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Rue's Rant on College Sports in Alabama


February 1, 2010 3:42 PM

Football Recruiting Obsession Mystifying

QB Phillip Sims.jpgI have a confession to make: I find this obsession with college football recruiting mystifying.

What is that makes people spend hours poring over commitment and prospects lists and watching video highlights of these high school football players? Don't they have anything better to do?

They simply can't get enough of it, waiting eagerly for signing day to arrive. It's Wednesday by the way, although the recruiting obsession freaks already knew that. And as soon as it is over, they will start honing in on the prospects list for 2011 -- if they  haven't already.

I pay very little attention to recruiting because if a player has been a star in high school doesn't necessarily translate into being a star in college. The landscape is littered with big-time recruits who became big-time busts in college, although I don't like calling these youngsters busts. They might have been great high school players, but turned out be just average at the next level -- if they were able to stick around.

Besides, I have better things to do than keeping up with where guys I have never heard of are going to college. These news conferences and television shows to announce the college of their choice are ludicrous. I say get them into college and let them actually make an impact on the field before they can attract some attention.

Of course, that kind of thinking is considered old school, especially with what's happened in the past decade. Football recruiting has become a multi-million dollar business thanks to web sites such as rivals.com and scout.com, plus ESPN and MaxPreps, with their star system of rating players.

And colleges are spending more and more money on recruiting. According to a report Sunday in The Birmingham News, Alabama spent $750,045 in football recruiting expenses (or $27,779 per signee) for 2008-09.

That figure might top $1 million this year, which would be astounding (or rather ridiculous in my view).

Alabama fans are not complaining because the Crimson Tide just won the 2009 national championship and needs to reload to stay on top.

Auburn's recruiting budget also has increased. That's one reason the Tigers are headed to a top-five recruiting class for 2010. 

Auburn picked up another highly rated recruit on Monday when 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker from Warner Robins, Ga., chose the Tigers over Miami and Georgia. Rivals, Scout and ESPN rate Whitaker as a four-star player.

Alabama also will be in the top five thanks to the likes of Parade All-Americans Phillip Sims (quarterback from Chesapeake, Va., pictured above), Keenan Allen (defensive back from Greensboro, N.C.), Demarcus Milliner (defensive back from Millbrook, Ala.) and C.J. Mosley (linebacker from Theodore, Ala.).

With the kind of players Alabama and Auburn are going after, no wonder college football recruiting has replaced spring football practice as the No. 2 sport in the state behind the college football season. And national signing day has become like NFL draft day in Alabama.

Apparently, this football recruiting obsession is here to stay, so I might as well get used to it.

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