NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, February 2,
By Bethany Bradsher
Recruiting punditry a slippery
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major poll ranking the serious presidential contenders for 2012, one that
analyzes each candidates’ chance of becoming the next commander-in-chief.
But imagine that this particular poll was conducted and released seven
months before the previous election in 2008.
Or, what if
I distributed a probable class rank for my daughter’s graduating class, the
seniors of 2015? After all, she is in the eighth grade, so it’s never too
early for conjecture.
ridiculous, but these scenarios aren’t too difficult from the ones being
played out with great scientific gravity on recruiting websites that rate
the classes of teenagers who will be unveiled today, college football’s
National Signing Day.
If a recruit
takes a redshirt, and much of the ranking is linked to his likely success as
a senior, these pundits are predicting events that are some five years in
as a sports-loving culture, we become more enraptured with numbers,
especially rankings. When I first joined a fantasy football league in the
mid ‘90s, most sports publications ignored and even shunned fantasy leaguers
and their hunger for specific stats. Now, even the gold standard of the
industry, “Sports Illustrated,” devotes a section to fantasy
geeks have emerged from the shadows into the trendy mainstream, and in no
realm is their obsession so roundly celebrated as in the world of
recruiting. Using complicated equations that might give Pythagoras pause,
recruiting experts crunch numbers like size, speed, high school team record
and academic promise to establish whether Jimmy from Central High, who
spends most of his time playing Black Ops and making fast-food runs, will be
part of the great difference-making class of 2015 or 2016 for his promised
Just to get
it out there, two of the top sources for these dubious rankings – Scout.com
and ESPN.com – have Florida State’s recruiting class at the top of the heap
for 2011. Rivals.com believes that Alabama’s class is the best. East
Carolina isn’t mentioned in Rivals.com’s Top 50, although the site does have
the Pirates’ class as sixth out of the 12 teams in Conference USA. ECU
doesn’t appear in ESPN’s top 25 poll, and the next crop of Pirates is ranked
85th overall by Scout.com.
Carolina isn't even within shouting distance of the big BCS powers in this
particular measure. But are these rankings that deserve a second glance?
sportswriter, Scott Terrell of the Tucson Citizen, points out the
inherent issues with the daunting prospect of measuring so many young
football players from so many backgrounds objectively against one another.
“As with anything involving
sports they came up with a way to keep score so fans can brag when they win
and sulk when they lose,” Terrell wrote. “There are more recruiting websites
than you can shake a stopwatch at and they all come up with rankings based
on a star system. If you’re a five-star player you’re supposed to be the
Tebow. If you’re
a one-star player you’d better get used to filling water bottles.
But how do you rank high school kids from
around the country who attend schools of all sizes and play against
varying competition? That’s the magic of recruiting rankings. Or, if you
prefer, that’s the steaming pile of worthlessness of recruiting rankings.”
publications and websites are sure to have a file cabinet of information
about Isaiah Crowell from Columbus, GA, the top-rated running back in the
nation with a 4.43 40. But does Rival.com’s reach extend to Virginia Beach’s
Jeton Beavers, a big defensive end who played less than half a season for
his high school team but still earned a scholarship from East Carolina?
Beavers is irrefutable evidence that for staffs like Ruffin McNeill’s, the
magic of recruiting isn’t in Internet predictions or intricate formulas, but
in the hours spent on the road and on the phone talking to those who know
the true ins and outs of a young man’s character.
Pirate Nation celebrates the hope that underscores National Signing Day,
what makes the day truly special for a program like ECU isn’t exulting in
the acquisition of a top-ranked athlete but looking at the faces of these
new Pirates and wondering which one will one day emerge as the next Dustin
Lineback or Vonta Leach.
inspiration, when the No. 85 rating threatens to discourage, ECU fans should
look to Boise State, which has made a perennial sport out of doing it
differently than the big boys and then knocking them off their feet.
Broncos’ staff feels great about its incoming class, even if the perennial
BCS-buster isn’t even part of the recruiting Top 50 touted by Scout.com.
According to head coach Chris Petersen, the coaches pride themselves on
finding players who haven’t received a single college offer but who stand up
under Boise State’s meticulous research.
Broncos recruiters don’t take anyone else’s word for it when it comes to
choosing their players, Petersen said. Quarterback Kellen Moore only heard
from one other school – Idaho – before choosing Boise State, and as a Bronco
he has a 28-3 record while under center.
really comes down to they're good football (players),” Peterson said in an
interview published by Associated Press. “You put the tape on and you like
them a lot as a player and then you do your homework and that's where most
people won't do it. It's amazing out there the lack of homework that's
really done and people will just end up offering guys because everyone else
has. 'If they've offered him then he must be a good player.' We try to stay
away from that as much as we can."
recruiting, homegrown heroes, coaches with plenty of heart and something to
prove. Put those factors into a ranking, and chances are good East Carolina
will rise to the top of the chart with schools like Boise State who want
only to find the gem that the recruiting websites leave on the cutting room
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02/02/2011 03:20 AM