On March 6, 2012, I wrote about a group called the El Chiriacco Group, which claimed that it was in the final stages of a e-book on college sports recruiting titled, “Kim Kardashian and the Art of Rebounding”. At the time, the authors mentioned that the e-book was to be the first in a trilogy including “Recruiting Memoirs” and “Not So Secret Agents”.
Until now, I had no information about any of the people behind El Chiriacco Group. However, at least one of the authors is now known – Arnie Jacobs. Jacobs has been known in basketball circles for his profound ability to recruit basketball players. In 1972, as a student at Arizona State University, he helped recruit players from New York City to the west coast. Later, Jacobs recruited at Arizona, for Irwin Weiner at Walt Frazier Enterprises, and eventually for Marc Cornstein at Pinnacle Management Corp.
Upon learning about Arnie Jacobs’ role in the upcoming trilogy, I also received an excerpt from the to-be-published e-book titled, “Not So Secret Agents.” The following contains the excerpt.
By the 1970’s the recruiting game had reached an unprecedented level of uncontrolled chaos. So uncontrolled that the NCAA was forced to take steps to restrain the wild horse that college athletic recruiting, especially in basketball, had become. The sanctions, schools being stripped of titles, punishment of recruiting violations and more stringent rules set up and surprisingly enforced, made colleges, recruiters and coaches sit up straight and listen to the voice of impending doom to their athletic programs.
It helped to quiet things down for a while, but rules are meant be broken, and so they were, as the wheels of big time college recruiting began to slowly crank up and roll forward again, picking up speed, momentum and velocity. Building up immunity just like the strain of mosquitoes which had learned to resist and even thrive against the pesticide created to eliminate them, so too has the inter-dependent network of coaches – players agents – athletic departments and even parents, learned to flourish despite a host of obstacles erected to impede their illegal progress.
It was around this time that Arnie Jacobs began recruiting athletes for Arizona State University in Tempe, where he had attended from 1971 to 1974 as a Speech Communications major.
At ASU he initially wanted to be an announcer at Sun Devil basketball games and perhaps on the school radio, as he was an avid basketball fan from New York who took pride in the game and the fact that the Knicks had managed to harness a couple of championships in 1971 and 1974.
He certainly had the voice, the intonation and the extraordinary gift of gab needed to be an entertaining, even funny announcer or radio personality, but the prospect of recruiting and becoming a major player and contributor to the Arizona State basketball program began to loom larger and larger until he was totally consumed by the excitement, travel, respect, not to mention, cash that was coming his way – while still a student at ASU. He turned his talents in another direction and began recruiting.
Since then he’s worked for major athletic management firms which have reeled in some of biggest names in sports. He has seen the incredible metamorphosis of the sports business from all sides in the past 40 years.
“Recruiting athletes became my love, my fix, my drug of choice; always looking for that next great player!”
He misses the days when he use to buy his football and basketball “Street and Smith’s” magazines at the corner store, grab his highlight pen and a notepad, get into his car and drive around the country for 2-3 months visiting different campuses across the country and “bloodhound” for top athletes with college and professional talent. Players like Walter Peyton, David Thompson, Jerry Rice, Sam Clancy and so many others.
Over the years – “The new recruiting game” has stretched its tentacles farther than the college and professional ranks and has crept into the AAU, prep schools, high schools and as young as junior high schools and middle schools.
“These players have been spoiled, pampered, given favors and pumped up by people like Dick Vitale–who makes these kids feel like gods and automatic future millionaires. It becomes incredibly important for these players to realize that sooner or later an athlete’s career comes to an end, whether it’s in high school, college or “the pros”. Their lives must continue along with the adjustment, but that transition can be horrifying, and some are simply not ready for the biggest game of all…. “the game of life”.