Today is National Signing Day. For those of you who don’t follow college football — and if you fall into that category, you really should reconsider your life priorities — National Signing Day is the day that high school athletes sign letters committing to attend certain schools. National Signing Day has become a kind of holiday for sports fans, even though the only sports-related activity is the athlete picking up a pen and signing his name. It has become like Selection Sunday, when the NCAA Tournament field is announced, or the day that pitchers and catchers reports for spring training.
The dynamics of National Signing Day are interesting to observe. Most teams go into the Day with a roster of “verbals” — athletes who have already verbally committed to sign their letter of intent. However, there are always a few holdouts who announce their decision on National Signing Day, usually by picking among the caps of competing teams and putting on the hat of the winning school. As a result, evaluation of recruiting success or failure becomes perversely skewed to the holdouts. Fans of schools like Ohio State, which already has “verbals” from more than 20 excellent athletes, will focus on the holdouts and feel let down if their team doesn’t land one, when they should be focused less on the prima donnas and more on the corps of fine players who long ago agreed to be part of their school’s program.
When National Signing Day comes, coaches get to finally talk about their recruits. After they have done so, I imagine they breathe a sign of relief, and then start planning their next recruiting trip.