Depending on your perspective, this week is either the biggest week of the offseason ... or the worst week. Or maybe both. It's hard to argue that national signing day isn't important to every college football program; it's the one chance for college football programs to add to their rosters each year. College football doesn't have trades, and except for graduating seniors, the sport doesn't have free agency either.
Each year, teams get one chance to build their rosters for the next season, and signing day is it. If coaches don't get the players they need, coaches will have to wait until next year. Even worse, if coaches evaluate wrong and the players they recruit don't pan out, the effects can linger even longer. Just look at Nebraska's struggles on the defensive line in 2011 and 2012; by the time fans (and so-called recruiting "experts") recognized the problem, it was too late at that point. My biggest takeaway from that period is that by the time outsiders observed the problem, Nebraska's coaching staff had not only identified the problem, but were already working hard to recruit guys like Randy Gregory, Maliek Collins, Avery Moss, and Vincent Valentine.
That, at it's core, is one of the reasons why I hate recruiting coverage. It's not that recruiting isn't important, it's that the evaluations is a 50-50 proposition at best. And that's being awfully generous. CBS' Jon Solomon points out that it's an argument of "recruiting rankings matter ... until they don't...)
In the final 2014 Associated Press poll, eight of the top 14 teams had a four-class recruiting average ranking by Rivals outside of the top 30. TCU, Michigan State, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Arizona State, Wisconsin and Missouri rarely hear accolades on signing day, but they won big in 2014. In fact, two of those teams had a legitimate case for inclusion into the inaugural CFP.
Those are all "Power Five" schools, so let's not try to argue that these schools were there because they were playing weak schedules. Conversely, you've got recruiting juggernauts like Florida and Texas who couldn't figure out how to arrange all of their blue chips last season. Remember last year's NFL Draft, when no Longhorn went drafted? Some pointed out that was a recruiting failure. Well, if it was, it was a failure by the recruiting services, who didn't see it coming either.
But even if you still choose to cast your lot behind the recruiting rankings (because they sometimes get it right), what's the harm in following along? Not much else to do in February with respect to college football, right?
My reason is simple: the obsession some recruitniks have is, at best, creepy, and more importantly, damaging to the sport. Creepy? We are talking about 17 and 18 year old high school seniors here; I don't know how else you'd describe the obsession that some adults have towards them. If they were high school girls, people would have no problem with calling it creepy.
Damaging to the sport? I can just see the eyes roll on that one, but let me explain further. Football is a team sport, but the excessive attention recruits gets has the tendency to go to kids' heads. What do you expect: they are teenagers who getting attention not only from some of the biggest names in college football, but also from thousands of fans. Want to call them drama queens? Some are, but can you blame them. It's hard to keep a straight head when so many people are telling you how awesome you are and how much they want you.
And then there is the media attention, adding more fuel to the rock star phenomenon. Some of them do it honestly, just trying to report the story. (Even if it feeds the beast inadvertently.) Others have no shame in making the beast even bigger...after all, it means more clicks and more revenue.
Make sure to give @BarrySwavey a follow on Twitter. He's the newest #Huskers commit. http://t.co/XHlWxh3Qh8— World-Herald Big Red (@OWHbigred) January 30, 2015
In past years, I found solace in taking a vacation at this time of year. It was easy to ignore it when you were away...but alas, life's circumstances don't permit that anymore. Two years ago, I tried staying off of Twitter, but that seemed like surrendering to the beast. So last year, I tried something different. Rather than kicking myself off of Twitter, I kicked recruiting off of my Twitter.
It's simple. See a tweet that talks about recruiting? Unfollow them. It cleans up the Twitter feed rather nicely. It doesn't have to be permanent; go ahead and keep a list of accounts so you can add them back in a few days after the furor is over.
But wait...isn't CornNation going to have plenty of recruiting coverage? Yes we will. I won't be a part of it, of course. In fact, I won't be paying any attention to it. Brian does a very thorough job of covering recruiting, and for those of you who want to follow recruiting, he'll have everything you need.
So why am I coming out and posting this? Simple. Jon has a philosophy that CornNation will embrace diverse opinions. Some of us were pleased as punch that Mike Riley replaced Bo Pelini; others feel just the opposite. We try to give you both sides of the debate. So while we'll provide you with plenty of recruiting coverage, we'll also tell you that you don't have to pay any attention. We have stories that tell you how important all of this is, and then there is this story that points out the downside.
Maybe you disagree with me; that's fine. But if you agree, won't you consider joining me in and #unfollowRecruiting?