It Is National Signing Day! It Is Not Exciting For Us!

Submitted by Brian on February 6th, 2013 at 10:22 AM


The title is both a track off an upcoming Sufjan Stevens album and a rock-hard truth: for the first time in all the times I can remember, Michigan enters NSD without so much as a random three-star on the hook. They've got their 27 guys, are without late-flip drama, and we're reduced to watching Ole Miss inexplicably reel in five star after five star for reasons related to Eli Manning and apple pie*, I'm sure.

Anyway, for reasons of holy pants that basketball game and ain't nothing going on, we're forgoing our usual monstrous all-day liveblog in which I answer the same question sixteen times for a more focused one. We'll kick it off at 1 PM and go through Hoke's 2PM presser; afterwards Ace will have some thousand-foot-view stuff for the people who don't care enough to bother except on one special day every year.

Wilton Speight's hello post will have to wait for tomorrow, I think. Not that we know much about him other than "is real tall, probably knows more about Thomas Jefferson than average high schooler."


*[There's a certain faction that will cluck at you when you imply that what's going on with Ole Miss's recruiting is suspicious. SAT analogy time: Ole Miss : recruiting :: 37-year-old baseball player having career year : steroids. I'm taking this recent Bill Simmons column and applying it to a new domain. The point at which schools received the benefit of the doubt is long gone.]


turd ferguson

February 6th, 2013 at 10:30 AM ^

There are a few people around here who, maybe reasonably, respond to every verbal commitment with an "I'm not getting excited about this until Signing Day."  I don't know who you guys are, but are you losing your shit with excitement today?


February 6th, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

Yes, Ira reported as fact that Bell was signing with Tennessee and that Urban Meyer announced it to spoil the surprise.  


Allen Trieu asked Ira, "Did that just happen?"


Ira replied, "Yeah, it just came across Twitter."


For a guy who seems to hold his own journalistic integrity so high he sure seemed to run with that story without much fact-checking.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:30 AM ^

this is honestly still easier than scanning and sending. 

This.  I think all the hurrr fax machine what is this the stone age jokes are stupid.  If I had a sheet of paper that needed to get from me to somewhere else far away, I could either:

- put it in a fax machine, dial the number, and hit send

- or put it in a scanner, open the scanning program, hit scan, fix the alignment, save the file, open email, write email, attach the file, hit send.

The other person can either:

- grab the fax off the fax machine

- or open the email, open the file, hit print, grab from printer.

Why is it so screwy that people would still use a fax machine?  It is far more convenient than scan-and-email.  Especially for sending large hard copies.  The LOI isn't large, but still.


February 6th, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

I think you're just dealing with old tech.  My office scanner/printer/copier takes just two button presses to scan and email a PDF to the desired recipient.  Higher quality, faster, easier to use and more secure than a fax.  We don't even have a fax machine in the office.  Home office scanners on the other pain in the ass.

Hardware Sushi

February 6th, 2013 at 11:47 AM ^

I can't imagine doing either. When I need to get a document image somewhere quickly, it's:

Smartphone --> Document App (optional) --> Take Photo --> Email Photo

Plus, this way you have a digital copy for future reference. I did this with my W2s and forwarded them to my accountant and he does online returns and direct deposit BOOM PAPERLESS GO EFFIENCY USA #1 ALL YOUR FACSIMILE AND SCANE MACHINES IS STONE AGE* 

*I suppose I would still use a fax machine if I had to send a document with a bunch of pages


February 6th, 2013 at 10:44 AM ^

2014 recruits apparently. And a QB at that! Wilton Speight is on-board and said something along the lines of being his classes version of Shane Morris, recruiting anybody willing to listen (courtesy of Sam Webb's twitter.)

I'll take that.

edit: Brian mentioned this and i somehow missed it. Still, the Morris-aspirations-bit is kinda cool.

Ali G Bomaye

February 6th, 2013 at 10:53 AM ^

Is it just me or is that SAT analogy sort of messed up?  Shouldn't the analogy be more along the lines of:

Ole Miss's 2013 recruiting class : briefcases full of cash :: 37-year-old baseball player having career year : steroids


February 6th, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

I actually stole that for facebook but changed it a bit.


Ole Miss : Recruiting :: 37-year-old baseball player : Having a career year.  Something just isn't right...


