Wednesday was one of the darkest days in American sports. It was the day when ESPN cameras invaded gymnasiums around the country to focus on 18-year old boys as they made the important announcement of where they were going to pretend to attend school while playing football. Oh the excitement! No wonder ESPNU felt the need to devote nine hours of coverage to it, and thank goodness they did or else we'd have never found out that the Texas Longhorns hats "ain't got no swagger."
Still, when you take away all the disgusting pageantry and hype that surrounds signing day these days, all you're left with is the list of names of high school football players and which school they've chosen to attend. Then hundreds of experts who follow these young kids careers -- any adult that spends the same amount of time watching teenagers on film outside of the world of sports generally ends up in prison, just saying -- for a living rank the recruiting classes. What for? We're not sure.
These ratings generally mean nothing. Take for instance the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. According to Rivals.com the Irish signed the 21st ranked class in the country in 2009. In 2008 the Irish were ranked 2nd, 8th in 2007, and 8th once again in 2006. Notre Dame's record since that 2006 class came to South Bend?
20-20. Oh, and ten of those wins came in 2006, as the Irish have gone 10-17 the last two seasons with the majority of those incoming recruits playing key roles on the team.
The Illini have also been ranked near the top of recruiting rankings since Ron Zook took over the program, and Zook's record in Champaign is 18-30 over those four seasons. So as you can see, having a top-ranked recruiting class doesn't automatically mean a football team is going to start winning. These are still high school kids who need to be taught how to play college football.
So can we stop making such a big deal out of it?
When not writing for NBCCHICAGO.com, Tom Fornelli can be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls. He will also be holding a press conference on NBC5 later tonight to announce what he's having for dinner.