National Signing Day 2014: The vocal minority

Or: How I learned to like National Signing Day, despite my better judgments.

Tomorrow is Christmas for a large chunk of the college football-loving world.  Because tomorrow, a bunch of people you've only heard of by way of sites like Rivals, Scout and, of course, the wonderful Internet real estate occupied by we at Land-Grant Holy Land.  It is a day when eyes are trained on ESPN, CBSSN, NBCSN, and other acronyms, and fingers are pounding the F5 key like it's the "Max Bet" button on a free, loose slot machine.

Tomorrow is National Signing Day, a day when the Internet and TV buzzes with the decisions of a bunch of kids, while twitter chirps incessantly about letters delivered electronically to SID's offices throughout the country.  It is the one day of the year where fax machines are still relevant, and it is the day where all the fine work of prognosticators, graders, followers and honest-to-God journalists finally get to stop wondering and start reporting.

And I hate it.

Hate is a strong word, actually.  I guess my problem is that I don't see the point of it.  I love Ohio State Football, and the fact that, with the Super Bowl ending sometime in the middle of the second quarter on Sunday night, none of us have any football to watch for months and months and horrible months.  Well, not any football, I suppose, but it reduces all of us to a trembling, huddled mass, just trying to get a pigskin fix in the middle of a cold, awful winter.  So, from that perspective, something - anything! - even remotely football-related is worth the risk of losing our molars for that sweet, sweet meth that is our favorite sport.  "Jesse," Walter White opines.  "We can cook in February!"

But I just don't get it, I guess.  I don't get how it is 2014, and we're still dependent upon fax machines as the only means of transmitting the signed letters of intent.  Can these guys not attach a PDF to an email?  Can the Athletic Departments not open said attachments?  It is a stupid concern, I'll grant you, but one my Verge-reading, tech-savvy brain can't get over.

Minor quibbles with dead technology aside, there is also the question of what, exactly, national signing day predicts.  Let's hop in the way back machine, and look at the last five years of recruiting (Rivals.com ratings), versus the final AP standings two years down the road, when those recruits likely took meaningful positions the field.

2011 (2013 final record and AP Ranking)

  • Alabama (11-2, #7)
  • Florida State (14-0, #1)
  • Texas (8-5, unranked)
  • Southern Cal (10-4, #19)
  • Georgia (8-5, unranked)

2010 (2012 final record and AP Ranking)

  • Southern Cal (7-6, unranked)
  • Florida (11-2, #9)
  • Texas (9-4, #19)
  • Auburn (3-9, really, really unranked)
  • Alabama (13-1, #1)

2009 (2011 final record and AP Ranking)

  • Alabama (12-1, #1)
  • LSU (13-1, #2)
  • Ohio State (6-7, #TireFire)
  • Southern Cal (10-2, #6)
  • Texas (8-5, unranked)

2008 (2010 final record and AP Ranking)

  • Alabama (10-3, #10)
  • Notre Dame (8-5, unranked)
  • Florida (8-5, unranked)
  • Ohio State (12-1, #5)
  • University of Miami (7-6, unranked)

2007 (2009 final record and AP Ranking)

  • Florida (13-1, #3)
  • Southern Cal (9-4, #22)
  • Tennessee (7-6, unranked)
  • LSU (9-4, #17)
  • Texas (13-1, #2)

Only once in the last seven years has the "Recruiting National Champion" ended up as the actual national champion.  So it isn't really a very accurate metric for extrapolating future success (see, especially: 2009/2011 Ohio State, 2010/2012 Auburn), and, thus, is kind of hard for someone who has never really been into it to get into it.  In all likelihood, Alabama and Ohio State, who are #1 and #2 on Rivals' board right now, probably won't win a national championship in 2016, if recent trends continue.  And that is sad for 'Bama fans and Buckeye fans alike.

Yet we watch, often with baited breath, to see where these kids are going to end up, even though, for the most part, we already know thanks to the prevalence of verbal commitments, hat ceremonies and high school all-star games.  Which isn't to say that the coverage isn't spectacular in its own right.  You won't be able to swing a dead cat (note: who would do this?) in Sports Twitter or Sports Internet tomorrow without finding some damn good work being done on the topic of recruiting and other Signing Day festivities.

And you should care about it, even if you have never given a good God damn about it until right this second.  If for no other reason, it's football.  Because the only other football-y thing we have going for us right now is the previously mentioned former Kentucky Wildcat who looks like a lineman but is "playing quarterback".  And there are also all kinds of fun things about tomorrow that you really won't see at any other time during the year.  Players pick schools with assists from babies.  They pick schools much to the chagrin of their parents.  And sometimes, when you're not even looking, they pick schools, take the last available scholarship, and go on to win the Heisman Trophy.
For you, tomorrow may not be the Christmas Day it is for many others.  But it is a fun, information-heavy spectacle of a day that only comes around once per year.  It isn't a live game, it isn't even a practice.  But it's the last football we get for a long time.  If for no other reason, at least like it for that.

And if that isn't enough, let's all go get season tickets for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters.

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