Gang, remember Friday's mailbag, and we hope you had a very Merry ReCruitmas, let's review.
From the final round ReCruitmas Command Center at the "Talk too much" studios, just the fax ma'am...
National recruiting rewind
Let's breakdown the national classes with a silent tip of the cowboy hat to a wordless Clint Eastwood in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."
Wow, Ole Miss did work. How much you ask? Well, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze was answering questions about recruiting tactics and he had to say he and his staff did everything above board. Yep, if your class is so good that people are asking if you broke rules on national signing day, then you did work. Ole Miss landed the No. 1 player (Robert Nkemdiche), the No. 1 offensive tackle (Laremy Tunsil), the No. 1 wide receiver (Laquan Treadwell) and the No. 2 safety (Antonio Conner) in the country according to ESPN.
How about these apples: After a record-setting season that included a Sugar Bowl win over Florida that likely earned them a spot in the preseason Top 10 next fall, the Louisville Cardinals were smoked in recruiting by Kentucky. Charlie Strong and the Cards got 16 commits and finished 57th nationally according to Rivals.com; UK, which made a hard charge in the final week, climbed to No. 27 overall and stole players from USC (Jason Hatcher) and Nebraska (Marcus McWilson). Runner-up: Georgia Tech landed just 14 commits and finished in the mid-80s nationally. Not the kind of buzz the Jackets need, huh Spy? (And yes, we know that you and PJ would rather talk the international trade-deficit with Iceland than recruiting rankings, but perception can be reality. You know this.)
Arkansas running back commit Alex Collins, a top-100 player and one of the jewels of the Hogs class, did not fax his letter of intent Wednesday morning as planned. Collins had not flipped back to Miami, where his mother was hoping he would sign. Nope, Collins had to try to find his mother, who must sign the letter of intent. The mother, you see, up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T rather than agree to Collins signing with the Hogs.
Local recruiting grades
Here's our view on the signing class of the four teams that we consider in our area:
Tennessee — B
Butch Jones and the Vols deserve an A for effort, but last-minute plunges and Hail Marys are tough to connect. UT saw this time and time again Wednesday, and finishing second is as good as finishing 102nd. The class was filled with dichotomies: UT finished 20th nationally, but 10th in the SEC; UT landed two highly regarded QBs, a position of great need, but landed just one RB and one LB, also positions of great need; UT hit a home run with receiver MarQuez North to fill the biggest position of need, but was thrown for a loop by safety Vonn Bell's decision to go to THE Ohio State in another position of great need. We think this was a solid-to-good class that Jones deserves a ton of credit for and of which Johnny Vols Fans everywhere can expect most of the crew to contribute if not star. The best news of course is that Jones' dogged effort and determination in this cycle bodes well for further recruiting seasons.
Georgia — B-
Yes, Georgia is ranked 12th nationally, so a C+/B- may seem harsh. But not unlike the Vols' grade, which is a touch higher than the talent may seem to warrant, Georgia's grade is as much about procedure and possibilities as it is prospects. Jones and the Vols staff saved a class that was ranked in the mid-40s with a hard charge to the finish line; Georgia had a class in the top seven before Rodney Garner left for Auburn, and the Bulldogs started sliding. Plus, the numbers breakdown of this class — UGA signed eight defensive backs — is puzzling. The numbers of what could have been with this class considering the way Georgia normally recruits in-state make 'B-' seem kind of generous. The Peach State was flush with talent but Georgia landed just one of the state's top 12 players and missed on each of the state's four five-star players as Nkemdiche went to Ole Miss, Bell went to Ohio State, and Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson went to Auburn.
UTC — B+
The more we look at this class, the more we like it. Another running back would have been nice, but there is depth and ability on the perimeter offensively (and receiver is among the Mocs' biggest immediate needs) and some serious potential and talent in the defensive front seven. UTC's class may not be as highly ranked as App State's (15 commits, 14 two-stars and one three-star) or located in as talent-rich region as Georgia Southern, but the Mocs did work. Hats off to Russ Huesman and Co., especially Will Healy. We expect big things from D.J. Prather and T.J. Jenkins.
