Recruiting just part of puzzle


Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 11:38 p.m.

There are two kinds of college football fans in this world.

There are those who think recruiting is their second favorite sport. The live it, breath it, sleep it. They are a bunch of lemmings (you didn't think it was a coincidence that one of the top recruiting analysts is named Tom Lemming, do ya?) who will tell you that recruiting is the lifeblood of their sport.

Then there is everybody else, those fans who sit back and make fun of recruitniks and their “heavy leans” and “quiet commitments.” They think recruiting is overblown and have a long list of five-star busts to use as examples.

Actually there is a third kind of football fan and I fall into this category — the people who believe a little bit of both.

Is recruiting important? Of course. Does it guarantee anything? Nope.

Is it OK to make fun of a guy who tells you, “We have a soft verbal from a four-star nickel back with good hips who de-committed from Notre Dame, but he's still visiting Michigan?”

Absolutely.

Recruiting rankings will come out next week and will be poured over as if they were as important as the Magna Carta. They are relatively meaningless. Otherwise, how could Kentucky — with an average ranking the last four years of 50 — take Tennessee — with an average ranking of 10 — to triple overtime?

Here is what strong recruiting means — it means you have a chance.

Here's what poor recruiting means — you still have a chance, just not a very good one.

What Urban Meyer is doing with a third straight class considered to be among the nation's best is giving Florida a chance to reach all of its goals, to win championships. The former coach at UF once told the media it wasn't “about the Xs and Os but the Jimmys and Joes.” The truth is that it's about both plus a lot more.

You can win without great players, but not consistently. And you can lose with great players.

Recruiting is important, but it's just one piece of an elaborate puzzle.

ANKLE DEEP

Tom Brady's injured ankle continues to be a bigger story than, oh, something silly like strategy or game plans at the Super Bowl.

I have an idea for Brady that will make him the most popular player to ever play the game. Actually, it's not an original idea. In fact, he only needs to look within the Boston city limits for the inspiration.

Now I'm not saying Curt Schilling did this, but we all know there have been allegations that he painted that red stuff on his Sox when he pitched Boston to a Game 6 win in the 2004 ALCS. Schilling has always insisted that it was blood leaking out of the stitches in his ankle.

Either way, imagine if what appears to be blood is seeping into Brady's sock as he is leading the Patriots on the winning drive. Got any red fingernail polish, Tommy?

Just an idea.

By the way, I officially became sick of Super Bowl hype on Tuesday night. Wake me when it's 6 p.m. Sunday.

RENT TO OWN:

OK, I know why college coaches are willing to take head coaching jobs in the NFL. If you could triple your salary, you'd go, too.

But based on everything but money, why would a college coach make the jump?

First of all, most of them fail. For every Jimmy Johnson, there are a dozen Nick Sabans. Secondly, so many of the owners are control freaks.

Are you seeing what's going on in the league now? Crazy Al Davis is trying to force out his coach after one year. Jerry Jones is hiring assistant coaches who have ties to the coach-in-waiting Jason Garrett as if current coach Wade Wilson won't notice. And Redskins owner Dan Snyder is hiring and firing assistant coaches as if he was the head coach. But, of course, he has yet to hire a head coach.

The more you read about franchises who do it wrong, the more you appreciate the Patriots.

UGLY PICTURE:

Speaking of reading, check out the series the Seattle Times did called “Victory and Ruins.” It chronicles the off-the-field troubles of several University of Washington football players during Rick Neuheisel's tenure as head coach.

It's a disgusting portrayal of a renegade program with coaches and administrator who look the other way and a justice system that protects the football players. Every time I see a football movie about the college game, I always scoff at the way programs are portrayed. But after reading this series, I scoff no more.

THE GAME:

We're lucky in the SEC because coaches who leave keep coming back setting up bitter rivalries that normally wouldn't be venomous.

Really, would anyone care about Arkansas-Mississippi if not for the Houston Nutt factor? Look what Steve Spurrier's re-appearance in the league has done for Florida-South Carolina. Sure, LSU vs. Alabama is always big, but Saban's situation made it bigger.

The rest of the college football world usually can only salivate about possible matchups like those although we did come close to seeing Florida-Illinois this year.

All this is a prelude to what I'd love to see this season — a Michigan-West Virginia bowl game.

I doubt that West Virginia will be over Rich Rodriguez by bowl season.

THE BUMP: If you were at the Florida-Kentucky game and saw UF's Nick Calathes knock down Ramel Bradley during a timeout, you may be wondering why nothing was called. Kentucky fans were livid about the incident and Bradley refused Calathes' hand as he sat on the court.

SEC supervisor of officials Gerald Boudreaux reviewed the incident and told the Lexington Herald-Leader what he saw.

“I saw accidental contact after the play was over,” Boudreaux said. “(Calathes) lost his balance and fell into the Kentucky player. ... It was during a dead ball. It was clearly not intentional, not one of those head butts. It was one of those momentum things. He couldn't stop.”

PAT-POURRI:

Congrats to former Gator Scott Dunlap, who started the Nationwide Tour season with a win in Panama City, Panama. Dunlap, who has been off and on the PGA Tour, won $108,000 and took a big step toward regaining his card. Former UF player Matt Every finished 12th in the event. ... I'm not a bandwagon guy but I really think this Tiger Woods fellow has a chance to be pretty good. ... The odds on Britney Spears streaking at the Super Bowl are 100-1 while the odds of Tom Petty smoking a joint at halftime are 25-1. ... The Britney bet seems like a sure thing to me. ... Andre Caldwell has moved up in the NFL Draft board based on his work at the Senior Bowl and may be a late first-round pick. Good for Bubba. ... The SEC hoops tournament was looking like it would be lacking sex appeal but imagine if Kentucky needs to win the whole thing to make the NCAA Tournament. ... Which seems likely. ... I'm sure you are all waiting for my Super Bowl pick so here it is — Pats 27-23 ... And a streaking Britney ... And the best halftime show ever. ... Be safe.

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