A few weeks ago we all learned about 12-year-old Brad Dalke making a verbal commitment to play college golf at the University of Oklahoma. In the weeks that followed, I learned what it might be like to be a court judge sitting on the bench of a high-profile case.
I have heard the debate from all angles. I have received phone calls, text messages and e-mails from men’s and women’s college coaches, parents of junior players – younger and older than Dalke – pro golfers, people in the media and from the common Joe sitting at the bar.
And my verdict is … what’s all the fuss about?
Any time there is a situation like this, you have to look at the facts of the case. Each case is going to be completely independent from the last. And after reviewing the facts and hearing the debates in 12-year-old Dalke makes commitment vs. Oklahoma coach offering scholarship dollars, I am allowing this and moving on.
The Sooner red runs deep in the Dalke family. Brad’s grandfather was a basketball and baseball athlete at Oklahoma and his grandmother was a cheerleader. His father was a member of two Sooners national championship football teams in the 1970s and his mother was on the first women’s golf team at OU.
Odds are high he would be going to Oklahoma – just to go to Oklahoma.
Sure, there might be added pressure on him with this early announcement and many have wondered why his parents would let him do this or why they possibly encouraged this. I would say they know their situation better than us and have some experience in this arena. His father, Bill, has experience coaching football at the collegiate level, and I am certain they have weighed the pros and cons.
I have heard the argument that Brad Dalke should go through the recruiting process. Why? There is little doubt he would go anywhere else because the facts in this case point in one direction: Norman, Okla., even though he lives in McKinney, Texas. If he turns out to be the No. 1 player in the country in 2014 or ’15, I bet he would still pack his bags for Norman.
It takes two to make a verbal commitment and the other side of this equation is the men’s golf program at Oklahoma. I have heard coaches say this is ridiculous and call Ryan Hybl a rookie coach. My reaction to those coaches is this: Would it be so ridiculous if you had a top-500 player in all of junior golf at the age of 12 wanting to come to your school and was willing to tell you so?
Hybl is a young head coach and was in his rookie season guiding a struggling program, but he is also a competitive guy and comes from a successful background as a player and a coach. Is he taking a chance? You betcha. Is he getting people to talk about his program? Heck yes he is. And it’s a program that has not played in the NCAA Championship since Anthony Kim was carrying a Sooner bag.
Oklahoma has missed the postseason the last two years and needs to stop the ball from rolling off the fringe and back down the hill into the divot they just hit from. Will Dalke be the answer? We have no idea, and won’t for at least seven years. But this gives Hybl’s program some exposure, and if Dalke continues to progress at the rate he has, just maybe this will bring more recruits.
Could Dalke turn out to be a bust and take an interest in something else? Sure, it could all backfire and Oklahoma would be right back where they are now, and that’s trying to get better as a program.
Let’s also remember that the scholarship offer here has remained a secret. I can be certain of one thing: It’s not a full athletic scholarship. Those offers are as rare as hole-in-ones and when all is said and done, the aid going Dalke’s way will be determined much closer to signing day for the 2016 class and it will be representive of what he deserves.
And one more thing, this is a verbal commitment and the last time I checked with the NCAA a verbal commitment was not a binding contract.