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College Football’s National Flip-Flopping Day

National Signing Day is Sports TV’s newest can’t miss reality show

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Written by Guest Writer: John McKenzie

National Letter of Intent day for college football 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.

jadeveon clowney #1 college football recruitSo, here are a few random thoughts burning through my mind to finish off this silly season of football recruiting:

First off there are the top ranked players who think they need to milk the spotlight for as long as they can (thanks for starting this annoying trend, Terrelle Pryor). This year, it’s Jadeveon Clowney (pictured). Clowney is a freak of nature out of South Point High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina . He’s been compared to the original “freak” Javon Kearse, and countless other wrecking ball defensive ends. But Jadeveon just couldn’t make his college decision on the day EVERY other high school kid signed on the dotted line. Nope. Jadeveon Clowney has to make his college choice on February 14th (ed note: Clowney chose South Carolina), so he’ll be the only player getting press that day.

Poor Jadeveon. He whines one day that he’s sick of getting calls from Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier , yet he prolongs his recruitment an additional 12 days. Just a little note Jadeveon: the “quiet” time when coaches COULDN’T call you, ended on February 2nd. Hope you enjoyed the excess chaos you thrust upon yourself.

Even with Clowney’s self centered delay in making his decision, it’s nothing compared to last year’s #1 precious snowflake, Seantrel Henderson. No, Seantrel had to set the benchmark for high school recruiting frustration by holding off on his VERBAL decision to commit to USC until February 19th. Then, he didn’t actually sign the letter of intent until late March. All of this of course meant nothing as Seantrel decided he really wanted to be at Miami (FL).  USC was actually quite nice about it, releasing Seantrel so he could play for the Hurricanes . He ended up starting 9 games as a true freshman.

But back to 2011… here are a few other snippets from this year’s recruiting mess:

The mother of a recruit, Floyd Raven (pictured), forged his signature and submitted it for him to Ole Missfloyd raven mom forged letter of intent to ole miss. Unfortunately for Ole Miss, Floyd had already signed with Texas A&M. Floyd claims his mom was “just trying to help”. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt claims Floyd’s mom really wanted him to go to Ole Miss, but he was very understanding about the mix up. Coach Nutt was very understanding about that Floyd Raven fiasco because he gained linebacker C.J. Johnson’s commitment away from Mississippi State because he was upset by comments made on his Facebook page . Johnson subsequently quit Facebook over the comments MSU fans were making about his mom making $100,000 per year from her Ole Miss employer (an accusation that is apparently as relevant in 2011 as it was in 1982). The obvious questions are: why did he “friend” these strangers? Why didn’t he use the privacy settings to prevent such abuse? And the ultimate question: If C.J. is going quit Facebook over anonymous shots over the internet, is he going to quit the team when the coaches or the fans yell at him?

Then there is Ohio State recruit… sorry, recruit for THE Ohio State University, who is now in prison for “suspicion of sexual imposition”, the result of being caught fondling 8 classmates . He didn’t actually sign is Letter of Intent. He was too busy arranging bail.

national signing day recruiting national championship trophyI’m going to cut it off right here because I’m beginning to sound like Andy Rooney.

So be it a web cam showing the University of Alabama’s fax machine so fans can see the LOIs come in as they are faxed, or a prized recruit flip-flopping and NOT signing with anyone the 2011 college football National Letter of Intent day will go down in the record books with Alabama (Rivals)… or Auburn (Scout)… or Florida State (ESPNU) winning the coveted Recruiting National Championship Trophy… depending on which team of “experts” you choose to believe.

 (Hint: it’s usually the ones who ranked your favorite school’s class the highest.)

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Written by John McKenzie: I have 14 years of experience selling promotions, sponsorships, and advertising packages for local and network sports programming on network affiliates.  I’ve sold the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Stanley Cup plus the BCS, golf, NASCAR and local high school sports.  Doing sports marketing for TV stations combined two of my three biggest passions: TV and sports.  I grew up in one of the greatest hot beds of sports: Boston.  I was fortunate to see Bobby Orr, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Fred Lynn, Ray Bourque, and many others, play in person.

If you have employment opportunities that can capitalize on my skills and passion for sports business, please contact me

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