Signing Day!

Wide receiver Seth Coate and kicker Nolan McMahon, teammates at Homestead High, announce they’ll be taking their talents to St. Francis (Indiana) next season—where they’ll play before 20 people and a half-empty can of soda before inevitably quitting to focus on women and parties. As I would have done, too.

There are few things in sports I find more ice cream-esque delicious than signing day. No, wait—Signing Day.

As a sports writer, I’d rather cut off five fingers, blend them and eat them with mayo than have to cover the absolute nonsense that took place yesterday. As a human, however, I find the whole thing riveting.

For 95 percent of the kids—wonderful. The two guys above, for example, are Seth Coate and Nolan McMahon. They’re high school teammates going to St. Francis. There’s no NFL hope. Hell, no BCS hope. Just a small celebration of their athletic accomplishments, two seconds on TV and a suspiciously flat cake. I can appreciate that. Achievements deserve to be celebrated—and being asked to play sports at a college is certainly an achievement.

That being said …

I was at physical therapy this morning when I heard whooping and screaming from the TV. I looked up, and it was the (glub) Ole Miss coaching staff, going crazy over the decision of a top recruit to join the football team. Let to state this again, in a slightly different way: You’re a 65-year-old man, and your job is to convince a 17-year-old kid to play for you. You beg and plead and promise, and would do absolutely everything and anything to have him come.

Translation: You are pathetic.

Wait. Time out. Here’s the actual video. Some kid from Georgia named Robert Nkemdiche agrees to attend Ole Miss (a school, for the record, that’s easier to get into than a Denny’s)—and the coaching staff acts as if $1 million is dropped from the  sky. It’s Bar Mitzvah and wedding rolled into one. We’ve got Nkemdiche! We’ve got Nkemdiche! Is he intelligent? Eh, maybe. Is he interested in learning? Uh, sure? Can he tackle? Like a mofo! We’ve got Nkemdiche! We’ve got Nkemdiche!

I’ve covered sports for a long time, and the big-time Division I football coach (and his assistants) are the lowliest life forms I’ve ever come across. I especially love the scene throughout the south, where many of these men played during the era of segregation, when the black kids they’re now so interested in weren’t even allowed on the field. There’s a certain karma justice in these dolts now pleading with young African-Americans to save their jobs. Come to think of it—it’s quite wonderful.

I actually had a conversation with a friend this morning who used to cover signing day. He detested the whole experience, and even called it “a joke.” He said a large number of the kids who “signed” to play a major colleges and universities never actually went—either because of poor grades or a change of heart.