Normally the NCAA would want to intervene if one of its schools was sending recruits currency, but the college sports governing organization does not need to worry about Notre Dame's new "Pot of Gold" tactic.
The Fighting Irish have sent several top high schoolers a group of 477 letters that the school has labeled the "Pot of Gold." Why 477? Because that's how many Notre Dame players have been selected in the NFL draft.
The first recruit to receive the package was inside linebacker Nyles Morgan of Crete, Ill.
Just recieve the " Pot Of Gold" 477 letters! pic.twitter.com/Uqkh69ENGT
— Nyles Morgan (@Obey_Pride) December 18, 2013
Here's what the letter says:
You have received the #PotOfGold: 477 pieces of mail.
477 represents the total number of NFL draft picks we’ve had here at ND. In each envelope there’s a custom graphic with the name and pick # of each and every draftee. Your future is bright — just like the other 477 men before you. Come continue the legacy — become college football royalty!
The second pot of gold appears to have been sent to Dalton Schultz, a tight end out from Utah. Schultz was so impressed that he posted a video of the package.
Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly acknowledged the Pot of Gold campaign on Twitter:
— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) December 18, 2013
Give Notre Dame some credit for creativity, but is this really an appropriate message for a school that prides itself on being an elite institution of higher learning as much as it is a football factory?
It is easy to dangle the NFL as a carrot to wide-eyed teens with dreams of bazillion-dollar contracts. But even with Notre Dame's track record of producing NFL draft picks, teasing pro success is disingenuous. Just being drafted doesn't translate into making the league, let alone lasting long enough to have what could be considered a career.
The draft itself has also shrunk in the number of rounds. It once had more than 20 rounds before a gradual slimming process to the current format of seven. This means a good number of those 477 would not have been drafted under contemporary rules.
With the academic strength of the school, the value of a Notre Dame degree should be a big selling point in recruiting. To be fair, this might not seem too sexy to highly rated recruits, and the school may be pushing this angle just as hard anyway when meeting with them and their families.
If this argument seems to hold Notre Dame to a higher standard, remember that Notre Dame likes to hold itself to a higher standard. But recruiting is a brutal business, and questionable tactics come with the territory. Perhaps the Pot Of Gold gimmick will be an effective way for Notre Dame to return to the days when it attracted not just draftable players but top-tier talent.
Consider: The Irish had seven players taken in the first round in 1993 and 1994. In the 18 drafts since then, Notre Dame has had a total of seven first-rounders (and none in the top ten overall).