Sorry to report Rankman can’t weigh in on college football National Signing Day because he long ago committed to a list of previously-scheduled appointments for Feb. 3.
1. Meet old friend from high school who really, really loved Peter Frampton and wants to pick-up on a conversation I walked away from in 1976.
2: Exploratory probe at medical center in Santa Ana. Rankman isn’t due for another colonoscopy for two years but today’s two-for-one special was just too good to pass up.
3. Rotate tires on the 18-wheeler I don’t own but plan to rent from a third-cousin of of C.W. McCall.
4. Volunteer for first-year dental students working on new root-canal procedure involving no Novocaine. Involves visualization, raising your index finger at the first hint of pain and then screaming.
5. DMV obligation in Pomona. Rankman’s license doesn’t expire until 2020 but is going down at noon, just for fun, to participate in agency’s new walk-in, take-a-number appointment policy.
With any luck these activities will get Rankman through his least favorite day on the college football calendar. One of the fringe benefits of retiring from the L.A. Times is not having to report today on a made-for-television event in which 18-year-old kids are prematurely celebrated for the benefit of selling advertising for scouting services and cable companies.
Wild prediction: everybody recruited great.
To repeat, I HATE signing day and the dog-and-phony show it’s become. The last thing a kid who hasn’t done anything needs is to be told he’s going to do something he may never do.
The goal today is a self-imposed total news blackout, North Korea style, by avoiding all things related to letters of intent. The only “Flip or Flop” on my dial will be my favorite real estate show on HGTV.
Of course, recruiting is vital and the life blood of the sport, yet the flesh-peddling promotion of raw potential has become, to me, prohibitively distasteful. Rankman respects the hard work people do in recruiting and sausage-making. And, doesn’t want to watch either.
A much more critical event is national signing day for coaches. The day Alabama signed Nick Saban was huge, so was the day Ohio State procured five-star Urban Meyer. These are the real game-changers in a program.
But wait, don’t you need a great, four-star, future NFL superstar quarterback to win a national title? Hardly. Saban has won national titles at Alabama with Greg McElroy, A.J. McCarron and Jake Coker. Urban Meyer won it all, at Florida, with Chris Leak.
The key to winning is not necessarily flash-in-pan recruits who tease fan bases with game-show performances. You win with piles of front-line talent at less-glamorous positions and coaches who can coach those guys up.
Some four stars work out, some don’t and sometimes the experts are wrong. Remember can’t miss quarterback Ben Olson? Wasn’t he USA Today’s national prep player of the year? That only seemed like USA Yesterday. And how come USC’s quarterback of the future, Max Wittek, ended up at Hawaii?
My favorite college quarterback last year was fifth-year Oregon transfer Vernon Adams, a player forced to 1-AA Eastern Washington because the “experts” didn’t think he could play at the major level. Yeah, right.
Remember when no one in the state of Texas wanted home-grown Drew Brees because he was a runt, so he had to go to Purdue? Anyone know what became of this low star from the Lone Star?
The best thing about missing signing day is not missing a thing. Because it is basically the same drill every year. Rankman, blindfolded and smoking a cigarette, bets he can come reasonably close to approximating this year’s top-10 recruiting class.
1: Alabama. Yep, Saban did it again. No wonder Steve Spurrier calls him the greatest recruiter in college football history.
2: Ohio State. Urban Meyer responds to last year’s awful season, in which his Buckeyes lost one game on a last-second field goal, with another haul that will continue to piss off rival Big Ten coaches.
3: Michigan. The Big Ten is “back” because guys like Jim Harbaugh are willing to get in the gutter with guys like Meyer and do things in recruiting you wouldn’t teach to your kids unless they’re also on your coaching staff.
4: Florida State. Jimbo Fisher lands another stellar class for a program that remains a program in part because its boosters are willing to chip in for legal costs to make sexual-assault cases go away.
5: USC. Last year’s win over UCLA helps coach Clay Helton “flip” a few incoming four-star freshmen from SoCal who will be instrumental in next year’s opening loss to Alabama.
6. Clemson. Dabo mourned the title-game loss to Alabama for two days and then painted Tiger paws on his face and went sledding with his players after a freak snowstorm blew through town. On home visits he’s still king of the ice-breakers.
7. SEC school. Tie between Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana State, Tennessee and Mississippi.
8. Stanford. David Shaw keeps it rolling in Palo Alto by stealing four, physical interior lineman who, 10 years ago, would have signed with USC.
9. Oregon. The Ducks secure two 100-meter hurdles champions while new coordinator Brady Hoke shores up a leaky defense by signing the first 10 players he finds that don’t trip while back-pedaling.
10. Houston. This is our “Group of Five” sleeper pick after Tom Herman, who learned recruiting at the Urban Meyer Hand-to-Hand-Combat Academy, decided to stay.