It’s Christmas Day For College Football Fans
Do not call me today. Do not text. Do not knock on my door.
I’ll be incommunicado till suppertime.
It’s the first Wednesday in February and I’ll be doing what I do every year on this day: I’ll be up early, legal pad on my lap, glued to ESPN as I watch high school kids pick ball caps off tables.
And I’ll remain that way until 6 p.m. when three-star running back Charles Strong out of Union County, Florida announces where he’s going to college next fall.
Oh please, oh please, God, let it be Ole Miss.
It’s National Signing Day.
And if that means nothing to you, neither will the rest of this post.
But serious college football fans know that the seeds of winning seasons are planted today. If your team doesn’t reel in its share of three, four or five star players you’ll be lucky to get an invite to the Depends Bowl when these blue chippers are setting college football on fire.
This year’s NSD is anti-climatic since the NCAA permitted an early signing period in December. ESPN reports that about 70 percent of eligible prospects committed then.
But I’ll be watching anyway.
The boys who didn’t sign early are wild cards. Though they may have committed to a particular program, they’re free agents until their letter of intent lands in some school’s athletic office today.
There are always surprises on NSD and that’s what makes it so exciting. Those can be good or bad, depending on whether your school flips a player at the last minute or saw a commit flip to somewhere else.
Sure, some of the kids act a little cocky and crazy on signing day. Who can blame them? They’ve worked their tails off since they were playing youth football to get to a point where big college programs are salivating over them. Why not drag out the drama and put on a show?
It’ll all be over once they’re on campus. Coaches don’t kiss players’ derrieres once they’ve hooked them. After that it's all practices and drills and endless hours in the weight room. It’s sweating and hitting and taking hits.
I wasn’t always a recruiting addict. I got hooked in 2008 when my kid was going to Ole Miss that fall and I wanted to learn everything I could about SEC football.
I bought a copy of “Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting,” by Bruce Feldman, which The New York Times called “one of the most insightful books ever written about college football.”
Couldn’t put it down. And once you dip your toes into the high-stakes world of college recruiting, you get sucked in. Trust me.
For those who don’t religiously track the moods of high school football players, what follows may sound crazy: Not only do I follow a number of high school kids on Twitter (I never Tweet AT them, though, that’s creepy) but I pay about 100 bucks a year to be on an online recruiting site that follows the prospects, posts their highlight reels and gives fans inside info and a place to vent.
Because many of us on the board don’t have loved ones who share our passion, we chat amongst ourselves. A lot. I check in a few times every day although I read much more than I post. After a while, the members feel as if they know each other.
“My wife says y’all are my only friends,” began one guy when asking for advice on something that had nothing to do with football.
As an Ole Miss fan, this year’s NSD is vindication. Some experts believe we could finish with a top 30 class. Nowhere near where we were in those heady days before the goons from the NCAA came to town and tried to curb-stomp the program, but solid enough.
Coach Matt Luke has done an astonishing job convincing kids to come to Oxford next year, despite a post-season ban and a reduction in scholarships.
Today puts a bow on this 2018 class.
For college football fans, it's Christmas. Hope your day is merry. Don’t bother me until it’s over.