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Like Christmas

Andrew Owens | Thursday, February 4, 2010

 For many college football fans, National Signing Day is like Christmas. However, instead of young children jumping out of bed in the morning to find out what Santa Claus brought them, on Signing Day throngs of middle aged men run to their computer to hit the refresh button all day while anxiously awaiting this year’s recruiting haul.

There is a fine line between a healthy interest in who will be playing for your school the next four years and a creepy obsession with 18-year-old kids making a choice that will affect them the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, it seems as if that line is crossed more often every year.
An example of this trend involves high school senior Chris Martin. The five star defensive lineman out of Aurora, Colo., originally committed to Notre Dame while Charlie Weis was still at the helm. Martin, like many other prospects, wanted to keep his options open and opted to visit other schools while still holding a verbal pledge to Notre Dame. During this process, alumni from several schools took it upon themselves to “friend” or send a message to Martin on Facebook to plead their case as to why he should attend their favorite school. Martin had to delete many messages, as he sometimes received hundreds in a given day. He eventually committed to California last month, ending a hectic year-long process in deciding which school to attend.
While these “fans” believe they are helping their school land elite prospects by stalking them, such interference can only affect that school negatively. It is an NCAA violation for fans to contact a recruit. And even if it was not a violation, a recruit would never say, “Wow! 500 Notre Dame fans sent me a message on Facebook today. That must be the place for me.” If anything, the recruit may be annoyed by that fanbase and become less likely to enroll there.
This is not to diminish the importance of recruiting. There is a reason (among several others) why certain schools find themselves at the top of the polls at the end of virtually every season: recruiting. Each of the last five national title winners have had multiple top-five recruiting classes in the four years leading up to their championship. In order to compete at a high level in college football this day in age, you must be able to recruit the top athletes.
So for anyone thinking of adding a football recruit as a Facebook friend, ask yourself a simple question first: “Does this person know who I am?” If not, then chances are you are more of a stalker than you are a fan.