College athletics recruiting is certainly a touchy subject for many student-athletes, parents, coaches, fans and members of media, with each group having their own reasons for loving or hating the process. It is an immensely unforgiving and cutthroat ordeal in which a lot of coaches would do just about anything to grab a big-time player, including promoting fake restaurant openings.
We’ll give coaches the benefit of the doubt with their pitches, as the heavy majority of student-athletes are at least given the opportunity to become what they were promised. However, future Baylor student-athletes may never be given the chance to eat at In and Out Burger or at a Pappas Restaurant. Or shop in a Whole Foods.
During a recruiting event in Waco over the weekend, the sign to the right was displayed for prospective student-athletes. Whenever an In and Out Burger arrives in town or if there are even sniffs of an opening in town, especially an average place like Waco, you know that people are going to lose their minds.
The Waco Tribune heard about the claims by the program and did some digging:
Pappas Restaurants group Spokeswoman Christina Pappas on Monday debunked the claims that the company would be building an eatery in Waco.
We are not building any locations in Waco,” Pappas said in an email to the Tribune-Herald.
The Tribune-Herald has previously reported that a Potbelly Sandwich Works is slated to open next door to Gander Mountain at Interstate 35 and Valley Mills Drive, while New York-based pizza chain Uncle Mario’s Brick Oven Pizza will build a restaurant on the former Richard Karr Motors lot at Lake Air and Valley Mills drives.
Meanwhile other businesses listed in the poster have been actively studying the Waco market. In-N-Out Burger, for example, has eyed a couple of local sites over the past two years, including the old Richard Karr site as well as land at Fourth Street near Interstate 35 that used to support the now-demolished Clarion Inn.
When asked for comment, Baylor Associate Athletic Director Nick Joos offered the following explanation for the decision to throw a bunch of brands on a poster when only a couple were actually coming to Waco:
I think somebody just decided to throw speculation on a board and call it a poster.
Everything Waco is important to Baylor, especially when you’re recruiting 18- to 22-year-olds,” Joos said. “There’s been a lot of drawings about the kind of town Waco could look like that’s been a part of the sales pitch in the past, and I think some of the potential of what people have as visions for the development of downtown as well, things others use when they’re trying to pitch businesses to come to Waco.
Did the athletic department know what they were doing with the poster? Yes, probably. Does it make them look desperate and cast even more smoke on already touchy subject? Absolutely.
Is In and Out Burger coming to Waco? No.