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the first wednesday in february
February 2, 2011 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Today is National Signing Day, the first day a high school senior can sign a letter of intent and commit to a collegiate football program. Sports Illustrated is liveblogging announcements throughout the day. Get some background with a list of Players to Watch, or just enjoy the adorable friend accompanying Isaiah Crowell. But some say it has become too much of a circus to be good for the young players. And others want to recognize the real unsung heroes of the day.
posted by troika (45 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
If I could run the 40 in under 4 seconds I would cuddle a sock puppet Simon Cowell live on TV.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2011


National Signing Day is the least of the "circus" problems for these young athletes.
posted by Melismata at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pat Fitzgerald, coach of the Northwestern Wildcats, just posted this on twitter today: "No press conferences, no hat dances, no BS- just a commitment to a Championship!! All letters of intent in by 9:30! GO CATS!" Now that's my kind of signing day.
posted by incessant at 11:39 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aw, puppy!
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:42 AM on February 2, 2011


I kind of thought this was going to be about ASL.
posted by lumensimus at 11:49 AM on February 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I know next to nothing about sports but the phrase "bowling ball of a player" has amused me to no end. I'll ask my boss who's a raging Bulldogs fan if this is a good thing later.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:49 AM on February 2, 2011


My next office-based sports team will be named The Furious Faxes. We will taunt our competition by calling them "puny printers" or "sissy scanners." Furious Faxes, go-fight-WIN!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last year, there was a case where a player held a press conference with an array of school hats in front of him, with the event being the announcement of his school choice, which he did by sweeping the hat onto his head with a flourish.

The only problem was that he was lying. No school claimed to have actually recruited him. The selection ceremony was meaningless. It was a crazy story with lots of finger-pointing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:02 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, it was two years ago.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:03 PM on February 2, 2011


...there was a case where a player held a press conference.... The only problem was that he was lying.

We had a discussion about this incident here. Really depressing story.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:07 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite tweet of the day has been "PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL DECOMMITS TO WINTER, SIGNS WITH SPRING".
posted by norm at 12:11 PM on February 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


If I have a son who turns out to be a heavily recruited Division I athlete, I am not going to let him participate in nonsense like this. I will make him apply to the colleges he wants to attend. He will then contact that athletic department of the schools that accept him and ask them if they have an available scholarship to offer him.

Then I will take my heavily recruited Division I athlete of a son to the hospital with me to have a paternity test performed.
posted by flarbuse at 12:18 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I kind of thought this was going to be about ASL.

Done.

If you don't get it...
posted by schmod at 12:21 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I have a son who turns out to be a heavily recruited Division I athlete, I am not going to let him participate in nonsense like this. I will make him apply to the colleges he wants to attend. He will then contact that athletic department of the schools that accept him and ask them if they have an available scholarship to offer him.

Your hypothetical son is fortunate to have a family that can afford to send him to the college of his choice.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:24 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not going to let him participate in nonsense like this.

You don't have to, but you also don't have to go the opposite extreme. You can quietly sign and file your letter of intent without any fuss. The vast majority do exactly that. And you don't even have to do it today. This is the just the first day you're able to.

Moreover ... technically, legally, there's very little point to a signing ceremony. The schools can offer only full or partial scholarships. The schools can offer playing time, or offer not to sign someone that might compete for your position. But there will never be guarantees; only the foolish would be swayed by promises that are so obviously empty.

It's not like the school can offer you money. Or a car. Not even a better dorm room. So, going down to the wire as if this were a high-stakes business deal is pointless.

Unless there really is money and specific promises involved. But heavens no. Not in the lily-white NCAA. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:31 PM on February 2, 2011


Today is one of those days where I spend far too long weighing the pros and cons of nurturing talent via a collegiate system or a youth system, before remembering that I really don't give a damn about professional sports anyway.
posted by rh at 12:33 PM on February 2, 2011


I first read this as "National Singing Day" and that made the rest of the post pretty amusing…
posted by LMGM at 12:41 PM on February 2, 2011


how do the colleges know they are the 3rd best player ? how does the step up to an nfl team work once they are in college ? are there any examples of people not making a college pick still making it onto an nfl team ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:45 PM on February 2, 2011


There is a big, big football article in The New Yorker right now: Football and the Concussion Crisis. There was another big one on the same subject back in Oct. '09.
posted by grobstein at 12:48 PM on February 2, 2011


are there any examples of people not making a college pick still making it onto an nfl team ?

There are many examples of walk-ons reaching the NFL. One of the best players on the field at the Super Bowl will be Clay Matthews, who played for USC as a walk-on.

Even as a walk-on, Matthews is an outlier, though. He has had several relatives play in the NFL, such as his father and grandfather.

I can't think of anyone off hand that played in the NFL without playing in college, except for extreme outliers like Darren Bennett, who played Aussie Rules Football and transitioned to the NFL as a punter.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:53 PM on February 2, 2011


Here's the concussion crisis thread.

