Lefty Driesell tried to recruit James Brown with a newspaper ad

February 26, 2013

While I was reading old stories about Lefty Driesell’s trademark “V-for-Victory” hand signal this week, I came across a Lefty tale that I had never heard. Via Sports Illustrated:

“In the spring [of 1969] a full-page, $600 ad appeared in the Washington Post aimed at the egos of four high school stars. The immediate result of this Driesell hard sell, however, was an NCAA reprimand.”

Say what?

Well, I went back to the archives. It was actually a quarter-page ad, and it actually cost $594, and it featured — among others — then-DeMatha star James Brown, who would choose Harvard over Maryland and then go on to broadcasting fame. O’Brien, who went to Stuart and was not either of the famous coaching Jim O’Briens, did indeed choose Maryland.

The Post ran a story on Lefty’s recruiting tactics two weeks after the ad — which had also attracted the attention of the NCAA and the New York Times. From Ken Denlinger’s story, which focused on George Raveling’s role in recruiting:

Raveling contends the ad did not break any rules and that those who object to it are doing so because they did not think of it first.

“We’ve got a lot more ideas like that coming,” Raveling said. “It’s part of our attack book. You have to create controversy and energy in a program. We have to get people talking about Maryland. NCAA rules are violated every 24 hours. Why can’t they concentrate on those?

Remember when college athletics were pure as freshly fallen sleet that then immediately turns black thanks to mud and car exhaust and then leaves sludgey stains all over your Ikea carpets? Yeah, me neither.

Also of note: The Sports section used to have a lot more ads. Like, a LOT more ads. Like, massive tire ads and car dealership ads featuring Vince Lombardi and enough boat ads to line several dozen bird cages. Very few blogs, though.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Sarah Kogod · February 26, 2013