Rick Snider: This day is an ugly sign of the times

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Why is the calendar littered with overhyped, commercialized events?

Sweetest Day? What's that? Valentine's Day-lite that only requires a card? Grandparents' Day is in case you didn't bother with Mother's Day or Father's Day and now your kids pay for it. And Groundhog Day is about some rodent that might have seen his shadow, not that he says anything decipherable. Thought we had politicians for that.

And then there's college football's national signing day Wednesday. Hats are chosen from tables like it's three-card Monte during televised news conferences. High schoolers are prized as the next wave of heroes even though few make an impact in college.

How did signing day become so overstated? It's the pinnacle of sometimes years of recruiting by colleges desperate for the next great player, one who can make coaches millions of dollars or at least save their careers.

And why are teams still using fax machines to accept letters of intent? Was the Pony Express not available?

TV money has turned college football into a mini-NFL completely founded on free agency. Colleges base everything on what 18-year-olds think is cool, like massive weight rooms that are never big enough.

There's no sense even talking about a school's prestige. Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech are all wonderful universities any kid would be lucky to attend. A degree that comes without six-figure student loans because of football is the best deal in life, and yet that's mostly a nonfactor to recruits. They only want to know how many players the coach has sent to the NFL.

Signing day is like Christmas to many fans even though it has little impact on the coming season, which is the only one of importance. If a lot of them play in their first year, the team either stinks or is massively injured. Instead, it's better to care about who's playing this year than this fantasy league business.

Maryland recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley is a genius. Since he arrived last year, the offensive coordinator has saved coach Randy Edsall's job by pulling in local talent such as Stefon Diggs (Good Counsel) last season and Taivon Jacobs (Suitland), Jacquille Veii (Avalon) and Yannick Ngakoue (Friendship Collegiate) for the coming fall.

The Terrapins' class was 31st overall on Rivals.com, far better than the 2-10 and 4-8 records in Edsall's first two seasons merited. This is the first class for Maryland's Big Ten era, which begins in 2014. It will be a big jump when the Terps have to play Ohio State and Michigan. A great season there maybe merits a third-place finish instead of an ACC crown.

Virginia Tech was 22nd and Virginia 27th as the ACC put four teams in the top 30. That seems respectable -- except 10 SEC teams were in the top 30. Kingpins Alabama, Florida and LSU competed with Ohio State and Notre Dame for the top five.

The new faces of the fall have arrived. Now it begins anew for next year's great hopes.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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