As a media guy I always dreaded this whole national letter-of-intent day. There's something about it that just doesn't seem right.
Of course I came up in an era of newspapers when my sports editor used to prohibit stories about "verbal commitments" and speculation about where certain high school athletes would go to college. Like most of my colleagues, I had a problem with that philosophy at the time but as I look back, I can at least appreciate the decency behind it.
Kids at the age of 17 and 18 are thrust into the big spotlight before they're ready for it in many cases. And then asking them to commit to a college before they have any idea what college is really all about is a bit much. And then holding kids of that age -- who should have the youthful option of changing their mind several times -- to such commitments in a very public setting is rather harsh, too.
Seeing the kid behind a table with hats from all different schools he's considering gives me a headache. My goodness, just sign the letter of intent and get back to class.
In the old days, I thought fans who sat around and sweated out national signing day for their favorite university where like those nerds who sit in their bedroom and play with action figures. But in today's world, between the NFL draft and national signing day, those people have grown in number and take over the world for a few days each year. I'm not here to lament the passing of the good old days, because they weren't so good, either.
But I will say this. It would be a good idea for fans to remember how young some of these kids are. And to remember how inexact the science of recruiting and evaluating young players is. I would advise the parents of these youngsters to keep a few things in mind, too. No. 1 -- make sure your young athlete is picking a SCHOOL he or she can live with, as well as an athletic program that fits him or her. And make sure that kid knows he's going to school and the expectation is that time will be devoted to the classroom part of the entire experience. And that you're going to hold him or her -- not the coaching staff, not the tutors, not the school, not the professors -- responsible for success of that part of it. With the scholarship comes responsibility.
And I, of course, hope it all turns out well for the schools and the athletes. But pardon me if I let stadium scoreboards -- not some recruiting guru -- over the next few years tell me who did the best recruiting job.