National Flip-Flopping Day

National Signing Day has become a farce, full of forgeries and flip-flopping 17 year olds. It may be big business, but in the end it means very little.

This past Wednesday was National Letter of Intent day for college football. It has become a near national holiday to some and a huge money making business for others. Back in the 90s when I did sports talk radio, the industry consisted of newsletter subscriptions. Recruiting gurus such as Max Emfinger and Max Howell went on radio shows to show off their pseudo-knowledge and sell subscriptions to these newsletters. Then came the internet, where Rivals.com and Scout.com have nearly cornered the market (with ESPN desperately trying to catch up) on feeding big time college football fans the news they want to hear about the recruits they hope will attend their schools.

I’ve never quite understood why grown men (and I guess women) get so emotionally attached to the process of courting 17 & 18 year old kids to possibly play football for their respective Universities. Part of that emotional attachment is the bitterness and anger exhibited when a 17 or 18 year old does what EVERY teenager does: change their mind… sometimes over and over again.

The recruiting process has always had its ugly side. I remember as far back as the early 1980s a particularly hard fought battle for a Parade All American in Louisiana. The player selected Tulane over in state rival LSU. On the day after signing day, all the LSU fans were spreading rumors that the player’s mom was threatened with termination from her job by her employer (allegedly a Tulane alum). Funny how there was never an NCAA investigation into those allegations.

A former boss of mine played football at Indiana and he often enjoyed relating some of the stories of his recruitment. When he met with Bo Schembechler at Michigan, the only thing Bo said to him in person was: “So, are you coming?” Quite a sales pitch. His eventual coach at Indiana, ESPN’s Lee Corso, met with him at a small restaurant in his home town. Coach Corso said to him: “Son, I’d love to buy you a coke, but NCAA rules prohibit me from doing so. But, if you look down on the floor, it appears someone dropped a dollar bill you can buy yourself a coke with.” Ah… the simpler days of college football recruiting.

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Article by John McKenzie

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