The news late yesterday that Spencer Region had reopened his recruitment, saying “I’m still committed, but my recruitment is pretty much open” and “I’m back to being undecided” is the strange kind of news that’s both totally unexpected and not at all a surprise.
Unexpected because, well, I for one didn’t see it coming. Yes, Region had made little noises of late about maybe not being totally sold on Auburn and there had been message board whispers about a decommit for a while, but as recently as yesterday morning it still sounded like nothing more than Region affirming his decision to take visits elsewhere. Region had already taken several visits to Auburn, had openly recruited for Auburn on those trips, and had said repeatedly how excited he was to graduate early and enroll at Auburn this December. A decommitment (which is what this is–if you say you don’t know where you’re going to school, you’re not committed, are you? There’s no way Chizik and Co. are preserving his scholarship at this point) seemed possible, but it also seemed like it would wait until those other visits started happening.
But in retrospect, the full-on embrace of Auburn seems a little bit like the couple who got married on a weekend bender in Vegas screaming their love to the mountaintops as a cover for the realization they’d made a hasty mistake. Region, you may remember, made his decision in the car on the way to his commitment announcement. Not exactly the start we’d expect for a lasting recruit-school relationship.
So good on Region for owning up and admitting now–rather than later in the process, when it’s both tougher for him to find a school and Auburn to find a potential replacement–that he wasn’t ready for something that long-term. That he wasn’t as comfortable as he wanted to be on the Plains. He’s, what, 17? It happens. The important thing for Region is that he find that school–be it Auburn, Alabama, or somewhere else–where he does feel comfortable and doesn’t have to tell everyone how much he loves it to make it true. Here’s wishing the best of luck to him in making that happen.
(For the record: I’m guessing he goes out-of-state. I can’t imagine Saban being willing to welcome him back in the fold after the February hullabaloo, and if he really thought Auburn would be a place where he could be happy I doubt he’d have ever opened things back up.)
As for Auburn, missing out on any All-American-grade recruit with as much interest as Region has shown would sting, but … and I can’t believe I’m about to say this … at least he’s on the offensive line. Chizik and Co. have so blanketed the position in both last year’s class (seven recruits not counting Shon Coleman) and the 2010 edition–where there’s still two more All-American linemen already (firmly) committed, a mammoth four-star tackle already claiming Auburn as his leader, etc.–that Region’s departure doesn’t sting nearly as much as if he had been a defensive tackle, defensive back, linebacker, etc. Auburn will be OK.
(As an aside: it’s little wonder why so many college football fans, even occasionally rational ones like your humble Auburn Blogger, get so wrapped up in recruiting. The victories are huge, smashing, thrilling; the losses are easily brushed aside with a quick “hey, we’ve still got X,Y, and we should get Z,” or if you’re a Tide fan a simple all-encompassing “We didn’t want him.” Unless you’re the real foam-at-the-mouth type who sees every recruiting setback as a personal slap in the face–and if you are, get help–it’s only a handful of rare five-star exceptions that keep it from being a total win-win situation. Games where you never really lose are fun to play.)