Miami Carol City linebacker Willie Williams, one of the nation's top prospects, has been giving the Miami Herald accounts of his recruiting visits. They are funny, vivid tales of 17- and 18-year-olds being wooed and lavished far beyond reasonable bounds.
On his trip to Florida State, Williams was picked up by a private jet, dined at a restaurant that charged $49.95 for a lobster tail _ Williams ordered four, two steaks and shrimp scampi _ and was told FSU would unretire Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward's No. 17 for him. Among other things.
On his trip to Miami, Williams was picked up at his home by coach Larry Coker in a Cadillac Escalade, had a hot tub on the balcony of his Coconut Grove hotel, had three lobster tails and two steaks at one restaurant and ribs, shrimp and chicken at another.
"(Miami) looks like it has a real good business school," Williams said.
"After going on these trips and living like King Tut, I think business is something I want to get into."
Williams is at Florida this weekend, where presumably the Gators will try to top the absurdity. Meanwhile, at Colorado allegations of "sex parties" for recruits have rocked the campus.
It's time for the powers that be to clean up this mess. Recruiting weekends need reasonable restrictions, not the exorbitant excesses Williams describes.
_ PETE YOUNG
Air Force basketball soars to new heights
The Division I revenue sports _ football and men's basketball _ long have been dominated by major state schools or well-endowed private colleges. Air Force football has been a notable, distinguished exception, and the previously undistinguished Falcons basketball program suddenly is a juggernaut.
Air Force hasn't had a winning season since 1977-78, but the Falcons are 14-2, 4-0 in the Mountain West heading into Saturday's game at San Diego State. Their RPI ranking of No. 93 is due to a weak nonconference slate, but they have proven their mettle with wins against four of the Mountain West's top teams, at Colorado State and New Mexico (a 26-point rout in the famed Pit) and home vs. Utah and BYU.
Fourth-year coach Joe Scott, 38, a Princeton graduate (he also has a law degree from Notre Dame), spent eight seasons as a Tigers assistant. He was 29-56 his first three seasons in Colorado Springs.
Of course, Air Force is using the famed Princeton offense, but Scott has turned things around with exceptional halfcourt defense. The Falcons surrender 47.1 points a game, easily best in the nation. They have held all 16 opponents to fewer than 25 in the first half.
For years Air Force has set the standard for service academy football. Now the Falcons are doing it in basketball and devouring good teams in a good league in the process.
_ PETE YOUNG