Who's the Winner?
by Brian North

National Signing Day is Christmas in February for college football coaches and fans. It's the day high school seniors around the nation sign their national letters of intent. Those letters bind the prep players to the college they fax it to, and in return the student-athletes get a scholarship to that school.

National Signing Day has taken on a life of its own over the last five years. It used to be an average day where many players announced their college of choice, and no one paid much attention until fall practice began. But with the popularity of the internet, National Signing Day is now a frenzy filled day full of angst and euphoria for coaches and fans.  Internet chat rooms are buzzing, and ratings services add to the hype by assigning grades to all the teams around the nation.

But why does everyone get so worked up? Outside of the top recruits around the nation, very few will have a significant impact on their team this upcoming season. In fact, the impact of this years recruiting classes won't be known for four to five years. Yes, signing day is important, but it is far from an exact science, and pinning a teams fortunes on what some guy in a basement in front of computer says can be a little ludicrous.

I have seen the Pirates 2006 class ranked any where from 40th to 105th in the nation. But several players have yet to qualify, and several players who didn't make the grades last year will join the team this season if they complete the required course work (which is the point of college, to learn and get a higher education, just in case anyone forgot in all the pigskin hype). So who knows how good the class will be until they put the pads on. No one can predict the future, and sometimes things don't work out the way everyone planned. Five Pirate players have elected to transfer from ECU in search of playing time, including a couple of student-athletes who had seen the field in the past and had high hopes for the future. It just goes to show, you never know your grade until the final exam has been taken.

North Carolina's 2006 recruiting class was ranked as high as 25th in the nation, and they certainly landed the most in-state recruits, but is that a good thing in a down year talent-wise around the state? Someone once told me, statistics are like a good bikini, they only reveal what you want them to. It's hard to claim victory on signing day. It's kind of like judging figure skating or gymnastics, it's all subjective. What one person likes, another person dislikes.

The winners are the kids who receive the scholarships, because they have an opportunity to better themselves as people, and if they become a great football player and can some day get paid for playing the game, good for them. But in the mean time they are getting a chance to get a quality education, and it's up to them to decide if they are winners or losers.

Brian North