A major college football coach learned he didn't have as much clout as he thought.
The NCAA last week took a swing at vindictive college coaches who try to punish players or recruits who want to leave their programs. It would be good if that shot across the bow will provide a useful deterrent to other coaches who might be tempted to emulate the actions of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly.
In a fit of pique, Kelly refused to grant a release to a California blue chipper who signed a letter of intent to play at Notre Dame and then decided he preferred UCLA. Kelly couldn't force 6-foot 3-inch, 310-pound Eddie Vanderdoes to play for Notre Dame, so he tried to make certain that Vanderdoes did not play for UCLA — at least for a year.
By refusing to release the young man from his letter of intent to play at Notre Dame, Kelly was trying to force Vanderdoes to lose eligibility for this upcoming season. Instead of having five years to play four at UCLA, Kelly thought he could restrict Vanderdoes to four years to play three at UCLA and bar him from playing as a pure freshman.
Kelly tried to cast his vindictive action as a lesson in character-building for Vanderdoes. But his self-interest wasn't fooling anyone.
It's a reality that young people like Vanderdoes change their minds. He decided he didn't want to go all the way from Auburn, Calif., to South Bend, Ind., when he could go to UCLA instead. It certainly didn't bother Kelly when he left the University of Cincinnati for a more lucrative and prestigious gig at Notre Dame.
It's fortunate that Vanderdoes was able to appeal Kelly's veto to the NCAA. Better still, the NCAA, which is not known for exercising good judgment, realized how out of line Kelly was and reversed his decision.