Nov 28, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs helmet during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I hate recruiting.
I don’t hate it because Mississippi State never does well at it, or that we have inherent disadvantages, but it is just a sordid affair all together. That doesn’t mean I don’t follow it. I’m not up to speed on every two, three, four, and five star recruit that Mississippi State has their eye on, but I do keep up with where State ranks among the SEC and when they land a player, I try to catch up on what the overall thought about that player is. I don’t have subscriptions to Rivals, Scout or 247. There is enough coverage for free that you can keep up with how State is doing without having to pay for it in my opinion. So what specifically do I hate about it? Here are a few things.
Everyone cheats. We cheat. Ole Miss cheats. The entire NCAA cheats. The difference is some schools are better at it. Some schools cover it up better. The way schools cheat now is different. Coaches used to be highly involved in the process, but now it’s all about plausible deniability. Coaches have determined that sanctions will be less harsh if they can keep themselves unattached to recruiting violations, so they don’t want to know about all the shady underhanded deals their boosters are agreeing to with recruits. So, despite the best efforts of Hugh Freeze to go on Twitter and challenge people to send Ole Miss compliance any allegations, it goes on. He may or may not be aware of it, but it is happening. It’s happening EVERYWHERE. So I really don’t care what Ole Miss does to land their top 15 class this year, unless there is undeniable proof that they did something they weren’t supposed to, it doesn’t do any good to make accusations. Why? Because we are doing those same things too, just not as well.
The Soft Verbal
It’s always funny when a player commits to a school. Their commitment gets classified as soft or solid almost immediately. I know that it makes me sound like an old timer when I say this, but I really thought commitment means you are locked in. I don’t understand why a recruit can say he is committed 100% and then take visits to other schools. Maybe I am weird like that, but I don’t see how you re committed if you are still looking around for other suitors.
Schools Can’t Talk About Recruits
I understand the logic behind this rule, but it leads to one sided arguments when schools decide to pull offers. Mississippi State is involved with that right now. John Talty (whom I know many of you despise) wrote a story about Mississippi State pulling a scholarship offer for Oxford DE Darius Liggins. Oxford Coach Johnny Hill trashed the Bulldog coaching staff as a result. The staff’s response? There isn’t one because they can’t talk about individual recruits until they sign a Letter of Intent. State has a slightly less number of scholarships to offer because of the small number of seniors and NCAA sanctions, so they have to really evaluate who they are going to offer this year. As a result, they pulled their offer to Liggins. It sucks for Liggins, but this is the life of college football recruiting. Now, the school looks bad but can’t say anything to defend itself.
The Hat Selection Ceremony
Recruits can often reach celebrity status. They love the attention. If you ever want to have a tweet get retweeted to thousands of followers, send a five star recruit a tweet about how they are the best thing since sliced bread, and it will most assuredly happen. The symbol of this attention has become the Hat Selection Ceremony. Recruits will often hold a press conference when they have made their decision. At the press conference, the recruit will sit at a table with a hat from each school he is considering on it. Whichever hat he picks up and wears is how he announces his decision. The process is just silly. Recruits recently have taken to doing a prank where they start to reach for one hat, and then go for another. I hate this whole process. These kids want the attention of being a top recruit so bad, that sometimes they get carried away like what happened to this kid from Nevada in 2008. While I hate the way the Hat Selection Ceremony goes, I am a huge advocate of using your nephew in a onesie the way Richie Brown did in 2012. I fully support that.
The closer we get to National Signing Day, the more rampant rumors will become. If you are on Twitter, you probably remember the craziness that ensued when Chris Jones took his official visit to Ole Miss last year. The rumors were rampant about what all was going on. Thankfully, Jones stayed loyal to his commitment and is now wreaking havoc on the defensive line for the Bulldogs.
It’s Kind of Creepy
Seriously, have you ever thought about how strange it is to tell a 17 or 18 year old kid how great they are, and how much you love them? Remember, this is a complete stranger, yet it goes on all the time with the advent of Twitter. You wouldn’t just walk up to any kid and do that, but we do it all the time for top blue chip prospects. What is also hard to wrap my mind around is how coaches can make the process work. Coaches spend years working on recruits and telling them how special they are and what a great addition they will be to a program, but they then have to turn around and run them into the ground at practice. Coaches can do some pretty silly things to impress a recruit, just ask Mark Richt. I don’t understand how that works.
It’s January, and even though we are in a dead period until January 15, expect some pretty silly stuff to happen over the course of the next few weeks. You may love every bit of it, but it just makes my stomach churn.