Have recruiting fatigue yet? Tired of chasing your favorite college's pursuit of high school kids? Feeling dirty about the whole thing? Me, too. Now, the 10 things I hate (but kind of love) about national signing day and the whole process.
1. The love
Wednesday afternoon, all across America, grown men wearing Ohio State or USC or Florida sweatshirts will nervously gather around their computers and anxiously await what some 17-year-old kid from a place they've never heard of decides on for college. Then they will high-five or pound their fists into the desk, all over a teenage boy who runs a 4.4 from the fry station to the drive-through window at Wendy's when he's not playing football.
2. The hate Hey, you, guy sitting at your computer with nothing better to do than send nasty e-mails and spew hate on your favorite college football fan Web site toward the teenager who didn't pick your school. Stop. (Oh, and you're a loser.) According to the Miami Herald, some pretty bitter fans have slaughtered Matt Patchan on message boards for his recent choice of Florida over his father's alma mater, Miami.They have left messages on his answering machine. They have vilified his entire family.
Happy national signing day, everyone!
3. News conferences
Thank you, ESPN. Thank you, Internet. Thank you, blogs. Thank you, newspapers. Thank you for taking a kid's college choice - in many cases, a kid who barely made it through high school, who will barely make it through college, if at all - and turning it into a made-for-TV event.
Somewhere, a kid walks into a clothing store, and walks into the sporting goods section, and holds a USC jersey up to his chest to check the size and 30 seconds later it's on a blog: "Johnson shows interest in USC!!!" And Trojan fans everywhere unite.
Or, better yet, a player (say, Hillsborough's Moses McCray) changes the wallpaper on his MySpace page from the school he is committed to (FSU) to a school he is interested in (LSU). Blogs from the bay area to the Panhandle simultaneously combust.
That second one was a true story, by the way.
5. Happy national signing day, everyone!
Did I say this already?
Well, it has become a national holiday.
Hallmark now has a section for the college football fan:
"Sorry for your loss,
but while you feel bad today,
just remember this:
he was only a three-star recruit anyway."
My wife wouldn't talk to me for three weeks because I forgot to get her something last year. I won't make that mistake again.
6. The swerve
The old pull-out-a-different-hat-than-everyone-is-expecting moment is still a classic.
Because colleges can't comment on players, it's impossible to verify a lot of offers a kid gets.
But if those offers include Charleston Southern, Jacksonville, Austin Peay and Ohio State, chances are, the kid made up one of those schools. And I'm not talking about the first three.
8. Punters and kickers and walk-ons, oh my
This has become such big business, and so overblown, that "preferred walk-ons" are reported as if they are scholarship offers.
"Yes, Billy, we would 'prefer' not to offer you a scholarship, but you can 'walk on.' Deal?"
Do you know there are rankings for the 2008 recruiting classes already? And they change from week to week? And people actually debate these rankings ferociously? Honest, they do.
Five Florida assistant coaches flanked Patchan's parents at a game ("I'll take the left side, you take the right, and Joe, you make sure no one from FSU or Miami comes up behind us!"). Then one of the coaches took the apron and helped cook dinner at the Patchans' home.
And you thought presidential candidates were bad?
John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 909-4612 or firstname.lastname@example.org.