National Signing Day—AKA the day grown men lose any semblance of reason and logical thinking—has come and gone. Teenagers with Zagat ratings have made their promises to play football for a bunch of glorified high school gym teachers. This is the first of many moments for these young men that commoditize their skills in an attempt to quantify their value. Signing day marks the first day these young men can commit to their chosen team and be legally bound in writing. Many of us watch with rapt attention, swelling and swooning as these kids pick our school or another school, respectively. We dismiss those who pick a different program in an attempt to rationalize and project. It’s become a circus, with these young men paraded around in a meat market atmosphere. Meanwhile, we only stoke the fire by tuning in.
My name is Gavin and I have a problem.
I love signing day. Like many others, I can’t wait to see who chooses to play for my teams. I like to think I have tempered my sheer outrage to simply disappointment when my team fails to land a guy they were going for. For the most part, though, National Signing Day is the college football equivalent of Hungry, Hungry Hippos—athletes are gobbled up just as much to win as to prevent rivals from winning. That said, there are a couple of problems with signing day.
By all accounts the letter of intent is a necessary evil meant to allow coaches to plan for enrolling players. Changes of heart in the summer or even fall could derail an entire season plan, especially if the commit is an immediate impact player the likes of Jameis Winston or Derrick Henry.
Problems with the LOI arise during the NSD soap opera dramas that unfold. The past few years we have seen some parents withhold consent as a measure of control over their child. This is pretty low, but the parent has to sign the LOI. To paraphrase Bobby Brown, it’s their prerogative. The NCAA has created this problem, and it has metastasized thanks to social media and national attention given to this process. I still find it remarkable that an 18 year old needs parental consent to enter a binding agreement to play football, but if he wants to fight and die for his country, he has the capacity for that decision all his own—backwards and absurd. Still, those are the rules, so we are stuck with this annual problem for the foreseeable future.
I’m not sure I thought I’d ever be saying this, but parents of players should hope to be just like Snoop Dogg. For humor’s sake, I could drop the mic on that bombshell and walk off. But, I will elaborate.
Snoop has a son, Cordell Broadus, who is an incredible talent on the football field as a wideout. Cordell announced his decision to sign with UCLA and Coach Mora. Snoop is a big USC fan, and is a regular fixture at Trojan home games. Furthermore, he has been on the campaign trail trying to get his son to commit to USC. For those unaware, USC does not have a bigger rival than UCLA—after all, they do “share” a city.
After Broadus announced, the ESPN team took the opportunity to interview Snoop about his son’s decision. When Rece Davis asked the obligatory “what about USC?” question, Snoop had this to say:
“Well, it’s been about what matters most to him which is getting that education and what’s going to be there when football is over with. UCLA just presented the best platform for him that we thought as a family was going to look out for him when his career was over with. And, that’s what’s important, to make sure he gets a degree and gets an education. Football’s not going to be there forever, but life is. So, you got to make sure that you’re preparing for life….I’m going to back him up 1000%, and throw out my USC drawers….I’m all UCLA now.”
This is exactly where a parent should land regarding his son’s decision once it’s made. You support your child all the way and sign the letter. The time for convincing is before signing day. Want your kid to avoid your rival school? Talk about it beforehand. Want to have a legacy where you played? Share that before the first Wednesday in February. Holding your child’s future hostage is petty and sophomoric. Stop it! Be more like Snoop!
While National Signing Day has drama, elation, and disappointment all its own, it also underscores a bitter reality: football is substantially over until August.
Let that sink in.
Anyway, on to baseball!