If you identify with terms like “college football fanatic,” “recruiting junkie,” or “single,” there’s a chance that today means a little something more to you than the average Wednesday. Indeed, today is an unofficial holiday, when Tom Luginbill warms the cockles of your heart, message boards come to life with the tales of imaginary sources, and grown men trade Facebook pokes with 18-year old athletes who would hate them if they knew them.
Welcome to National Signing Day, where national championships are really won. And dignity is really lost.
But not always. See, as technology keeps creating newer, faster, more ingenious ways for us to keep in touch, the high stakes game of scooping or swaying a recruit’s intentions has never been so easy to play. And though it’s not the kind of honor you hang on your mantle, some superfans out there have actually been pretty creative in their methods. Sort of.
What’s not creative, though, is the tired practice employed by many recruits of declaring for major college programs by using team hats. Or jerseys. Or foam fingers. Or nothing at all. Unfortunately, we’ve reached an uncomfortable spot in modern recruiting where the anticlimactic putting-on-the-cap-of-my-new-school doesn’t quite satisfy the obsession. And we’re taking a stand.
So, today, young football stars, when you sit down and sign away the next three or four years of your life, consider a new tactic. Instead of throwing on a jersey of your new team or alienating a fan base by pulling a bait-and-switch, consider something more creative.
In true Solid Verbal fashion, we’ve got some ideas:
The art of announcing a commitment is almost entirely a means of attracting attention to oneself. As expected, recruits milk this for all it’s worth (read: Terrelle Pryor, class of 2008; Seantrel Henderson, class of 2010). Regardless of when the announcement takes place, prospects have a truly unique opportunity to hold the general public hostage for a prolonged period of time by taking the spotlight off themselves and using messenger pigeons to carry their letter of intent to their top school. To build suspense, several doves could be released, making the process hectic and impossible to track on ESPNU. Would public perception of Jimmy Clausen have been different if he released five wayward doves into the Southern California sky instead of causing a commotion in front of the College Football Hall of Fame? Your answer: Only if doves know how to cut hair.
Any Other Live Animal
According to the Humane Society, there are approximately 171.1 million dogs and cats owned in the United States… yet no recruit has ever trained one to select their lucky school with a cute trick? How is this even possible? Teach a parrot to say the magic words, a monkey to put on a hat, or a dolphin to splash water in the right direction. Whatever. If there’s one thing we know about our society, it’s that children and pets are slam dunks when it comes to public relations. Who’s advising these kids? Iowa?
Recruiting is so closely monitored by fine services like Rivals, Scout and MaxPreps, that most pre-announcement leans are common knowledge weeks in advance. If owning the spotlight is truly the endgame, then conducting a popular vote via the Internet seems like the most logical solution. For what it’s worth, the results could be completely rigged — Iranian-style — in order to ensure that the recruit has the final say. The raw web traffic this would generate could be monetized and used as a laundering tactic to conceal improper benefits.
Million Dollar Money Drop
Never mind. This is an Auburn-only thing.
Heads Up Seven Up
What recruiting coordinator doesn’t have time to return to his elementary school roots for a spirited game of Heads Up Seven Up with the winner being rewarded with… Jadeveon Clowney?!? The thinking here is that a recruit could put his own spin on the game by pushing down the thumbs of all the schools which he will not be attending, only to reveal his twist while several recruiters are bubbling over with excitement. You know, just to be a dick.
Want to make message boards explode? Announce your decision using a 3,000-year old language like Aramaic, or something else that Google would have trouble translating, and then walk off the stage. No props. No histrionics. Just complete and utter confusion. If ancient languages aren’t readily available, using this one would probably be a viable alternative.
The ceremony is decidedly bare-bones, with only an empty table sitting in front of you and your eager audience. When you’re ready, take out your cell phone, send off an email with your decision to Julian@Wikileaks.com and simply wait. People will begin furiously checking their smart phones for hints, with somebody eventually getting through to the site to see your posted decision. If you manage to crash the site with so much instant traffic, you’re considered by many to be a hero, no matter your decision. If not, you’re possibly treasonous, but the publicity is still gangbusters. And that’s what you wanted all along.
Pull some strings and get your decision casually written into an episode of Leverage or The Closer. It’s not like anybody actually watches these shows, so there’s no real artistic compromise. You get national decision placement, they get your audience. Plus, it’s TNT, and they KNOW drama.
The Goldfish Trick
Are you familiar with Steve-O? How about the existence of different colored fish?* We’ll let you figure out the rest.** Bonus points if the recruit in question is a can’t-miss elite prospect whose decision demands TV cameras.
* This could be troublesome if a recruit is deciding between, say, Texas A&M and Mississippi State.
** If you can’t, the recruit secretly drinks a small fish with the same coloring as the school he’s choosing, and then proceeds to vomit the fish back up in the front of TV lights and a (mostly) horrified student body. Again, publicity is all that matters here.
We just wanted to type the word “Friendster” one last time.
Every recruiting “expert” in the recruiting world is always looking for the next big scoop, why not let them earn it? You’ve worked hard for four years, you’ve had to deal with the pressures of making a decision with powerful forces pulling you in different directions, now it’s time to lay back and enjoy the moment, as representatives from ESPNU, CBS, Rivals, Scout, MaxPreps, 24/7 Sports, etc. must bob through a bucket of something horrendous (think maggots, worms, or Taco Bell beef) for a slip of paper announcing the lucky school. The winning representative wins the right to air a basic announcement and exclusive interview. Everyone’s a winner.
In a coded statement, the decision is to be encrypted in a message next to a naked, murdered body in Paris’s Grand Gallery of the Louvre, posed liked Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. If desired, the message can also implicate various members of ancient, secretive Catholic organizations.*
* This has potential legal and copyright-infringing repercussions.
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