College Football Recruiting An Interesting Subject

FAYETTEVILLE -- One has come to realize, realistically, this recruiting thing has grown to monster-sized proportions.

Hey, can we have another helping?

Yum, yum!

As most know, national signing day for high school football players is just around the calendar.

Wednesday is the big day, the day all recruiting geeks live for.

Who's going where? Why?

Locally, everyone wants to know who's going to sign with the fightin' Arkansas Razorbacks.

We old geezers, find it kind of strange.

Once upon a lifetime, writers could wrap up a recruiting season, then fitting snugly inside a conventional oven and baked for a few months and print it in local gazettes a day after letters-of-intent were actually signed.

Those signings came complete with mom and pop smiling, the signee grinning ear-to-ear with pen in either right or left hand.

Strike the pose.

Click. Click.

"Yeah, it'll be in the paper tomorrow," the local sportswriter would say. "I'll get you extra copies.

"Good luck!"

Done. That's it.

These days, information is spit out faster than one can set a microwave.

In the words of the honorable George W. Bush: "You can find anything on those Internets ..."

Or something like that.

Well, back in the day, when us baby boomers started reading -- actually, most of us started in grammar school -- we eventually got to the point we got interested in high school recruiting.

Much earlier if one lived in Texas as a youth.

It was a huge newspaper seller back in the day. Highly anticipated. Highly appreciated since we weren't cascaded throughout the year with verbal commitments, which really meant nothing.

These kids changed their minds as often as they change high school sweethearts.

Nowadays, we oldtimers revert back to our childhood.

Because ...

Quite frankly, the overkill today is kind of silly.

It's kind of like reading a funny book -- that's what we called it in my day, today it's called a comic book -- and we have to chuckle.

Hey, that's not a knock at these kids, though.

But ... yeah, kids say the darndest things.

How many times do many of us potential Wal-Mart greeters have to read these sentences?

"Oh, I love the facilities there," said Joe Lunchpale, the 6-foot-3, 205 pounder from Duncan, Okla. "I can see my future with the (name your school).

"They are awesome."

Lunchpale, recruited as an athlete, bench presses 350 pounds with his left thumb, runs the 40-yard dash --why don't coaches time players in meters if it's obvious he's going to run track, too ? -- and has scored 19 on his ACT.

Stop it man, you're killing me!

Or ...

"Coach so-and-so really impressed me," said John Q. Public, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback from Baltimore. "They treat me like family. I'm leaning toward them."

Next recruiting guru calls.

Then, the recruit, taking a breath with perhaps a copy of a letter-of-intent shoved on his coffee table -- and perhaps some cash (hey, it's happened) -- during a home visit, hesitates.

"I'm also interested in Florida State, Ohio State, Nevada-Las Vegas. I've also gotten letters from Louisiana-Monroe and Mary-Hardin Baylor."

"It's a big decision."

Best one we've ever heard?

"I've committed to God."

Can't compete with that. There goes a recruit.

Of course, that's all in fun like thinking all these signees ever will graduate at their respective universities.

Remember, it's a one-year scholarship.

And with all the hamstrings the NCAA places on recruiting, wonder how any college coach can really have a successful recruiting day.

For example, did you know in 1965 -- if you're counting at home that's 40 years -- Arkansas signed 51 players? These days that number has dipped into the 20s.

Because ...

Some schools don't always follow the rules which keep the NCAA active, very active.

Of course, the primary reason is breaking the rules.

And kids know it.

"Show me the money," said John Doe, a 6-foot-7, 279-pound offensive lineman from Podunk, Ky., who runs the 40 whenever he cares to do so. "To play for you, I'll need some jack.

"A lot of it." That kind of ruins it all.

And fortunately it doesn't happen that much.



JERRY L. REED IS A SENIOR SPORTS WRITER FOR THE MORNING NEWS: E-MAIL: JREED@NWAONLINE.NET




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