This is the first in a recurring series I'll write about common college football fan behaviors that drive me up a wall. We begin with our favorite neighborhood recruiting pessimists.
If you read this here site regularly, chances are I don't need to tell you that Miami currently sits in the top spot by a large margin on the 247 Composite Team Rankings for 2018. This is good! Mark Richt and his staff have not only collected 16 verbal commitments, more than any other school in the country, they've received verbal pledges from talented players, with 10 four stars and one five star in the mix for a very nice 69% Blue-Chip ratio, meaning the percentage of recruits that are above three star talent. (Jokes aside, if you're getting more than 60% of your commits in the four and five star range, you're doing something very right.)
But chances are you have at least one friend who can't wait to tell you that actually, this is not good. His or her argument probably goes something like, "Recruiting is a fickle business. Verbal pledges from 17-year-old boys are hardly set in stone, and the class will have attrition. Even though Miami is on top of the rankings now, they're not going to keep everyone in that class and 'Bama won't be sitting at #25 for long. It's just not worth getting excited about."
What our good friend Recruiting Buzzkillington can't wrap his or her head around is that EVERYONE WHO FOLLOWS RECRUITING UNDERSTANDS THIS. Of course Miami is going to lose some guys. Of course Alabama will land pretty much whoever Nick Saban wants and likely finish #1 in the rankings like the Crimson Tide do every single year. It doesn't exactly take Nostradamus to be able to see that coming.
But here's the thing: just because Miami probably won't finish with the #1 overall class in the country doesn't mean 'Canes fans shouldn't be over the moon about where the class is right now, let alone talking down to people who are. Hand-wringing over what could go wrong with the class going forward is akin to worrying about Miami blowing a 10-point lead it has in the first quarter to a bunch of jubilant fans around you. Sure, you could be right, but what is the fun of sports if you're going to be that type of fan?
If you have a Recruiting Buzzkillington friend, here are a couple follow ups you can give to the greatest hits:
"Miami used to jump out in front of the pack early with Al Golden too!"
Sure they did, and if you simply look at the rankings with zero context you might consider this a valid point. But Golden and Co. loaded up on three stars early and often to artificially inflate their ranking on volume alone. That's not the case this year, with the aforementioned 69% Blue-Chip ratio. Furthermore, talented players are more likely to stick with Richt and his outstanding staff than they were with Golden's underfunded and underwhelming regime. The program is night and day from where it was, and anyone inside the program—including verbally committed recruits—can see that even better than you and I can.
"Attrition naturally happens in college football! You can't get excited about these guys."
Of course it does, but attrition is not just a Miami problem; it happens to everyone. In fairness, it likely affects Miami more than most because there is so much local talent here, the players who leave are higher profile than say, UNC. But everyone will face attrition, and to say Miami shouldn't be excited about its best recruiting start in years because some of the guys will probably leave is silly when every program faces that recruiting conundrum. And by the way, Miami might snag some high profile guys who de-commit from elsewhere, so attrition isn't always a bad thing.
"National signing day isn't until February. There's way too much time to lose guys."
Not so fast there! The NCAA just approved an early signing period in December each year, meaning schools and recruits can lock in their bond a full two months before National Signing Day in February. While December is also far away, the early signing period is going to be a huge net positive for Miami. With the amount of talent in the area, the earlier they can sign, the better for the 'Canes.
At the end of the day, following sports waiting for the next shoe to drop is no way to go through life. We all understand the challenges and fickle nature of college football recruiting. People who track this stuff know what they're getting into. So we don't need a lecture about how 'Bama is still going to end up #1 and FSU will probably pass Miami in this cycle when all is said and done. We get it. To put it another way: would you rather be sitting on top likely to fall a few notches, or down in the riff-raff desperately trying to claw your way up?
Scalding hot take: Miami is atop the recruiting rankings for now and that is good.