Wild signing day turns into too much of a good thing
Feb 03, 2011 | 4514 views |  1 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Adults who sweat the college choices of 18-year-old football players got comeuppance Wednesday, and it didn’t taste so good when it came back up.

That happens when we binge on unhealthy things, and sports offers few things more unhealthy than a process where some adults make a lucrative living hard-selling teenagers and other adults live for news of the sale.

Even some of the adults got the message after Wednesday’s national signing day melodramas.

“This is a great class, but I officially hate recruiting,” screen name NewnanTiger05 wrote on AuburnSports.com’s message board, the Bunker. “The entire process, the constant rumors from anybody and everybody, constant accusations of cheating, the circus-esq announcements ... all of it.

“It is beyond out of control, and it’s just not fun anymore.”

And NewnanTiger05 got amens from the congregation.

“All this time spent wondering about where some little punk (no one in particular) is going to play football feels like a waste,” Stringmusic24 wrote.

Added AUriptide, “I agree and will not follow it this close next year.”

And, finally, there comes this nugget of perspective from 95Fiber, whose screen name suggests the occasional ingestion of healthy nutrients: “Everyone must remember; we’re talking about 18-year-old kids that play football.”

If only that had been patently obvious before national signing day.

Maybe some perspective-challenged fan wouldn’t have raised a sign at Saturday’s Alabama-LSU basketball game, branding Russellville prospect Brent Calloway a “Benedict Arnold” for a commitment switch from Alabama to Auburn.

Maybe some Auburn fans wouldn’t have wretched at every growing indication that Calloway was about to switch back to Alabama.

Maybe Alabama and Auburn fans wouldn’t still have a sick stomach today, wondering whether all-everything offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio will honor the commitment he made on national TV Wednesday.

He said he’s going to Auburn. Auburn has yet to receive the all-important national letter of intent. It appears he’s still undecided.

Who knew a teenager might struggle with a decision to be teammates with his older brother or strike out on his own?

Who knew a young man might struggle as his world, including his adoptive father, publicly dinged his decision swings? Calloway reportedly had to go all Dick Cheney, hiding out in an undisclosed location in the final days before his Wednesday announcement.

That’s not to make saints of recruits. Some play the process for all of its spoils, starting with attention.

But it’s hard to lay the bulk of blame on young people who grow borderline corrupted by a borderline corrupt process, where the hard-selling starts younger and younger. Coaches make scholarship offers to high school sophomores now, a practice some NCAA minds have tried to outlaw.

They can’t quite find a good way to enforce suggested rules changes, so offers come to 15-year-olds whose bodies are maturing more quickly than their minds.

Then recruits go visit various colleges, where coaches show them three other players at the same position. Commit now, or the other kid will.

Or maybe a kid like Piedmont nose tackle Mickey Jackson just gets caught up in the moment. He visits Jacksonville State, along with teammate Jamaal Johnson. Johnson and other players make non-binding oral commitments, and there stands Jackson.

If not a coach, then the situation screams the question: “How about you?”

Suddenly, Jackson finds himself decommitting the next day. Who knows how many times he nearly wound up in that position?

“It was really a hard choice,” he said of his ultimate decision to sign with UAB. “Every time I would see a coach, I would be like, ‘I would like to go there.’ Then another coach would come by, and I’d be like, ‘I’d like to go there.’

“I liked all the coaches, and I didn’t really know. I had trouble trying to make my decision. It’s hard to tell somebody no.”

Give or take a maturity notch, that’s the mindset that matches up against highly paid, highly ambitious and far-more-savvy coaches.

The hate-to-say-no mindset — or something similar — can ruin the whole day of grown people who hang on every recruiting rumor. The obsession has spawned an information industry.

Judging from comments on message boards, some who ate too much from the trough got sick Wednesday. That sick feeling led some to swear off the trough.

Maybe they’re serious, or maybe they’re just whistling past the recruiting new year with resolutions.

Still others haven’t gotten sick. Screen name “onlyau” wants his favorite site to transition from pre-signing day “War Room” updates to Koundjio reports.

“We need a CyKo War Room tonight! (please)”

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or jmedley@annistonstar.com. Follow on Twitter @Jomedstar.

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