Yeah, so this should probably have been written sometime during the spring or summer, but it rings true always: recruiting (fondly known to sports reporters in the south as “‘crootin'”) is the single most important thing any team can be good at.
Forget winning games. Forget stats. Forget that cool new black uniform your team just revealed. Recruiting is KING. Here’s Lesson 6 on how to be a proper sports fan: Treat ‘crootin as the most important aspect of any sport.
Now, unless you’re consistently winning back to back to back championships, you will likely experience at least some level of disappointment at the end of a season. Perhaps you didn’t live up to expectations. Maybe you are about to lose a player who has been a star for years. Maybe you just hate that the season is done. It happens. But you can take solace! Looking at ‘crootin gives you hope for the future. Not only that, but believe me when I say that those huge recruits are going to all have MONSTER years for you and will be the catalyst behind the great rebirth of your team. That’s not even a question.
In fact, let’s take a quick moment to look at ESPN’s top recruits who would have finished up their careers by now and see how they’ve done!
2009: Alright, well top of the list is ol’ Matt Barkley, who did pretty well for himself at USC. I mean, he played at USC when they weren’t allowed to actually win anything, and he didn’t have anybody to throw it to, and their coach is the biggest idiot ever. So maybe it’s not his fault he never became the potential #1 pick like he was predicted to be. His Eagles teammate Russell Shepard is on that list, and I watched him closely for 4 years as he never actually did anything. Manti Te’o was a great player only remembered for his fake girlfriend. And I have no idea who Jacobbi McDaniel. Otherwise, pretty good class!
2008: Hmm….De’Quan Bowers. Okay then, he did quite well. All-American and award winner. Can’t complain about that. Clemson never really seemed to be a top-tier team, but that’s cool, they did pretty well in an awful conference. Julio Jones and A.J. Green were monsters in a run-oriented conference and run-oriented teams, so that’s impressive. And….whoa, Terrelle Pryor. He did okay, but best he ever really did was honorable mention Big 10. And now he’s stuck in Oakland. Moment of silence for that guy.
2007: WHOA WHOA WHOA. Joe McKnight wasn’t ever ACTUALLY considered to be the best high school recruit, right? Over Eric Berry, who was an incredible defensive back? I mean, McKnight is good, but look at the rest of the….wait, who are these people? Chris Galippo? Marc Tyler? I mean, Martez Wilson was all-conference, but I had to Google him to find that information. This class is terrible. Umm….we should move on before we accidentally get to….
2006: Myron Rolle? Aw, he’s just a super smart AND athletic guy who makes me jealous and doesn’t even play football anymore. Forget it.
Okay, so not always a great example, but TRUST ME: the rankings never lie. And when they do? Well rest assured that the proper pedigree is all that matters. If your player went to the biggest and best prep school and then the top football program in the nation, then you KNOW they are bound for greatness.
Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s look at some of the top NFL players ever to prove this point!
Brett Favre: Most Passing Yards in NFL History
Alright, Captain Camera Phone himself. He sits at the very top of the list that includes names like Dan Marino, John Elway and….well, Warren Moon and Fran Tarkenton, but you’ve probably heard of those other guys! And you just KNOW that Favre’s success is because of the proper tutelage he received at….the University of Southern Mississippi. Huh. And he’s from Kiln, Mississippi? Look, I’m a lifelong Mississippian and I sort of know where that is. Okay, not a great example, but how about the guy who is likely going to have that record pretty soon….
Peyton Manning: Part of the First Family of Football
Frankenneck Peyton Manning is considered by many to be the potential best QB of all time, despite his only having one Super Bowl ring. And his pedigree doesn’t get any better! He comes from those late 1990’s Tennessee teams who were stellar. He follows in the footsteps of one of the most beloved college QBs ever, his father Archie, who….oh no, Eli Manning was the one who followed Archie to college, not Peyton. And that was at Ole Miss, not Tennessee. And Eli has two Super Bowls even though he doesn’t have Peyton’s stats. And wait just a second, Archie is from DREW, Mississippi? That’s a dude’s name, not the name of a town. What’s with all these Mississippi people? Okay, so it wasn’t as great an example as I hoped, but let’s try again with….
Walter Payton: 2nd Most Rushing Yards in History, Arguably Best RB Ever
There is intense debate over which running back was the best the NFL has ever seen, but among the ones often mentioned (Payton, Barry Sanders namely, because for some reason we hardly ever mention Emmitt Smith) none have more yards than Sweetness. He also outranks Sanders when it comes to touchdowns, and even has a Super Bowl that Sanders doesn’t. It’s hard to deny that the sort of love and success Walter Payton reached had to do with his rich athletic background in Columbia, Mississippi, a town of….6,500 people. And he played at Jackson State University, which isn’t even in the top level of NCAA football. Alright, forget that. Let’s go with somebody with NO argument surrounding their accomplishments.
Jerry Rice: Set Over 40 Records, NFL’s Leading Scorer, Voted Best NFL Player Ever
Surely this one can’t backfire on me. After all, Jerry Rice was voted by experts to be THE BEST player ever, not just at his position. Also, he’s the highest scoring non-kicker ever in the NFL. So surely he came from a powerhouse background. Or maybe…..crap, maybe he only started playing football in high school because he was skipping class and school officials noticed how fast he ran away from them. Okay, and I’m scared to look but….yep, he’s from Crawford, Mississippi and went to Mississippi Valley State University. Well, maybe I should just stick with college players.
Steve McNair: Most Yards Gained in NCAA Career
Air McNair set the record back in 1994, well before these inflated Air Raid systems gave somebody like Case Keenum inflated yards, and McNair had a great professional career and still holds collegiate records for yards to this day but who cares, because he played at Alcorn State University and is from Mt. Olive, Mississippi. I quit.
Okay, so we just discovered that rankings and pedigree don’t even matter at all, apparently. And is it weird to anybody else that the key to being good at football is to be born in a tiny Mississippi town?
Here’s the secret, everybody: it turns out there is no formula whatsoever to what will make you successful. Yes, playing at a big successful prep school will help your chances, but it’s far from a guarantee. Going to Alabama instead of Alabama A&M makes a difference, but it isn’t a promise that you’ll be the best ever.
So you want to be a sports fan? Well, here’s the key: what happens on the field is what actually matters. ‘Crootin sure is fun, but man, it sure is meaningless.