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
That's what college football's national signing day is all
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
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
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
"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.