Alabama — A+
Duh. You know Alabama's haul was ranked in the top three by almost all recruiting services. You know it's going to be flushed with star-studded playmakers at every position. You know that Nick Saban was going to talk about the process and the system and the chance to be contribute. You know, blah, blah, blah. Did you know this? To prove that Saban is the fifth-grade bully on the first-grade playground that is recruiting, dominating at an historic cherry-picking level, Saban landed the best player in Louisiana, the best player in Arkansas, the best player in Texas' signing class, the state of Florida's best running back ever in terms of production, the best tight end in the country and the best inside linebacker in America, who had an Auburn tattoo on his arm. Take that Hugh Freeze.
OK, Joe Flacco's agent is supposed to be his biggest supporter. We get that and understand it.
But really, Jerry Maguire-wanna-be, you believe Joe Flacco deserves to be the highest-paid QB in the league? You really believe this? Guy has four good weeks and quarterbacks a Super Bowl winner and he's in line for $20 million per? Riiiiighhttttt.
OK, we'll play along. Here are the three claims based very loosely in one-fact-supported logic that we can toss out there:
— Kevin Sumlin is the best coach in college football. Hey he beat Nick Saban, so give Kev $10 mil and the keys to the Ferrari.
— Fill in the blank: Ravens player X deserves to be the highest-paid player at position X because they just won Super Bowl.
— The New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders are ready to crash the Final Four, because the Highlanders beat Fairleigh Dickinson, which beat Mount Saint Mary's, which beat Central Connecticut beat Wagner, which beat SMU, which beat TCU, which beat Kansas, which beat Ohio State, which beat Michigan.
Book it. N.J.I.T. is going a long way in the Dance, right, Joe' Flacco's Jerry Maguire?
This and that (name that movie quote edition)
— Did we see that right? The U.S lost to Honduras? Hey, we don't follow soccer — about the only two things we know about soccer are A) Can't use your hands and B) The offside rule stinks — but the U.S. shouldn't lose to Honduras in anything. "And we're not going to stand here and let you bad mouth the United State of America. Gentleman."
— Want to know something that pleased us during the craziness that was ReCruitmas? The limited number of Mixture Hat Dances we saw. That's a trend we can embrace. "You buy a hat like that you get a free bowl of soup. Looks good on you though."
— During the ESPNU coverage of ReCruitmas on Wednesday, new levels of awkward irony were reached. Former Vols coach Derek Dooley was asked to discuss Vonn Bell the player and his recruitment, even though we all know that UT's inactivity toward Bell during Dooley's tenure is a big reason THE area's top player is heading to THE Ohio State rather than Knoxville. Then Montravius Adams, the five-star defensive tackle who picked Auburn, was asked about the Tigers new coaching staff and how it affected his commitment. Adams was over-the-top with his praise of the new Auburn staff. Gene Chizik was in studio. "So your saying there's a chance." Or "We're... We're going streaking! We're going up the quad and to the gymnasium... There's more coming... Honey you think KFC is still open." (A final option: "Now go grab your shine box.")
— There's being bad and there's being tough to watch. UT hoops has managed to do both recently and that's less than good. Sure, the Vols have struggled without their best player, Jeronne Maymon. Yes, Trae Golden has been unexpectedly unproductive. And yes, as friend of the show Charlotte's Web frequently notes, the turnovers have crippled this bunch. But at some point those hurdles have to be addressed and cleared, no? Plus, it's almost shameful how they are wasting a renaissance season from Jordan McRae. "Not wasting anything. I got a Porsche already; a 911 with a quadraphonic Blaupunkt."
— We're going to swing by the 105.1 show sometime today — likely around 3, but we'll update later — to chat recruiting and such with Jim Gumm and Wells Guthrie. Grab a listen, "Don't cost nothing."
Remember about the mailbag, and let's take three different approaches here.
First, feel free to fire any recruiting questions.
If you need a starting point, answer us this, has anyone ever done a better job of turning his persona into a marketable character and then really only playing that character in a series of movies more than Steven Seagal? Think about it, even Arnold and Sly Stallone had different turns where actual acting was invovled. Not Seagal, who quite frankly played Steven Seagal in every role to the point that he's not a member of the Screen Actor's Guild; he's a member of the Screen Seagal Guild. Is George Hamilton close? What about Kim Kardashian?
Finally, we're looking for top-five lists that would interest you folks. We're taking the family to Disney next week and need to load up some 5-at-10 ideas in the can. Thoughts?
Help us Obie ones, you're our only hope.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...