6/10 Roundtable - The Hype Around Recruiting

Posted Jun 10, 2009

Has Signing Day crossed the line and become too hyped, or is the hoopla a necessary evil? It's the Wednesday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

June 10

Has Recruiting Crossed A Line?

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
June 10 Is the recruiting hype too much?
June 9 If you were starting an NFL team ...
June 8 Where would you take over as head coach?
June 5 Who does the least with the most?
June 4 Who does the most with the least?
June 3 The star players of September
June 2 The star teams of September
June 1 The coach you'd want for one game
May 28 Should the Big Ten expand, and if so, then what team should be added?
May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? If so, then what two teams should be added?
May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?
May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
May 22 2009's most interesting teams

May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?
May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
May 18 No BCS, No Weis?

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: Has Signing Day crossed the line and become too hyped, or is the hoopla a necessary evil?

Signing Day isn't evil; the hypocrisy of the recruiting process is.

Signing Day is goofy fun and gives fans something to get fired up about in early February. If a kid wants to milk his moment in the spotlight and a bunch of goofy adults want to hang on his every word, fine, but there's always a point during the recruitpalooza that I have to get up from my desk, break something tasteful, and then see if I can find a Tyra rerun after hearing coach after coach chirp about how it's all about the students who chose to join their respective universities for their academic pursuits. No coach cares one ounce of horsespit about how that No. 5 ranked running back did in physics or what he's going to do in his General Studies courses, and the process to get the kids to put on the hat is as corrupt as a senior official in the Karzai regime.

My problem isn't with recruiting and the "cheating" that goes on (and I put the word in quotes only because it's cheating according to the self-serving, hypocritical rules put together by the NCAA), my problem is that Signing Day basically celebrates the programs that were the most, uh, um, persuasive, and it's done under the guise of being noble.

We're all adults here, except for the children who sign on the dotted line to make billions for the schools and the NCAA and don't get fairly compensated, but that's for another day. When you're looking at the rankings of the teams and how they did after recruiting season, you have to view them like you would a list of the 1998 home run leaders or when an NFL player has magical healing powers and comes back from a serious injury to play the week after. It's up to you whether or not you want to turn a blind eye to the process, but don't bury your head in the sand and pretend it's nighttime.

Signing Day isn't about school or academics or the moment when young men decide where to prepare themselves for the future. It's about football players and football only. Period. If you want to look at all the hoopla and all the hype as far as how the college football world will be affected, that's fine. It is a necessary evil because it's focusing on what teams got better and how the landscape of the sport is going to change and look over the following seasons. But that's where it stops.

At least college football recruiting isn't the complete and utter slimefest that college basketball recruiting is (how's that degree from Memphis looking now?), but the process just begs to be abused and it has to be changed. 1) The rules are bizarre and no one really knows what they are; 2) no one really adheres to them; 3) the NCAA doesn't really care if no one follows them, just take a gander at what's going on at Tennessee; and 4) the alternative isn't that bad and it really wouldn't change anything.

I'd like Signing Day far more if it was handled like a free agency signing period. Throw out all the rules. If booster clubs want to pool their money and their cars and their chicks to try to buy the best players, there's not only nothing wrong with that, BUT IT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW ANYWAY. College football is not an amateur sport; it's a multi-billion dollar business and it's time everyone grew up and realized that saying that isn't a negative.

So over the next eight months as all the top high school seniors continued to be fawned over, please try to take it all with a few dozen grains of salt. 

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Has Signing Day crossed the line and become too hyped, or is the hoopla a necessary evil?

I get it, but I don’t quite get it.

Listen, I understand the excitement for fans leading up to signing day. This is your NFL Draft, a chance to celebrate the next generation of Tigers or Sooners or Buckeyes. It’s fun, and if you bleed (fill in the appropriate colors), then you should know who’s about to enter the farm system. However, I do believe that the hysteria surrounding recruiting and signing day has crossed the line of common sense. There’s just way too much attention given to way too many kids, many of whom are not benefiting from the media crush. And since way too many of these athletes won’t live up to all of the attention, I prefer to wait a couple of years before immersing myself in their bios.

Last year’s Bryce Brown saga was sort of the tipping point for me. Limitless upside, I know, but something is out of whack when high school football players have managers and are being followed by paparazzi. Call me an alarmist, but that’s got to be one of the signs of an athletics version of the apocalypse.

Hey, have all the fun you want. Celebrate your school’s recruiting class. Have a signing day party for all I care. Just spare me some of the media attention and the fixation on these young kids. If I never see another 18-year old playing the old school hat shell game on television, I’ll chalk it up as a victory

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Has Signing Day crossed the line and become too hyped, or is the hoopla a necessary evil?

I don't know (and can't claim to know) exactly when or where or how the threshold was crossed. What I can say is that it has been crossed. This is part of the ugly underbelly of big-time college sports. The less publicity attached to Signing Day and the recruiting game, the better for everyone involved... including fans who should just wait until spring ball and, even better, Labor Day weekend.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: Has Signing Day crossed the line and become too hyped, or is the hoopla a necessary evil?

I don’t think any evil is necessary, and yes, I think signing day is overhyped.  It’s really anticlimactic in this day and age.  Most of the hay is in the barn by signing day, so to speak.  There are a few last second decisions and more than a few 11th hour poachings that take place, but other than that, you pretty much know what the recruiting class of your favorite school looks like on signing day. 

Personally, I think far too much is made of what Johnny Recruit is going to do, period.  A few updates during the year is good, but scores of phone calls to these kids by scores of website publishers, network scouts and now the newspaper writers seems silly to me.  A three star prospect that has offers from say five BCS conference schools is likely to get 100 phone calls in a year from various writers and asked mostly mundane questions about 40 times, college lists, favorites, bench press numbers and when he is making a decision.  Recruiting is entertaining, but it has become a cottage industry that is a little bit out of control

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: Has Signing Day crossed the line and become too hyped, or is the hoopla a necessary evil?

A: It has gone too far.  These are 18 year old kids who haven’t done a thing in college yet, and they’re being hailed on ESPN as gods.  Anytime a kid who plays a team sport seems so determined to bathe in the spotlight as an individual you’re going to have a problem.

Look at Ryan Perriloux:  all-world recruit makes a big deal of his signing with LSU after he had already snubbed Texas, who really came out ahead on that deal.  But then he gets to school and the first thing he does is point his bat to the stands and proclaim that he’s going to bring home a Heisman.  Sorry, Ryan, they don’t give the Heisman to Jacksonville State quarterbacks.  But that’s what the new atmosphere of signing day is breeding.  We’re getting athletes who are becoming prima donnas at an accelerated stage.  Perriloux was so full of himself by the time he got to LSU that he was bound to break the rules that he obviously didn’t feel applied to him.

Of course, it’s not all the fault of the athletes.  These kids are coming from playing in front of 2,000 fans in Podunk, Kentucky and all of the sudden their name is a top search on Google.  With the “advances” from sites like YouTube, these kids are laptop-screen stars before they’ve ever donned a uniform that wasn’t sewn by a teammate’s mom. So as long as “recruiting bashes” are big-time social events on college campuses (though they are fun) that bring in more money than most basketball games, this is just something we’re all going to have to deal with.