First thing I thought of when I read this; first thing I always think of when I see those all young boys trying so hard to make it into the big leagues.

Kind of takes the fun out of signing day, or the Superbowl going on just down the road from me.
posted by emjaybee at 12:57 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


how do the colleges know they are the 3rd best player ?
Lots of metrics including all sorts of money stuff.

how does the step up to an nfl team work once they are in college ?
Huh? Can you elaborate on that? I don't think I understand...

are there any examples of people not making a college pick still making it onto an nfl team ?

I can't think of any offhand either...but there are TONS of kids who went to college...walked on to their college team, and then became top draft choices for the NFL. Google it. Crazy stuff.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:06 PM on February 2, 2011


Today is National Signing Day...

Quick! Everybody sign something!
posted by steambadger at 1:06 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


how do the colleges know they are the 3rd best player?

The colleges don't particularly care. Most of the time a given college has been recruiting a high school player for at least a year in advance, sometimes more. The rankings are published by third parties who claim to be in the know by watching players that get heavy press by various local media.

how does the step up to an nfl team work once they are in college ?

For the majority of college players, it doesn't work. Consider that there are 120 teams in Division I-A college football, each with rosters of at least 100 players. I don't know the exact number, but I guarantee it is above 12,000 college players. Those 12,000 players are replaced around every 4 years, and doesn't include players from the other divisions. In the NFL, there are 32 teams with 53 players apiece. That's 1696 players, who average 3 years in the NFL, with timeframes as short as one season up to 20 (Brett Favre, several kickers and punters, others).
If a given player is a starter, does well in college, they then go through another process for the NFL Draft. They do public training days. Many of the better players will go through the NFL Combine where they demonstrate their skills. The players get drafter, or not. After the draft, some of them will get signed undrafted.

are there any examples of people not making a college pick still making it onto an nfl team ?

Currently there is one player on active NFL rosters that did not go to college, Sav Rocca from Melbourne, Australia. Former AFL footballer, played for the Roos. Now he's a punter for the Philadelphia Eagles.

He's not the first NFL player to not go to college, but I'd estimate that in the last 20 years the number of players is in the single digits, and limited mostly to kickers and punters coming from Association Football, Aussie Football and Rugby.

There are several players who do not go through the college recruiting process, and "walk-on" to college. Most colleges will have an open practice to find walk-on players, but the vast majority of people who show up to "walk-on" day will never play in college.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:07 PM on February 2, 2011


This is Isaiah Crowell announcing where he will be going next year!
posted by hal_c_on at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2011


I can't think of anyone off hand that played in the NFL without playing in college

Not current, but Vince Papale (basis of the movie Invincible) went to a college without a football team. Very very much the exception to the rule, though.
posted by inigo2 at 1:21 PM on February 2, 2011


What about other sports? Do they all have their own deadlines, or does football get all the attention for some reason? My daughter is looking at the possibility of a crew scholarship in a couple of years, and we've recently been hearing rumblings about letters of intent and such.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:46 PM on February 2, 2011


Basketball has a signing day as well, and gets a ton of attention. Maybe not as much as Football, though.

Btw, it's not a deadline, it's the very first day they can sign. There is no deadline, kids can accept a scholarship all the way up to the first day of classes (there's NCAA rules and a clearing house to make sure kids are academically eligible, but that just means he might not be able to play in a game right away).
posted by Crash at 1:48 PM on February 2, 2011


The NCAA is a sleazy organization devoted to making money while ensuring that their labor force goes unpaid. People may say that the kids get a scholarship, but I suspect most of them have little to no interest in academics.

The schools sign too many players and then ask the extras to "grayshirt" (stay in school and practice with the team without a scholarship), revoke scholarships. The players can't transfer unless they sit out a year, and that's only when the current school gives his approval.

I remember reading about a player who refused to commit to a school unless the coach committed to stay for that player's tenure. Of course, the coach refused to do so. Never know when another school might throw a few extra bucks his way.

The system needs to be reformed, and made more equitable for the players.
posted by reenum at 1:49 PM on February 2, 2011


I'm guessing all sports have a signing day. In sports without the fanfare and competition for kids, maybe the players take more time and sign over the course of the season. Remember, it's not a deadline. This is just the NCAA's way of preventing schools from trying to get kids to commit to their program when they're younger. If some coaches had their way, they'd probably have freshman in High School signing contracts.
posted by Crash at 1:50 PM on February 2, 2011


Reenum, I wouldn't exactly say they're unpaid. A scholarship is worth ~$50k/year. That's a hell of a lot more than some kids get to play lower level pro-baseball and basketball. They just have to take school tuition/room/board as payment instead of cash. I agree that they should be able to get some money for incidentals (books, at the very least), but that's a slippery slope and one the NCAA has not addressed yet.

