BY Todd Dybas 03:31PM 02/02/2011

A sign of nonsense

When it comes to overblown sports days, nothing tops Signing Day

University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian (R) talks about his new recruits / Sportspress Northwest photo

This football-recruit signing day, a spectacle of pathetic proportions, has stumbled to a new low.

For the second consecutive year, the University of Washington had a live web cam aimed at the fax machine in coach Steve Sarkisian’s office that receives the letters of intent from football recruits. On purpose.

Someone set this up. Worse, many watched the stagnant fax machine on Sarkisian’s Facebook page. Around 400 viewers wasted time this morning staring at the soon-to-be outdated mechanism.

The delivery of deliveries showed signed letters from teenagers committing to play football for one year in Huskies Purple and Gold.

It’s one of the many nonsensical nuances of an overwrought day drowning in triteness.

The typical recruit might be labeled a savior Wednesday. He was already tagged with stars, the way a third-grade teacher approves of an assignment. Cameras not pointed at paper delivery machines will turn toward the latest caped teenager heading to campus. How exciting.

You know him. When he was 17, he was indecisive. Then he decided. Or so he thought. He was 17 and now that he is 18, he’s re-evaluating. Finally a senior, he gave a verbal commitment.

He claimed to be coming to your beloved football program. Until he wasn’t. Then he was again.

See, he opened his recruiting back up. This is a voluntary activity, one not influenced by last-second recruiters. Then all is fair.

This includes harassing the hell out of a kid. The amount of contacts the NCAA permits for high school players is sufficiently concerning.  Then add attempted connects from fans and websites that cover recruiting.

The 2011 group is the first batch of recruits to deal with the pervasiveness and perverseness of social media throughout high school. Since these kids were freshmen, adults, only labeled such because of calendars, have informed them how good, and less than good, they are.

Twitter and Facebook have been vilified for allowing vitriol to reach recruits. That’s hypocrisy, a prime theme on signing day.

It’s the author, not the delivery system.

The NCAA has passed regulations for Twitter use by coaches. The individual responsible for such legislation runs a football team over in Renton. Coaches now circumvent the rules by alerting followers of freshly landed fish with boastful coded tweets.

Same goes for Facebook. Restrictions are in place in an unmanageable attempt to limit fans, in particular boosters, from contacting a recruit.

A recruit shut down his Facebook page last week after he switched his verbal commitment from Mississippi State to Mississippi because State fans made his recruiting experience “a living nightmare.”

The unwanted even participate. Three years ago Kevin Hart, of little Fernley (NV.) High School, filled the gym to fake his own recruitment. Hart claimed Washington, among others, offered him a full scholarship. But the Huskies lost out to Cal. Then Hart lost out to the truth.

In 1964, seven conferences banded together to establish the National Letter of Intent. Get this: schools were luring away players after they were already enrolled at another school.

Something had to be done. The letter was established, indenturing a player to the university for a year. The university, of course, could not give the player a new restrictive contract the following year if it chose.

A half century later hyperbole and cash are the drivers of the day.

ESPN’s exploitation was at its usual rev. Regional TV channels had recruits in studio to make live announcements.

The Huskies are hip. Washington will host a “Signing Day Celebration” in Hec Ed Wednesday evening. Just $85 to get in. Hobnob, enjoy some snacks.

It’s a day history tells us is filled with false hope. The last time Washington signed two future All-Pac-10 players in the same recruiting class was in 2001, when they inked wide receiver Reggie Williams and kick returner Charles Frederick. Both made first-team All-Pac-10 in 2003.

The pageantry and priority placed on this opening 24 hours of the shadowy official commitment process is misplaced.

Just like the camera in front of the fax machine.


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