FORT WORTH, Texas — Don't ask me about Ryan Perrilloux or Martellus Bennett.

I don't do recruiting.

I don't like it. I don't like to write about it. I don't like to hear about it.

If I want to read about the daily brainpan meanderings of pampered, self-absorbed 18-year-olds, I'll buy that Olsen twins video, thank you.

But clearly, this is yet another football season to many people. This, alas, is college football recruiting season, the unofficial first national championship contest of the new year.

This is the week. Wednesday is the day.


Get a life.

My view of the process has been a tad jaundiced since that day in 1989 when Dallas Carter High School's Jessie Armstead announced that he was going to Miami. At the same time, seated in a hot tub, teammate Derric Evans was all bling-blinged out, with a wine glass in one hand and a ballpoint pen in the other, signing his national letter of intent with Tennessee.

Evans, however, never quite made it to the kickoff. That summer, he and another Carter teammate, Gary Edwards, who signed with Houston, were arrested for a spree of armed robberies of video stores and fast-food joints. The judge handed Evans a 20-year sentence — seven of which he served in prison — and Edwards got 16.

So much for recruiting being an exact science.

Once upon a time, it was a lot more fun. Hot tubs, to be honest, were rather mundane.

When it was time for a prized recruit to visit a campus, the head coach sent a private plane for him. A sorority girl or two, beautiful and often — how shall I put this? — "morally challenged" would meet the recruit at the airport. The girls were part of an organized, school-sanctioned group, and they were the recruit's hostesses for the weekend.

The walk through the tunnel was always a highlight. Wearing his new game-day jersey that the head coach had just given him, the recruit was urged to run onto the field — through the fog machine and the assembled cheerleaders — just as if it were Saturday. The actual stadium PA announcer was called in, just to say the kid's name.

Most college football programs are structured with the minute-by-minute precision of a NASA shuttle launch. You can imagine the guffaws, therefore, when Colorado coach Gary Barnett said that he didn't know what happened to visiting recruits after 6 p.m.

"There isn't anything planned that I know of," Barnett said.

Oh? Some former CU coeds have come forward to claim that the nighttime hospitality in Boulder included drugs, underage drinking and sex, both consensual and forced.

No one has been indicted in the Colorado cases, but the NCAA issued new guidelines that severely tightened the loopholes on recruiting student-athletes. No more free jerseys, for example. No more fog machine.

The hostess groups can no longer escort a recruit to an off-campus party. They also can no longer be all-female.

In other words, the NCAA wants them stopped. At a lot of schools, it seems, the girls had been trained to pry vital information out of the high school kids, things such as which direction the player was leaning, and why.

"We don't use the girls all weekend," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "Our girls just weren't like that.

"With the new rules, we don't really do anything special. We encourage the student-athlete to bring his parents. We talk to them about the benefits of a private-school degree. We like to say that it's not what we're going to do for you for four years, but rather what we'll do for you for the next 40."

Just as the behavior in Colorado prompted the NCAA to toughen its rule book, one recruit likely has caused all coaches to think twice about who gets to visit their campus. On a recruiting trip to the University of Florida, prep All-America linebacker Willie Williams assaulted a female student, punched a man in the face outside a nightclub and discharged three fire extinguishers at the Gainesville Hilton, which is a felony.

When Williams signed with Miami, details of his Gainesville spree became public. It turned out that Williams already had 10 theft-related arrests and was on an 18-month probation for burglary.

Miami soon announced that it intended to fulfill its commitment to Williams.

Recruiting gurus and Web sites now abound in what has become a multi-million-dollar garage industry. College football fans, it seems, still are eager to pay good money for what often is bad teenage information.

A recruit will tell one caller that he's committed to A&M, and the next that he's headed to LSU. The Web's recruiting bulletin boards pour gasoline on the rumors.

There are legendary stories about Arthur McDuffy and Montego Powers, two of the alleged most talented recruits ever to come out of Mississippi and Georgia, respectively. The problem is that neither existed. As the story goes, they were created by rival recruiting gurus who suspected each other of stealing information.

The latest warp in the recruiting universe is the sudden emergence of the nationally televised commitment. ESPN, Fox Sports Net and College Sports Television, to name three, have all gotten blue-chip recruits to agree to announce their college choices on live TV.

I won't be watching, thank you. But millions probably will.

Gentlemen, start your hot tubs.