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How-To Signing Day, Part Three: The Recruiting Cycle of Emotion (But Mostly Angst)

Prepare your emotions for Feb. 1, when your college football fandom and very humanity will be put to the test by National Signing Day.

In the previous installments of our preparatory series on How To Signing Day, we supplied you with the basic outline of recruiting's Christmas season, and then gave you the terms you need to know to sound like a pro. We also gave you a Sodastream and told you not to try to carbonate milk in it, but you went ahead and did it, didn't you? And it was so much worse than you imagined? We hope it was, you stupid dreamer, you.*

*Don't ever try to carbonate milk. It is disgusting. Why doesn't the South produce elite quarterbacks?

What no one can prepare you for is the emotional toll of Signing Day, where after two or three weeks of bemused skepticism you, the casual fan, will suddenly become a roiling cauldron of emotions, emotions easily upset by the slightest tweet, text, or rumor. These emotions follow a universal timeline know as THE SIGNING DAY CYCLE OF EMOTION BUT MOSTLY ANGST.


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  1. The promise of morning! The day beams through your window. ESPN is on, and Twitter is fired up. You have had a caffeinated beverage. All is right with the world, and before you sits a list of names of young men who will make up the future of your football team. What could possibly go wrong?
  2. The Looking Up Of Names. You probably don't know the names of any of your team's recruits. You take this time to learn them, because as an adult you do not do homework. Don't lie: you never did homework. That's fine. Homework is pointless, and men like Bud Elliott and Tom Luginbill exist to do your homework for you. They like doing it. Don't be the guy who tries to wire his own house. Rely on the trained professionals, and be lazy AND productive at the same time.
  3. Attachment Is Developed. Now let the natural human capacity for desire of a contested object develop. If you doubt that you will do this, please consider this delicious apple I am eating right now. Taste it's firm, springy flesh; let the perfume of the orchard waft up with each bite. You can't have it, but if you could, trust me, it would be fantastic. You probably want this apple now, and hate me for having its imaginary awesomeness. This is why people fight over things of value, and sometimes of non-value, because another person wanting it makes it infinitely more appealing. The thing in this case? Probably an 18-year-old who can squat 450 and run a 4.4 without breaking a sweat, and those things are rare, rare, rare.
  4. CREEPING FEAR. And now you fear losing the things you did not even know you wanted, mostly thanks to someone tweeting about a recruit's aunt telling their assistant principal about this thing they heard over a haircut in the barber shop where the recruit's uncle likes to go. We don't know exactly, but it's all stupid and very nerve-wracking.
  5. DESPAIR. You won't get someone, and then you'll wonder about your life, and where it went wrong, and your toes will feel too tight in your shoes, and you'll think, "I'm a poor person because I have to wait until pay day to buy shoes responsibly," and this ends with you thinking all kinds of thoughts you really shouldn't be thinking in the middle of open-heart surgery. Did we mention you're a heart surgeon in this hypothetical? That seems like an important detail here.
  6. ACCEPTANCE. DRINKING. You have a beer and come to terms with the situation your team has placed you in for the next year or so. You are fired for drinking at work. Your boss is so uptight about these things.

The healing process is a long one, however. In order to further process and deal with the aftermath of signing day, we now suggest the following statements as a handy guide to the coded shorthand you'll need to use when discussing recruiting. These are all real life examples ripped from the headlines of message board, and are 100 percent accurate in translation. Know them. Use them. Most importantly, understand them.


Statement: "We're switching to a new scheme."

Translation: "After missing on all three offers to linebackers, we have no more scholarship linebackers , and will be playing a 5-0-6 defense this year because we have to."


Statement: "We've only had this offensive line coach for eight months."

Translation: "Our offensive line coach does not talk so much as he points to a hat and grunts. He is a terrible recruiter."


Statement: "Ah, let them have him. He wouldn't have made the grades to get in here, anyway."

Translation: "I am a fan of a Big Ten school, and have just had a prized recruit sign with an SEC school at the last second."


Statement: "We have no idea what happened. One minute [PLAYER NAME] was ours, and the next he was signing with them."

Translation: "I am not hinting that this player was paid. I am stating that he was paid."


Statement: "It's okay, we have good depth at that position."

Translation: "We have no depth at this position."


Statement: "I'm happy with this class. We don't believe in oversigning. We did it our way: with integrity, class, and with a real focus on the student-athlete."

Translation: "We signed 14 players including two kickers. I am on the verge of crying at every moment of this day."


Statement: "It's okay that we didn't sign that guy. He's a spread guy anyway, and that's a gimmick that won't be around much longer."

Translation: "I have not paid attention to anything new offensively in football since 1986, and am devastated by my rival team's acquisition of a future NFL All-Pro at quarterback."


Statement: "We addressed every single one of our needs with this recruiting class."

Translation: "You're right, that IS a lot of two-star recruits in one class."


Statement: "A lot of guys say he's too small, but you can't measure heart."

Translation: "This recruit is a running back with an artificial hip and exercise-induced asthma. We gave him a scholarship because his father is rich, and will give our university an unnatural sum of money in exchange for a jersey."


Statement: "I guess he's not a Michigan Man/USC Material/ Ohio State Proud/ Alabama Ready/ whatever."

Translation: "I will now openly start baseless rumors of this recruit's drug use on message boards with no basis in reality whatsoever. Also, please ignore the part last week where I said this recruit was the epitome of everything this university stands for. He is not."


Statement: "I'm sure he's going to be the next in our long line of awesome [position goes here]."

Translation: "My expectations for him are already wildly unrealistic, and this recruit is already a disappointment. Should he fail to be anything but a freak in his first year, I will demand his immediate transfer, and question his character in no uncertain terms. I'm not a very nice or realistic person."


Statement: "I heard there were some character issues. Didn't want him anyway."

Translation "This recruit runs a 4.3, can juke on thimbletops, and has the hands of an angelic Jerry Rice. He will change the face of his program for years to come, and do so in the positive. Please allow me to weep openly into my trembling hands in my office without interruption."


Statement: "I'd worry about his vision in our run game, and was sort of worried about all those poachers on campus."

Translation: "This recruit was actually an African rhinoceros playing for a high school under a homeschooling exemption."


Statement: "I'd like to buy a vowel, Alex."

Translation: "I am so disturbed by this recruiting class and its lack of obvious breakout players that I am openly hallucinating about being on Wheel of Fortune. I'm also conflating the hosts of this show and Jeopardy!, and buying a vowel which is just what a dumb person would do and dad was right, I'll never be anything, I'll NEVER BE ANYTHING am I saying this out loud on the bus oh no I am."


Statement: "He's got deceptive quickness and field smarts."

Translation: "Yeah, we signed a white wide receiver."


Statement: "He's not the most talented kid physically, but his academics are impeccable. His dad is really hard on him, though."

Translation: "Yeah, we signed an Asian wide receiver."


Statement: "He's a little heavy, but his knowledge of ancient tattooing techniques and the rules of rugby more than make up for his girth at wideout."

Translation: "Yeah, we signed the only Samoan wide receiver EVER."


Statement: "His speed isn't the best, but his ability to survive on little more than reindeer fat and lichen for weeks at a time is real evidence of his toughness."

Translation: "Yeah, we signed a wide receiver from Northern Finland. Recruiting is racist as hell, guys."