Arch Manning Thanks Longhorns for Four Seasons Five-Star Treatment

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Hey, innkeepers have to pay the bills too.

If you look at it that way, you might feel better.

There was plenty of head shaking and the usual disgust after learning the details of big school largesse during rookie visits to good old State U.

Kinda makes you miss the old days, when the ‘dirt’ involved rumors of schools hiring weekend chaperone teams to help attract prized footballers using methods that date back to Eden.

These days, Johnny Football needs a little drink and dinner. Oh, and Mr. and Mrs. Johnny too, and maybe the slow-moving Uncle Joe, which will happen when your Presidential Suite has 24/7 food service.

The new-age arms race in college football has moved on, and fast. In recent memory, it started with the increase in salaries for head coaches, and eventually with big increases for assistants, especially coordinators. Even high-level conditioning trainers were becoming high-priced commodities.

Next come the facilities. Not just stadium improvements, but pouring tens of millions into the places where athletes spend most of their time – the “Football Centre”, including an indoor training ground and 5-star clubs with all the combined amenities of a Scottsdale and Chuck E. Cheese spa.

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The seismic shift, of course, was ZERO, with Johnny suddenly able (legally) to cash in on his name, image, and likeness (still waiting for someone to sign a six-figure “likeness deal,” by the way). The NIL, arm in arm with the transfer portal, has ended any semblance of college football infrastructure that we have grown and aged with.

We should therefore feel foolish to have our heads turned by the figures uncovered regarding today’s recruitment process.

The Athletic recently reported on Arch Manning’s recruiting weekend in Austin, where he and his family were guests of the Texas Longhorns. Eight other recruits also received the star treatment over a weekend – a salary totaling $280,000. The Four Seasons Austin and catered suites don’t come cheap.

The Four Seasons Hotel Austin just completed a three-year, more than $40 million upgrade.  This is the new Congressional Suite Deck.

There was also an evening at Top Golf, a photo op at the Longhorns stadium, fine dining and even breakfast at coach Steve Sarkisian. He must be making a good omelet, because a few days later Arch — nephew of Peyton and Eli — announces his engagement in Texas. So have three others, so far, of the nine who have visited this weekend.

The following weekend brought 14 more recruits, a $350,000 bill, and subsequently 12 more commitments, according to The Athletic.

And just like that, in places like Gainesville, Tuscaloosa, Clemson and Columbus, official solicitations have been sent to the usual suspects in the alumni group, suggesting that an influx of recruiting resources will be needed to track the Joneses and Sarkisians.

And the call will be answered, because few things are as necessary to a booster as the young men who can help win championships.

Hopefully all unemployed chaperones have decent severance packages.

Choices

Florida-Tennessee hasn’t been very big since the early years of this century. For the first 15 years after it became an annual fixture in 1990, the Gators and Vols routinely entered weekends ranked top 10, and often top 5.

This year, they come in at No. 11 (UT) and No. 20 (UF), with the Gators’ standings feeling slim after the past two weeks. Plus, after opening with three home games, the Gators will take care of whatever 100,000 hungry UT faithful can rain down on them.

Billy Napier, the new Head Gator, tried to play it down. “It’s not like we’re going to Canada and they’re going to change the rules,” he said.

It might feel that way, though. UT’s Josh Heupel always uses a quick offense – the Canadian Football League uses a 20-second game clock. The CFL also has 12-man units on offense and defense, and a one-day waiver to field a 12th player might be the only way the Gators can survive this one — Tennessee by 8.

Somewhere else: The revival upsets Cliffson; FSU over British Columbia; North Carolina on Notre Dame in OT; UCF by a few on Georgia Tech; Michigan greater than Maryland; Four Seasons Austin by 20 on Texas Tech; Texas A&M slightly upsets Arkansas; the State of Ohio by a group over Wisconsin; Purdue by just 6 on FAU; ‘Bama by just 42 over Vandy; and in Lewiston, just a few routes from the Androscoggin River, the Tufts Jumbos visiting par 9 on the Bobcats of Bates.

Jumbo the Elephant got his own Macy's Thanksgiving Parade float.  Here is Jimmy Durante on board in 1962.

BY THE WAY: I hear your gears turning. “Lewiston, Maine?” Hmmm…” Yes, the spot where Muhammad Ali “knocked out” Sonny Liston in their 1965 rematch. I hate to put the plot in check, but one punch landed. Not sure it would have broken an egg, but still, I wouldn’t have signed up.

Oh the Jumbos? Long story short, it comes from PT Barnum’s prized elephant, Jumbo, and a Barnum museum built on the Tufts campus in Boston. Today’s ubiquitous use of the word “jumbo” goes back to PT’s precious pachyderm – skip the research, the story doesn’t end well.

— Contact Ken Willis at [email protected]

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