It may not be Festivus yet, but recruiting season is all year, so there's never a bad time to talk about it. And today that means I gotta lot of problems with you people. See, you can hardly ever follow a recruiting discussion on a message board without running into one of these obnoxities. (I don't think that's a word, but whatever.) If you're someone who says things like this, please reinvent your outlook toward recruiting, because you're annoying me and everyone else:
- "This guy's only a two-star? We don't need him."
Ah yes, the quintessential recruitjerk. An anonymous scout somewhere looked at some film, or watched a guy do a drill or two at a camp, didn't like what he saw as much as he was hoping to, and you don't like the player because of it. The rating does not have a third star next to it; the player is a bum and not worthy of the uniform. This is a rare breed of recruitjerk, but just how rare is difficult to know because they're almost always shouted down the moment they prairie-dog their heads into the light. UVA fans are in general almost totally innocent of this crime; the opposite infraction is our usual transgression.
- "Pat White was a two-star."
The usual erroneous reply to the above jackass. Those applying this argument are guilty of probably about nine different fallacies of logic. Great, out of the eight hundred two-star recruits rated each year by the services, you found one (Pat White, the former quarterback extraordinaire at West Virginia is a common example) and it proves your point beyond reproach that the ratings services don't know what they're talking about at all.
- "This guy's a stud!!!"
If there's one thing that occasionally drives me crazy about UVA fans it is our habit of overrating the shit out of the talent we recruit and put on the field. (Besides that, "stud" is the #1 overused word in all of recruiting, just ahead of "academics.") The quintessential example is Keith Payne, who walked on water, apparently, until the minute he stepped on the field, where he proved to be pretty much exactly what he was rated as. There are several subcategories of This Guy's A Stud, including....
- "This guy's a stud....check out his highlights!!!"
Highlight films are called that for a reason. And everyone's got 'em. If the guy couldn't routinely run past high school opponents, outhit them, outthrow them, outblock them, whatever, he wouldn't even be a prospect. Everyone that colleges recruit, even D-III colleges, is a standout in high school. On rare occasions, the highlight film is useful. But when coaches evaluate film, there's a reason they look just as much at the bad as the good.
- "This guy's a stud....check out his 40 time!!!"
Which is almost always fake-ish. Especially if it was timed by his high school. Besides, how many times in football do you run in a straight line for 40 yards?
- "This guy's a stud....I saw him play once!!!"
OK, professional scout.
- "This guy's a stud....check out his stats!!!"
Like highlight films, yes, they're always impressive, or the kid wouldn't be a prospect. And like highlight films, they have varying degrees of usefulness, and usually aren't worth much. KP Parks would be an example of an exception, but that's just about the kind of eye-popping stat line it takes to really make an impression.
- "He's looking elsewhere? Good riddance."
This after we have sung his praises when he committed. Sometimes the mere hint that a guy might be having second thoughts about his commitment is enough for a few people to slam the door on his backside.
- "He hasn't committed already? What's his problem? Guess he doesn't want to be here. We should move on."
The most annoying of all possible reactions to a guy who's dragging his feet a little, after the recruiting gurus have assured us he's half in the door already. This happened with at least one of our recruits this year - and he committed in May. The irritating part is that the only reason we know - or think we do - that he's heavily favoring any school, is because of reports that speculate as such. Largely the opinion of the gurus, which is enough for the occasional impatient fan to go off the deep end and want to close the door on a guy who's on his own damn timetable, not ours.
- "He committed elsewhere? Well, I didn't think he was all that good anyway. Besides, we weren't recruiting him all that hard."
Aesop warned us about that one. This one falls a bit more into the territory of our country cousins from Blacksburg, but if you look long enough you'll find a UVA fan who delights in accusing Hokies of claiming sour grapes over recruits like Watford (and they do, too) and without a trace of intended irony, do the same a week later.
- "I'd rather have a lower-rated player from Virginia than a higher-rated player from out of state."
Urm, what? I really saw this one time and it was at the end of a drawn-out argument that I didn't feel like extending, but it was flabbergasting. UVA fans always get really excited when UVA pulls a number of Virginia's top recruits, which is natural and correct because every one we get is one Tech doesn't. But this would be the illogical extreme. This is how you know you've lost sight of what matters: when you'd rather have a worse player that fewer programs want over a (theoretically) more talented player. The program exists to win football games, not play a game of who's more popular in the state.
Being that I do the lion's share of my message board yakking with fellow UVA fans on UVA sites, these observations tend to be gleaned from there too, but these are the more or less universal ones. They're like nails on a chalkboard, too. It's bad enough we're a world of grown-ass men hanging on the words and whims of seventeen-year-olds, but long ago I figured that's just the way it is. It's when the same supposedly grown-ass men start acting like twelve-year-olds over the whims of seventeen-year-olds that it gets to be too much. So since there's nothing I enjoy like getting preachy, part 2, when it comes, will be all about how you can attach a rational thought to this whole recruiting process without being a dweeb about it. Step one is don't write a blog.