I do agree that over-signing (cough SEC cough) needs to be cracked down on. I also think they should make scholarships guaranteed for 4 years as long as the kid is enrolled. The idea that a coach can decide in year 2 that he doesn't want to renew a kids scholarship is complete BS.

Btw, I'm pretty sure gray-shirting prohibits the kid from being allowed to practice.

Given the amount of cash coaches receive, I'd prefer they'd be forced to sit out when breaking their contracts and the promises they made to the kids they recruited, however coaches tend to actually hire lawyers to negotiate their contracts. I'm surprised a college player has not yet tried that.
posted by Crash at 1:57 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


A scholarship is worth ~$50k/year.

Though this is a totally separate topic of debate, just because a school might charge 50K for a year of tuition, room, and board doesn't mean it's actually worth 50,000 dollars. And it decidedly isn't the case with most of these players, most of whom end up with worthless degrees and no real education to speak of.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 2:06 PM on February 2, 2011


Incidentally, this is what an actual 2011 National Letter of Intent looks like. There's a lot of weird stuff in there, but top on the list is a requirement that an athlete's parent or guardian has to sign the NLI if the athlete is under 21. And we wonder where the incentive for corruption a la Cecil Newton comes in?
posted by norm at 2:16 PM on February 2, 2011


Like you said, that's up for debate. How much is a college scholarship really worth? How much more will the student earn over the course of their life? What value do you place on the chance to get away for a poor environment? And are the colleges focused on making sure the kids graduate and get an education, or just winning football? And given the fortunes associated with big time college sports (not to mention the NCAA and BCS), should they really be qualify for tax-exemption? That could be a separate post, and probably has.
posted by Crash at 2:16 PM on February 2, 2011


norm, that's insane about the parent signature. At 18 you can go off to war without your guardian's signature or vote for the next president, but you need it to accept a full-ride to a university?
posted by Crash at 2:19 PM on February 2, 2011


And it decidedly isn't the case with most of these players, most of whom end up with worthless degrees and no real education to speak of.

Well, if you look at college sports as a whole, college sports graduate more students than several charitable organizations put together.

Just looking at football alone, there are 100+ scholarship football players at each Division I institution, and 100+ institutions. Figure that half of them will graduate in four years. Now, nobody tells them what to study -- it could be chemistry, it could be communications -- but if they're in school, they can study. Moreover, every college provides free tutoring to its athletes, regardless of their course of study. It's not their fault if you, the student, chooses a bullshit major.

Now, take a wider view. The football program very often funds the entirety of other programs. So, now you're looking at the women's soccer team, for example. About 20-30 scholarship athletes, with traditionally a much higher rate of graduation -- 90 to 100%. And that's just one other sport.

Many charities wish they post these numbers.

It's a great deal for everyone involved, if you can play.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:19 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was hoping this was going to be about American Sign Language
posted by milkfish at 2:30 PM on February 2, 2011


cheers for the answers there - very interesting.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:43 PM on February 2, 2011


norm, that's insane about the parent signature. At 18 you can go off to war without your guardian's signature or vote for the next president, but you need it to accept a full-ride to a university?

It's not surprising. 21 to drink. 25 to rent a car. 24 and under and student loans treat you as a child. 26 and under and your parent's health insurance has to cover. The idea that you are an adult when you are 18 only seems to count for crimes, tobacco, voting and lottery tickets.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:44 PM on February 2, 2011


Now, take a wider view. The football program very often funds the entirety of other programs. So, now you're looking at the women's soccer team, for example. About 20-30 scholarship athletes, with traditionally a much higher rate of graduation -- 90 to 100%. And that's just one other sport.
And because of Title IX, the schools have a strong incentive to fund women's sports in particular, from what I understand. Hence, my joy at my daughter's affinity for crew.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:48 PM on February 2, 2011


From the WSJ article: and since an electronic acknowledgment isn't considered a signature, the fax remains what virtually everyone uses. I know what they mean, but I just find it ironic that a fax machine is an electronic acknowledgment.
posted by sety at 3:47 PM on February 2, 2011


I also thought it said National Singing Day, and was pretty disappointed that it was something unnewsworthy instead.
posted by HotPants at 4:54 PM on February 2, 2011


Total derail, but this thread is kind of quiet anyway....
Is anyone else completely amazed that the fax machine is still around and used regularly? It seems that a scanner hooked up to send email attachments would be significantly more cost effective (and faster when sending to multiple destination). Yet here we are in 2011, still sending faxes.
posted by Crash at 6:14 PM on February 2, 2011


I rarely get to say it on the blue, but Go Dawgs and congratulations to Isaiah Crowell. It's great to be a Georgia Bulldog.
posted by robstercraw at 6:53 PM on February 2, 2011


I will HAVE YOU KNOW that the Twitterz informed me that my Oklahoma Sooners signed the VERY BEST player in all of South Dakota today. So THERE.
posted by norm at 9:40 PM on February 2, 2011


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