Another college football Signing Day is in the books. Apparently, Georgia murdered everyone and there is no reason for any school to even field a program for the next four years. A thought: Recruiting websites have an insane amount of power over college football fans. They create a list rating high school players and grown adults go berserk over the players’ recruitments solely off the rank. Now that’s power. Most of us are complete slaves to recruiting services’ evaluations.
I hereby propose an experiment: all of the trusted recruiting websites should rate the best players three stars and the average prospects five stars. Everyone would be so confused. Would coaches recruit the most talented players even though they are three stars? Hard to believe that Nick Saban and Urban Meyer wouldn’t notice that the three star players are actually the best. However, keep in mind that if Alabama and Ohio State signed only three star recruits, their fans and alumni would go bonkers. Also, would Iowa State and Vanderbilt sign all the five stars and be ranked at the top of the rankings? How would that look? It would be madness.
But I digress. Here’s my signing day recap. It has nothing to do with player rankings, but is simply some unique observations that I think are interesting. Enjoy.
Nobody spins facts and news better than a college football coach. Half of the job consists of keeping boosters and alumni happy while dealing with aggressive media, boosters, and fans that are picking them apart. Coaches are spin experts. They can spin almost any negative into a positive. National Signing Day is a huge day for coach spin, especially for coaches who signed a disappointing class. The afternoon press conference must be brutal. The coach knows the media and fans are slaughtering him, but he still has to stay positive and speak glowingly about his newly signed players. This reminds me of the loser of a Grand Slam Final in tennis. He or she has to stand through the entire awards ceremony after the match, hold up that runner-up plate, and give a loser’s speech while the winner smugly claps knowing that he or she is the champion.
One of the most frequently used Signing Day spins is the “I don’t care about stars” mantra. That’s the line LSU coach Ed Orgeron was singing at his signing day presser in Baton Rouge Wednesday. LSU finished the day with the No. 15 class (according to the 247Sports composite team rankings). That’s LSU’s lowest rated class since 2002. Here’s Coach O:
Coach O: Let’s see what happens w this class. We have some OL/DL that are very cool. I trust my own rankings. I chose this class. I trust my ability to evaluate better than anyone else. #LSU
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) February 7, 2018
Wait, did he say “very cool?” This statement would be fine if he had his choice of every player, evaluated them, then chose whom he thought was best. But LSU missed out on a bunch of top prospects whom it heavily recruited. Those players were evaluated too. He didn’t necessarily “choose” the class. Also, this is exactly the type of statement that you do not hear from a coach that met expectations. Finally, does any LSU supporter actually trust Coach O’s evaluations?
Jim Harbaugh, whose stock at Michigan is at an all-time low, also had to brave a straight face to the press after pulling in a forgettable recruiting class ranked 21st (according to the 247Sports composite team rankings). There’s really no other way to slice it, Michigan got straight-up worked this recruiting cycle. Harbaugh somehow didn’t sign a single player from the Top 100 of 247Sports.com’s overall individual player rankings. Here’s are some of his spin attempts at Wednesday’s Presser: (Presser via mlive.com)
“Those are guys that really want to be at Michigan and appreciate what Michigan has to offer.”
“They can understand it, both as a football powerhouse and an academic powerhouse that provides both of those things.”
“They’re coming here to get a degree, and their parents expect that they will get a very good degree. They’re not going to college to major in eligibility.”
Was Harbaugh even trying here? He sounds completely defeated. Let’s be honest, fans don’t really care about whether the players appreciate Michigan or whether they get a good education. They just want to win. I can’t believe that this is all Harbaugh had in him. At least throw in the cliché example about an NFL Hall of Famer who was a two-star. Give it a shot. Do something, man. This is white flag territory. Have some pride!
Here are a few select quality coach spins from past years:
- “Regardless of stars, I think they’re all pure gold.” Duke coach David Cutcliffe, Signing Day 2016
- Check out former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones’ excitement-to-spin regression:
-(2014) Butch’s tweet on the day that 5-Star Defensive Tackle Kahlil McKenzie committed to Tennessee:
-(2016) Coach Jones’ revised recruiting philosophy:
JONES to @finebaum: "We never look at the star rankings. It's about having a recruiting profile and finding individuals that fit our needs."
