Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sign on the dotted line...

Most of the people who read this blog are aware that I am a huge College Football fan. Of all the types of sports I watch, I follow College Football more fervently than any other. So it only makes sense that I'm also a fan/follower of College Football recruiting. I know, I know. It's a seedy industry essentially based on tracking the movements, moods and emotions of kids in high school. I'm aware of this, and even slightly embarrassed with my preoccupation with recruiting, but there's very little chance I'm going to apologize for it. Much less quit keeping up with it. Now, I'm not obsessed with it. I follow the top prospects on Florida's list and keep up with the other SEC programs (as well as a few of the other elite programs throughout America). I don't, however, friend these kids on Facebook like many people do (Full disclosure: My only "famous" athlete friends on Facebook are Adonal Foyle and Carlos Dunlap. Contact Adonal, he'll friend you too and you'll get a chuckle out of his profile picture), I don't post "Gator bait!" or any other crap all over the message boards when a kid de-commits from Florida like so many of my message board brethren (I'm a message board reader, not a poster) and I don't hate kids that commit to Tennessee or Florida State...well, most of them. I follow recruiting because it is the lifeblood of a good college football program and I because I am fairly well consumed with Florida Football. I also enjoy following recruiting because, as Jerry once pointed out, there are a number of off the charts ridiculous names each year...I'm looking at you Lache Seastrunk. This is still this my personal favorite.

Look at any top program, and you will find two things: 1. They have a top flight coaching staff in place. 2. They recruit very well. It's that simple. You might be able to have a year or two of success with only one of these factors. You cannot, however, have sustained success with one of these two elements missing. Ron Zook's tenure at Florida is a decent example of this. Zook was only moderately successful at Florida, and some would even say disappointing. But make no mistake about it, Ron Zook can recruit his ass off. In fact, most of the contributors to Florida's 2006 National Championship team were recruited by Zook. Yet, up until 2006 many of those players (and by extension their recruiting classes) were considered underachievers. Urban Meyer and his staff's ability to mold and teach those players was what pushed them to a championship.

From that point on, Meyer has proven himself to be both a talented head coach and a tireless recruiter...and, not coincidentally, Florida's football program has become one of the nation's finest. This development at Florida is not an isolated incident. If a program has both good coaching and is consistently signing top 10 recruiting class, they will be very successful for long stretches of time. This is how it works in college football and this is not up for debate.

With that said, recruiting is an inexact science. Coaching staffs must be able to evaluate talent on their own (there are 3 major recruiting services and their ratings of recruits often vary wildly...for example), recruit balanced classes that fill needs and finally, find the right spots for their recruits once they arrive on campus. In nearly every highly rated class you will find a 5 star recruit who never develops into a star (or even a starter). Quite often, in that same class is an under recruited 2-3 star player who emerges as a star. This year's National Champion Alabama was led by a tenacious defense full of highly rated recruits. Amongst this collection of prep All-Americans was All-American corner Javier Arenas, a guy who's best offer out of high school was from Florida International. That is until Mike Shula (Rob just threw up in his mouth a little) came calling with a scholarship offer just a couple days before National Signing Day.

That's part of what makes recruiting great. You can evaluate the classes and watch film of prospects but you still never truly know about a player until they arrive on campus. Brock Berlin came to Florida as the nation's #1 high school player as well Steve Spurrier's wet dream. He left Florida without ever starting a game(actually, not true, he started his last game in the Orange Bowl against Maryland. Because Grossman got hammered and missed curfew. Ha!) after losing the starting QB job to a guy (Rex Grossman) who wasn't even recruited by Florida until he showed up in Gainesville with his game tape and asked to meet with the Head Ball Coach.

