When Auburn, AL native, Rashaan Evans, committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide on National Signing Day, he let loose a flood of hatred, vitriol, and condemnation from an SEC fan base known for being extremely passionate about their football program—the Auburn Tigers—and while most of the country has looked at this story with a collective shake of the head, some have begun to question whether or not Evans played a role in fostering this madness in the first place.
It was well known that Evans was being courted by both in-state schools, but his ties to the Auburn community had many believing that he would choose to play on “The Plains”, even though Evans himself stated publicly that he wasn’t necessarily ruling out the possibility of playing elsewhere; he even mentioned the pressure he was under from his community to stay home.
“Every day Auburn people are telling me, ‘Go to Auburn,’” Evans said. “It’s pretty bad, because most of the people I’m around are Auburn alumni. So I hear about Auburn each and every day. If I ever visit other schools, they all check on me and remind me about Auburn. I feel like I would disappoint everyone here if I did not go to Auburn. I’m in Auburn, I love Auburn, I have lived in Auburn all my life. I have a lot of family at Auburn and that graduated from Auburn. They would be asking why I would even want to leave Auburn, but I am going to have to do what is best for me.” (Kipp Adams, 247Sports)
Here’s the thing, it really doesn’t matter where you stand on Evans, he had the right to make his decision whenever and however he wanted. He isn’t the first prospect to spurn a school at the last minute, nor will he be the last, and to say that he, or his family, brought this on themselves seems a bit outlandish, in my perspective, because this really comes down to a school choice—nothing more, nothing less.
And yes, I do realize that SEC fan bases are as passionate about recruiting as they are about the program itself, and that means that Evans’s name will likely always, on some level, bring about a great deal of negativity amongst the Auburn fans, but is it really worth taking shots at his family’s business? His livelihood?…His mother’s reputation?
I don’t think so.
Bottom-line, it was his decision to like, not the Auburn community’s. And while much of this situation, probably, has less to do with Evans than it does with the history of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, in general, it still comes down to one kid making a decision. Like Mr. Evans said, keep it in perspective, please.
“I understand that people in this state take football very seriously and that’s part of what makes it exciting, but when you start trying to hurt other people because of this game, you need to take a step back and think about what’s going on. I guess the thing I would ask most of the people writing these hurtful things is how would you feel if this were your child? Why do you feel the need to heap all this negativity onto a young man who is just beginning his life? I think if people asked themselves those questions, they might think twice before writing some of these things they’ve written. You can do a lot of harm with the words you put out there and I hope people think about that.” (Matt Scallici, al.com)