CRAWFORD | Gentlemen, start your fax machines, National Signing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Gentlemen, start your fax machines, National Signing Day is here

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Gentlemen, start your fax machines. Put up the tree, light the fire and click up your favorite livestream of faxes rolling in, it's college football's version of Christmas Day.

National Signing Day is here.

It's kind of like spam, the lunch meat. It feeds the masses, but has just enough slime to to keep everyone from feeling satisfied.

At the University of Louisville, they're pretty happy (though, of course, not officially happy, until all of the letters are received and coach Bobby Petrino can speak about his new players with the blessing of the NCAA).

Before the season, they were asking, “Why isn't Petrino recruiting better?”

You don't hear much of that anymore. Petrino, when he laid his head on the pillow Tuesday night — IF he laid his head on a pillow Tuesday night — had U of L's class at No. 31 in Rivals.com's team rankings, with three four-star recruits, including a 6-foot-6, four-star ball fetcher from Pompano Beach, Fla., Devante Peete. Shoot, even his first name is right.

At the University of Kentucky, there has been considerably less celebration. Starting with the decision of Kentucky's Gatorade Player of the Year, Damien Harris of Madison Southern, to commit to Alabama and not UK, the stretch run to signing day has been a series of unfortunate events for the Wildcats.

In the past 10 days, UK coach Mark Stoops has seen six commitments “flip” to other schools, including Ohio State, Auburn, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Michigan State.

Coming off a school record No. 17 ranking from Rivals.com, Stoops heads into signing day at No. 42 in the Rivals index, with 17 commitments. The only SEC school they are ahead of is Vanderbilt.

Stoops still has a chance to Tweet “Yahtzee” to the faithful with some signing day surprises, but the message UK has heard more often has been, “Sorry” over the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, U of L has some issues of its own. Petrino was under fire Tuesday for yanking the scholarship offer of South Carolina's Mr. Football, running back Matt Colburn of Dutch Fork High School, just 48 hours before signing day. Colburn had been committed to U of L since last June, and had not entertained other offers since that time.

Dutch Fork's coach, Tom Knotts, told GoUpstate.com that Petrino and his staff wouldn't be welcome at the school anymore. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham reportedly told Colburn that the Cardinals needed to take more defensive backs after losing some early to the NFL. U of L offered Colburn the opportunity to “gray shirt,” or wait until January to enroll, but he said he's not interested in sitting out.

“He (Petrino) won't be able to recruit my school anymore and I imagine there will be some other coaches that will say the same thing,” Knotts told The Sporting News. “Trust factor is just not there. They've known about these three DBs wanting to go to the NFL for weeks now. To use that as an excuse doesn't hold water with me.” 

It's not the first school to get angry and close its doors to a U of L coaching staff. When Charlie Strong pulled a scholarship offer to defensive back Chris Dukes of Colerain High School in Cincinnati back in 2010, about a month before signing day, the coach said then that Louisville wouldn't be welcomed back. And the Cardinals haven't signed anyone out of Colerain since.

It's not an uncommon practice in college recruiting. U of L has benefitted from over-signing on other campuses, as it did when it got Lonrezo Mauldin.

One thing rankling some in South Carolina, like Clemson Sports Talk host Lawton Swann, is that Colburn's scholarship might well have gone to late U of L addition Devonte Fields, a standout defensive end and former Big 12 defensive freshman of the year who was kicked out of TCU over allegations of punching his girlfriend.

Petrino is expected to offer an explanation of that signing today when he meets the media at 4:30.

One you're not likely to hear, but may be the most likely to be true, can be found with a single glance at the very top of Rivals' national recruiting rankings. Florida State, the team at the top of U of L's division in the Atlantic Coast Conference, has the No. 4 overall class. And it's not even the top class in the division. That would belong to Clemson, at No. 3. That's why, successful as it was, this isn't Teddy Bridgewater's Louisville, anymore.

WDRB.com will wrap up all the classes and signing day comments from the coaches. Check back with us throughout the day.

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