Friday, February 6, 2009

Delusions of gridiron grandeur

Lots of coverage and TV cameras are directed at the winners of National Signing Day. It's easy to find the fun and optimism in Los Angeles, Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, Austin and Gainesville on Super Wednesday.

However, hardly anyone pays much attention to the programs mired in the ghettoes of the recruiting rankings. Not me. I love a good underdog - from a distance. Here's a sampling from the delusional gentlemen who think recruiting rankings are full of shit.'s team rankings showed me the way to the bottom. Be careful. There's a lot of service academies down here:

109. Bowling Green
“We certainly won more battles than we lost,” (Bowling Green Dave) Clawson said. “If you’re going after the right guys, you’re not going to get them all. We held onto the players we wanted to. ... We had a great hit ratio, one of the highest I’ve ever seen."

109. Buffalo
"When you go into Florida and you go into Texas it's not easy because everyone all over the country is down there," (Buffalo coach Turner) Gill said. "Our coaching staff has done a great job building relationships and we'll continue to do that as far as getting those players down there." ... "... this class is strong from top to bottom."

112. Army
Believe it or not, I really couldn't find a written report about the Black Knights' incoming class. There doesn't appear to be a daily newspaper anywhere within earshot of West Point. Or maybe it's just classified information.

112. Temple
"This is the most talented class we've had," (Temple coach Al) Golden said. "If you want to be big, powerful, strong team, you have to recruit that way. This group's height averages 6-2½, and this offensive line averages 319 pounds. They look like you want them to look around here. They're big. They're physical, and the length, the athleticism, and the speed of this group are like no other group we've brought in here."

112. Louisiana-Monroe
“I believe that this is the best class we’ve had since we’ve been here,” (ULM coach Charlie) Weatherbie said. “But that is all to be seen once we get them here running around and learning our scheme.”

112. Utah State
"When kids walked in here, they felt unbelievably good," (Utah State coach Gary) Andersen said. "And of the kids who tripped here with their parents, we got 100 percent of them."
"... We brought in about 28 or 29 kids, I think," Andersen said, "and of those we got about 20 of them."

Notable: The Aggies' top quarterback recruit, Jeff Manning of Logan High, will go on a mission before enrolling at the school.

116. Nevada
"It's a good, solid class I think with some excellent skill (and) very strong front people on both sides of the ball," said (Nevada coach Chris) Ault, who returned to the sideline in 2004 and this fall will be in his 25th year overall as Nevada's coach. "The majority of kids you go after -- you don't get everybody you want -- but this is a real solid class with a lot of kids that are going to be competing (for playing time) next year."

117. Syracuse
"I'm extremely satisfied with this class," (Syracuse coach Doug Marrone) said. "I never put much into the ratings of players (by recruiting services). I care about what my opinion is and the rest of our staff, because what I've been about, and I've been about this my whole life, is I've been about development . . . the development of players. We'll develop football players, and in the end we plan on winning football games."

118. Louisiana-Lafayette
"We want to look in this state first before we go (out of state)," (ULL coach Rickey) Bustle said. "I think this is a heck of a class. The biggest thing you look for besides your athletic abilities is how kids are going to fit into this program. We've been developing this program for quite some time. We're losing some awfully good seniors."

119. Air Force
"We looked at every position," (Air Force coach Troy) Calhoun said. "We're going to have another small group of freshman players, but we're pleased with the quality.

120. Navy
"I think some recruits questioned whether our program would go downhill after Coach Johnson left. Certain other schools told them that would happen," said (Navy coach Ken) Niumatalolo, clearly referring to Army and Air Force. "Those other schools were telling kids that they were closing the gap on us. However, the recruits saw what happened on the field, saw that our program is still very strong and successful."

Get it? Everyone was a winner Wednesday, from Norman to Annapolis. No one finishes 1-11 in February, no matter how many one- and two-star recruits are making their way onto your campus.

The real losses don't start to count until September. G'luck, coaches.

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