A day of false hope and broken promises


It’s finally here.

It’s the day when chiseled, egotistical high school seniors all over the country honor the 51st anniversary of Buddy Holly’s tragic death by taking a few lines out of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

And I knew if I had my chance / That I could make those people dance / And maybe they’d be happy for a while.

Of course, I’m talking about signing day.

Today is the day when five-star, four-star — sometimes even no-star (as you’ll see later) — recruits take their chance in the spotlight and announce the school they will be attending, setting off dance parties in college coaches’ offices around the country.

Nevermind that probably 90 percent of those football recruits who will sit in front of one, two or 10 television cameras and don the hat of the school that schmoozed him have never heard a Buddy Holly song.

Who needs Buddy Holly when you have coaches tooting a prized recruit’s horn and trumpeting that school’s fight song around the living room?

These ego-inflating tactics contribute to the overarching pompous atmosphere of signing day. And it’s a day we could do without.

ESPN cameras decorate the family rooms and high school gyms of athletes who haven’t proven anything except the fact that they are bigger and more athletic than most 18-year-olds. It makes the athletes feel like royalty — see Derric Evans, who, in 1989, signed his letter of intent in a hot tub with a glass of wine in one hand and a pen in the other — and creates hype that sometimes isn’t there.

Take former Trojan Joe McKnight and current USC redshirt sophomore running back Marc Tyler for example.

Coming out of high school, McKnight and Tyler were the two best running backs in the nation. McKnight, dubbed by many as “the next Reggie Bush,” created controversy on signing day by spurning the hometown Tigers of LSU for the out-of-state Trojans. People were ready to crown the Trojans as national champions on signing day. Yet, it took two years for him to get over that moniker, and Tyler, after various injuries, still has yet to play to his potential. The fact that those two were ranked one and two means nothing right now.

Signing day also has the possiblity of creating false hope.

Just take a look at Kevin Hart. Remember him? He was the guy from Fernley High School in Nevada who announced, in front of a packed high school gym and television cameras, he was going to play football for Jeff Tedford and the California Golden Bears.

Except there was one problem.

Cal never recruited him. Nobody did. He told himself he wanted to play Division I football. When it became apparent that there was no school offering him a scholarship, he got caught up in all the signing day hoopla and decided to offer himself one.

He’s now at a junior college trying to move on from all the national media attention and scrutiny he received as a result of the lie.

Signing day has become the first step in taking the student out of “student athlete.”

Think about it. Some of these high school seniors make their announcements during the middle of the day on a Wednesday. What else is in the middle of a weekday? Oh yea, class. It’s become more important to tell people where you will be going to school instead of trying to stay in it.

Sure, some people might say it’s a day to celebrate all the hard work that the teenager has put in. But isn’t that what senior day, typically the last home football game of the year, is for? Or graduation?

I say, do away with the press conferences and the attention. Have an athlete announce his decision on a website like most entertainers do.

You don’t see Bruce Springsteen putting on an “I Love N.Y.” T-shirt at a press conference when announcing the first stop of his tour. Or the Monstars pulling out a map of the galaxy and pinning a dart on Earth in front of assembled media.

In fact, get rid of signing day altogether. Many people were upset a few years ago when Terrelle Pryor held a press conference on signing day announcing, well, that he hadn’t made a decision and wouldn’t for a few weeks.

I wish more recruits were like Pryor. He wanted to finish basketball season, enjoy senior year and not rush the process.

So, with signing day here, don’t take too much stock in it. Championships are won on the field, not on a piece of paper. Many high profile recruits don’t pan out and many lower ones become stars.

Yes, Trojan fans should be excited about having Kyle Prater and Dillon Baxter on campus, but we’ll find out about the incoming class of 2014 soon enough — on the field.

Hopefully the music doesn’t die, and they can make us happy for a while.

“Spittin’ Sports” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Kenny at klegan23@gmail.com.

7 replies
  1. inferiority complex
    inferiority complex says:

    UCLA is ranked 8th according to Rivals, I think ‘SC might be upstaged. Our days are numbered.

  2. Em
    Em says:

    Great story Kenny! I agree 100%
    People need to stop putting these athletes on pedestals. THEY ARE JUST PEOPLE. People that just happen to know how to throw a football or make awesome catches that result in game-winning touchdowns.
    I’m not going to lie, I do enjoy going to a school with a top-tier football program, but at the end of the day I’m in school to LEARN. I could care less about who’s signing what where.

  3. June James
    June James says:

    You are kidding right?

    You say the kids are egotistical, you ought to take a good look in the mirror, son.

    You need to check your ego, because you have done nothing that warrants your attititude.

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