But times have changed.
Now, that day signifies national signing day for college football fans all across America, the day that college football programs officially introduce the ‘next crop' to their fans.
And in this new day and age where recruiting is almost a season unto itself, there are not many surprises. ‘Back in the day', people actually used to learn about the new recruiting classes the day after signing day, when the list would appear in the sports page, if even that quickly.
But NCAA rules changes, advances in technology and the exponential explosion of college football onto the American landscape has changed all of that.
More on those aspects here in a second. First, let's give you a few links that you might want to pay attention to today as signing day rolls along.
CLICK HERE to view our list of Iowa's Class of 2007 football commitments.
CLICK HERE to view Scout.com's recruiting rankings, team by team.
CLICK HERE to view Scout.com's ranking of Big Ten recruiting classes.
CLICK HERE to view Scout.com's recruiting rankings by position.
If you want to see how Iowa's Class of 2007 ranks compared to previous classes, click on the second link above, the team by team rankings, and then hit the down arrow in the upper left where it says 2007 and you will have the option to go back to the Class of 2002 to present.
Be sure to check out our Eligibility tracker, to see what positions Iowa will need to fill in recruiting classes down the road: CLICK HERE. There have been a few position changes bandied about on the message boards, such as Alex Kanellis moving to an offensive guard position, Shonn Greene moving to strong safety, and others. Those will not be reflected on this chart until we get the spring football roster next month.
Also, I spoke with a source on Tuesday night who told me not to expect any surprises on signing day. Hopefully there won't be any Teraz McCray situations, and the Iowa coaches do not expect anything like that to happen. You can click on the names of each recruit from the first link we have listed above, and you can read the stories that were written on those players. Later on signing day, we will post the bio's on all of the players from the University of Iowa release that comes out close to 4pm.
Now, back to some commentary on recruiting.
I have been involved with covering Iowa football recruiting on a regular basis longer than anyone that currently covers Iowa football or Iowa football recruiting. That does not mean that I know more about it than others, because that would not be true. But it does mean that I have seen things evolve from even eight years ago to where they are today.
There was a time, back in 1998 when the first network that covered recruiting hit the Internet, where sites like HawkeyeNation.com were free and supported by advertising dollars. Coverage of recruiting was just beginning to get into a stride. Then came the tech crash of 2000, and the winter of 2000-2001 ushered in the ‘premium content' era of sites like this.
Since then, networks have failed, restarted, restarted under new names and management, under new names and old management, been bought out, etc. But the interest in recruiting has grown all along.
We are at the point now where there is a small faction of fans that follow recruiting religiously and place a high degree of importance on any whimsical comment a 17 or 18 year old might make throughout the entire process. They are the folks that want to know what Mary Ferentz served at breakfast on the Sunday when a prospect visits her house, and they want to know about it before Johnny ThreeStar boards his flight at the Eastern Iowa Airport and returns home.
There are some that follow recruiting with some interest, and are entertained by it. This group is larger than the first group, and might make up the largest group of fans. They enjoy reading the stories about the kids the Iowa staff finds under the proverbial rocks across the Midwest. They are not so worried about what a kid bench presses, who his top three schools are, and what team he grew up following.
There is another group that doesn't really care whatsoever, and this is a small group…or rather, those persons in this group that have internet connectivity and who are aware of sites like HawkeyeNation.com. That's the group I am referring to.
Believe it or not, the vast majority of Iowa football fans across the country are probably not plugged into the recruiting process at all. I know that might sound like hogwash to some of you reading this, because you certainly don't fall into that category. But it's true, or rather, it's what I believe to be true, based on my experiences and interaction with Iowa fans all across the nation.
No matter which category you fall into, I think that a few things should be mentioned, as it pertains to the Iowa fan that follows recruiting. Do with them what you will.
First of all, the measure of a recruiting class is born out on the field, not on pieces of paper or computer monitors. I have said time and again through the years; star rankings and recruiting class rankings should be a form of entertainment, and not things to set your clocks by.
Identifying and developing talent are still the most important strengths a coaching staff can have, in my opinion.
