College football recruiting season came to a merciful end with last Wednesday's national signing day. The first Wednesday in February remains the sporting world's second most hyped day of the year, although it is gaining fast on the Super Bowl. Ironically, the ridiculousness of it all is perpetrated more by the involved adults than the boys being recruited, many of whom we adults would call spoiled rotten prima donnas.
Every college coach knows that the lifeblood of his program is recruiting. You can be the smartest coach out there but without good athletes your team won't win enough for you to keep your job for very long. It is apparent that we the people are more cognizant of that fact than ever before. Just look at the time and money spent by the masses of college football nuts just keeping up with what 18-year-olds are going to what college.
When a kid commits to a college before he even plays his senior season, recruitniks immediately plug him in as a savior that will lead that school to two national championships and at least three conference crowns, until he decommits once the recruiting process gets hot and heavy. After all, no verbal commitment is worth the paper that it is not written on. If a man's word is no good to a man, why should it mean anything to a kid?
While fans are getting all giddy over recruiting rankings published by various websites and magazines, today's breed of college coaches have become almost as fanatical over their recruiting hauls. The smart ones will tell you that recruiting class rankings are meaningless but the not-so-smart ones, just like the fans, will find themselves with foot-in-mouth disease.
New Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin got so carried away with the Volunteers' signing of a receiver from Pahokee, Fla., out from under the nose of the Florida Gators that he openly laughed at Florida coach Urban Meyer. Coach Kiffin said, "I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him."
Woooo, Laney-boy. Don't get mad when old Urban calls a few timeouts at the end of your game in The Swamp this September prolonging the Gators wrapping of their tails around your collective throats. Nobody likes to be called a cheater in the game of recruiting, especially when the facts prove otherwise. Coach Kiffin already learned the first rule of coaching in the SEC without even playing a game. Don't let your mouth overload your rear end before even one of your hotshot recruits plays a down of college football.
Over at South Carolina, Coach Steve Spurrier promised the jersey no. 2 to one of his prized recruits. It just so happens that Sterling Sharpe once wore no. 2 during the 80s and former Coach Joe Morrison retired it. Sharpe said maybe Coach Spurrier assumed it would be OK, but no kid still in high school was wearin' his claim-to-fame. Coach Spurrier thought that it would be OK because he was into retiring jerseys, not numbers. After all he briefly unretired his own number 11 at Florida when he coached there. Columbia is not in Florida.
The South Carolina administration conveniently found an old policy in a drawer somewhere mandating the procedure for unretiring Gamecock numbers or jerseys. This got Coach Spurrier off the hook, both with his recruit and Sterling Sharpe. He also found out that he ain't as powerful as he thought he was. You know, making promises to recruits that his bosses won't let him keep. A legend being stood up, all because of recruiting.
Meanwhile Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt signed 38 kids to scholarships to play for the Rebels. Never mind that the NCAA limit is 25 in one year and 85 overall. That means that coach Nutt will have to send at least 13 of his new signees off to junior college or tell them not to show up until January 2010. Some of these kids must think, "man I signed with a coach who can't count."
Grown men woofing, making false promises, and miscalculating. All because a bunch of teenagers got into their heads, leading them to illusions of grandeur. What's the old saying about being from Missouri? It goes something like "you have to show me first." It seems there aren't many Missourians doing the recruiting in college football these days.