At first glance to a college football outsider, February might seem like a dull month. There are no grudge matches to be played between the hedges or on rocky top, no elaborate tailgates set up in the Grove, and the grass in Baton Rouge is free from predators like the Mad Hatter. The official college football season ended on January 10th as the SEC crowned yet another BCS Champion, the Auburn Tigers.
But you see, in the South football season ever ends. The day after a team’s season on the field ends, recruiting season begins. National Championships aren’t won in January; they are won in February on National Signing Day. Just ask Nick Saban, Les Miles, or the late Urban Tebow. These championship winning coaches pull in Top 10 recruiting classes year after year. Sure, good coaching, injuries, and stability factor into whether these recruits pan out. Nevertheless, the facts bear themselves out: good recruiting classes generally mean winning football teams. The seeds are sown on National Signing Day, which on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory.
Coaches aren’t the only ones who have come to this realization. SEC fans have, too. Thousands of fans pay $100 a year to join websites such as Rivals or Scout just so they can read the most up to date information on what 17 and 18 year old recruits are thinking. Don’t rush to judgement. These are no ordinary high school kids. These guys are about 6-4, 250 lbs, and can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds. On Wednesday, these coveted high school prospects will sit down in their high school gym with television cameras surrounding them, just so they can pick up one of three hats to let the world know where they will play college football. SEC fans everywhere will be hanging on to every word they say, either thrilled with the feeling of victory, or crushed when the prospect pushes their team’s hat aside. For fans like you and me, each prospect that picks your favorite team is a big present under the Christmas tree. Some teams will get the Red Ryder BB Gun that they asked for. Others will simply get coal in their stocking. What each team got won’t be determined immediately. However, the gifts under each team’s tree will produce hope, optimism, and dreams of championship seasons for coaches and passionate fans alike. Ultimately, as the gifts are unwrapped over the next four years, they will determine who raises the trophies that you dream about at work, at school, or in the swimming pool in July.
Some people say we’re crazy for thinking of National Signing Day like Christmas. I respond by saying, that’s why we are the SEC. I wish everyone a Merry Signing Day, and a happy Spring Practice season!