How Craig James Faked His Son’s Football Career
On October 14, 2004, David Hinojosa of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS reported a story that was headlined, “Adam James is ready to be known as his own type of player.”
The story’s accompanying photo featured Adam James and his dad, ESPN announcer Craig James. In the shot, father James can be seen just over his son’s left shoulder.
While the headline suggested Adam James as the subject of the report, Hinojosa first mentioned “outside” perception that the Celina (TX) High School football player’s father, Craig James, was trying to use his status as an ESPN announcer to get his son “more playing time” at the school.
“Craig James walks a fine line when he attends a Celina (TX) High School football practice. Outsiders who have witnessed conversations between him and Celina coach Butch Ford have misconstrued them as a plea to get his son, Adam, more playing time.“
In the same DMN story Hinojosa noted that two years earlier, when Adam James was a freshman at Celina, “Craig began making appearances at practice (and the) whispers from the outsiders began.”
No Celina coaches, including Ford, were quoted in the Dallas Morning News story.
Hinojosa’s only on the record source - besides himself - on how the influence of Craig James on his son’s high school football program had been “misconstrued” was Craig James.
In the piece James told Hinojosa, “You would think being my son would be to his advantage, but it’s absolutely the opposite.”
One year later, on Nov. 9, 2005, Adam James was “selected” to play in a high school football all-star game which annually features the most sought-after high school football recruits in the nation and is nationally televised by NBC.
That year the game, the 2006 edition of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, included Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, C.J. Spiller, Sergio Kindle, Josh Freeman, DeMarco Murray, Gerald McCoy, Taylor Mays, Beanie Wells, Brandon Graham, Andre Smith and other future college stars and NFL players.
When he secured a coveted spot on an all-star game roster reportedly assembled by “the (2006) U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Team made up of Tom Lemming of CSTV and representatives of Scout.com“, Adam James had no Division I scholarship offers and 14 receptions in 10 games as a tight end playing in the state’s second-lowest (2A) Texas high school football classification.
Of that small school classification, Adam James became the first 2A high school school player from Texas in history to receive what many believe to be high school football’s highest honor despite the son of ESPN announcer Craig James having failed to receive 2A all-state recognition after his junior or senior seasons at Celina.
Adam James was also not ranked in the Top 100 Rivals.com position prospects for the state of Texas at the time of his “selection” to the roster of the Army All-American Bowl.
On Jan. 4, 2006, the first day of practice for the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS published a story about Adam James with the headline, “Famous father lends support to his H.S. All-American son.”
Express-News reporter Dan McCarney’s lede for the piece:
It was a college football fan’s dream: Ohio State playing Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl at a sold-out Sun Devil Stadium.
Yet even as he watched from the sideline, ABC analyst Craig James couldn’t help himself. He took a moment to sneak into a tunnel to call his 18-year-old son, Adam, who had just finished his first day of practice for Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“Here I am, watching Notre Dame and Ohio State go at it, and all that’s on my mind is what’s going on in San Antonio,” James said. “Last night, I couldn’t go to sleep. I’m so excited that he had a good day (Monday), that he enjoyed his time.”
Of his selection to a squad featuring numerous future NFL stars, Adam James told McCarney of the Express-News at the time:
“I was very surprised. I’ve never pictured myself as an All-American.”
“Every time I achieved something, it was because of my dad.”
“But I’ve realized that he’s not the one out there putting the work in.”
Of his son’s reaction to being “selected” for an all-star game roster spot reserved for high school football’s most-recruited, highest-rated players, Craig James told the Express-News:
“I can’t tell you how satisfying that is as a dad, that he recognized it and it wasn’t just coming from me.“
The same day as the Express-News story, a Rivals.com report published the following note from the Army All-American Bowl practice in San Antonio:
Colton (Calif.) linebacker Allen Bradford showed why he’s the No. 1 ranked player in the state of California by absolutely leveling Celina (Texas) tight end Adam James. This play had the West defense in an absolute frenzy.
James went unmentioned in the Associated Press recap of the game and in the extensive coverage of the event provided by the Express-News, Rivals.com and Scout.com - which included breakdowns of individual player perfomances. James was also not mentioned in the “postgame player recaps and analysis” published on the Army All-American Bowl’s official website.
On April 5, 2005, eight months before he was “selected” to the Army All-American Bowl roster, John Talman of Rivals.com reported of the “interest” Adam James was receiving from “numerous” major college football programs - and that the son of ESPN announcer Craig James was hoping for an offer from Texas A&M:
The Celina, Texas., prospect is receiving interest from numerous programs across the Lone Star state and much of the Big 12. However, one team is not only the leader but a childhood favorite as well.
“Yes, it’s Texas A&M by far,” James said. “Ever since I went to a game there when I was like five I’ve wanted to go there. Last year I got invited to come up to one of their games and I just really liked it.”
If the Aggies were to offer, James said it would be hard to resist.
“Yeah, I probably would commit if that happened,” James said about a possible Aggie offer. “The tradition is what got me. It’s just amazing.”
Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor, Iowa, and others are actively sending him countless amounts of mail. Being the son of former NFL great Craig James also has his father’s alma mater SMU in hot pursuit.
On July 18, 2005, four months before he was “selected” to the Army All-American Bowl roster, John Talman of Rivals.com reported that Adam James was “accompanied” by his ESPN announcer dad, Craig James, as he participated in a 7-on-7 football tournament at Texas A&M.
