Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Signing Day Betrayal

Going into today, we had an arguably top 5 recruiting class committed to sign with the Irish.

Coming out, we've got a top 10 class.

The drop was due to a couple of last minute defections. Greg Little, WR out of North Carolina, was telling people as recently as yesterday afternoon that he was signing with the Irish. Today he signed a letter of intent with the North Carolina Tarheels. Chris Little, offensive lineman out of Georgia, also had verbally committed to the Irish, but today changed his mind and signed a letter of intent with the Georgia Bulldogs.

Justin Trattou's defection a couple of weeks ago stung, but Coach Weis had time to go out and find another guy to take his spot - Brian Smith.

These kids that flip-flop on signing day don't understand how unethical and far-reaching their actions really are. If they had done this two weeks ago, the Irish could have recovered and signed another receiver and another O-lineman. Believe me, there are plenty chomping at the bit.

But because they waited until today to jump ship, without so much as a peep to the coaching staff that they were wavering, we were forced to sign a class that is far too small for our needs.

However, it isn't Greg Little that I am really pissed at. It is the irresponsible rumor-mongering of writers like Tim Prister at, who wrote an uninformed article just days ago speculating that Greg Little would be moved to linebacker and Chris Little to defensive line. He had no rational basis for these statements, but he published them regardless. The next day, rumors were circulating that both players might be considering their hometown schools. Then, today they both switch their commitments.

I am as big of a fan of recruiting as anyone, but the people who write for these recruiting sites aren't journalists. In fact, they are little more than bloggers with an expense account. For example, only a couple of years ago, Bob Lichtenfels was working at a steel mill. He posted to message boards, and suddenly got noticed by someone at Now he's a full time columnist. He has NO training in journalism or journalistic ethics. He has no formal training in evaluating talent. He has no real football experience to speak of.

But he writes a couple of words on a website, and suddenly these impressionable 18-year-olds get nervous. Add to the mix biased high school head coaches, arguable unethical recruiting practices by coaches (I'm talking to you, Urban), peer pressure from classmates, parents who often have their own agendas, and the anonymous message board poster, and you've got all the ingredients for uncertainty.

Which is why we need, as I've said before, an early signing day. Before the season, let a limited number of kids sign their LOIs for each school (say about 10), and they become off limits. Coaches can get a sense of where kids stand, and re-marshall their resources for the stretch run. If Greg Little had balked at signing a letter in August, then Coach Weis could have spent more time chasing down Aurelious Benn or any number of other interested wide receivers.

As it is, though, the sky is not falling. As I said, we come out of today with a top 10 class, and we'll have that a few more scholarships to hand out next year.

Our athleticism is on the rise, and although we'll have depth problems again next year, we will survive. And we'll win 10 games. Count on it.