Don’t downplay National Signing Day

dshirley@macon.comFebruary 8, 2013 

National Signing Day is of the utmost importance in the college football world, and we saw that again Wednesday.

Anyone who argues against that is wrong.

Is there silliness? Yes.

Are there some athletes and families who don’t know how to handle the situation the right way? Certainly (if you need any proof, just look up what happened with Josh Harvey-Clemons last year and Alex Collins this year).

Despite all of the ridiculous stunts that take place during the signing ceremonies, signing day can’t be brushed aside or disregarded as some sideshow with no importance.

The first reason is because of the families themselves. Yes, the coaches and media members have been through signing ceremonies more times than they would like to admit, and sometimes they can feel a little mundane.

But for most of the families, the recruiting season and the signing ceremony will be their one time going through the process, and it’s easy to see the relief and excitement on their faces during the ceremonies. That’s a big deal, and no matter how many times I’ve been through this, it’s refreshing to see that every year.

The coaches’ programs are rejuvenated by signing day each year because they land their new players to carry their program forward. And while some people mock the recruiting services and the analysis they give about the classes, those services are more on the mark than not. Ranking the players and projecting where they will go is a big business these days; it’s not the hobby it used to be.

The websites that make that their business take it seriously and do a good job with it. Sure, there are misses, but if you’re going to dismiss signing day rankings and projections, you have to do the same with the NFL draft … and no one is willing to do that.

Signing day’s importance is downgraded by some because it’s mostly a Southern thing, and that makes it an easy target around the nation. The coaches, however, know the importance of recruiting and signing day; teams simply can’t win during the fall without doing well through December and January leading up to the first Wednesday in February.

Success in recruiting, star rankings or not, leads directly to success on the field. Coaching certainly means a lot to a team’s ability to win games, but the players make up the most important part of the equation (ask any coach, and they will tell you the same).

Jon Solomon, a terrific writer for al.com, explained that on his site Thursday morning with a little research about the situation. Solomon pointed out that since 2002, all of the teams ranked first in a recruiting season by Rivals.com have won a national title within three years with three exceptions: USC in 2005, 2006 and 2010.

You might not enjoy recruiting or signing day and think it’s silly or an embarrassment, but you can’t dispute the facts. Recruiting success equals wins.

And that fact makes signing day the most important day on the college football calendar outside of the actual season.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

Jon Solomon’s post on the correlation between the Rivals.com rankings and national champions can be found here:

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2013/02/whats_a_recruiting_national_ti.html

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