Saturday, January 25, 2014

The repugnance of the recruiting game

The great literary hero Ignatius Reilly once said, "I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip." Will you join the fight against the confederacy of recruitnik dunces?

If you're the type that can only read what's along the surface you may want to skip on along. Because this is probably going to sound like I'm typing whilst looking down my nose. Even when I'm not. And it's important to note that I'm not breaking any ground here, merely stating the obvious - recruiting is a game that is ruled by constant coverage, speculation, rumors, message bored fodder, internet anonymity, and an incessant, rampant desire to turn one facet of college football into a filthy soap opera. On occasion, yes, I have been a part of the problem.

And while I cannot begin to tolerate the populace that gets markedly more excited over a seventeen year old's successful facsimile transmission than it does a win in Jacksonville, I certainly understand the allure of National Signing Day. In fact, despite the words and tone of this post, I plan to again be there on the floor of Butts-Mehre in a couple weeks. National Signing Day is the beginning of the new dawn. It's when the frost first begins to warm on the practice fields as they ready themselves for spring drills. It is the day you can faintly - ever so slightly and way off in the distance - hear the crack of the pads in preparation for the new season.

"Hey. Did Todd Gurley see his shadow?"

But I digress. No, I really do enjoy following the culmination of a recruiting cycle. It's the never-ending craptasical drama in between that disgusts me. It's the ugly underbelly that exposes national recruiting as a business that chews up kids' names just to make a headline, generate a click and ultimately turn a profit. Don't get me wrong, there's some real positives to the process along the way. A recent local one was Rico Johnson clearing a hurdle and realizing his dream once again. So many like him could've come up short of that goal despite a second chance at it. Many others would've just given up. He didn't. Instead he worked hard and will be a better man for it. But for every good and well meaning story there's countless others that expose any minutiae of "news" as vitally important, or worse as a scandalous development. And really, what can be so scandalous about a high school student-athlete changing his mind about how interested he is in a particular program?

This is supposed to be about celebrating youthful achievements and the realization of a true reward at the end of one of life's many long, arduous paths. Hey, I'm an idealist. What can I say?

Instead we have high school kids milking the moment for all it's worth (and who can blame them really?), without truly having earned such enormous attention yet. And they are greatly outnumbered by lazy fans of this recruiting game; mostly guys that for whatever reason spend money and countless hours defining their own self-worth by how their team finishes in the recruiting rankings. If I can hardly fathom how someone's success in life is bound by the record of the team they cheer for on Saturdays, then I have absolutely no hope of comprehending how decisions made by seventeen year old strangers affect a grown man's happiness and disposition. These guys applaud loudly when a high school star tweets that he enjoyed a visit to Athens and a chance to meet Coach Richt. They pump their fists wildly when the kid is rumored to be leaning towards UGA. But when the faxes get rolling, and the machine dials a different area code, suddenly this teenage stranger is worthy of all manner of insults. God forbid a kid change his mind about something as important as where to spend his college years.

Granted, these "fans" are the same mental giants that probably clogged up their own high school lunch line because they couldn't decide between a slice of pizza or a corndog.

No, this is not my game. In the world of recruiting coverage I am just a two-star with a slow hip turn who is lazy in the weight room. I truly appreciate the guys that actually do cover this "game". As Georgia fans we're lucky to have some of the best. They're the ones, for the most part, that truly connect with these kids and see them as actual human beings instead of names with stars stacked beside them.

In reality this has been coming for some time now. I guess I continued to update with posts on recruiting developments because I really do understand how important it is to Georgia football. But recently things have turned for me. The end result, as fun as it is to see who is coming to Athens, is not worth the sleazy fight the other 364 days of the year. Like I said the other day, there are plenty of blogs, websites and actual analysts where one can get better evaluation of how Georgia coaches are doing on the recruiting trails. But I'll no longer be a part of that game, both here on the blog as well as in practice at other locations.

When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life.” Yes Ignatius. I think I'll do just that.