National signing day
Man, this used to be a holiday — a festival of sorts — for college football fans. Heck, we knew people who annually took the day off to make sure they had plenty of time to hit refresh on the Rivals.com site.
The early signing period sucked a whole to of the sizzle out of national signing day, and we have to believe that's a good thing. We had ESPN recruiting ace Tom Luginbill on Press Row, and cohost David Paschall made a great point about all the silliness of years past seems to have faded a great deal. The hat dances, the puppies, the Times Square videos.
As for the real results, well, Tennessee lost a running back to FSU. Auburn secured the signature of a few four stars who were thought to be looking around. Alabama is in the mix for almost all of the big names still on the board, because, well, they are Alabama and Saban is the best recruiter ever.
But, despite the high fives and the low feelings that can swing because of the decisions of an 18-year-old — a phrase that is kind of embarrassing when you read it out loud — the stories to be told by these players are as much about the next couple of years as their ranking by some computer sites.
Let's look back to the 2015 signing class. Those kids just completed their junior seasons in college. The top 10 classes according to Rivals.com were:
USC (Best recruits: Iman Marshall, Ronald Jones and some dude named Sam Darnold, who was near the bottom of the Trojans' class and picked the Trojans over Colorado State, Duke and Northwestern.)
Alabama (Best recruits: Studs Damien Harris, DaRon Payne, Calvin Ridley and Minkah Fitzpatrick. That's a haul friends.)
FSU (Best recruits: Derwin James, Tartarus McFadden, George Campbell.)
Clemson (Best recruits: Christian Wilkins, Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud.)
Tennessee (Best recruits:Drew Richmond, Kyle Phillips, Khalil McKenzie and Alvin Kamara.)
Georgia, Auburn, LSU, THE Ohio State and Texas A&M. Half of those schools have had coaching changes since that signing day. (Clay Helton was named the full-time head coach in November 2015.)
Two of the top five had miserably disappointing seasons last year. Yes, three of the four teams in the college football playoff as well. So yes, getting the players is the starting point, but man getting talent and wasting talent will get you fired quickly.
LeBron and Cavs debacle
The Cavs are a dumpster fire. LeBron and the Boys had a 21-point lead and got smoked in the second half by a terrible Orlando team. The wheels have come off.
LeBron was even asked about waiving his no-trade clause after the game, and he said he would never do that to his teammates. (In truth, we believe LeBron is unwilling to waive that trade clause because of what it would mean down the road. No not to LeBron and future earnings. Rather, LeBron would seemingly be willing to sacrifice the extra millions he could get by resigning with a new team for the assets it would cost his new team in the trade, if that makes sense.)
Stink, because we'll ask this: Would Lebron James being willing to waive his no-trade clause be the most interesting thing that could possibly happen in sports during the next 24-plus hours?
OK, let's clarify. We must take all deaths off the books. And cheating/sexual scandals, because let's be honest, after the Michigan State stuff, 'interesting' is not the right word.
Which brings us back to LeBron and the talking point of his no-trade clause.
Multiple teams have, according to this story, inquired about whether LeBron would waive his no-trade clause.
It makes sense. The Cavs are free-falling. Other than James, that roster is a first-round flame-out waiting to happen. It also makes sense for the Cavs to look to deal James. He's a free agent at the end of the season. The team rightly does not want to deal the unprotected Nets' No. 1 pick. (As of right now that pick is a lottery pick but is only three wins ahead of Atlanta for last place. Tanking Fever, catch it.)
It also makes sense for LeBron. He can craft where he wants to go. Heck, he likely could craft a deal that would include a spot for BFF Dwyane wade, too.)
This Cavs structure is broken. LeBron hates owner Dan Gilbert and vice versa, regardless of the chance each presented the other for redemption. It's done. And LeBron is headed somewhere.
But if he would agree — and the construct of a deal could be woven — would that not behoove both sides.
And then, as we become a sports culture that loves the transaction more than the action — and that's a discussion all to itself — LeBron James on the trade block would be awesome sauce.
Period. End of discussion.
(And here's hoping the Spurs find some sort of assets to move for LeBron, and add him to that cast of veterans and the return of Kawhi and let the chips fall where they may. Giddy up.)
