After Saturday's spring game, David Shaw made some controversial comments, ones that a lot of SEC fans didn't like. The NCAA had announced that satellite recruiting camps had been banned on Friday, so Shaw was asked to weigh in on the decision. His response may have been poorly worded sparking an internet controversy.
In case you missed it, here is the full context of the quote as we originally broke. His response came after the Mercury News' Jon Wilner asked whether Shaw agreed or disagreed with the ruling:
"I have no opinion," Shaw said. "It's never affected us. People do them, and people don't do them. We've got great attendance at the camps we have here -- we get a lot of guys we want to come....But I didn't like the way that a lot of people have put this as the SEC against Jim Harbaugh. That's not what this has been about. Conference by conference, this has been going on for three plus years, since Jim was with the 49ers. This has been a battle. As a conference, we had a long discussion three years ago about what we were going to do about satellite camps....I'm great with whatever college football says, because it doesn't affect us. It doesn't make sense for us to go hold a camp some place where there might be one person in the entire state that's eligible to get into Stanford."
Obviously, people got the most riled up about the last segment of the quote, which was reported out of context by several reporters, including ESPN's Paul Finebaum. Finebaum did admit that "we" (ESPN) "may have" erred in judgement in headlining the quote with "holding camps in SEC country."
I'm sure this is really going to help you recruit nationally. pic.twitter.com/BSCNsqH9hA— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 11, 2016
Especially with that heading, some felt that it that it was an arrogant statement, taking a shot at the intelligence of predominantly Southern recruits, and perhaps people in general in SEC territory. So naturally, Finebaum sat down with Shaw on his show on Tuesday, asking clarify his statements.
"You and I have talked in the past, and I think our conversations have always been productive and I don't think this will be any different, Shaw said." "I appreciate you bringing up the headline, which is the only issue I had, which was that the conversation wasn't about holding satellite camps in SEC country. That's not what we were talking about, and that wasn't the context of the conversation. it would be ridiculous to even insinuate that that was the conversation, considering especially that my mother is from Alabama and my dad is from Louisiana. Right, I'm not going to take shots at the South, that's ridiculous. You've heard me say repeatedly how much respect I have for the SEC and what they've accomplished and the coaches in the SEC...
The question was about satellite camps in general, and we've been talking about this for years on the West Coast about the satellite camps that have been cropping up in California, Texas, and other places. What I was referring to was the expense and the effort that it takes to have a satellite camp to where our admissions process for our student athletes is very very different now. What I could have said is that we're talking about football players, one football player in a particular state. That's where I could have used different words. but at the same tine what we were talking about was camps, and the context of that was football players and football camps and recruits, so I didn't feel the need to qualify it as saying football players because that's exactly what we were talking about. Once again, I'm not backing down from what I said because we were talking about football players, and not populations of entire states."
Addressing sensationalization in the media? Check. Context? Check. But after that, that's where Shaw refused to step down from his statement, which still doesn't address the issues that some might have had with the comment. Some took offense to the fact that only one "football player" in "the entire state" would "be eligible to get into Stanford."
Finebaum addressed those concerns, asking Shaw to clarify that part of his statement. Shaw deftly fired back:
"I'm a Stanford alum, and I know in my class at Stanford I know there were a bunch of people from the same states," Shaw said. "Outside of California and Texas on the football team, we will rarely ever get two people from the same state. We were very fortunate this year to get two very good players from Maryland, and every once in a while we'll get two players from Florida, but usually it's one person coming in from each state. But wrap your brain around this: the Stanford admissions process this year admitted less than five percent of the applicants. Less than five percent of the people that applied to Stanford got admitted, so we're talking about one of the hardest universities in the world to get into. Our admissions process is extremely difficult. Our guys have to do a lot. They have to take AP courses and they have to take and retake the SAT's and ACT's in order to get admission."
Overall, he defended himself very well, up until the end of his answer to Finebaum's question, after explaining that Stanford is one of the world's most selective institutions:
"So I'm talking about an admissions process that is extremely difficult, and talking about satellite camps, it made absolutely no sense for me to go some place -- anywhere -- not just down South, but anywhere and hold a camp for hundreds of kids, and recruit one. Which to me, makes perfect sense."
Given the context, Shaw's claim certainly seems fair and practical, but further controversy from a select few vehemently offended Southerners could have been avoided had he prefaced it by acknowledging the limited number of scholarships he has to offer or the seemingly limited impact these camps have on recruiting -- even Nick Saban of Alabama has questioned the value of these camps.
Shaw did practically all he could to explain the comments in a satisfactory way for the university. Unfortunately, it won't be enough to save his reputation for many who have already deemed him guilty, judging without knowing full context.
If you want to hear Shaw's full comments, including some on Jim Harbaugh and Christian McCaffrey, do so here:
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