College Football: The Top 7 Things We Learned From National Signing Day
National Signing Day has come and gone, and now teams will start to set their lineups for next season.
With the end of the recruiting season comes the inevitable recruiting rankings, where news outlets try to rank recruits who have never set foot on a college field.
Really, NSD is nothing more than a media spectacle and doesn't tell us much about how the upcoming season will go, and really, very few questions about the actual teams have been answered.
However, here are the top seven things we think we have learned from National Signing Day.
1. Absolutely Nothing About The Next Four College Football Seasons
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National Signing Day is nothing more than a media spectacle. It's a chance to talk about college football during the offseason and a chance to cure fans from football withdrawals. In reality, it doesn't mean much about how teams will perform on the field.
If NSD was really an indicator of on-field performance, then Georgia, Clemson, Tennessee and Florida State would consistently be national title contenders.
This past season, those four teams played in the Autozone Liberty Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Bowl, respectively.
Yes, some recruits will be helpful to their teams, but ranking classes right now is just ridiculous. We don't know how good these recruits will be for at least the next few years. It's fine to pay attention to NSD and predict how good recruits will be in college, but every ranking needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
In reality, stars aren't a good indicator of how good a player will be in college.
6. There Are No Boundaries in Criticizing Recruits
Many people who cover and follow college football often forget that the people they are writing about are just college students. However, they still provide immense criticism toward these relatively young players.
There are no boundaries, and players must learn quickly how to deal with the spotlight.
Similarly, there are relatively few boundaries for criticizing recruits.
One of the most criticized players was highly-touted offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandijo, who verbally committed to Auburn on NSD before eventually signing with Alabama.
As SI.com's Stewart Mandel pointed out, Tiger fans were quick to jump at Kouandijo on Facebook, telling him he is a boy, not a man and he should, "go die."
Clearly this is a minority of fans, but it's sad to see some would stoop so low to criticize a player that much because of his college choice.
5. Many Adults Have Their Hearts Broken By The Choice Of a High School Senior
From the first three slides, it's pretty apparent that the general theme of this slideshow is this: people get way too into National Signing Day.
The broken hearts surrounding the day amaze me, and it saddens me that this is such an important day for college football. However, it's also amusing to see how adults are so upset by the choice of a kid who is half their age.
Of course it's a big deal to land an outstanding recruit. However, it's not the end of the world if a star player picks—not to pick on Auburn—the Tide over the Tigers.
4. Midwestern Teams Travel Farther Than Southern Teams For Recruits
Grass is green. Water is blue.
I know this couldn't be any more obvious, but the miles logged by teams in the Midwest compared to teams in "pipeline" states are staggering.
Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette ran the numbers and found Iowa's recruits live an average of 692 miles away from Iowa City, while Iowa State's players live an average of 933 miles from Ames.
Meanwhile, 19 of Georgia's 26 recruits are Georgians, 14 of Florida's 19 are Floridians and 16 of LSU's 22 are Louisianans.
While it's certainly possible to find a gem in Iowa or South Dakota—see Pat Angerer, Dallas Clark and Chad Greenway—southern schools are able to find recruits much closer to home than their counterparts in the North.
3. Over-signing Has Become a Major Problem
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After being criticized by the media for his practice of over-signing, Nick Saban brought the topic up in his signing day press conference to try to put the criticism to bed.
However, he hardly answered any questions surrounding over-signing and further fueled the criticism about the topic.
For those unfamiliar with over-signing, it involves coaches signing more players than they have room for on their roster. Schools are only allowed 85 scholarship players when the season starts and many schools who over-sign are forced to release veteran players from scholarship in favor of younger recruits.
Younger players can be affected too and are sometimes forced to gray shirt, meaning they can't practice or play with the team, but must pay tuition for the first semester.
The Big Ten doesn't allow its teams to over-sign, while the SEC's only rule is that teams can only sign 28 players in one season. Unlike the Big Ten, the SEC hasn't been effective in curbing over-signing.
While winning should be a priority, there have to be boundaries. Screwing a player out of a promise of a free education and a spot on the football team shouldn't be a compromise for winning.
2. Verbal Commitments Are Not Always Honored
Not to pick on Kouandijo again, but he was the most explicit example of an athlete not honoring his verbal commitment.
Kouandijo chose Auburn on National Signing Day, but didn't sign a letter of intent. A few days later, he signed a letter of intent to play for Auburn's rival, Alabama.
A majority of verbal commits do end up signing with the team they commit to, but this year reminded us that a verbal commitment doesn't mean much. Players are still contacted by coaches and can still change their minds.
It's definitely a win for a team to pick up a verbal commitment, but it's not a guarantee.
1. The Hat Trick is Played Out
Okay, not really. However, recruits are coming up with more creative ways to announce their college choice.
The best announcement this year came from Isaiah Crowell, who announced he would be attending Georgia by holding up a live bulldog puppy dressed in a Georgia uniform.
For those unfamiliar with the hat trick, it's a stunt where the recruit picks up one hat, before putting on another and committing to that school. It's all harmless and in good fun for kids, but some fans have taken offense to it.
One of the most recent incidents came in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when wide receiver Christian French picked up a Hawkeye hat before committing to Oregon. It was a harmless stunt, but many Hawkeyes fans took offense.