BOZICH: Football Signing Day -- Celebrate Now, Look Foolish Late - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Football Signing Day -- Celebrate Now, Look Foolish Later

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Charlie Strong won the Big East title and Sugar Bowl without even signing the best recruiting class in the Big East. Charlie Strong won the Big East title and Sugar Bowl without even signing the best recruiting class in the Big East.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Go crazy. Celebrate. Find a reason to feel better about your team than the team you can't stand. Order your season tickets. Enjoy.

That's what college football's national signing day is all about, right?

Other than the first Saturday of the season, it's the most popular day on the college football calendar. Everybody wins – or at least every fan convinces himself that his team has won. It's practically a national holiday.

That's fine – as long as you remember that recruiting rankings are about as trustworthy as Lennay Kekua or any other imaginary girlfriend.

Think about this: Charlie Strong just won a Big East championship and Sugar Bowl at the University of Louisville even though three of the Cardinals' last five recruiting classes were not ranked in the top half of the Big East.

According to Scout.com, the University of Kentucky signed stronger classes than U of L in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, but the Cards finished 98 yards ahead of the Wildcats last season.

"Recruiting rankings are not something I put too much stock in," Trinity High School coach Bob Beatty said.

"The first thing I always tell my kids, my coaches and even my wife is: ‘Who is the person putting those four or five stars on guys?' I want to know their resume before I put any stock in that."

Still, we persist in obsessing over the rankings. Recruiting information generates click after Internet click. The sports networks offer dawn ‘til dusk coverage. The Kardashians don't generate as much Twitter traffic.

Why?

Everybody can find a way to win on signing day.

Louisville's class was ranked 56th on Scout.com. That's third best in the Big East – and behind UK and Indiana.

There's no reason for Cardinals' fans to hyperventilate. Strong said his staff outworked better competition to secure U of L's 17-player class. Trinity receiver James Quick is as talented as anybody that Strong has recruited to Louisville in four classes.

Strong was not dazzled by the defense his team played last season. He worked at fixing the problem by recruiting 10 guys on defense, including several taller defensive backs.

Strong gets it. His first three classes were ranked 44th, 33rd and 42nd nationally by Scout – and Louisville projects as a pre-season Top 10 team for the 2013 season. Strong knows what he's doing.

"It's always fair to wait to evaluate a recruiting class," Strong said. "That's why I don't like to evaluate them.

"I've been a part of a program where you've seen five-stars. Then a lot of times those five stars don't work out. Then you see a guy who has no stars and he can end up being that five star for you. Let them become a part of your program first.  That way you can know just how good he is."

Here's how crazy recruiting can be: According to Scout, Mark Stoops' first recruiting class at UK is not ranked as highly as three of the last four classes the Wildcats signed. Big deal. The prevailing vibe is that Stoops and his staff did good work.

Here's why: They flipped several prospects from programs like Southern California and Nebraska. Trinity defensive end Jason Hatcher is the guy who was once headed for Los Angeles. On Wednesday he signed with UK.

Beatty is convinced Hatcher is not the last Trinity player who will play for Kentucky.

"They were not afraid to talk to (Hatcher)," Beatty said. "They were real upbeat about it. There was no ducking your head or being embarrassed or saying, "Oh, we probably won't get him.  They didn't worry about his verbal. They basically said, ‘Hey, just give us a chance. See what we have to sell.'

"I'm expecting great things out of the University of Kentucky. I think that staff is young, dynamic and really, really energetic."

Those high fives at Indiana are not about Tom Crean's basketball team. Kevin Wilson has already built a winning offense at IU. He needs guys who can tackle and intercept the ball.

Antonio Allen, Darius Latham and David Kenney were three of the best prep defensive players in Indianapolis. Allen is a cornerback. Latham plays defensive tackle. Kenney makes plays at defensive end.

Allen was booked to play at Mississippi. Latham gave an oral commitment to Wisconsin. Kenney pledged to Iowa.

All three will be in Bloomington next fall.

So go ahead and celebrate. You'll likely look foolish later. But national signing day isn't the time to worry about that.

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