Bob Smizik: Signing Day a farce

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Imagine the outrage if the NFL announced tomorrow that the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks had the first pick, instead of the 32nd, in the upcoming draft? That would mean instead of the worst team, Houston, having the first shot at the consensus No. 1 college player -- which is only fair -- the best team would.

Fans would be in an uproar and pundits would be predicting the abrupt decline of the NFL as the premier sports league in this country.

But what was described in the first paragraph pretty much characterizes NCAA football and fans are not in an uproar and pundits are silent about the significant inequities that exist in that sport.

Today is Signing Day in college football. It is the day when the vast majority of high-end high school seniors tell the world where they'll be playing next season. It’s viewed as a day of hope, a day where no team is a loser.

But that’s not really true. In actuality, Signing Day is a day where the rich get richer. A day where the poor continue to wallow in mediocrity. And a day when no one complains about the inequities of the process.

It won’t be Purdue, 1-11, or Virginia, 2-10, or California, 1-11, that will be getting the top available players. No, as always, those schools and others like them will be left to pick at the scraps of the high school recruiting process.

The teams signing the best of the best are the ones that finished last season among the best of the best. The rich get richer. It’s not fair, but no one says a word.

In the rankings of the expected recruiting classes by the site 247Sports.com, the powerful Southeastern Conference, which has played in the past eight national title games and won seven of them, placed seven teams in the top 10. The SEC was 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10. The other three spots went to Big Ten power Ohio State (second), national champion Florida State (fifth) and Notre Dame (eighth).

It’s possible these rankings will be altered slightly if some players change their minds today, but, for the most part, they will hold steady.

Here’s how the SEC and all major schools were ranked by the other recruiting services:

ESPN.com had SEC teams at 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 10

Scout.com had SEC teams at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, as well as 11 and 13.

Rivals.com had SEC teams 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9.

Alabama, national champion three times in the past five years, was the No. 1-ranked team by all four sites. The Crimson Tide are listed as having five five-star recruits and 15 four-star recruits by 247Sports.com. Only four other teams have more than one five-star recruit. All are from the SEC.

This, of course, doesn’t mean the SEC is going to win the national championship every year. It does mean it continues to have the best chance of doing so. It also means lesser conferences and particularly lesser teams in those conferences have less chance of beginning to approach the SEC’s level of success.

In the Atlantic Coast Conference it was much the same story of the rich getting richer. Florida State, Miami and Clemson were the highest-ranked teams. Pitt was ranked seventh in the 14-team conference by Scout, eighth by 247Sports and ninth by Rivals. There were seven ACC teams ranked by ESPN.com, which lists only 40 teams, meaning Pitt, not one of the seven, would be no better than eighth on that site.

• Pitt was ranked 41 by Rivals.com and Scout.com and 42 by 247Sports.com.

• Penn State was ranked 21 by two of the sites and 22 by the other two.

• West Virginia had rankings of 38, 39, 43 and 46.

Across the country, college football fans are celebrating Signing Day as the arrival of hope. For the most part, they’re only kidding themselves.


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