A Message for Recruitniks

Feb 08, 2013 -- 10:58am


Few, if any, group of fans is more ridiculed than college football recruitniks. It is a relatively small group but few fans are more dedicated and obsessed than recruitniks. They spend months searching for and spreading every tidbit imaginable about high school athletes they’ve probably never seen.

Good for them. As someone who’s made a living for more than 50 years writing and talking about fun and games – indeed, what a country! – I’m not one to rip anyone for being a sports fan. I love sports fans in all shapes and sizes and all skin and jersey colors. Whatever you love about sports makes me a happy guy.

What critics of recruitniks don’t understand is that recruiting is a game in itself. Obviously recruiting classes can’t be accurately graded for at least three years – until the recruits have actually performed.

But the game of recruiting is graded on how well a coach does in getting the athletes he targeted and how he fills his team’s needs. It can reflect how hard a staff worked and how effective its sales pitch is. (Of course, it also can be an indication of passionate the school’s fan base is and (wink, wink) how invested the fans are in the program.)

The winners on national signing day can be losers on the field if recruits are overrated/not dedicated workers/injured. Signing day losers often become winners on the field because the 3-star recruits should have been 5-stars or because they improve thanks to good coaching.

Everyone agrees recruiting is the lifeblood of college athletics. Great players make great coaches; great coaches make mediocre players better but not champions.

Perhaps the best things about recruiting for fans is it ills a void between the season and spring practice.

And one final thought about national signing day:

I’ve never heard so much whining. From Georgia Bulldogs to Clemson Tigers; from the Crimson Tide to the Gators; from Seminoles to the Gamecocks . . . it’s whine, whine, whine.

How’d Ole Miss do it? How’d the Rebels get so many hotshot recruits? They must be cheating. Why’d any 5-star recruit go to Ole Miss?

Maybe Ole Miss has joined the club and is cheating. Maybe Coach Hugh Freeze is a great recruiter. Maybe the success of such Ole Miss alumni as Eli Manning and Patrick Willis have convinced top recruits there is a path to NFL stardom and wealth from Oxford, Miss. Maybe it’s all of the beautiful Southern belles who grace the picture book campus?

Whatever, I tip my hat to Ole Miss and I’m happy for the downtrodden Rebel fans – particularly the older fans who remember the glory days of the 50’s and 60’s. Let’s hear a Rebel Yell.

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