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Recruiting Hype: Necessary, Evil, or Necessary Evil?

With National Signing Day next week, many college football fans can hardly wait to see who signs and how their team will rate in comparison with other programs. Other fans, such as myself, just roll their eyes and cringe. One thing is for sure is that recruiting coverage is huge...and profitable for sites such as Rivals and Scout, who very existence depends on fans paying for coverage of recruiting.

As the hype has increased in recent years, recruiting starts earlier and earlier each season. Commitments used to be handed through phone calls; now they take place in press conferences and in scripted hat productions that even end up televised. Earlier this month, the NCAA declared that 7th grade basketball players should be considered prospects since the recruiting process is starting to begin by that point. Think about that one: Children who are closer to their kindergarten graduation than their high school graduation are considered college prospects.

Is this for the best of college athletics? Depends on your perspective. Some people believe strongly in the recruiting process. Talent is important, and if you can get a jump on your competition, you give yourself a decided edge. As the adage says, you can't race a Clydesdale against a Thourghbred.

Others enjoy the competitive aspects of recruiting, especially during the off-season when there are no games to review.

But in this day when recruiting starts earlier and earlier, sometimes scholarships are given prematurely. Take the case of Shawn Bodtmann, a linebacker from Scranton, PA who committed early on to Nebraska. He suffered an injury in his senior season, and Nebraska is now pulling his scholarship offer. His high school coach and family are incensed that Nebraska backed out on him, as Bodtmann stopped considering other offers once he made the decision to attend Nebraska. Now, he's scrambling to find another way to college with few takers.

In this situation, it's obvious that Nebraska offered Bodtmann prematurely. But would a later start to recruiting help Bodtmann? Likely not, because everybody would probably be just as gunshy as they would be now. (But since there wouldn't have been an offer to rescind, there wouldn't be the hurt feelings that currently exist.) Would an early signing period have helped Bodtmann? Perhaps, but then Nebraska would have used a scholarship on a guy they've changed their mind on.

Recruiting is a complex beast. What are your thoughts about recruiting and the publicity it receives? Is it good for college athletics, good for your team, harmless fun, or is it something that's out of control?