In recruiting, and specifically in the SEC, there are no friends to be made. In front of crowds of media personnel, coaches spew rhetoric about respect and honor, but in homes across the country and in the thousands of phone calls and text messages exchanged daily, the language isn't nearly as polite.
Coaches lie to players, players lie to coaches, everyone lies to the media, and the media lies to the fans. Everyone is to blame, yet nobody is to blame. It's a diabolical process. One that has rightfully earned the moniker of a circus, with all three rings coming to head on one single day called National Signing Day.
It's suppose to be capitalized, like it's some glorious day, and in all fairness for the kids who will be making the single biggest decisions of their lives to date, it is. But what goes on shouldn't truly be celebrated. Yet, grown men will cry the most despicable of tears. The virtual ones.
Message boards across the country will erupt, some in jubilation, but most will just erupt. It's the season of the message board meltdown. Often lacking spelling, punctuation and grammar, these hate-filled rants will be unavoidable in the coming days and weeks. Like wilted lettuce, disgusting people will say disgusting things.
People like longtime Tennessee commitment Otha Peters, a 17 or 18-year old kid, will be subjected to the wrath of men who apparently know no limits. It's just a game. He's just a kid. These are the types of rationalizations that evade these irrational men (the same men who take no concern with coaches turning commitments loose in favor of more talented prospects.)
But it is just a game. They are just kids. And these people are idiots.
So here we are once again, at this all to familiar impasse. It's nearly impossible to ignore the recruiting process all together if you're a college football fan, as it plays such a critical role in the success or failure of any team.
But year-after-year it continues to get uglier and uglier every step of the way, and it doesn't figure to stop.
They claim that the economy is cyclical, so when it reaches its most perilously murky depths, there's hope that time will simply bring us back to the surface in time for our next gasp for air (whether or not you believe this to be true is a discussion for men much smarter than I.) However, there's nothing cyclical about college football recruiting.
It's careening hopelessly downhill, and that's an absolute shame. Because for every great story about a kid overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to realize a lifelong dream, there are a dozen stories of boosters, coaches, players and fans somehow acting in a manner that errors towards the exponentially growing seedy underbelly of recruiting.
Whether you blame the players, the coaches, the boosters, the fans, or the media is irrelevant. Actually, I take that back, it's extremely relevant, because if you're sitting here stewing right now, specifically as it pertains to Peters recent change of heart, then you've already taken it too far.
If you've penned a Facebook message or cleverly edited your rage down to 140 characters or less with the intent of showing this young man how you feel, then it's even worse than too far. You're part of the problem.
They're just kids. It's just a game. Don't be an idiot.