Now, there is no doubt that many of the college football power programs also have recruiting class rankings that match their year end BCC standing.
Florida won the national title this year, and they have the #1 rated recruiting class from Scout.com. This year, Texas, LSU, Tennesee and USC are all in Scout.com's Top five recruiting classes, and they are blue-blood football programs that typically win at a high level year in and year out.
Many of the programs that achieve year in and year out excellence on the football field as well as in the recruiting rankings have some common threads, or telltale attributes.
The first is tradition. The rich get richer. Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State are three of the most historically successful teams not only in the Big Ten, but in all of college football. And you will find those teams putting together Top 25 or much better recruiting classes year in and year out.
Those three teams also happen to reside in state's that are in the Top 10 in population in this country.
For example, Ohio State had 15 verbal commitments as of late Tuesday night, and 10 of them are from the state of Ohio. That's two-thirds of their class. In their last four recruiting classes that have included nearly 80 signees, and teams can only have 85 scholarship players on their rosters at any one time, nearly 60% of those players have come from the state of Ohio…and all four of those recruiting classes have been regarded as Top 15 classes nationally. So not only does Ohio State have a historic football reputation, one that includes past and recent national titles, they have an amazing in-state talent pool to choose from.
Michigan is the most successful college football program of all time. The state has a lot of people and a lot of high major talent. But they recruit more nationally than Ohio State, because they can…and because Ohio State really doesn't have to with the wealth of aforementioned instate talent that exists in Ohio.
Penn State has a mix of both; better high school talent than Michigan produces, decades of rich tradition and perfect regional positioning where they have been the biggest name in the region for a long time.
Iowa has none of those things going for it.
Hey, we love it here, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere but Iowa.
But as it relates to producing high major football talent, Iowa has fewer than three million people within its borders, and it produces 5 to 10 high major players per year, and it also has another high major conference team to compete with, something Ohio State does not have. And let's face it, Michigan does not typically lose kids to Michigan State that it really wants.
My point is this; some people are getting way too caught up with Iowa's annual recruiting rankings.
As of late Tuesday night, Scout.com had Iowa's class rated 35th in the nation and 5th in the Big Ten. Wisconsin's was 36th nationally and 6th in the Big Ten.
If you throw out Iowa's class of 2005, and average the classes of 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007, Iowa national average is 37th and their Big Ten average ranking is 5th. So this year's class is very much like the majority of the Kirk Ferentz recruiting classes at Iowa with regards to rankings. You would find similar numbers if such services were as common during the Hayden Fry years.
Iowa has always had to coach up its players, to develop its players and to evaluate its players with a higher degree of success than some of its blue-blooded Big Ten counterparts. Barring 15 straight years of Big Ten title contention and a few national title game appearances, that will probably be true in 2022 as well.
That doesn't mean that fans can't hope for higher rankings, if they are among the group of fans that live and die by such things.
But you need to take a few shots of reality when you look at these things.
There is a sign that hangs in the Iowa football complex. It's one of several, but I think it best sums up what Iowa football has been about and what it is about: "Hard Work Beats Talent when Talent Doesn't Work Hard."
That's why Iowa fans have taken such pride in its teams through the years, because as Kirk Ferentz has said on numerous occasions, and he may well say it again later this afternoon, Iowa isn't a ‘sexy' recruiting destination. Iowa is not into the frills of the recruiting world, and there are just certain types of kids that will not be a fit at Iowa.
I also know that Ferentz likes the kids who come in with lesser acclaim; the kids that bring three or four hats to their ‘commitment announcement press conference' are typically not going to be the kids you see at Iowa, and that is by Iowa's choice as much as it is the choice of the student athlete.
Enjoy the recruiting process. Follow it and have some fun. We enjoy telling their stories, and after today, our attention will turn to the Class of 2008 and all of the stories those athletes will produce.
In fact, here is a look at Scout.com's Top 100 Junior's: CLICK HERE.
But be sure to enjoy the ride, and don't get twisted sideways if Iowa's star rating isn't as high as what you want for it to be. Don't get caught up in that fantasyland. You will enjoy the process more if you heed that advice.