The NCAAF Signing Day Debate – It Has Gotten Out of Hand

Read the opposing argument from Sports Geek.

Even as a diehard sports nut I admit there are some things in sports that may be perceived as overrated. I am sure I will catch some flak for this, but I believe the Kentucky Derby is overrated. Some can make the case that the Daytona 500 is overrated. The NFL Draft is certainly overhyped and to some extent, so is the Super Bowl. But without question, there is no doubt that one event is as overhyped by the media as National Signing Day for college football.

Recruiting has gotten to be a year-round extravaganza. Recruits are being contacted at younger ages than ever before. There are hundreds of recruiting websites and blogs to track these things. I do not know who I feel sorrier for, the players or the coaches. The players are receiving constant visits, calls, and text messages from coaches. The coaches have to do these things to stay in the game for that particular player.

If you watched any sports or read any sports news yesterday you know that yesterday was National Signing Day and that the usual suspects were at the top of most of the “rankings” put out by the recruiting gurus. Florida, USC, Texas, and others are said to have the best classes, with Florida said to have one of the best classes ever despite the uncertainty surrounding Urban Meyer. My question is, how do they really know? What makes guys like Tom Luginbill so special? Why are websites like Rivals considering the best of the best when it comes to recruits? I had a friend from the University of Georgia tell me yesterday, “We signed a kid who is going to be the best safety to ever dress up in red and black.” Really? How do you know? Because the UGA beat writer said so? Because Luginbill said so? Have you seen this guy play live?

What does a player having a five-star rating really mean? Are those players supposed to be THAT good? If so, how come only three out of 33 five-star signees from last year made the Rivals Freshman-All American team? Where are the other 30? It really is a crapshoot. We just do not know how these kids will respond, on or off the field. Psychologically, it is hard to determine what will happen. How is a small town kid from a rural town in Georgia going to respond to playing in front of 93,000 screaming people in Athens? How is he going to respond walking through a campus full of thousands of students when his entire high school only had 300 kids? How is a guy from a small town in Ohio going to respond when he walks into an English 101 class that has 400 people in it when his hometown only has 250 people? Maybe he gets homesick and that affects his attitude and his performance on the field and at practice. Those types of things affect 18- and 19-year-olds and it indirectly impacts the growth of a football player. There are just so many variables that come into play that it is hard to effectively tie recruiting classes to successful programs. Recruiting is an inexact science.

The sheer fact that we are even having this debate today proves my point. Too much emotion is put into signing day by fans and the media. Sure, we would all like our school to have the top rated recruiting class in the land. But that does not guarantee a national championship in the next four years. The last four recruiting classes at Georgia have been “ranked” in the top ten by Rivals. All that did was lead to an 8-5 2009 campaign and a trip to lovely Shreveport, Louisiana for the high profile Independence Bowl.

Having a good recruiting class is a good start to success and it gives all of us something to talk about in February. But do not get too discouraged if your school did not get 15 five-star recruits. Rely on your coaches to get the best out of the players they recruit. They know the players and the team’s needs better than these recruiting experts do.

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