Recruiting is terrible and it's your fault

There’s a magical time in every year, between the end of the college football playoff and early February when some men’s thoughts turn to 17 year old boys posing in selfies on Instagram.  It’s dark magic. For some, they've follow these boys since the boys were 15 and first measured and photographed by other middle aged men who put these pictures on the internet. Did I mention it was dark magic? Men will sit by their computers on the first Wednesday of February and their entire mood for months on end will fixate on whether 17 year old boys will come and perform for them at their university. 

Men will watch videos of boys, evaluate their size, their hips, their hand size. They’ll wonder if a boy might change positions or be a tweener or have the frame to sustain weight. 

It’s recruiting season and it’s terrible and worse, it’s all your fault. 

Before we move on, we’d like to point out that we aren’t saying recruiting isn’t important, oh no, quite the contrary, it’s very important, it’s just become a meat market that social media has, shockingly, made so much worse. It’s always important, chiefly so, to have the best players or at least better players than your opponent. However, the backwash of message boards, twitter accounts, Instagram and hashtags have made the search for great players unbearable. Here are the low-lights. 

They’re teenagers

Swag. Some have it. I'm going to vomit.

Swag. Some have it. I'm going to vomit.

Recruiting is the only time that grown men actually want to seek out and follow the day to day lives of teenage boys. Teenage boys are moody, over-hormoned, acne covered creatures that are caught between that cute phase of kids under 10 and death. They like terrible music, worse cars, and have the decision making abilities indicative of their not yet to fully develop cognitive reasoning. That's called science kids. High school boys like to think that things have “swag” or events are “lit.” It’s the only time that a male may use words like swag or lit without either engaging in a career in the music industry or wearing flat billed caps and jorts while engaging a career as a sandwich artist. Teenage boys aren’t to be trusted. Don’t stand next to them, they listen to Drake and Rick Ross. It's like standing next to musical small pox. 

They handle attention like…teenagers 

My twitter timeline is crammed with retweets of high school males retweeting other males retweeting their own retweets. It’s like a terrible Star Trek episode. Who am I kidding, every Star Trek episode is terrible. Sorry Gene Roddenberry, we speak the truth on the Roundup.

Shockingly, highly regarded recruits and almost all recruits become tiny little narcissists during the recruiting process. Their social media followers quadruple and the jock sniffing is at such insane levels as all the attention goes strait to their heads. And why not, most high value recruiting targets are coddled from the time they throw a spiral. Shoe companies fly them across the country to shower them with bags of swag at lit events solely focused on hips and hands. Bags of swag used to be quarantined by the Federal government, maybe Trump can't fix that in his first 100 days. The high school recruit can do no wrong. In his mind, which, and this can’t be emphasize enough, is cognitively impaired, the world wants, nay, needs to tune in hear who his top 10 schools are or how swag their trip to State U was or which coach was on the couch tonight.

Here’s the problem, some of you want to tune in. You love it. In 140 characters or an Instagram selfie a whole week could be ruined or validated. We’ve created monsters who expect that college involves cookies cakes, hostesses, and endless retweets. For the record college  should involve Ramen Noodles, poor choices and, statistically speaking, an STD. 

It’s full of idiocracy

Nick, you're a grown man. Stop it.

Nick, you're a grown man. Stop it.

At the Army All America game and any of the 38 other high school all star games that plague our TV sets in January a vile tradition has evolved, the hat selection. It goes like this, at some point, in the middle of the game mind you, a player and his parents, handlers, agents, bagmen, and publicist stand behind a table and announce to the world where they will be going to college by selecting one of 3-4 hats, all lined up. Every bill flat. Jorts at the ready. The little monster then selects the hat, usually after, get this, faking like he’s going to put on another hat, and boom thousands of middle aged men randomly hug their wives or if the wrong hat is selected, will need to go for a walk to clear the air. Yep, it’s the Gatorade bath of the new willennium. Gatorade baths killed George Allen, look it up. The hat dance is worse, though with less fatalities. For now. And here's the kicker, the hat dance shockingly isn't binding on the athlete, they can change their impaired mind at any time. And they do. Then they get to pen a heartfelt message to the jilted school that goes inevitably like this; "Man State has been great, but I've grown a lot in the last 7 hours and I'm reopening my recruiting so I can get more swag at lit events."