Well hello, and good-bye
Josh McDaniels said thanks but not thanks after all to the Indianapolis Colts.
Ripple takeaways are far-reaching.
If you are Johnny Colts Fan, you are praying this about McDaniels and his place with the Patriots hierarchy and the succession plan the Kraft family pitched New England's offensive coordinator.
More on that in a moment.
In a worst-case scenario for Indy, this could be that McDaniels is unsure about the long-term health of Andrew Luck and his surgically repaired shoulder that was supposed to cost him five weeks of last season but put him on the shelf for the entire season.
We wrote this last week about McDaniels' offenses:
As the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2006-08, \the Patriots led the league in scoring during that time;
When he was the head coach in Denver from 2009-2010 the Broncos ranked 17th in scoring;
When he was the OC of the Rams in 2011, the Rams were last in scoring;
Back as the Patriots offensive coordinator from 2012-17 and the Patriots led the league in scoring during that time.
Yes, McDaniels is a genius and a savant with TB12 pulling the trigger.
In the end, the simplest explanation here seems the most logical, and that simple thought has to be that McDaniels was told if he stayed he would be the head-coaching-in-waiting after Bill Belichick. (Side note: Heard this morning on ESPN Radio that there is an exception to the Rooney Rule that allows teams to name successors without interviewing minority candidates. So there's that.)
But to go back to a conversation we had around these parts yesterday, the fact that the Patriots are evening thinking about the A.B. (After Bill) days is kind of telling.
Even more telling is that the Kraft family worked hard and made a late — read: expensive — push to keep the guy they believe can smooth the A.B. transition after dealing the quarterback that was going to be the A.B. (After Brady) guy.
This and that
— While we're here on the McDaniels stuff, the Colts have two coaches already under contract — coaches McDaniels wanted on his staff — and say they are going to honor those deals. Tough deal for those cats, and also for the new head coach, whomever it may be.
— And maybe the Colts got a break here too. McDaniels is one of 12 former Belichick assistants who have been an NFL head coach. Of that group, only one — Al Groh who was 9-7 in one season as the boss with the Jets — has a career record over .500. Good luck with that Detroit, which will introduce Matt Patricia and his beard later today.
— In the worst injury for the Knicks since Bernard King and the worst Scrabble collision in sports history, Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL after he landed on Giannis Antetokounmpo's foot. Good luck spelling those right without some help. If Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would have been in attendance as the guest of Coach K and the Navy football coach, then that's the seventh circle of pronunciation Hades.
— Yes, the Cavs' implosion Tuesday night was front and center, but also on note was the Thunder dropping the Warriors at Golden State. The loss was not the biggest part of the story, considering that Draymond Green had a complete meltdown, got his NBA-leading 13th technical and was ejected. Also of note was Green getting into it with a female referee and he called her the B-word on camera. Wonder what the NBA will say about that.
— Speaking of LeBron, as the trade deadline comes and goes with little-to-no buzz, here's an interesting thought about James' future: What if he headed to Philadelphia for a discount? Awesome, right? And know this, wherever he lands in the East becomes the favorite to get beat by the Warriors, right? (And while we are here, Kyrie Irving's intense desire to leave Cleveland seems more and more logical with each passing disappointment.)
— Speaking of recruiting, that list above that Auburn with the No. 7 class, had the Tigers signing two five stars — Jovon Robinson and defensive end Byron Cowart — and neither made a significant contribution.
— Strong win for Tennessee at Rupp on Tuesday. Here's Weeds' take on it.
Who is gone from his current job first, Brady, Belichick or LeBron? Discuss.
Will Draymond get suspended for calling the female ref a bad word? If so, how long?
Lots of birthdays today.
Desmond Doss would have been 99 today. Great movie, right?
Chris Rock is 53 today. Ashton Kuchar is 40 today.
Garth Brooks is 56. Charles Dickens would have been 206 today.
Matt Stafford is 30.
James Spader is 58.
This one may be specialized, but today is signing day. Let's go Rushmore of biggest recruiting busts. Go, and remember the mailbag.