Derek Dooley is playing a dangerous game with Bryce Brown
When Bryce Brown was the #1 recruit in the nation coming out of Wichita in 2009, you just knew his college ride wouldn’t be a smooth one. Back then, his street agent Brian Butler actually implied he might advise Brown to skip college altogether and play in the Canadian Football League. Nah, that shouldn’t have sent up red flags to anyone.
Butler’s basically a college football version of Sonny Vaccaro, meaning that he’s a slimeball of the highest order. The guy actually sold updates of Brown’s recruitment for $59 a year. And I’m sure he cashed in many other ways as well when he was shopping his prized blue chipper around to colleges.
Brown settled on Tennessee as his college choice, and if you pay any attention at all to college football, it’s been a pretty tumultuous year for that program. Between the player arrests and the sudden defection of Lane Kiffin, there’s been more heartache than glee lately in Volunteer Nation.
So with the hiring of Derek Dooley as the new coach, everyone is hoping for a fresh start. That includes Bryce Brown, but the fresh start he’s looking for is back at Kansas State. Brown let Dooley know about his decision to transfer to Manhattan, but he did it via text message this past Tuesday night before heading back to Wichita. Way to man up, Bryce.
Dooley has now confirmed that he hasn’t granted Brown a release and apparently doesn’t intend to do so. Here’s the rationale he provided to Austin Ward of the Knoxville News Sentinel:
Citing three main areas of evaluation, Vols coach Derek Dooley confirmed late Friday night that Brown will not be released from his scholarship - and the fact his request was made in a text message appears to have little to do with the ultimate decision.
“As with the other players who have asked for a release, I went through the same process with the same criteria with Bryce,” Dooley said. “These are the three key factors - what their personal investment into the program was, did they have their heart into it and did they give it a good, fair shot. No. 2, the harm that their departure creates for the organization. No. 3, how they handle it as a professional.
“I’ve done that with every one of these guys — with Aaron (Douglas), with Todd Campbell, with Nick Stephens, Nick Lamaison and now Bryce. So now my decision based on those three factors with Bryce is not to release him.” (Knoxville News Sentinel)
In a meeting with Dooley a few days before sending his now infamous text message, Brown apparently didn’t hint at wanting his release. All parties involved (including Brown’s father Arthur) agree on that:
“Bryce met with Coach Dooley on Saturday for about 30 minutes and Dooley asked him not to tell anyone they talked,” Arthur Brown said. “I’m really not sure why.”
Dooley acknowleged he met with Brown on Saturday but said he was not asked for a release.
Arthur Brown also said his son, one of the nation’s top recruits entering last season, did not ask Dooley for a release at that meeting. This week Dooley said that the reason Bryce has not been released is because he “has not come to me, looked me in the eye and said, ‘I want a release.’” (ESPN.com)
I’m absolutely positive that the moves Bryce Brown has made this past week were in large part influenced by Brian Butler. And the train wreck that has ensued says all you need to know about Butler’s ability as an adviser as well as the Brown family’s collective judgment in steering Bryce in the right direction.
Brown should have stepped up, met with his coach and politely asked for his release. But after years of being a coddled blue chipper whose strings are being pulled by a two bit con man, I wonder if he even has the capability to do something that classy. That might be asking too much of the kid.
On the flip side, I think Dooley’s playing a dangerous game. Let’s not be naive, Butler was selling Brown’s services in 2009. So when Brown ended up at Tennessee, well, I’ll let you fill in the rest.
If Kiffin and Company found out a way to make it worth Butler’s while to get Brown to become a Vol, then Dooley really should sever ties as quickly as possible. If this drags out and Brown gets frustrated, who knows what sort of information regarding his recruitment might come to light.
If something were to surface, the NCAA won’t nail Kiffin because he’s already long gone. And Brown? He’ll just go about his business at K-State. No, it’ll be Dooley who has to deal with the wreckage in Knoxville. Smarten up, coach.