Tomorrow is the biggest day in the college football world outside of the actual season. It is a day for coaches where hours and hours of work, visits, and travel hopefully come to fruition. It is a day for the media to go crazy trying to decipher who is going where and to lockdown the most high profile interviews as possible. It is a day for fans to get a glimpse of what the future holds for their beloved teams and to debate what type of direction they are going in. Finally, it is a day for young athletes to have their day in the spotlight. Tomorrow is National Signing Day.
For most of you out there who at least know that college football is traditionally played on Saturdays and that Alabama won the national championship this past season, you are well aware of what National Signing Day is and the importance that it carries with it. But if you don’t, National Signing Day is the first day that athletes out of high school can sign National Letters of intent with their desired NCAA institution. Before this day, all agreements between universities and prospective athletes are of the verbal nature, nothing is in writing so nothing is official. Once the letter of intent is signed, then there is that binding agreement between the athlete and university that is pretty much a done deal.
I love National Signing Day. For me, it really reins right up there with the NFL Draft and MLB Spring Training when it comes to a day when fans can feel optimistic and a little giddy about their team. I also like it because of all the twists, turns, and storylines that play out during the day. For the most part, schools have a good idea on who they are going to get letters from on Signing Day morning. However, there are always cases when an athlete changes his mind at the last minute or something goes awry with the fax machine or a school gets someone who they never thought they would get. Of course I get very nervous and stressed thinking about these “little” surprises when it comes to the athletic department that I work for, The University of Montana, but when it comes to hearing about them on the national landscape, being the diehard college football fan that I am, I can’t get enough of it.
I think the roles of three out of the four groups I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post have roles that are well recognized and defined by the general public. We all know how the media does their thing on signing day. ESPN will devote all day coverage to NSD, the bottom line ticker will be a non-stop stream of who is going where. Reporters will be on-site at all of the prominent college football campuses in the nation. Analysts will debate which schools have the best classes. We all know the dedicated fans of their respective schools will be like kids on Christmas. They will await word on what letters-of-intent have been received, watch tons of internet video on the newest signees, and jump to the internet to give their “expert” perspective on various message boards about their team’s new class. We all know that the players will have the day they have dreamed about for quite some time. Before taking on a year where they are the bottom feeders of their new team at a whole new level, they will be kings for a day or two. The media, fans, schools, friends, and family will all hail praise upon these athletes. I say great job, these guys have earned their glory. It is no small accomplishment to distinguish yourself from all the other high school athletes and earn a spot on a NCAA football roster.
But the group in National Signing Day that definitely flies under the radar are the coaches. People have absolutely no idea how stressful and crucial their recruiting work is. After the season ends, coaches work on the hour every hour to figure out who the best potential players for their program are and then go out and state their absolute best case to these kids on why they should become a part of their program. The travel is absolutely grueling. The pressure is immense. The recognition is low. Working in the UM athletic department I watch in awe as our football coaches literally work to the point of exhaustion during recruiting season. However, their work is always well rewarded… conference championship after conference championship proves this.
For the second straight year, I get to be right in the thick of National Signing Day for Grizzly Athletics. The minute we receive National Letters of Intent, I get the privilege of putting the names up on www.gogriz.com . This is such a fun day for me because there is probably no bigger date than National Signing Day when I get to supplement our website with our social media channels. Be sure to “like” the official Facebook Page of Griz Athletics and follow the official Twitter account to really see what I mean. Have a wonderful day tomorrow everyone and I hope your teams get the athletes they want! Don’t Blink.