Think that works.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:08 AM ^

Normally, I'd agree with you; however, Ole Miss now has verbals/LOI's from 3 of the top players in the country on ALL of the recruiting sites (Treadwell, Nkemdiche and Tunsil). I think this is enough to justify some eyebrow raising. I would be surprised if it hasn't caught the NCAA's attention at least a little bit.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:25 AM ^

Look, I'm not naive, and I know that $$ for footballs takes place in recruiting. And I know that the internet is an awful place that allows for people to say awful anonymous things about other people, but trying to hang a reputation on a kid that says he's a cheater or dirty with literally zero evidence is pretty low.

The only argument available is "where there's smoke there's fire." Which is a pretty low standard in my opinion.


Blue in Yarmouth

February 6th, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

You could read into to Treadwell's twitter pic he posted a week or so ago to see why he chose Ol'e Miss. I mean, the kid had almost 30 dollars he was flashing around. 

Joking aside, there certainly seems to be something fishy down there though. I just can't see what the draw would be that wouldn't be violation worthy.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:13 AM ^

Look, if the #1 recruit goes there because his older brother is a linebacker and he decides he wants to be star of a rebuilding program, thats a heartwarming story.  When 3 of the top 10 decide to go there, despite them not having a banner year last year indicating they had a shot at championships and despite not having some hot new coach to ride along with, it really seems shady.  Also, its in Oxford, Mississippi.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:45 AM ^

I'm not sure it's the kid's character being assassinated--I think it's the school's. From the kids' perspectives, they are so valuable that there are millions of people online today waiting to hear them decide which team they'll pick.

I don't fault the kids. They're worth more than anything Ole Miss can get them under the table. I fault the NCAA for believing it can run a pro league without paying the pros, and being so bad at enforcing their own rules that Ole Miss or USC or Ohio State or Miami etc. can blatantly cheat, spend a few years raking in the glory of a Top Ten team, then laugh off the inevitable sanctions for whatever NCAA investigators (who are mostly your people) can make, and try again.

You can claim Brian is impugning the character of Ole Miss without proof. The kid, though...I don't think you can fault the kids. Those top players we're talking about have their eyes set on the NFL. They're in it for money. That's not evil, any more than it's evil that I get a paycheck for writing on this site.

The wrongness is the NCAA refusing to pay players, then not having the balls to create an enforcement atmosphere that would make doing it anyway a bad gamble.


February 6th, 2013 at 12:07 PM ^

And agree with a lot of them, especially the part about how the NCAA needs to figure out some sort of reasonable way to pay players rather than just continuing the chattel system we have. The system is broken, and it favors people who are willing to go outside the rules.

But we're still talking about a transaction that is clearly against the rules that requires both parties to be involved. You can say "I don't blame the players" (and I mostly agree with you) but the fact is that people's views about the character of the kid in question are changed by rumors about accepting cash.

And I know Treadwell had the Twitter picture of his hand on a couple hundred dollars, and I won't rehash the reasons I think people make a big deal about that since I didn't exactly endear myself to everyone on a prior thread on that topic. But, the fact is, all we have is speculation in this case, and I think that it's just not good to accuse people of wrongdoing based on the level of information available is out of line.



February 6th, 2013 at 12:17 PM ^

Why shouldn't we speculate when something doesn't pass the smell test? This is the equivalent of Brady Anderson hitting 50 HRs in 1996 or Lance Armstrong dominating a Tour filled with dopers for a decade. 

What pitch do you think Ole Miss is making to draw these guys?


February 6th, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^

Two reasons come to mind right away:

(1) I think the smell test is ridiculously unreliable. We're all subject to all sorts of cognitive biases that color our judgments in a lot of ways.

(2) Tarnishing someone's reputation has negative effects for them. Down the road any of these kids might need to you know, find a job or something. I know that nfl teams don't care whether Cam Newton took money or not, so they probably didn't spend a whole ton of time trying to determine his level of involvement in his dad's schemes. But what happens if Treadwell has a career ending injury and has to live in the regular world? His prospective employer might send his name through the google tubes and see these sorts of rumors and decide he has red flags about his character.

So that's the downside. I think a better question is why should we speculate? What's the upside? What do we get out of internet speculation?


