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Moody stays above frays that two SEC coaches didn’t

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Henry County’s Chris Moody smiles as his father signs the letter-of-intent that will send the son to South Carolina. Moody said he wasn’t offended by harsh comments Vanderbilt coach James Franklin made about players who de-committed from Vandy — even though Moody was one of those players.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Henry County’s Chris Moody smiles as his father signs the letter-of-intent that will send the son to South Carolina. Moody said he wasn’t offended by harsh comments Vanderbilt coach James Franklin made about players who de-committed from Vandy — even though Moody was one of those players.

My mind immediately shot to Chris Moody.

Traveling down I-285, listening to Chuck and Chernoff on 680 The Fan, I heard the outrageous comments attributed to Vanderbilt coach James Franklin that first were introduced in a blog by Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean — that players who de-committed from Vanderbilt were “not men of honor” and “not men of integrity.”

While the radio hosts focused solely on Josh Dawson, the Tucker defensive end who changed his mind about Vandy at the last minute and signed with Georgia, my mind focused on the plural.

Men, not man.

In other words, Franklin was talking about multiple de-commits. He very well could’ve been talking about Moody, the Henry County star who also changed his mind that final weekend and signed with South Carolina.

Franklin didn’t get any more specific than that. Neither would Moody on Thursday.

Asked if he was offended by Franklin’s comments, Moody said, “Not really.”

Asked if he thought any of Franklin’s bile was aimed at him, Moody said, “Of course not.”

That was it. Moody thanked me for calling and left me to reflect, to read between the lines, to think about previous conversations that lacked tense pauses.

Forgetting my inferences and taking Moody at his five words, I was struck by how the yet-teenaged Henry County star came across as far more a man of honor and integrity (read: adult) than an SEC head coach who just two months ago got a big raise (read: undisclosed multiple years and millions) and who had no problem accepting a de-commit in the same class that lost Dawson and Moody (read: Patton Robinette).

Honor, apparently, is a one-way street in a business where coaches will not only de-commit but outright break contracts to move up the ladder. Apparently, you’re full of honor and integrity when you’re coming, just not when you’re going.

It’s disturbing, to say the least, when SEC coaches — that’s my plural for the day — take these kinds of actions. What does it say about Franklin or Les Miles, for that matter?

Miles lit into Gunner Keil for de-committing from LSU and picking Notre Dame instead. The LSU coach said “didn’t have the chest” to lead his program.

What does that say for Miles’ judgment of intestinal fortitude or Franklin’s assessment of character? After all, these are the guys that you spent months recruiting. And all of a sudden, we’re supposed to believe the aspersions you cast because they picked the other guy’s program?

Why should anybody commit to Vandy or LSU in the future? What will Franklin and Miles’ actions say to future teenagers, who might honestly have trouble making up their minds? It says, “Don’t commit there because the coach might have a hissy fit and talk bad about you behind your back to rev up his boosters.”

I wish Brian Kelly, Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier, the respective head coaches for Keil, Dawson and Moody, had spoken up in defense of their new signees. Maybe they’re reserving the right to have their own fits later, should a similar de-commit befall them. Maybe they want to stay above the fray.

It’s one thing to say you’re not happy about somebody de-committing from your program. That’s understandable, especially in college football in the South.

But I don’t care where you are: It’s another thing to question their honor and integrity. Them’s fightin’ words and should be beneath so-called adults.