Other recruiting milestones of stupidity are the photoshopped super hero/uniform pic, the two line emoticon sentence and the worst - the Good Charlotte of recruiting - the “vague” hint tweet. Listen Johnny, you don’t know how to be vague, you don’t know what a hint is. You paid money to see “Get Hard”…twice. These bits will get worse, they have to, society demands it. Here’s my thought, line up coeds from each school choice and choose by making out with the winner. On second thought don’t do that. And for the love of Pete, stop Dabbing. It’s the dumbest thing since the whip or the nae nae, I can’t remember which of those was worse. 

We’ve created Frankenrecruits

It’s about personal responsibility at the Roundup and though it hurts to say: It’s your fault. You’ve subscribed to the websites, you comb through the message boards, you hashtag at recruits, you like their Instagrams, heck, some of you approach these boys personally to share your wisdom on Big State.

You. Are. The. Problem.

You’ve created a multi-million dollar industry out of the recruiting cycle and it’s only growing. And here’s the real problem, we’re setting these kids up to fail. We promise the moon and stars and when they don’t pan out, when the team finishes 7-5, we discard the little narcissists like a recently binged Netflix title. We’re on to the next new hotness, the next five star, can’t miss kid. Or the can't miss kid doesn't get his way, is coached hard, or doesn't see the field enough, he's gone as quickly as he picked the hat. Coaches not surprisingly hate recruiting. Even the ones that love it, hate it. I takes up too much time and the decommitment epidemic renders much of that time wasted. Often a 50 year old coach is forced to dive into the pungent waters of social media. Coaches now cater to the Frankenrecruit out of necessity, then pray the little prima donnas change their attitude once enrolled. The devaluation of a free college education has led to a sense of entitlement. The superficial rules and substance can take a hike. Your word is only as valuable as the new helmets or water elements in the sparkling new football building. 

Always come back to the Bear.

Always come back to the Bear.

So enjoy national signing day, dab it up. Your school is awesome and the recruiting process proves it. Your rival only got good players because they cheated or those kids were overrated anyway, they had bad hips and small hands. Your hashtag game is on point. Savor the moment.

But let’s end here: at the end of Bear Bryant’s career he came to find the recruiting process more difficult and more awkward. Signing talent that would land the Tide multiple National Titles lost it’s allure. As he said, it wasn't fun anymore. A few years ago The Chattanoogan’s Roy Exum published a letter that Bryant mailed to a incoming freshman named Chris. 

Dear Chris:
You will be expected to report for football practice August 17. We will expect you to arrive in the afternoon and our first meal will be served that evening at the dorm.
On the 18th, you will take your physical, including the mile run, get your room and locker assignments and participate in Photographer’s Day in the afternoon. Our first practice will be on the morning of the 19th.
I am expecting you to report in top physical condition, clean-cut, smiling, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and raring to go. Also, I am expecting you to be prepared to run, hit, pitch, kick, catch, sweat, smell and enjoy it. There are no easy ways but there are ways to enjoy the journey and we must find them.
I am also expecting you to work hard, eat well, sleep well, play well, display a winning attitude at all times, be a leader and help me sell the squad on what it takes to win and enjoy the journey.
I hope you will share your problems with me whether it be at home, at the dorm, in your school work, with teammates, with coaches, with training regulations, self-discipline or even flying a kite. If you do that, I will try to help you and, if I can’t, I’ll recommend you get a job, join the Army, or join the Foreign Legion, but, in any event, to reside in another state.
Nothing’s too good for winners. I want to love you, pat you, pet you, brag on you and see you hoot, run and shout and laugh, pray, hug, kiss, and win with humility.
If we lose, I want all of us to be unhappy, no one to have any fun, and expect only what is reserved for losers but take it with dignity while planning to come back.
Please remember us to your family and make your personal plans on how you are going to reach your goal – the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.
Paul Bryant 

Note the absence of swag or things that were lit. 

Posted on February 2, 2016 and filed under Southwest Round-Up.