Of Craig James, Talman noted in his story, “his father, who went through the (recruiting) process before, has decided to keep out of it for the most part to let his son make the best decision possible.” More:
“He’s real level headed,” James said about his son. “It’s interesting for me to go through the process on the other side now and being the parent. We are basically as a family looking for a match both athletically and academically.
“At the same time, I’m just sitting back and letting him work the process.”
Of schools interested in his football ability, Adam James said, “I’m having fun with it. Texas A&M, Baylor, Iowa, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and SMU are some schools that have been contacting me.”
On Dec. 12, 2005, two weeks before his first practice at the Army All-American Bowl, Jamie Newberg of Scout.com reported, “(Adam) James currently doesn’t have any scholarship offers but two teams could be close – Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.”
Of Oklahoma State, which Newberg reported “could be close” to offering Adam James a football scholarship, the son of ESPN announcer Craig James said at the time:
“I went to Oklahoma State for a game this season with three of my buddies. It kind of reminds me of Celina. It’s not a big campus. I think I fit well there too and they where orange like we (Celina’s colors) do.”
The day after the Army All-American Bowl, Jan. 9, 2006, Adam James told Rivals.com reporter John Talman that he now had football scholarship offers but wanted to keep them “on the down low” as he prepared to make multiple “official visits” to various schools.
Comments from the son of ESPN announcer Craig James in Talman’s Rivals.com piece titled, “James ready for trips“:
“I’ve got some offers, but we’re trying to keep that on the down low right now.”
“As for trips, I’m thinking of heading to Texas Tech, Texas, Boston College, Ole Miss, Nevada, and maybe one other school.”
On Jan. 18, 2006, Chris Pool of Scout.com reported that Adam James had multiple football scholarship offers. In the article, the son of ESPN announcer Craig James said:
“The thing is that I didn’t start to get recruited until January. I’m planning out my official visits right now. Wisconsin is starting to show some interest in me. Oklahoma State and Texas have started to show a lot of interest lately.”
One day later, Jan. 19, 2006, Bill Lowery of Rivals.com reported that before being selected to the Army All-American Bowl roster “few schools were aware” of the “abilities” of Adam James as a football player but “after playing in the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on January 7, the recruitment of 6-foot-3 and 235-pound tight end Adam James of Celina (TX) High School has skyrocketed.”
Before his son announced his decision to enroll at Texas Tech, Craig James told the LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL:
“It’s a lot different, obviously, having this hat on. There’s a lot of happiness for my son and what he’s accomplished and now we’re trying to find a match for him to go to school. I’ve always thought that Texas Tech would be a great fit for him, but I’ve had to let him kind of make his way through this.”
The Lubbock newspaper also reported that according to Craig James, his son had “received scholarship offers from Boston College and Wisconsin, among others.”
After ESPN announcer Craig James alleged his son had “received scholarship offers from Wisconsin and Boston College” the Wisconsin Rivals.com website BadgerBlitz.com published a followup report about Wisconsin’s alleged recruitment of Adam James:
BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Celina, Texas three-star tight end Adam James Monday night to find out if the Wisconsin Badgers have shown interest in him.
According to the 6-foot-2, 230 pound James, the Badgers have shown interest but they no longer have a shot at the U.S. Army All-American. “Well, yeah I heard they were interested,” James said.
Outside of the Red Raiders, James said Oklahoma State and Texas showed interest from the Big 12 while Tulsa recruited hard, Boston College got into it and the Badgers showed up late.
“I talked to (Texas) a couple times,” James said. “Winning the national championship they were super busy so that didn’t go very far.
“Tulsa was recruiting me real hard and Boston College was getting into it. Wisconsin was going to get in too. I didn’t know why (they didn’t) but it was so late in the deal probably.”
In addition to reporting that Craig James had claimed Adam James had, “received scholarship offers from Boston College and Wisconsin”, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal also noted these comments from the ESPN announcer:
“Now it’s trying to find what would be a match. I have an advantage over a lot of dads, that I know what schools do offensively and where my son could fit - fit athletically and institutionally. I know this would be a good place.”
Craig James was actually in Lubbock the day he made the above comments about his son’s football recruitment to the Avalanche-Journal, which also reported why the ESPN announcer happened to be in town on Jan. 21, 2006:
Former SMU and NFL running back Craig James was in attendance at the Tech football banquet Saturday. James’ son, Adam, is on a recruiting visit to Tech this weekend.
24 hours later Adam James was a Texas Tech Red Raider.
Texas Tech was the first and only “visit” taken by Adam James after the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7, 2006.
When asked about Adam James 16 months later, on March 27, 2007, Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach told Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:
“We don’t entirely know what we have with him. Todd (Dodge) was the last set of football eyes that were on him at the all-star game. Todd kind of confirmed what I was thinking, what I thought I was seeing. So we’re excited to have him and looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him.’“
Where did Todd Dodge’s “all-star game” assessment of Adam James that “kind of confirmed” what Leach “thought” he saw come from?
The same game in which Dodge had served as an assistant coach two weeks before Adam James was offered a scholarship by Texas Tech.
The 2006 Army All-American Bowl.
And the headline of the same March 27, 2007, newspaper story that “kind of confirmed” what Leach “thought” about Adam James?