"Are you done? Apologize to
Kanye West Arizona fans and elementary school children for wasting two million dollars of his their lunch time. Moving on."
By now, you've heard that Arizona's top football recruit, athlete Davonte' Neal, didn't appear at his press conference to announce his college choice weeks after National Signing Day.
By now, you know he eventually returned to make his choice about four and a half hours later, choosing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the Arizona Wildcats.
By now, you probably feel some strong emotion about it all, emotion that had been building up over the morning and into the afternoon. Whether that be anger for a kid leading on Arizona Wildcats fans, disappointment for how poorly the situation was handled, or confusion for wondering just what Davonte' Neal might be thinking at this very moment -- and why -- is up to you.
But there's something wrong about this situation, no matter how you go about analyzing it.
Personally, I only see this as a gigantic waste of time (hence the video above) that kept me from hitting up Taco Bell, but I'd probably be more ticked if I were in anyone else's shoes and/or less of a "meh" kind of guy. In the end, the feeling here is that there's more concern with how this all went down rather than Neal's final decision, which surely was a swing and a miss for Rich Rodriguez's first football signing class.
Our own Kyle Kensing took the disappointment approach, believing things like this happen when all the hype and hoopla of the high school recruiting world are placed upon the shoulders of a kid in is teenage years.
He's a teenager, like the many others around the nation struggling with their college choice. I struggled mightily with my decision to attend either Arizona or New Mexico as a student, or become a bench jockey at a D-3 basketball program, and I didn't have millions sitting behind their keyboards ready to pounce on my choice.
The no-show is bad form, sure. With the recent turmoil Josh Harvey-Clemons experienced choosing Georgia on NSD, and Neal's fiasco today perhaps future recruits will rethink the public spectacle route when signing their LOI. However, it's important for the adults in this matter to remember who the kid is and behave accordingly.
Others weren't so kind.
The Arizona Republic's Richard Obert was on blast by some Wildcat fans on Monday night as he flip-flopped from saying Arizona may indeed be the favorite, then believing it was Notre Dame, then going back to saying the Wildcats were making a final push as the hours waned before the big decision.
North Carolina and Arkansas are also still on the board, though it appears both of them were crossed off the list when the conflict was between Notre Dame and Arizona.
In all likelihood, what Obert was hearing was foreshadowing into today's events.
Luke Neal has said Arizona wouldn't be the college. But Davonte Neal I believe wants Arizona. Power struggle.
Obert also wrote this story, where he says Neal's friend, UA commit Cody Ippolito, believed Neal wanted to pick the Wildcats as his team of choice.
His father, apparently, didn't want that to happen.
That power struggle is not a surprising thing. Anthony Gimino spoke with a couple of recruiting analysts, who both said the news of Neal's no-show wasn't surprising. That has more to do with his family handling his business rather than who Neal is as a person, they said.
That was never more evident than on Tuesday.
Daily Wildcat reporter Nicole Dimtsios, who attended the ceremony at Esperanza Elementary school, reported Tuesday morning that the Neal's didn't even have contact with the school's principal, Cheryl Greene, to tell them they wouldn't show up.
Greene only said there was a family emergency, and the Neal's were "torn" and "emotional."
Obert's colleague at the Republic, Scott Bordow, was extremely critical of the Neals on his blog.
It appears Bordow took it as an altered version of LeBron James' decision. At least James had the courtesy to show up to the event, which was similarly wrapped around paying tribute to children from the same area where he grew up.
Per his blog:
The Neals set up the elaborate one-man show, presumably to "give back to the community." Then they stiff the kids, the principal, the teachers, etc? What a completely selfish act.
But we shouldn't be surprised. The Neals always have set themselves apart. Rather than announce on signing day - like every other top Arizona recruit - they waited. And waited. And waited.
Then theyr'e a no-show. I guess the kids were just props, after all.
Is it fair criticism? For sure.
The no-show left 600 children sitting around, and doing so for an event they probably don't even understand. Do you think 8-year-olds understand how college recruiting works? I doubt it, and I doubt they cared that much. They got to skip class, but I'm sure their parents and teachers aren't too happy that they were yanked to be used in a display of grandeur, all before it was cancelled.
But back to the Neals.
Let's say that Neal and his father really were having conflicting views on where Davonte' should go to school. Simplifying the situation should help guide them to a solution, though hard-headedness couldn't have made this easy.
From an objective perspective, ESPN.com's Ted Miller did that for us:
The solution here is simple. Someone should ask Neal where he wants to go to school. Then Neal should send his letter of intent there. End of story.
This is Neal's decision. Why? He's the only one who's going to college. He's the only one living with the decision.
And, by the way, he's the one who earned the free ride.
In the end, it appears Davonte' didn't get his wish, rather falling under his father's wishes, according to what we were hearing from reporters like Obert, Gimino and Finley. Whether he lasts under Brian Kelly will be an interesting situation to keep an eye upon.
So too, will be the reaction on the Notre Dame side of things.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT DAVONTE' NEAL NOT SHOWING UP TO HIS PRESS CONFERENCE?