Signing day does not guarantee success

mlough@macon.comFebruary 6, 2012 

Dear signee:

The big day is over. Get back to class.

No, seriously.

You still need grades. You have to improve your academic work ethic as much, if not more, than your football work ethic. The football part is definitely easier, but it’s going to become mighty difficult.

Days after the big signingpalooza, most of the absurd hyperventilating has pretty much dissipated, gone like the memories of such days gone by and the unpredictability.

People continue to inexplicably want a grade handed out before somebody takes a test. One thing every high school signee has in common with the 99.2 percent of the crazy people hitting “refresh” all day is not having practiced one minute of college football.

Until that changes, National Signing Day’s analytical brouhaha is farcical. Nobody’s done a thing, and they are graded on it.

A main reason is because all that silliness involves extremely untested and often immature 17- and 18-year-olds entering a world about which they are clueless, either because of a lack of information and preparation or the arrogance to ignore people helping them with information and preparation.

Every year gives us examples why people desperately need to dial the signing day obsession down.

A year ago, Georgia fans breathlessly -- and it turned out, cluelessly -- awaited the decision of Isaiah Crowell, and then went nuts when he pulled out a bulldog at his “look at me” announcement. And many went nuts during his less-than-stellar season.

The hype guaranteed nothing, and never does.

You bigger signees have done and will continue to do some strutting, but get ready. Life is changing.

The eyes of your new school and its fan base are on you. No longer is it just the Yeehaw Weekly News and occasionally a bigger paper checking in.

So please, learn how to speak like a person who should be in college. I beg of you, right now, realize that you’re trying to impress more than the airhead junior cheerleader or debutante or loser pal, and that it takes no skill to be on TV but it takes something of substance to sound like, well, somebody of substance.

Not sounding like a stereotype or an idiot is -- contrary to what you might hear from running buddies -- a good thing.

That comes from somebody who is in the interviewing business, as well as somebody who likes stereotype killers and those who take learning seriously.

It goes along with tightening up in the classroom. And, speaking of “the next level,” start stockpiling aspirin now. The coasting and coddling are nearing an end. Avoid surprises and disappointments by improving your academic habits now, because the excitement of signing day is erased for hundreds each year by academic problems within 6-12 months. Our lists of who signs in February and who shows up in August are mighty different all the time.

Work on growing up a little bit, too. A little bit. It’s like a regular line from Andy Griffith, “Act like you got some smarts.”

Don’t use the credit card of a dead person. Don’t get in fights in bars. Don’t hit anybody, but especially don’t hit women. Don’t take stuff that’s, you know, not yours. Don’t break into people’s dorm rooms, cars, apartments or homes. And don’t break people’s dorm rooms, cars, apartments, homes or stuff.

Don’t cheat on exams. Don’t skip class. Don’t use the phrase “you know who I am” or “I play football at (fill in the blank)” because that translates to “I’m an obnoxious jerk who’s gonna screw something up soon.” Don’t argue with cops, regardless of the situation, because they are undefeated.

Dress and act like you aspire to be more than a thug or white trash. You’re in college now. It’s not remedial education, it’s higher education.

And for the love of God, you are what you tweet and status update.

That all of the aforementioned isn’t obvious is, of course, the problem, and for that, thanks, parents.

You made a decision to be in a spotlight, so, every day, when you’re out of the grasp of teachers and coaches, think about who matters to you, whoever is responsible for you being alive, graduating and going to college to play a game and get an education.

Think about how they’ll feel when you do something bad. Making a typical college student mistake is one thing. Doing downright bad -- stealing and violence top the list -- is intentional.

Sadly, this common sense isn’t so common.

You were on top of the mountain on Signing Day, and you can return to that plateau or tumble to the bottom. Note the many who’ve been in your position and were hardly heard from again.

Take nothing for granted. You’ll never regret it.

Sincerely,

An interested observer

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or mlough@macon.com

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