A column by Mick McCabe for the Detroit Free-Press railing against recruiting combines — those run by Rivals and the like — came to our attention today, and we’d like to break down its arguments while soliciting thoughts from our readership.
McCabe comes in hot, so let’s get right to it:
The Underwear Olympics? Those are high school football combines, and before you shell out your hard-earned money for these things, you should know the people putting them on are perpetrating a fraud on parents and players.
These combines are the latest rage, made popular by people trying to figure out a way to make more money off these kids in what should be much-needed downtime for them.
McCabe is certainly correct in that Rivalsand the like put on combines and operate as for-profit business. So in that sense, yes, they are making money off kids — especially now that Nike and Under Armour are becoming more involved than ever. So, too, do ESPN, FOX, CBS and NBC by televising college football games.
Kids arrive at these combines where no one is wearing pads; it’s just shorts and T-shirts. They are timed in the 40-yard dash and the shuttle run. They are tested on their vertical leap, standing long jump and other things.
They run around the field catching and throwing passes, and this is all part of the process of being rated by recruiting services such as Rivals.com and Scout.com.
If you think college coaches pay attention to anything that happens at these combines or where the recruits are rated, you are delusional.
While no coach will ever admit to putting stock in evaluations other than his own, combines often serve as springboards for under-recruited players.
Consider this example from Bleacher Report’s profile of Vanderbilt basketball player Luke Kornet:
One of my questions: What did these recruiting gurus major in while in college to qualify them to rate kids? Astronomy?
If these recruiting gurus are so good at their jobs, why wasn’t there a five-star recruit starting in the Super Bowl? Why were there only seven four-star recruit Super Bowl starters? According to 247Sports, 20 starters were two-star players or lower.
Since these recruiting gurus claim their ratings are based on college potential and often mention likely NFL careers in their evaluations, how do they mess up so bad so often?
If we have learned anything over the years it is that recruiting is an inexact science. That is proved every year when someone like Jimmy Clausen is a five-star recruit and J.J. Watt is a two-star recruit, or when two-star recruit Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek is the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft or when Scout.com didn’t list Kirk Cousins among the top-100 quarterbacks in his senior class.
Next on the agenda for high school kids after the combines is seven-on-seven All-Star teams, which are a bigger joke than the combines.
The article was written a year ago, explaining the dated references above, but McCall’s point persists among many fans and media: J.J. Watt was a two-star so therefore recruiting rankings are invalid.
One could use the same argument with Tom Brady and JaMarcus Russell as examples to invalidate the NFL Draft process.
We could go on, but McCall’s stance on the issue is clear. What we’re interested in learning is what the coaches in our audience think.
Those in defending recruiting combines argue they provide a rare chance to see players of similar talent level face off in multiple 1-on-1 situations, something that may not happen throughout the course of a high school season. Opponents counter that nothing outside of 11-on-11 situations matter and, by the way, the combines are run by people you wouldn’t necessarily bring home to Mom.
What say you?