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) February 3, 2016
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) February 2, 2017
- Here’s former Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell in 2015, who won a grand total of nine games in four seasons in West Lafayette:
Hazell: I've been trying to tell you guys that recruiting "stars" don't mean anything. We evaluate talent and find the right guys.
— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) February 4, 2015
PARENTS JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND
One of Signing Day’s most interesting moments came from Pensacola (Fla.) Wide Receiver prospect Jacob Copeland’s commitment ceremony. When he announced live on ESPN from his high school that he would be attending Florida, his mom, who was wearing an Alabama sweatshirt and a Tennessee hat, stormed off in disgust.
Jacob Copeland commits to Florida.
Jacob Copeland’s mom, wearing an Alabama shirt and Tennessee hat, gets up and leaves. pic.twitter.com/dQd0tSFC6Y
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) February 7, 2018
First, this woman has Alabama and Tennessee gear on her body at the same time. That should be outlawed in all fifty states, if not every SEC state. Alabama and Tennessee simply hate each other and neither fanbase would approve of this. It’s downright sacrilege. Nevertheless, she set out to make a public statement: She did not want her son to go to Florida. She might as well have worn a shirt that said “Anywhere But Florida.” That being said, this is a rather tame parent disapproval. She even came back and gave Jacob a hug after the ordeal. Seems soft. Copeland’s mom has nothing on some past signing day parents.
Louisiana native April Justin couldn’t catch a break with recruiting. She had two childen commit to two different schools other than her preferred school, LSU, at two separate Under Armour All-American Games. First, in 2012 April’s son Landon Collins, a safety prospect from Geismar, LA, announced his commitment to Alabama on live TV and April, sitting right next to her son, said “LSU Tigers Number 1. Go Tigers” while holding up her finger. Then, in 2014, when another son, Gerald Willis III, a defensive tackle prospect from New Orleans, announced for Florida over LSU, April couldn’t help but say “LSU is still number one.” Andy Staples covers these two commitments in more detail in a recent SI.com post.
At last year’s Under Armour game, the five-year old nephew of California cornerback prospect Darnay Holmes adorably cried when Holmes chose UCLA over Ohio State.
You can't please everyone. pic.twitter.com/gnehHHscqL
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) January 7, 2017
In 2012, Woodrow Clemons tried to use a hostage tactic to thwart his grandson, Josh Harvey-Clemons, a LB prospect from Georgia, from signing with Georgia. After he anounced at his high school that he would sign with the Bulldogs, Woodrow, who preferred that Josh sign with Florida, refused to give his required signature on the National Letter of Intent document, and according to his uncle, “went AWOL.” Woodrow eventually relented, signed the papers, and Josh faxed his NLI to Georgia the next day.
The following year, another parent tried to hold a recruit hostage. Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) South Plantation High School running back Alex Collins didn’t show up at school for the signing day ceremony to sign with Arkansas because his mom refused to sign his NLI document. She wanted Alex to sign with Miami. Her plan didn’t didn’t work as Alex called in his backup, his father, to sign the papers, triggering his mother to hire a lawyer to handle overwhelming media inquiries.
COACH REACTION TIME
Now it’s time to evaluate some green room reactions from coaching staffs after watching a player commit to their school.
- Here’s Urban Meyer with a strong downward fist pump. Great form holding the fist above his head for a good three seconds, before the powerful punch. Very dramatic.
— Buckeye Videos+ (@BuckeyeVideos) February 7, 2018
- This is newly minted Florida coach Dan Mullen with some staff and family nicely clapping saying “YAYEEEE” after watching the aforementioned Jacob Copeland pick the Gators. As a Florida alum and die hard fan, I would like to see some more fire from Coach Mullen here. This feels like the applause from my kids’ Christmas concert.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2018
- When Cornerback prospect Noah Boykin announced he would sign with Notre Dame over Florida, one Notre Dame assistant gave a traditional but effective hard clap with an immediate stand and quick double-arm raise. Brian Kelly comes in right after the announcement, gets an immediate bro hug from the assistant coach. A very controlled jubilance, but professional.
Fred Segal is an attorney from West Palm Beach, FL. He operates the popular Freezing Cold Takes twitter account (@OldTakesExposed) which highlights, among other things, hilarious unprophetic and inaccurate takes and predictions. He also hosts a podcast, “Freezing Cold Take Spotlights With Fred Segal,” which you can find on ITunes