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Football Recruiting Commentary: National Signing Day not worth the hoopla

Douglas Farmer | Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I can match anyone in an argument about the worth of nearly any sporting occasion. I have a lot of practice, as my brother denounces sports as a whole at least twice every holiday.

But National Signing Day is one event that I cannot defend, nor do I feel it warrants an ounce of anyone’s attention.

I realize that landing recruits like top-rated offensive linemen Seantrel Henderson and Matt James could make or break a football program in the years to come, but in all of reality, no expert or analyst or college columnist has any idea if they will make or break or have no effect whatsoever.

In all of reality, the biggest thing we will learn for certain from today’s results is how well Brian Kelly and his assistant coaches are able to impress high schoolers and their parents on short notice. Will they need to impress on short notice again while at Notre Dame? I don’t see how that’d be possible, so even that little piece of knowledge we’ll gain today will be arcane.

A year from now, Kelly will pull in a recruiting class, hopefully a good one, and that class will show what he can do throughout a normal recruiting cycle. That will be of importance.

As will Kelly’s success with the players on a day-to-day basis 11 months a year. It will be then that a National Championship-contending team will either be made, or broken.
In the meantime, we dissect each recruit, his short list of schools and the weather on his most recent recruiting visits.

Personally, my favorite part of today will be the shenanigans. In front of national television audiences, recruits will sit down at a table with two or three hats in front of them. Take James for example: it is widely believed his top two schools are Notre Dame and Ohio State. A hat from each school will be on the table, and James will reach for the one bearing a red ‘O’ only to pull back at the last second and grab the hat sporting a pugilist leprechaun. At least I hope the hat he dons is for the blue-and-gold. His well-executed fake-out will momentarily break the hearts of Irish fans, and then punch Buckeyes fans in the stomach.

Not that such a little dupe is how ridiculous this day can get.

Two years ago Kevin Hart, a Nevada high schooler, chose to accept a scholarship offer from Cal rather than Oregon in front of his entire high school and local television coverage. Unfortunately for Hart, neither Car nor Oregon had recruited him, let alone offered him a scholarship.

Hart was only able to convince his entire hometown of such because of the ungodly media event that National Signing Day has become.

So sports fans, please, realize that today is not a big enough deal to watch live. Realize that today is not actually going to determine how many titles your team will win over the next four years. And realize the stars of the day are only 18 years old. Each and every one of them will change physically and emotionally before starting a college football game.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll get online tomorrow evening and check the final listing of Notre Dame signings, and either get excited or nervous for the future. I’m dreaming I read of both Henderson and James.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Douglas Farmer at dfarmer1@nd.edu