The Hype of Stars Football Recruiting and Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson

The whole process of recruiting football players to college in the past ten years has suddenly evolved into a hybrid media event morphed between a beauty contest and a cattle auction.  The time tested method of finding the best high school prospects to play football at the next level by experienced college coaching staffs spending substantial amounts of time reviewing the players game performance over a season or two on the field of play has now been replaced by hype and publicity from a panel of purported experts who work for recruiting sites that exist due to an insatiable appetite of information by die hard college football fans demanding constant information regarding their favorite teams. 

These sites feed that hunger by offering their perspective on how and who a college coaching staff should be recruiting to their schools.  The other facet that has become entrenched in this whole process is the high school players announcing where they will be attending college by playing a game of musical chairs.  Excuse me, I meant to say musical hats or musical jerseys.  While the kids, their families, and friends really seem to enjoy this 15 minutes of fame aspect of the selection process, my sense is that the college coaches who are subjected to this craze are either showing a happy face of indifference so as to not offend any player, or flat out nauseated by this expression of me first individualism.  I tend to think that the Bear Bryant’s and John McKay’s of the coaching world fall into the latter category. 

In fact this unquenchable thirst for information has become quite lucrative for the recruiting sites who charge a monthly fee to subscribers for their insight on how the coaching staffs for every major college football team are doing in their recruitment of future performers who are continually deciding where they will attend school in order to continue their future football careers.  They even offer a grade on how the coaching staffs did in their yearly recruitment of high school players.  While the basic game of football has not changed all that much over the years; you still need to block, tackle, and be a tough person to play the sport, the perception of who are the best players at each position in a descending numerical order has just transfixed the off-season of college football.  Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and several other sites have now made the world of college recruiting a separate category of sports all itself.

While I too enjoy reading about college football year round, I do think that these sites have trivialized a very difficult process of evaluating high school players in an effort to replace the traditional methods of old fashioned recruitment by coaching staffs who have been doing this for quite some time before these organizations ever launched their foolproof and mystical “stars” based method of recruiting.  It is reminiscent of fad diets promising to help you lose 20 pounds in 3 days by eating nothing but grapefruit and large curd cottage cheese.  How about just eating a balanced diet and getting some much needed exercise?  Often times referred to as; hard work!  Just like college coaching staffs have been doing since the pigskin first arrived on the college campus.

How in the world could the 143rd rated 0 stars offensive guard outperform the # 2 rated 5 stars can’t miss defensive tackle 3 years later in an actual college football game?  While I wasn’t going to mine that deep into the historical records of the stars system to come up with an actual name and stars match up in the game, I am confident that the lineup for the 2007 Fiesta Bowl Game between the Boise State Broncos and mighty Oklahoma Sooners would have a roster of 22 players on each side of the line of scrimmage with a numerical deviation approximating that disparity at every position.  Which begs the question; how can a roster devoid of highly rated stars recruits actually defeat a squad with higher rated, and according to pay for recruiting services, vastly superior 5 stars players?  Because at the end of the day none of that matters in the bigger picture which is college football and requires that a coaching staff build an actual football team as they see fit. 

Since football is game that involves many things transcending far beyond a recruiting services evaluation and personal opinion regarding the worth of a high school player before he ever steps onto the gridiron, I am content to leave that process up to the coaching staffs who know full well that their success and longevity will be determined by the 25 players that they decide to bring onto their individual campuses each and every year. 

Does that mean the Boise State team would have set the all time record of scoring in a college football game by beating Oklahoma 223 to 0 if their coaching staff had all of Oklahoma’s 5 star talent?  Nope, all it says is that football will continue to be a very complex game and once again proving that anything can and usually will happen on each Saturday throughout the season, which means nothing until the actual players are performing on the gridiron in a real football contest to the best of their abilities regardless of the number of stars that have been bestowed by the various non-coaching experts.  

Based on what I have read to date there was a need to write this article first as background context in order to prevent any actual Georgia Tech fans from getting onto the ledge given that we have no 5 stars recruits in this class.  So the actual 2011 Georgia Tech in depth recruting article will be following shortly so keep checking back.  Go Jackets!