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February 8, 2013

Aaron Brenner commentary: It’s not the stars, mate, it’s how you use them after signing day

AUBURN, Ala. — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier took some heat for building “only” Rivals.com’s 16th-best class in America — which is also the eighth-best in his conference. Or, seventh-worst. So it goes in the totalitarian SEC.

Spurrier sounded more bugged by the notion of recruiting rankings than the ranking itself.

“You’re not going to see me doing a whole bunch of rah-rah-ing on signing day,” Spurrier said at a press conference Wednesday. “I don’t think I ever have too much. I’m not trying to sound like it’s not important, but we’d rather make our noise out here in Williams-Brice on game day.”

Man’s got a point.

Look, sports are supposed to be fun. College sports are supposed to be pure. So, by all means, let your heart warm at the sight of Gus Malzahn, Rodney Garner and their staff reveling in the pleasant victories they enjoyed yesterday — reeling in Montravius Adams and others ordaining Rivals’ eighth-best overall class of 2013.

AUBURN FOOTBALL

Bravo, Gustav.

If you think lofty ratings in February portends success in the fall, though … you’re not paying attention. Let’s not forget, Adams has two more stars than Auburn had wins last year. These are facts.

Here’s my two problems with the ballyhooed, ESPN-driven event that is national signing day: Reuben Foster and the class of 2010.

Foster brought much of this upon himself, changing his mind like he changed his clothes. But it was painful watching him make his forced decision Monday night.

When he went on Fox Sports South and told the region he was attending Alabama over Auburn … I mean, if you were naïve to college football and had the TV on mute, you’d swear he was picking which Sesame Street character to fire based on his body language, stricken with angst and anxiety.

Reuben Foster, the poor kid, momentarily stopped loving football on the biggest night of his football life. That’s a serious problem.

Here’s the other: I have never, ever understood why fans are more fervent over what might be in 2015 than what is in 2013.

I’ve got many friends at Scout, Rivals and 247Sports — some who have explicitly helped me rise in this business — and I’ve told them directly, I’m amazed how booming their industry has become based on — pardon me — guesswork.

No offense. It’s just … Auburn has been down this road before, no? This is four straight top-ten recruiting years.

Borrowing the cliché, that and a buck will get you half a cup of coffee.

Borrowing another, don’t shoot the messenger.

Take this year’s BCS bowl series participants, and their subsequent recruiting ranks.

Of course, you had your usual suspects at the top: Alabama first, Notre Dame third, Florida fourth, Florida State ninth. A little bit further down, Oregon 21st — not too shabby after Chip Kelly’s departure.

But look how the other half lives. Wisconsin, Louisville, Stanford and Kansas State couldn’t crack the top 50. Northern Illinois — say what you want about its BCS merits — was 108th, also combatting a coaching change.

How about this: they say it takes three years to evaluate a recruiting class. Well, consider the coaches responsible for six of the top eleven 2010 Rivals classes: No. 1 USC, 2 Texas, 4 Auburn, 8 UCLA, 9 Tennessee, and 11 Cal.

Four coaches — Gene Chizik, Jeff Tedford, Derek Dooley and Rick Neuheisel — were also fired. Two more, Lane Kiffin and Mack Brown, feel their seats rising in toasty-ness.

The combined record of those six programs in 2012? 36-40. You tell me how their class of 2010 panned out.

Good for Adams, Elijah Daniel and Carl Lawson and how they make Scout, Rivals and 247Sports swoon. The moment they get on Auburn’s campus, Dee Ford and Angelo Blackson aren’t going to be impressed by how many stars are next to their name.

Former Tigers tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, a highly courted four-star out of Georgia, couldn’t take what he was seeing on ESPNU any longer.

The well-respected yet outspoken graduate tweeted, “Just sign your letter, work hard and be quiet if u know what’s best for you. Upperclassmen don’t think your LOI antics r cool or funny”.

Departing linebacker Daren Bates followed his teammate’s comment with: ‘Yal gon have these recruits goin in thinkin that them (stars) matter…smh”. He was shaking his head. He’s not alone.

Just so you know, Bates was a two-star.

Just so you know, Bates is one of Auburn’s top twelve tacklers ever.

Just so you know, being labeled with lots of stars never guarantees you’ll be one.

Aaron Brenner, abrenner@ledger-enquirer.com

1 Comment

  1. Well said.
    Tom Luginbill(sp) stated that the day after signing day they were all two star athletes, trying to make the team.
    I wish these guys the best of luck, although I wish the team much success, and quickly since I’m wishing….

    WAR EAGLE!

    Comment by KoolBell777 — February 8, 2013 @ 9:02 am

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