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National Signing Day Is Only Part of the Story

By on January 30th, 2017 in Football, News 18 Comments »

hi-res-ed9ed5c6f2e272cb5b02b564f8559f66_crop_northAs we head toward National Signing Day, Auburn is headed for its fifth consecutive Top 10 finish per the experts. Wake me up when they finish in the Top 10 where it counts. Recruiting services are silly.

There is as much politics as ability involved in getting those recruiting stars. Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville told me a story years ago about discovering a quarterback in the Atlanta area. He was under the radar and got little attention. Once Auburn and then Georgia showed interest, the kid garnered three-stars by the services. Prior to that, he was a blip.

I’ve never understood why these websites don’t wait five years to rate the classes. That’s when it means something. Actually, we do know why they do it now. It’s huge business and means millions of dollars for these websites.  

There will be far more misses on Wednesday than hits. Future three-stars will become All Americans in time, while some five-star can’t miss guys will ultimately transfer to other programs and never be heard from again.

Some will hit the mark. Some won’t. Stars are optional.

Signing day is fun. Just understand, it’s mainly for entertainment purposes. Nick Saban gets a lot of attention for his recruiting classes. Where he makes his money is developing them into players. Don’t get me wrong. Talent is important. Being able to scientifically rate it from coast-to-coast is horse crap.

Kids come from big schools and small ones. They come from large cities and tiny communities. Some are mature enough to handle the transition. Others are stuck in the glory days of high school.

In four years about half of Auburn’s class will be gone. That’s normal. More important than the stars beside their names is whether they have the intangibles and work ethic to make it. Running a 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds is important. But it’s hardly that simple.

Enjoy National Signing Day. But, take it for what it is…



  1. AUwaterboy AUwaterboy says:

    Spot on Jay and the picture with this article says all anyone needs to know about assigning stars to recruits.

  2. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Go see the stats on how many 5 stars have played in the super bowl.

  3. zotus zotus says:

    Only part of the story, indeed. Who would say otherwise?

    “I just felt like I needed to find somebody that could develop and evaluate quarterbacks.” That is what Gus Malzahn said when he introduced Auburn’s latest OC earlier this month.

    Gus Malzahn followed that statement by saying the following when asked if he will allow Auburn QBs to seek guidance (i.e. coaching) from QB coaches who are not on the Auburn coaching staff: “I’m going to leave that up to Chip (Lindsey). Chip’s our offensive coordinator. He’s going to have ownership.”


    Yes, getting young High School kids to sign a LOI to play football at your University is just part of the story. What you do with them once you have them on your team, is the other part of the story.

    What you do with them once you have them on your team, is the most important part of the story. Now, who would say otherwise?

    We all saw Gus Malzahn’s lips moving when he made his latest public statements about the Auburn football team … but, few of us could have believed that those words belonged to Gus Malzahn.

    Memo to Gus Malzahn: Coach Chip Lindsey does not have “ownership” of important football decisions at Auburn University. The person who told you to say that, did you a disservice.

    Memo to Jay Jacobs: You are the man in charge of the Auburn Football Program. You have the job. You have the responsibility. Who would say otherwise?

  4. dabble says:

    gus is smart. gus knows changes are needed. we’ll see how smart gus is. if he lets chip call the shots and lets chip allow our qbs to use outside tutoring…then gus is getting smarter. I think gus knows he needs to change some things. I think jj is kinda a douche – but I think he gets too much darth vadar rap. he’s now a bad fellow. he’s your typical jock ad who likes to micro manage b/c he thinks he’s the smartest kid in the building.

    methinks really – the real powers in the buildings told jj to back off.

  5. zotus zotus says:

    methinks really – the real powers in the buildings should have told jj not to make the same mistake with his second Auburn Football HC hire that he made with his first Auburn Football HC hire.

    just a thought.

  6. DBAU81 says:

    Back in 1979-80 Alabama was riding high, coming off another national championship, and we were struggling through the Barfield years. That year Auburn signed not a single one of the top 10 recruits in the State of Alabama; they all went to Bama or somewhere out of state. Four years later: Bama went 8-4 and to the Sun Bowl. We went 11-1 and got screwed out of the national championship. That tells you all you need to know about recruiting rankings. As much hype as Alabama gets for its recruiting, its recent run of success is more attributable to the coaching and development its players get once they arrive on campus.