Recruiting is fun. Not only is it fun, it's important. Now that I think about it, I've come to realize how I came to follow recruiting so closely. It was Zook. It was SOOOOOO fucking clear he had no idea what he was doing during his first year at Florida that my only hope was the momentum Florida was gaining on the recruiting trail (when Zook was recruiting many of the players who would become the seniors on the 2006 National Champion team). I dove in to recruiting and started following Florida's class and going to message boards and started reading some of the articles by the recruiting gurus. When Florida signed guys a top 5 class that year, I was hooked. I've followed recruiting closely ever since. Motherfucking Zook gets me again.

So anyway. No, I won't be taking tomorrow off to watch 10 hours worth of ESPNU whilst surfing three message boards at a time, but I will be receiving texts every time one of Florida's commits faxes in their Letter of Intent. And you know what, I won't feel bad about it. If you're a College Football fan (especially one with a specific allegiance) you should care without feeling bad about it too. You know why? Florida has the number one class in the country this year. Do you know the last time Florida had the #1 class in the country?

2006. The class included some guys by the names of Tebow, Harvin, Spikes, Cunningham, James, Cooper and many, many others. Last I checked, those guys did pretty well for themselves in college. It doesn't always work out that way of course. Some classes don't pan out. Some guys get kicked out of school. Others transfer. Some just aren't as good as they're billed to be. But sometimes you watch a group of kids come in and play together for four years and make history together and change their program together. And it's a pretty gratifying feeling. Even if you didn't do anything, you feel a part of it. That feeling...it starts on National Signing Day.

34 comments:

Jerry said...

http://cfn.scout.com/2/940370.html

Review of the 5-star recruits from 2006. Moderately interesting for people who follow this stuff.

Although I mock people who follow recruiting, I admit it is really important. Signing day, however, is not really important because there are only a handful of uncommitted players at this point.

Mark said...

Nice link. You'll enjoy the 2005 busts link too, I think. I'd say there's more than a handful of uncommited kids. More like a handful of uncommited kids on each teams board. Florida had 25 commits going into today and expects another 3-4 before the day is over.

Jerry said...

It just depends on how big your hands are. All I'm saying is that there's a natural push by the media and some fans to try to distill the recruiting season into one day (today) and it obviously doesn't work like that. It would be cool if NSD were "the draft" of college football, but it's really like 15% of the draft of college football.

Mostly I feel like the kids who are the biggest attention hogs are the most likely to hold their announcements until NSD and those are the kids who make me feel stupid for having a moderate interest in recruiting.

Jerry said...

On the flip-side, I think everyone should catch the NSD fever -- before leaving for work, lay 3 pairs of dress pants on the bed, feint towards one and choose another.

At a meeting lay 3 different color pens in front of you....

Bigamists can lay their wives in front of them...

Mark said...

Can't say I disagree with you on the attention hogs, Jerry. Plenty of kids like to milk their "moment" during the all-star games as well. As a rule though, I don't count a kid in a class until his LOI is in. I've seen too many last minute decommits (FSU seemed to have a couple kids do this in their favor every year during their heyday) over the years.

zoltan said...

ESPN should come up with some sort of parallel content for National Merit semifinalists and Westinghouse Scholars. Imagine the drama when Poindexter F. Wisenheimer takes off his MIT cap to reveal a CalTech beanie underneath. Just as exciting as watching any other 18 year old kid announce where he's going to go to college.

Marlin said...

I have to agree with TR on this one. For some reason, I can't get that excited about hearing which unproven 18 year old faxed a piece a paper to which school. However, for those who can, here is a link to a live web cam of the fax machine in the Alabama athletic department.

http://bourbonboys.com/2010/02/03/national-signing-day/

Dan said...

great stuff...love the "bourbonboys" website.
i'm with mark...as a die hard domer fan with a half a dozen or so guys out there today that they need, am spending much too much time paying attention. it was this day last year when they signed manti te'o, the #1 guy by many accounts who was supposed to go to usc or stanford...that made my f'ing day, even though i knew they were going to suck, yet again, under the leadership of pear bryant. and manti has already proved to be a gamer early on...

Dave said...

"the blind side" (the book, not the movie) had some interesting stuff on how this industry began.

i wish someone would recruit me for something . . .

