I just got off the phone with Tony Dungy. I had called my old special teams coach Joe Marciano, who is now the special teams coordinator for the Houston Texans. I left him a message asking for Tony's cell number so that I could contact him. Joe called me back and told me that he had just got off the phone with Tony and that Tony was looking for my number. That is a "Goocher" in my book.
Being an athlete and/or a coach is demanding enough. However, how we handle both victory and defeat provides the opportunity to demonstrate character. The NFL is a "machine" and I have seen many people change under its grips. I have heard coaches tell our team one thing, only to have something else happen. That was never the case with Tony. With the amount of money and pressure that is found in the NFL, Tony never allowed it to control him. His faith in man-kind is strong. His faith in God is stronger. This man "Walks the Walk."
I will forever be grateful to Tony not only for how he handled my situation, but how fortunate I am to have him as a friend and the impact that he has had on my life.
Here's how important national letters of intent are in the recruiting process: you can't just sign one whenever you want.
The NCAA has specific time periods in place for inking such important agreements. They vary by sport, and there are a lot of sports. So it's easy for recruits to commit to a school but really have no idea when they're supposed to sign their letter of intent to make it official.
Here is a breakdown of when national letters of intent are signed for athletes wanting to earn a scholarship for the 2009-10 school year, according to the NCAA website:
Basketball (regular period): April 15-May 20, 2009
Football (mid-year junior college transfers): Dec. 17, 2008-Jan. 15, 2009
Football (regular period): Feb. 4-April 1, 2009
All Other Sports (early period): Nov. 12-19, 2008
All Other Sports (regular period): April 8-Aug. 1, 2009
The coaches of most sports seemed satisfied with the calendar in place, but there are discussions of implementing an early-signing period for high school football recruits. In recent years, football prospects have committed, decommitted, recommitted, decommitted and committed elsewhere, filling all the time they have to make a decision before February.
One Division I coach told me he uses 25 percent of his recruiting budget "babysitting" recruits, or visiting recruits who have already committed to make sure they don't stray.
Nothing is imminent, though, so the dates in place will be a good forecast of years to come.