February 6th, 2013 at 12:34 PM ^

I think it's one thing to say "Player X must have taken money to go to Ole Miss" and another to say "Something suspect is probably going on at Ole Miss for them to get all of these high profile commits."   The latter doesn't single anyone out. 

I wouldn't be surprised at all of at least one of the high profile guys who chose Ole Miss didn't take any money.  But it's pretty damn suspicious that all of these kids would want to play for a bottom-dweller school in the state of Mississippi. 


February 6th, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

But I ultimately think that's a distinction without a difference. Besides, there has been plenty of speculation here about Treadwell in particular (including either Brian or Ace [can't remember] in the podcast saying something very similar to: "Treadwell went to Ole Miss because he likes money." That's about as straightforward as it gets.


February 6th, 2013 at 12:58 PM ^

Two things.

Last question first: speculation is part of engaging in the effort to understand the world of sports (and the world around it) and why things happen in it. In this case, we have something seemingly implausible. We can either choose to try to rationally explain it or we can absent ourselves from the conversation. But to say, "we can't know for sure so we should ignore things that defy the expected," is to follow the same path that has led so many sportswriters to outrage! over steroids in MLB. And we don't have the burden sportswriters do of having an established name (si, espn, etc) endorsing our writing. We should be free to speculate because that's what sports fans do. To me, this is no different that speculating about Borges's second half game plan against OSU.

(The reasonable response to this is that it's different because it negatively imputes someone's character. But I find this to be directed more at Ole Miss than particular players and and I consider it far more a mark against the university than the player who is entering, willingly no doubt, a system that forces him to forego the essential rights to control his labor and his likeness that have been central to this nation for a long time.)

I'm open to alternate explanations. I just haven't found any that are plausible. Maybe Ole Miss has hired renowned position coaches, though here we have 5-star guys committing at three different positions and on either side of the ball. Maybe Ole Miss is just an incredibly attractive campus, but that hasn't led to such recruiting classes in the past, even under Ogreon, who was famous as an incredible recruiter. 

2. I think you are severly overstating the effects that rumors of pay-for-play would have on someone's career possibilities in the vast majority of fields. Many (most?) people reasonably believe that college football is a deeply corrupted endeavor in which colleges and "student-athletes" are engaged in relationships that are, at best, mutually exploitative. I am skeptical that most potential employers would see rumors on college football websites that so-and-so was paid. But if I knew of such a case, I would probably reconsider whether speculating about this is ok.




February 6th, 2013 at 1:50 PM ^

But saying we speculate about it because we're curious about the way sports works just produces the question, "what does that knowledge gain us?" It's not like if we find out Ole Miss is dirty that revelation is going to cure cancer. It's still just our curiosity about sports on one hand against the real consequences for people's lives on the other.

To your intuition about the effects of reputation on employability, all I have is anecdotal evidence from being a part of a couple dozen hiring committees in my professional experience, but I can say that if my experiences are more or less common, then it's a big deal. When we have an open position we routinely get 20 or 30 qualified candidates submit resumes, especially when the economy is in lousy shape. In circumstances like that a seemingly small thing in the applicant's history (work or otherwise) can make a difference.

But employability was just one example of why you'd want a good reputation. I think most people value their reputations, and I'd argue that to do damage to someone's based on unsubstantiated rumors is wrong.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^


Re the Ole Miss "Where there's smoke there's probably fire" recruiting excitement I can share a true story that somewhat supports that.  In the early 90's I did some recruting for Michigan here in Northern Ohio and you got to know which kids were looking for something more than a scholarship if you know what I mean.  Oddly enough it seemed that ALL those kids ended up at one particular B1G school (not Michigan or OSU) which made all of us wonder just a little bit what was going on.  Nothing was ever said or proven and the school never got busted for anything but man was it a wierd coincidence that seemingly every kid with has hand out was ending up in one place.

Note - the kids never actually came out and asked for anything BTW.  It was always through somebody else that you found out.  Friend, cousin, etc who would ask "what are you going to DO for player X?" and then wait for your response.  When we said "provide excellent coaching, the possibility of playing in front of the largest stadium in the country and on National TV several times a year AND a world-class education" you would get looked at for a bit and then asked "that's it?"  

And then you knew.