the gridiron is one venue in which rich and poor are complete equals -- at least, until the whistle blows. And the ball doesn't care what is in one's bank account.