National Signing Day: It Matters

I get it. You hate the athlete entitlement, much less millennial entitlement. You are disturbed by the amount of attention an 18-year old high school football player gets from social media, ESPN, and the prestigious universities and their football programs that are in hot pursuit of them.

You’re also probably that guy who lives for those low-scoring Big Ten battles between Iowa and Wisconsin.

For some odd reason, “National Signing Day” is one of the more polarizing events in all of sports, collegiate or professional. For some, it’s a disgrace, and for others the pure excessiveness of it all makes it that much more entertaining.

At the end of the day if you follow college football, if you’re a proud alum of your alma mater’s football team, this day matters almost above all.

Coaches know it, Athletic Directors know it and hell, even the university treasurer knows it, championships and big time money is won on this day. 

For instance, Alabama has consecutively ranked first in the last five years of recruiting (they will most likely not finish first in ’16, they’ll settle for fifth) and have won four national titles in the last seven seasons.

Sure they may have one of best college coaches of all-time in Nick Saban, but make no mistake those national titles were won just as much on the field as they were in those players’ living room three years back.

Look back at the 2013 recruiting class. Alabama signed seven guys in the ESPN Top 50, the most of any school. Among them was WR-TE O.J. Howard, who had a game-changing five receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns against Clemson in the National Championship.

Oh, and they also signed Derrick Henry. He went on to break just about every SEC rushing record, along with winning the Heisman trophy.

Henry was the ranked #9 in the ESPN Top 300 in the 2013 class.
Henry was the ranked #9 in the ESPN Top 300 in the 2013 class.

This day matters.

It’s not just Alabama though, who are in the race for just about every 5-star prospect each season.

In 2008, Ole Miss signed a 29th ranked class, according to Rivals.com. Just five years later, in 2013, they catapulted to the 7th best class, a class that included the #1 overall player, DE Robert Nkemdiche, #5 OT Laremy Tunsil and #19 (#1 WR) Laquan Treadwell.

All of which were major catalysts in Ole Miss’ rise to national prominence, defeating Alabama two years in a row and even gaining a #1 rank in the polls during the 2014 season. It’s also not a coincidence that they are all over NFL Draft boards.

I’m not saying that signing a great recruiting class will always lead to national titles, just ask traditional powerhouse programs such as USC, Texas and Miami who almost always bring home top recruiting classes and haven’t had anything to show for it on the field in recent years.

So when you see 2nd year Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh sleeping over at a recruits house one night, then going to class with another recruit the next day, it’s because he’s aware how big their commitment to his team is.

He also understands how to bridge the gap between a middle-aged guy who hardly understands technology to ending up recruits’ Snapchat stories by doing the ‘dab’. Of course, it doesn’t stop there with Harbaugh.

The man has no fear when it comes to recruiting.

By the way, Harbaugh landed the signature of the unanimous #1 ranked player in ESPN 300, DT Rashan Gary. His 2016 Michigan Wolverine class will most likely end up in the top five when today is all said and done.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.37.30 PM

This type of recruiting has become the norm nowadays, over-the-top or not.

Many find it downright ridiculous, but it’s no secret that the rise of social media and non-stop national coverage of high school football has led to coaches sending insanely intricate cakes  to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin picking up recruits in his personal recruiting helicopter.

texas-am-swagcopter-zubaz

And for those who believe that all of the attention-grabbing tactics that go on for an 18-years old commitment is wrong and another instance of society entitling young people, think about this for a second.

Only 1.7% of college football players make it to the NFL, and less will become millionaires. Many of them came from tough backgrounds and defied all odds to just get the opportunity to choose a hat of the school they intend to play for.

Unfortunately, the majority of these guys will get injured at one point during their athletic careers, sometimes seriously injured. Many times, the school that is desperately recruiting them, will not pick up the insurance bill.

These guys will be the foundation and selling point of a multi-billion dollar business, yet they will never receive a penny.

On the opening Saturday next fall, people will fill up 100,000+ seats to watch these athletes play football. They will wear their jerseys, even if their name doesn’t show up on the back of it, and they will feverishly cheer them on.

We are all guilty of this. Rarely, do we recognize it.

So to the self-acclaimed, old-school guy sitting on his couch watching college football next fall, the same guy who hops onto Twitter today to voice his disgust about how big of a joke #NationalSigningDay is, he’s most likely rooting for a player that a coach went all over gods creation to sign him.

Let these guys have their moment in the spotlight. No matter how ridiculous it may get.

Odds are they will be leading your school to the promise land next fall.

This day matters.

-Goat

ALSO, THE WINNER OF SIGNING DAY GOES TO: 4-star Safety Deontay Anderson, who committed to Ole Miss… and had to jump out of a plane to do it.

What a time to be alive.

 

 

 

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