  7. B-REAL says:

    There was some players on that 83 team that wasn’t apart of the recruiting class your talking about that was pretty good.Thats why they went 11-1.Bo!Come on guys recruiting is a stars and numbers game.The more ESPN 300 players you get the more you are likely to have better players.They don’t all end up good but the more you get the better chance you have.Not just one good recruiting class but a lot of them.A coach can look like a great one if he’s getting 18 ESPN 300’s compared to 8.If half of those turn in to good players year in and out then who is gonna be a better program the team with 18 almost every year or the team with 8?

  8. JRoweMDN says:

    I view recruiting more like this #1-5 is essentially a tie for #1 unless there is some big stand out recruit that will make a team great like Manziel, Cam, Watson, Jackson and that may make a team further down actually #1. Going on like that every 5 are basically tied for the next spot to about #30 then they don’t really matter the order. None of the numbers matter if you don’t get what you need and use what you get. I would take a #10-15 class with the right 4* and 3* depth every year with the right 5* occasionally falling in to make magic (Clemson). Then the coaches have to do what they get paid to do- develop. That can either be developing the player or the playbook to make the best of what you have. I think Gus saw that and has made the right steps to have both and the rumor he will let the QB seek an outside coach too. Gus is smart, but he is stubborn too, so let’s hope he figured it out and makes that next step.

  9. neonbets says:

    The recruiting services like Rivals do a great job of representing the overall strength of a school’s recruiting prowess. If you doubt this–which clearly you do–then just go back 2-6 years and look at the Rivals rankings and extrapolate where those teams finished a couple years later. It’s easy to do…sure you’ll find some outliers (like Texas under Charlie Strong), but by and large you’ll see for yourself–Rivals and Scout are spot on and far from horse crap.

    Top flight recruiting is a necessary condition to being a top flight program. Top flight recruiting just isn’t sufficient. [ie A top flight program needs more than just top flight recruiting.]

    Too many pundits pounce on the fact that top flight recruiting–on its own–is insufficient. And they do it to such a degree that they refuse to acknowledge that top-flight recruiting is, in fact necessary and therefore vital to the overall success of the program.

    • cmatt90 says:

      Spot on neonbets. Look at the pro bowl in the NFL this year. The percentage of 5* recruits that ends up making a pro bowl is much higher than the percentage of, for example, 3* recruits making the pro bowl (which I hope we can all agree is good rough measure of if a player panned out). Of course there are more 3* recruits that make the pro bowl, but that’s because there are many, many, many more 3* recruits than 5* recruits.

      So recruiting 5* and 4* isn’t everything, but no amount of coaching is going to win you a championship if you only pull in 3* recruits. Auburn’s doing an ok job of recruiting, but I’d like to see us in the top 5 every year instead of scraping to be in the top 10, and we sorely need to get at least a few 5* in every year in the hopes that one becomes a real transcendent talent, and we’re failing at that.

  10. […] of “stars” that may or may not mean anything in the long run and Jay Coulter posted a great article to such effect. I follow recruiting simply because it’s Auburn football, and until spring […]

  11. sparkey sparkey says:

    I am not sure how people think the development means more than six number one classes in a row. If he was that good at developing, he wouldn’t lose at all. Saban is over rated as a developer.

  12. B-REAL says:

    I read what Scarbinsky thinks.What he left out was the fact that Clemson hit two home runs recruiting Qb’s with Boyd and Watson during their 10 wins a year run they are on.On top of that they played in the ACC and out recruit every one in that Conference by a large margin except for FSU.Yeah they have beat Auburn the last 3 times they played but Watson and Boyd where there an where the best Qb’s in the country.As far as Auburn not getting 10 wins every year,they get out recruited by bama,lsu,and Uga every year and a&m,ole miss,tenn are not far behind Auburn.So what looks like a better route to 10 wins,Watson & Boyd in the ACC or Auburn playing in a conference where six or seven teams are in the top 15 in recruiting almost every year.