Thoughts On Signing Day

We have a very difficult time getting excited about National Signing Day.

It's not that we think that recruiting, or even the associated rankings are totally worthless. We even enjoy, on occasion, the tasteless gloating that accompanies the release of said rankings.

Look, we know recruiting is the cornerstone of a program. Player aptitude is obviously the most important factor in a team's success, and it behooves a coach to devote as many resources to the selection and wooing process as possible. However, the kids are kids -- they're neither physically nor emotionally mature at 18, and there's no telling what the weight room or the classroom will do to them. We're just not that interesting in watching grainy videos and poring over 40-yard dash times for skinny kids that may or may not ever see the field.

Remember that these rankings are all based on subjective impressions (and, of course, near-meaningless stats like height/weight/40). The greater national focus on recruiting (by media and fans) means that rankings should be more and more accurate each year, but they're still, at best, rough approximations. If your team's within 15 spots of where you think they should be, they're probably okay.

Anyway, we generally spend ten minutes or less on the whole deal. Here's what we look at:

1. Does a teams recruiting ranking roughly correlate (within 10 or 15 spots) with its level of success over the previous two or three years?
This isn't complicated -- if you can't leverage success on the field into new, quality players, you're not going to continue to be successful. Rivals has a respectable showing from this year's Cinderellas -- Missouri and Kansas -- but Louisville is at #55, West Virginia at #44, and ... Tennessee at #35?! Oh, this should be delicious.

On the flip side, if you a coach can pull a good class while losing (in SEC parlance, that's called "Zooking"), it gives your program a glimmer of hope. Miami, 'Bama, and Colorado seem to have drawn good crops.

2. Do teams that are national powers and are in good locations rank in the top 15?
If you're a major state university from (or bordering) California, Florida, Texas, or Louisiana, you can fall off a log and be in the top 15. There are two reasons for this: 1) The volume of quality athletes in those states is greater and 2) When a national power recruits a kid, his star rating usually rises (this isn't totally nonsensical, given the limited information available to recruiting services, but still explains a lot). With those built-in advantages, it makes sense that Rivals has FSU at #8 and Miami at #4. Texas at #14 has to raise a few eyebrows, though.

3. Where did the big few go?
Where will Terrell Pryor sign? Julio Jones to 'Bama? Eww. Even the high-end guys aren't sure things -- remember FSU's score of the top two QBs in the nation a few years back? You may have forgotten their names -- Joe Mauer catches baseballs for the Twins now, and Adrian McPherson was playing in Canada last we heard. That said, top-flight recruits are a safer bet than the rest, and we find reading about them to be a nice way to balance our love of college football with our sanity. We are very excited about Georgia's acquisition of tall, speedy WR A.J. Green, for example.

Anyway, none of these viewpoints are new or groundbreaking, but we felt the need to explain why our coverage of recruiting has been minimal.

Now excuse us while we dig through some minor league baseball stats.

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