National Signing Day

by on January 1st, 2015
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I’m admittingly late to the party. I’ve only been watching college football since 1990. and I’ve only been paying attention to recruits for the past few years. But I don’t get the excitement. It’s been compared to the NFL Draft for college football, where every team can dream of getting stud players and winning national titles, just like every team can dream of drafting that one impact player that turns their fortunes around.

Much like anything to do with college football, the comparison is like an optical illusion. They aren’t even close, though there are similiarities.

1.) In the NFL, only the best college players play in the NFL. Only the best high school players play Division 1, FBS level football.

2.) In the NFL, the worst teams pick the best players entering the league in order of worst to best. In theory, an Andrew Luck will never play for the Patriots, though it can happen. In college football, the best players choose their locations based on a variety of factors. Usually though the best players go to the best teams. Whereas the NFL “rewards” a team for a bad season, in college football, the rich get richer.

The other problem with comparing it to the NFL draft is that there are players who haven’t finished growing yet. A receiver might enter college as a 5’11, 185 lb. WR, and leave as a 6’3, 240 FB. (It happened. Fred Smith, Michigan State University)

The other part is that teams that recruit well don’t always win. Ohio State finished the year 6-7 after losing in a bowl to Florida who finished 7-6. Ohio State’s had a recruiting class ranked 11th in 2011, 25th in 2010, 3rd in 2009, 4th in 2008, and 15th in 2007, while Florida had a class ranked 12th in ’11, 2nd in ’10, 11th in ’09, 3rd in ’08, and 1st in ’07. All the hype and hoopla of the past 5 years and these two were mediocre last year.

Meanwhile, over the same stretch, Michigan State was ranked 31st, 30th, 17th, 47th,and 42nd over the same stretch. Yet they’ve won 11 games each of the past 2 years, mostly due to those 2 classes that supposedly weren’t very productive.

I suppose part of my nonchalance over this is my team hasn’t been very active in the recruiting cycle with only 14 signings. That happens when you have very few seniors, two early entries and only two transfers. It’s been rather dull because the two big signings (4 star WR Taylor Burbidge and 4 star, according to ESPNU, G Benny McGowan) were early, and Jamal Lyles, another 4 star, was brought in after the Se’Von Pittman decision change. I’m not mad at Pittman for the record. I’ve changed my major five times. It’s part of going to college.

With that said, I know part of Ohio State’s rankings are due to the defensive line signings, yet I wonder how they’ll plan on playing three players who are all 230 lbs. Chances are someone will be transferring in the next year or so.

And this brings me back to my main rub. Just like the NFL Draft, these shouldn’t be graded until at least 3 years after the signings. In college football, even more so since a lot freshmen don’t even play right away. If 2007 were graded again, I’m sure Florida would still be high, those players did help produce a national title after all, but Michigan State would be higher as well.

The hype is great for selling magazines and it does wonders for a coach’s PR with ther alumni and the student body. But at the end of the day, what matters is coaching and does the player fit the scheme? After all, part of that ’07 class for the Gators was QB John Brantley, a pure pocket passer being asked to run the spread offense. It was a strange fit and has hurt the Gators the past two seasons. But it sure looked great on the rankings….


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