Texas’ romancing of Arch Manning shows how recruiting has gone absolutely batty

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun

If I die and can’t come back as David Beckham, I want to come back as a football recruit. They have it almost as good.

At least they do on official visits to prospective employers, I mean schools. We got a glimpse last week when The Athletic reported how much Texas spent to woo Arch Manning and some pals during his recruiting weekend in June.

Try $280,000.

Peyton and Eli’s nephew was joined by eight other recruits, and each could bring four family members.  It’s not clear how many tagged along. It is obvious they lived like Kardashians for 48 hours.

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They stayed at the five-star Four Seasons Austin, where recruits found customized cakes, snacks and Skittles waiting in their rooms. Those cost $1,813.74, and the fun had just begun.

Texas Longhorns recruit dinner costs almost $30,000

The first lunch buffet cost $17,319. The first dinner, including tip and the ice sculpture, was $29,129. The next night featured a boat cruise to watch Austin’s famed bats fly out from under a bridge.

That only cost $2,357. UT apparently scrimped by not having an ice sculpture of Batman on board.

Dinner on Saturday was at III Forks Steakhouse, where you can get a 32-ounce “Tomahawk Ribeye” for $135. The bill was $36,900. The bar tab for the parent social that followed was $31,628.

Extravagant? Yes, but it’s just the cost of doing business at many factories, I mean schools.

The Longhorns' football program generates about $150 million a year. To make money, you have to spend money. Manning will probably be worth 100,000 Tomahawk Ribeyes to Texas.

You may think civilization has gone bat-guano crazy when we’re spending so lavishly to secure the football services of 17-year-olds. You’d be right.

As crazy as it sounds, it’s money well spent. That makes it all the crazier....

Stud of the Week: The aforementioned Beckham. He may have once given his pregnant wife a $1.8 million platinum vibrator with a diamond-encrusted base. But Becks stood in the queue like a commoner for 13 hours to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth.

Stud II: Florida’s volleyball team, which went on the road and beat fifth-ranked Wisconsin before 16,833 fans, the biggest regular-season crowd in NCAA history. UF's volleyball team also has as many TD passes as its football team this season.

Dud of the Week: Brett Favre. He’s denied any wrongdoing, but text messages revealed Favre schemed with former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to secretly divert federal welfare funds to build a $5 million volleyball stadium at Southern Miss, where his daughter played. I may never wear another pair of Wrangler jeans….

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel needs a shower

Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said that when he was a 49ers assistant from 2017-2021, he’d get so immersed in work that he wouldn’t shower for three to four days. I’m just glad the Fish rallied from 21 points down to beat Baltimore Sunday, or you might have needed a gas mask to attend Miami’s coaches meetings this week….

This Just In: Gov. Ron DeSantis has sent 50 Venezuelan migrants to the University of Texas football recruiting office….

Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson is so tired of being asked about his contract status that he offered reporters popcorn for “good questions” at last week’s media session. Reporters asked about the contract anyway, making history as the first sportswriters to turn down free food….

Did you see where Nebraska fans were yelling “We want Urban!” at Urban Meyer before the Oklahoma game this past Saturday? In related news, Cornhusker fans have started selling their souls on eBay for as low as $3.99….

Not that Gainesville is Paris, but where do you go to impress recruits in Starkville?....

A man was reportedly arrested for trying to mount Bevo, Texas’ longhorn mascot, during Saturday’s game against UT-San Antonio. He was later identified as an Oklahoma fan who’d left internet messages plotting to turn Bevo into a Tomahawk Ribeye….

About 1.5 million bats and a couple of ex-football coaches live under a bridge in Austin, making it the largest urban pet population in North America. Gainesville leads the SEC East, with about 500,000 flying critters living in the famed bat houses on UF’s campus.

Fear not, Gator fans. Billy Napier has added a Bat Reproduction Analyst to his staff in hopes of closing the gap with UT and impressing Peyton Manning III….

Kudos to Minnesota Wild defenseman Alex Goligoski. Instead of throwing the first pitch at a Twins game last week, he took a hockey stick and slapped the ball over the plate for a strike. That’s one more strike than the Marlins staff threw the entire week….

Queen Elizabeth II stayed at the Four Seasons when she visited Austin in 1991. Her party included 25 members of the royal household, including her personal assistant and hairdresser. The Queen reportedly did not ask for any Skittles when she checked in, though she did request a ride on Bevo…

Correction: I said last week that I’d stop making Deflategate and Spygate jokes when Bill Belichick makes the playoffs without Tom Brady at quarterback. I forgot that Belichick made it with Mac Jones last year. My apologies to Robert Kraft and the entire Patriots organization.

My new promise is I’ll stop making Deflategate and Spygate jokes when Belichick either showers or offers a reporter some popcorn….

Update: Contrary to reports, Arch Manning was not accompanied by his personal assistant or hairdresser when he visited Austin….

I don’t want to say King Charles III will have a hard time replacing the Queen, but a group of royalists were outside Westminster Abbey on Monday yelling, “We want Urban!”….

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. Till next time, if you see any football recruits around town, please don’t feel obligated to buy them a $135 steak.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.