I know it's signing day and I should be excited, but through the years... signing day has grown into something ugly in my opinion. Just wanted to share something I wrote on TripleOT.com as it does pertain to recruiting and our football program...
Sports as a whole have morally gone down the toilet, and it's not too hard to list a few dubious moments that have sunk the profession's ship: Pete Rose's betting scandal, OJ Simpson's murder case, numerous baseball and hockey strikes, ASU point shaving, and Terrell freakin' Owens, just to name a few.
However, one of the most despicable problems in sports is high school recruiting, and I'm not really sure who is to blame. It used to be that once a player verbally committed to a college, other programs backed off, both out of respect for other schools and because, well, the player verbally committed. There was a time when the paperwork was merely a formality. After all, that was the time when a man's word was as good as his character, and character is what often defined us.
Now, the influx of ESPN coverage, the theatric stunts pulled at high school all-star games, and the non-stop recruiting that occurs well after a player verbally commits leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I honestly dislike the recruiting process and despise following it. I can't stop because college football is an addiction, but this is definitely the low point of this otherwise innocent addiction. If college football was a night of excessive binge drinking, then everything between spring drills to the final championship game would be that warm feeling you get as your buzz shifts to full on drunkenness. Recruiting is waking up the next day in a downtown alley with wetness in your pants, dry vomit on your sweater, and a headache that rivals Ivan Drago's after 15 rounds with the Italian Stallion.
A classic case of recruiting dickery is that of Ryan Perriloux, the number one quarterback prospect in the nation last year. Ever since he was a junior in high school, the Louisiana native had stated publicly that he'd be under center at the University of Texas. All through his senior year and even into the high school all-star games, he maintained his plans of becoming a Longhorn, going so far as to flashing the "Hook `em" hand signal to any fan who cared to watch him. Texas figured that this was as strong of a verbal commitment as one can make, so their recruiting patterns followed. Having essentially locked up the number one quarterback prospect, they felt as if they didn't need to sign another top-ranked quarterback. Furthermore, which top-ranked quarterback would sign with a team who couldn't guarantee playing time when dozens of other equally talented schools could? Texas did pick up a three-star (out of five) gunslinger named Colt McCoy, but he largely figured to follow in Chance Mock and Matt Nordgren's footsteps - perennial backup.
Suddenly, Perriloux started having doubts a few weeks before signing day. He had always told Texas that he would visit LSU, but it would merely be a gesture out of respect for his hometown university. Suddenly, his visit to LSU became very real and by the time signing day 2005 rolled around, Perriloux was a Tiger instead of a Longhorn. Perriloux had his reasons - he felt he could immediately contend for a starting position instead of waiting a year or two behind Vince Young (it ended up being only one), so one could conceivably understand that Perriloux was merely looking out for himself. However, his decision left Texas in its current situation. The reigning national champions will start the 2006 season with a quarterback that has never played one snap of collegiate football.
As for Perriloux, karma seemed to prove once again that is very real and VERY vengeful. Instead of waiting a year and then having the keys to a high octane spread offense dropped in his lap, as would have been the situation if Perriloux chosen Texas, he now sits as a third-string quarterback behind JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn. Both Russell and Flynn will only be juniors next year, so barring injury or a sudden drop in winning percentage, Perriloux will have to sit another two years before he gets his first start sometime in the fall of 2008.
Today is national signing day and the biggest headlines you'll read on ESPN and CNNSI will be the shocking switches recruits made in the 11th hour. However, you won't read any of it from my writing. I'm taking a small stand to bring back the character in the game that some of these kids completely lack. A broken verbal commitment disrupts the academic program lied to, but it also speaks volumes on the lack of character on those individuals. I would like to hope that Perriloux's poor decision will sway a few athletes in the future, to show that if you do the right thing you will be rewarded a majority of the time. However, I'm sure this advice merely falls on deaf ears in an age where hat switching, jerseys under jackets, and other low-class theatrics rule our television screens and computer monitors.