Marlin said...

Per the Alabama athletics website, the number for the fax machine is 205-348-3606. Anybody want to send Rob's letter of intent to coach Sabes?

TR said...

One thing that makes the recruiting process more interesting these days is that players seem to be coming out of high school ready to contribute right away for big programs. Besides the mega-stud prospects, it seems like redshirting is becoming more of a non-issue. I'd love to know the % of 1st and 2nd round NFL picks that redshirted in recent years. It seems as if that % is going down steadily.

TR said...

After swearing I'd never do it again, I went in for the burrito/guac/nacho lunch at Chipotle and hoovered it down like I was competitively eating against myself.

Now excuse me while I feel like ass for the next 3 hours.

zoltan said...

Gotta try The Pump instead.

Marlin said...

TR,
The IFOCE is sponsoring the San Gennaro Cannoli eating contest again this year. Any chance we can get you to come out of retirement and reprise your 2002 appearance?

http://www.sangennaro.org/event.htm

TR said...

While I did not even eat half as many as the winner. I did use my 6 minute time to eat 9 cannoli. Unfortunately, Ed "Crazy Legs" Conti just stared at me when I yelled "clicks, bitch!"

The worst part about the contest was that I didn't force myself to vomit. I just went to drink beers with 9 giant, fatty cannoli in my gut. Gross. Delicious but gross.

I am, however, starting a competitive eating venture which borrows some of the sensibility from the old battle rap wars of the 1980's. More details to follow this Spring. Not a joke.

TR said...

And happy 35th to Senor Marls. You are now closer to 50 than you are to 18. Good times.

Marlin said...

Being halfway to 70 is awesome.

I am interested in your eating event as long as it does not involve Ms. Paci's beans.

I also think that this would make an intersting event for the G:TB olympics...

http://www.beermile.com/faq.beer

Dan said...

just checked out the beermile site - was curious about some of the times. some very impressive results out there - several in the 5 1/2 min range which is nuts.

TR said...

That last quarter mile, with 48 ozs. of beer in the belly, sounds miserable. That said, I want to try.

zoltan said...

Does your competition involve dissing borough in which your competitor lives with a mouth full of food? If so I'm in. I'll take any excuse to steal from "The Bridge is Over."

Mark said...

BADABYBY!!!

Marlin said...

I think that we should schedule the 1st annual G:TB and FOG:TB beer mile for early spring.

If you YouTube "beer mile" you get some great results.

TR said...

We could do a beer mile fund-raiser. Get people to pledge an amount for every second under 12 minutes that we come in at.

Or we could just meet up and eat beers.

Mark said...

A G:TB fundraiser? Hell yeah.

zoltan said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Now I have to run a 12-minute mile? Will there be Parliaments at the end of this run?

Michael said...

I run a very competitive 15 minute mile when in top shape.

Marls said...

Z-Man - YouTube "Beer Mile" & "Sabotage". I think you will see that Parliaments are encouraged.

This is an event that screams NJ. TR, can you scout out a location were we won't get arrested?

zoltan said...

I think the Jericho Turnpike could get the job done.

cgormley said...

Or you could model the event after the Big Man run in MA. Where in addition to drinking a beer every mile you also have to eat a hot dog.

http://www.baevents.com/bigmanrun/

Wanted to do this race for a while.

zoltan said...

Woostuh!

zoltan said...

I realize no one likes unsolicited advice, but as the only car guy here (that I know of), I think you should go get your recalled Toyota fixed by a dealer and trade it in for a Subaru, Nissan, or Honda. I don't like what I hear about their alleged problem (bad small piece of hardware) and what the real problem may be (bad software or bad large piece of systemic hardware). Just my $0.02.

rob said...

tribe down 10 with 7 left in the first half. odu's defense is suffocating them.

rob said...

yeah, so this is an ass-kicking. not the good kind.

rob said...

and mason lost at georgia state. who the tribe plays on saturday. feh.