The most overrated day in all of sports has to be National Signing Day. No physical action takes place unless you count signing a piece of paper an accomplishment. No scoreboards are used. Judges judge from about as far away as humanly possible.
I'm perplexed when a national scout authoritatively proclaims the best high school football player in the nation. How on earth could anyone possibly know this? Has he watched every single player facing equal competition throughout the land?
Last Wednesday, February 6, high school kids across the nation put their John Hancock's on a measly piece of paper. Local reporters, television crews and national media outlets covered the 'event' as if it were the 7th game of the World Series.
In the not so distant past, college football fans would learn about incoming freshmen after they suited up in the home team's colors. Now fanatics can follow the career of high school players, memorize their physical attributes and learn their favorite foods. All while they are still in high school!
Not all coverage is unwarranted. We're all thrilled when a local kid ends up attending a local school.
Chris Adkins choosing the University of Tulsa is newsworthy. Adkins helped the Jenks Trojans capture back-to-back state titles in 6A football. The fact that he signed with the Golden Hurricane is solid, reportable news.
Here is a quick Hurricane recap.
They signed a kicker. TU supporters realize the importance of this position. They also added a quarterback, two running backs, two receivers and four offensive linemen to this year's recruiting class.
On the other side of the ball, Tulsa signed five safeties, four linebackers and two defensive linemen. Why no specific names? At this point they are untested freshman hoping to make a name for themselves on the gridiron.
The bad news is on the D-line.
The squad really needed to add more bulk up front. Here's hoping the TU coaching staff has a few tricks up its sleeve.
That is it. This should have been the extent of coverage we received last week. Sure, we need a blip or two about OU and OSU.
What we don't need are elaborate press conferences. We don't need a player showing up donning an OSU cap only to rip it off WWE style. He then flaunted his OU apparel. His coach called it good fun. I called it poor sportsmanship and a bad start to his college career.
What about the poor kid in Nevada? He fabricated an elaborate story. He told televisions across America how he was being recruited by Cal and Oregon. He wanted his local school, friends and community to adore him. The truth was Cal had barely even heard of the kid. There were no offer sheets on his table. Somewhere Henry Rollins was smiling.
Would you have been surprised if this story emanated from Oklahoma? I wouldn't. The fact is so much pressure is placed on these kids from... well... birth that they might concoct a similar plot. A story so bold, so detailed that everyone in town would feel good...until the ugly truth came out.
Who Knows Best
The root of all evil? The experts. Dare I say there are more recruiting sites than porn sites on the Internet? I'd be wrong but you get the idea.
The experts rank the top players. "He is a five-star athlete. He is a two-star athlete." They treat these kids like professionals. They are not.
Then, to compound the errors of their way, they proceed to give marks to colleges based on their original faulty individual rankings. You still with me?
Take OU for example. Most recruiting "experts" ranked the Sooners recruiting class in the top-10 this year. What exactly does this mean? The "experts" took their own player rankings and ranked the colleges? Seems pretty fair.
Imagine Mayor Kathy Taylor holding a press conference. She walks to the podium and proceeds to rate her job performance in office. She utilized statistics given to her in-house. Does this seem plausible? Would we take her word for it?
Coaches fan the flames. Have you ever heard a coach address the media after a recruiting class and say something like this- "We just didn't do a very good job this year. I thought the kids we targeted were kind of small and slow."
Here are a few examples from our local schools.
"Our goals in recruiting the last two years have been to increase our overall speed and athleticism, to be an explosive football team in the skill positions and improve our size and explosive power and strength up front on both sides of the ball," said TU coach Todd Graham. "We did that with this recruiting class."
Here is the beat from Stillwater.
"We feel like we've addressed some needs," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "We brought in some quality people. We've brought in some guys that can run. I really like what we've done with the secondary."
Lest we not forget straight shootin' Bob Stoops.
"The key is finding good players that fit our program," said the Sooners coach. "Playing here is not easy because the competition is good and a lot of hard work is expected, but the young men that choose to play here have rewarding experiences.
"We're excited about this group because they seem to have a good understanding of what it takes to play at a championship level and they want to carry on the Sooner tradition."
Three coaches and three confident recruiting classes. The real judging will come in two or three years when these players are leading their respective teams or transferring to a junior college due to academic problems.
Until then, I'd rank this process zero stars.
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