Shanoff's W.U.C.: CFB Signing Day Thrills

Today's Calls: National Signing Day vs. the NFL Draft, Ray Allen vs. Jameer Nelson, Tom Cable vs. Todd Haley, Purdue vs. Kentucky, Derek Jeter vs. Citigroup and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: National Signing Day may be the most important day of the college football year. ↵

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↵Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. (How did Florida win the national title last year AND position itself as preseason No. 1 for next season? Among other things, Urban Meyer's relentless approach to recruiting.) ↵

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↵But it has become a passion for fans, too. You can find them on message boards, all year round — but especially in the last few weeks — trading gossip about commitments, leans, "strong leans," visits (both to your school and rivals) and general mind-reading of a bunch of mercurial 18-year-olds. ↵

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↵"NSD" has become for college football what the NFL draft and NBA draft have become for those professional leagues — the signature moment of the offseason. In the case of college football: Something to cling to in the months between the end of bowls and the start of spring practice. ↵

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↵But NSD is way more critical than professional drafts. The strength of a recruiting class can make or break a program for years. ↵

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↵Do the actual rankings matter? USC, Florida, Texas, LSU and Ohio State (this season's No. 1 class?) might say they do. Coach-em-up overachievers like unbeaten Utah or, say, nine-win Northwestern might disagree. ↵

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↵But for sheer blind enthusiasm and hope for fans, you can't beat the annual tradition of importing 20 new players and announcing, "This is the future." ↵

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↵Bonds Watch: How does diving into hundreds of pages of unsealed court documents sound to you? No? How about the headline: The Feds claim they have an HGH-tainted urine sample from Bonds. Should be an interesting day. ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: Was it just a month ago that we were talking about the Celtics being derailed? This latest 12-game streak shows they are as good as ever this season. (They didn't even need KG last night to beat the 76ers; they did, however, need a buzzer-beating 3 from Ray Allen.) ↵

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↵With news that Jameer Nelson may miss the rest of the season with that shoulder injury — nevermind the hit to the hopes of a deep playoff run for Magic fans — his All-Star spot may be up for grabs; Allen's game-winner is a nice reminder that perhaps Boston also earned the three All-Stars that Orlando got. Will Allen get the nod? "All-Star injury fill-in" seems to be his thing. ↵

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↵2010 Watch: Chris Bosh may very well leave Toronto when he is a free agent (I certainly think he will). But he insists he hasn't actually said that to anyone. It is like saying LeBron has SAID he is leaving Cleveland; you suspect he probably will — it's not like he has said it out loud. ↵

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↵Prediction: LeBron will NOT score 61 points tonight at the Garden. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: How legit is Purdue? Only as legit as Robbie Hummel's back issues will let them be. (See last night's OT loss to Ohio State.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile: What was that about Kentucky being the best of a tepid field in the SEC? ... Pay no attention to Marquette's unblemished Big East record until they reach their end-of-season gauntlet. ... Tonight's Must-Track Games: West Virginia at Syracuse and Duke at Clemson. ↵

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↵Super Bowl Hangover: Unlike that final play of the Cardinals' season, the Super Bowl's TV ratings got a fair review — and it turns out that, indeed, Super Bowl 43 was the most-watched ever, topping the Giants-Pats game from last year. The myth of small participating markets hurting audience is imploded. ↵

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↵NFL Coaching Carousel: As expected, the Raiders are keeping Tom Cable as head coach. Umm ...congratulations? (What else do you say for what is arguably the worst job in the NFL? How about: "This won't end well.") ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Chiefs got permission to talk with Cardinals O.C. Todd Haley. Needless to say, I don't think they will be trying to trade for Anquan Boldin. ↵

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↵2009: If it's two days after the Super Bowl, then it must be time for next season's Power Rankings. ↵

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↵Torre Book Fallout, Cont'd: Hey, Jeter — Mr. "Captain" — instead of whining, how about at least acknowledging you are being hounded with questions about A-Rod because your beloved ex-manager decided to write a book that rips him (and, by extension, your team). Derek Jeter: What a "leader." ↵

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↵Economy: Citigroup still paying Mets? It's not just that Citi should work to get out of their $400 million naming-rights agreement; it's that the Mets should be pressured to let them out of it. The whole thing is absurd — even more so now that Citi says it is still committed to pay. ↵

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↵Must-Read: As Kobe's 61 and National Signing Day reflect, the end of the NFL season doesn't mean that there isn't a ton to keep up with in sports between now and, say, the NFL Draft. (Chris Mottram even leaves out the usual NBA All-Star Weekend insanity.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I would welcome the opportunity to coach Brett again." — Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. ↵

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↵Why do people indulge Favre's diva-ish behavior by turning his insufferable will-he-or-won't-he offseason saga into daily drip-drip-drip torture? ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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