This time of year is when you start to feel it. By Wednesday you know it’s over. I’m of course talking about college football. With only one football game – college or pro – left on the docket, Wednesday’s National Signing Day is the biggest day of the year until early September.
Like Auburn’s regular season, this week’s big event is expected to be more mundane than exceptional. The Tigers won’t be laying claim to a top five class; and for the first time since the Tuberville era, Auburn has swung and missed more than it has hit it out of the park.
At least that’s what the pundits say.
When I think of pundits these days, I immediately think of ESPN’s Todd McShay. Who can forget the star quarterback of the Swampscott (MA.) High School football team screaming on every ESPN platform last year about how Cam Newton would never make it in the NFL as a quarterback?
Hey Todd: Cam says Aloha!
The same can be said for recruiting analysis, political analysis and every other ass out there. When it comes to judging future returns, you cannot simply assign a star next to someone’s name and determine their future.
I say this not because Auburn is expected to “only” have a top 20 class, but because history says I’m right. Of the 25 players expected to sign with Auburn on Wednesday, only half will ever make an impact on the football field.
Coaches will soon learn that some peaked during their senior seasons of high school. Other less recruited players will blossom and grow into more than anyone expected. It’s why players like the Dallas Cowboy’s Demarcus Ware ended up at Troy despite being able to see Jordan-Hare Stadium from his high school practice field.
Some will not adjust to the bright lights of college football. Many will not be able to balance school and practice. And yes, some will do stupid things like commit armed robbery.
Go back a few years and you can bet Florida fans were feeling pretty heady when Cam Newton signed and was quickly anointed Tim Tebow’s successor. In the long run, things worked out fine for Newton, but not so much for the Gators.
For these reasons I won’t fret over Wednesday one way or the other. I remember Enterprise’s Alan Evans heading to Auburn in 1982 as the nation’s top running back. Once on campus he was introduced to a guy named Bo and a short time later, the toast of college football recruiting was playing in Chattanooga.
I remember as a college freshman in 1987, a quarterback named Billy Ray. He was the top player in the country and Alabama had him. He was billed as the second coming of Stabler and Namath – combined. Ray ended up wasting away at Duke. His coach never beat Auburn and left for Kentucky in shame.
Pat Dye has said repeatedly over the years that there are more than enough good players to go around and the biggest factor remains coaching. He reiterated it again last week speaking to Phillip Marshall at Auburn Undercover.
“Ain’t no question about it,” Dye said. “We’ve had two good years back to back. We’ll have a good one this year. We are going to sign some good football players. When you put four or five of them together and take the top seven or eight out of each class, that’s all you have to have to have a good solid football team.”
Don’t get me wrong. National Signing Day is fun for all fans. It’s a day to celebrate the future. We take it seriously here at Track’em Tigers. KoolBell will be with you from sun up to late afternoon reporting all the news. It’s one of our busiest days of the year here at TET.
Enjoy the day, but don’t get too high or low. Focus on the seven or eight who’ll make a difference in Auburn’s program. That’s the toughest part – finding those who have a head to match their talented bodies.
See you Wednesday.