Adventures in Twitter: Notre Dame Keyboard Thugs vs Recruit Eddie Vanderdoes
So the Eddie Vanderdoes saga finally came to an end on Tuesday.
If you're asking yourself, "Who is Eddie Vanderdoes?" give yourself a gold star, because if you have no idea who Vanderdoes is, it means that you're not immersed in the borderline creepy minutiae and overzealous voyeurism of high school football recruiting. (I, like millions of others, partially by occupation and partially by mental illness, happen to be immersed in it, and, OY VEY, the degree of self-loathing it spawns!)
Vanderdoes is a 300-pound, five-star (recruiting speak for "ultra googily moogily kick-ass") defensive tackle from Placer, California, who in February committed to play college football for the University of Notre Dame.
The recruiting battle waged for Vanderdoes had many dramatic twists and turns. At one time a USC commitment, Vanderdoes wound up choosing Notre Dame over UCLA on signing day.
At least in February he did.
About a month or so ago, recruiting smoke began to billow once again from Placer and rumblings of a Vanderdoes decommitment began to rock message boards all across recruiting dork-ville. Vanderdoes himself wasn't speaking, but enough people were speaking on his behalf or had enough knowledge of the situation to cobble together the story:
Vanderdoes basically realized, "Holy shit, I'm from California, and I just committed to spend the next four years of my life in South Bend, Indiana...what have I done?"
Now, to be clear, while the South Bend Chamber of Commerce isn't about to launch any "Come vacation in the Bend!" television ads any time soon (although a "what happens in the Bend, stays in the Bend" campaign has major sophomoric giggling potential), in the century-plus that Notre Dame has fielded a football team, hundreds of players from warm-weather climates have come to South Bend to ply their football trade and done just fine. Thrived even.
But it's not for everybody. Vanderdoes realized that, and he decided to change his mind. After several weeks of wrangling (we think), both sides finally announced Tuesday that Vanderdoes will indeed pass on the chance to enroll at Notre Dame.
Vanderdoes himself alluded to specific changes in his personal situation, almost implying that something necessitated him staying close to home:
"I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for lifting the recruiting ban and allowing me to sign an athletic scholarship with UCLA," Vanderdoes told multiple media outlets. "Over the past four months, circumstances have changed for me and my family. For very personal reasons, I feel a strong need to remain close to home and be near those who are most important in my life.
"I am honored and humbled that Note Dame thought enough of me as a person and a football player to offer me a scholarship. They have been very gracious to recognize not only how difficult a decision this was, but also how important it was for me to be near my family at this time. I take my commitments seriously, but as circumstances changed, the most important commitment is the one made to family."
Now, while Vanderdoes makes it sound as if the "divorce" is final and he's free and clear to pursue his UCLA relationship unfettered, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly made it clear that Vanderdoes may enroll elsewhere but the school is not releasing him from his national letter of intent:
"Eddie Vanderdoes will not be attending the University of Notre Dame," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly in a statement. "We did not release him from his national letter of intent in order to protect the integrity of that very important program, but we have worked with the Vanderdoes family so that Eddie can continue his education this fall at a school closer to his home. We understand Eddie's interest in remaining closer to his family and wish him well."
In essence, this means that Vanderdoes will be treated like a transfer student and have to sit out a year, which would be meaningless for many recruits, but Vanderdoes was probably good enough to get on the field as a true freshman.
As they do on virtually every molecular movement of the universe, Twitter had a reaction to the Vanderdoes news.
Some of it was classy, like this tweet from Notre Dame All-American nose tackle Louis Nix, who Vanderdoes would've eventually replaced and who's a kid who knows a little something about being homesick in South Bend. (Nix, a Jacksonville native, had been rumored a few times during his younger years to be exploring a transfer.):
...aaaaand then there was your typical twitter react, from jilted Notre Dame fans (and some non-Notre Dame people who just seem to be anti-Vanderdoes) who are way more emotionally invested in the future of an 18-year-old defensive lineman than they should be, and far more courageous in anonymous 140-character blurbs than they are in person.
Let's examine the work of some of these losers: