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Much ado about nothing.
That’s the way the hype around national signing day was described more than once this week in blogs, newspapers and over the airways. As the event as expanded into the biggest thing this side of a September Saturday for college football fans, more and more pundits have expressed their disintrest — and then nearly thrown out a hip while patting themselves on the back for their highly sophisticated stance.
Maybe signing day doesn’t mean that much, and it’s certainly blown out of proportion from time to time.
A five-star prospect isn’t guaranteed success any more surely than a first-round NFL draft pick, and the list of sure-things that never fullfilled expectations grows each year. Beyond even that, there are plenty of factors other than raw talent needed to field a winning football team.
If a well-regarded recruiting class was all that mattered, Florida State would still be playing for national titles and Phil Fulmer would still have a job.
Coaching counts. Chemistry counts. Jersey color, not so much.
But even with all the other pieces in place, if you don’t have the talent, you’re going to have a tough time winning many games. The numbers bear it out.
According to a recent study conducted by The Associated Press, of college football’s top seven teams from 2006-2008, six of those also had top-10 recruiting classes from 2004-2006.
That’s good news for Georgia fans, as the Bulldogs landed in the top 10 again this year. They’re the only team in the country to end up on Rivals.com’s top 10 list every year since the recruiting Web site began ranking teams in 2002. No wonder Georgia has finished outside of the AP top 15 only once in the last seven years.
So recruiting matters, even in the strictest football sense. It is one of several factors that leads to success or failure in the college game. That much should be clear.
But the surrounding business — one of the few that’s still booming — is purely for the fans.
College football followers, especially in this part of the country, are rivaled only by European soccer hooligans when it comes to passion that teeters on psychosis. Twelve games per year just doesn’t cut it. The beast must be fed.
That’s where recruiting comes in.
The hardcore fan can tell you not only who their team plays two years from now, but they can rattle off something that approximates the 2010 two-deep roster.
So if Georgia landing Marlon Brown on Wednesday prompted you to call a buddy and daydream about autumns to come, don’t feel bad about it. It’s fun. That’s the whole point of being a fan.
Just don’t take it too far.
If you’re losing sleep because Little Johnny GoldenArm turned you down, it might be time to find a new hobby.
Fans aren’t the only ones who can get carried away.
Increasingly, teenagers swept up in their newfound celebrity status have pumped up the theatrics with elaborate signing ceremonies replete with hats, live television feeds and other "look at me, look at me" shennanigans.
That’s too bad.
Because what signing day should be, beyond the message boards and mania, is the celebration of an athlete: a high school kid that has sweat away summers and sacrificed weekends, all in the name of a free college education and a dream of continuing their athletic career.
And when it’s realized, that much, no matter how you feel about the rest of it, deserves a little ado.