Arizona State's Dirk Koetter will praise his recruiting class today. So will every other college football coach in America.
Recruiting services, newspapers and every Tom, Dick and Harry with a Web site address will rank the classes, and alumni of State U will go nuts because
WE'RE RANKED IN THE TOP 10! BOO-YAH!
So much hot air. So little reason for it.
Look, I know how important recruiting is. Miami, Florida and Florida State always are playing for national championships because they procure the best talent from the state of Florida.
Terrell Suggs was a Parade All-American out of Hamilton High School in 2000. Look what he has done lately.
Show me a coach who doesn't recruit well, and I'll show you a coach who soon will be unemployed.
But this overheating that occurs on the first Wednesday of every February is ridiculous.
No one knows how these kids will turn out, including the coaches who recruit them. The only sure thing is that there's no sure thing.
Remember Ralph Zarate? He was the Sun Devils' most decorated recruit in 1998, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle named to All-America teams by Parade Magazine and SuperPrep.
Zarate never made it to ASU. Didn't have the grades.
At best, recruiting is educated guess-work. The coaches can watch game film until their eyes blur, break down Joe Quarterback's every throw and be absolutely certain that he's going to lead them to a conference championship, then the kid gets to campus, indulges in the wild life and is arrested for driving under the influence.
And for every can't-miss kid who does miss, there's some unknown who becomes a star.
Chandler High linebacker Adam Archuleta couldn't get the scholarship offer he wanted, so he walked on to ASU and became the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Levi Jones migrated from the tiny community of Eloy as a walk-on defensive lineman, switched to tackle his sophomore season and three years later was a first-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 1994, ASU tight ends and special teams coach Dick Arbuckle had to convince the rest of the coaching staff to use its final scholarship offer on a California kid who didn't show up on any national recruiting lists. His name: Pat Tillman.
You know what letter-of-intent day has become? A sales pitch. The so-called experts pump up the volume so you'll buy their magazines or newsletters. Coaches want you to buy into their program.
Never mind that projection and reality rarely meet.
In his Tuesday column, Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen looked back on some of the Arizona Wildcats' heralded recruiting classes.
There was the 1998 class that inspired Super Prep magazine to write, "This group is good enough to get Dick Tomey to his first Rose Bowl."
Close. The group helped get Tomey fired.
In 1994 an elated Tomey said of his recruits: "I'd venture to say you'll be seeing more guys from this group play (as true freshmen) than we've ever had before."
The class never produced more than four starters in any season.
I'm not saying you should tune out today. Just be sensible. Ignore the praise, the hype, the wait-until-you-see-this-guy-hit exclamation.
Because I'm pretty sure that every team in America won't be undefeated in 2006.