Yep, it's time once again for that annual train wreck: national signing day when recruiting 'experts' pontificate about the wonders of potential college football superstars, and how this date can make or break a football program. The only problem is that it's mostly bullshit. (Pardon the language.)
Don't get me wrong; recruiting is important. But recruiting analysis puts the anal back in analysis. Remember five years ago and all the hype about Bill Callahan's class? If not for Ndamukong Suh, you'd have to place that class as a huge dud. It never lived up to the hype, and frankly, never stood a chance.
Some will simply dismiss my criticism as mere sour grapes and point out how recruiting has turned teams like Southern Cal and Texas into elite teams in college football. They have a point; Texas and USC have become factories for producing top college players and they're among the elite teams in college football. Slight problem with that analysis is that USC and Texas have always been amongst the elite teams in terms of recruiting; it wasn't recruiting that made USC and Texas great, it was the coaching staffs that finally took those perennial highly rated classes into highly regarded football teams. (I'd throw Florida into that mix as well; don't forget how Florida suffered under Ron Zook on the field...)
But what's the harm of this week's excess of recruiting coverage? Plenty. It fosters a sense of entitlement and creates an ego in high school kids who simply can't be prepared to deal with the circus that recruiting brings them. In some cases, they simply can't live up to the hype, and bounce around, such as Harrison Beck, who finally found success in Division II football after failing at Nebraska and North Carolina State. At it's worst case, it could lead a player down the path to depression or worse when they fail to meet the expectations laid out for them, such as what happened to Marlon Lucky in the spring of 2007.
So will Owamagbe Odighizu or Corey Cooper sign with Nebraska this week? Don't know, and to a small extent, don't care. Maybe they are legitimate players; it seems the coaching staffs feel they are. But I have no way of knowing, and frankly, it's not my decision. They need to make the best choice for them and their goals in life, whether that's playing football at Nebraska or elsewhere. I especially worry that fans are expecting Owa to be Suh 2.0, if only because they share hometowns and names that Harry Caray could never get right.
So it's time to sign off for another recruiting sabbatical, shutting off the noise of the worst week of the year in college football. If you are looking for something productive to do this week in lieu of wasting time on recruiting, try to grab some of the remaining tickets for the UNO/Ohio State hockey game this Friday night. Less than 2500 tickets remain; they might yet pull this off. Even if they don't, getting 13,000 or 14,000 into the Qwest Center should make for an entertaining night of hockey. Certainly a lot more enjoyable than watching press conferences, or even worse, eating rubber chicken at a recruiting banquet.