BARNEStorming: National Signing Day and Thoughts Around the College Football World
OXFORD, Miss. – Wednesday was national signing day in college for players becoming part of a school’s football program. For some fans, the day is a national holiday. They can brag their team had a Top-10 class. Others feel dread as a coveted recruit chooses to sign with a rival.
But those fans should remember something. The kids that are signing with their teams, that signature is kind of like taking the SATs. It says a lot about the players’ potential. And not all players will reach that potential.
Does anyone remember Ron Paulus? If you do, you are a trivia buff. When Paulus signed with Notre Dame, ESPN’s Beano Cook remarked the kid would win three Heisman Trophies and the Fighting Irish would win four national titles.
Notre Dame went to only two bowls with Paulus under center.
Recruiting also goes the other way. Has anyone heard of DeMarcus Ware or Osi Umenyiora? Probably.
Not only were each Super Bowl champions and were Pro Bowlers, but each also played together in high school. Auburn High School. Located merely 12 miles away from Auburn University, neither were offered a scholarship from the Tigers. Neither were recruited by Auburn in a serious fashion.
Each played at Troy.
Which college – or NFL team – was more satisfied with their draft picks? By the way, Ware went in the first round, Umenyiora the second. Paulus was undrafted.
Ware is the Dallas Cowboys’ all-time leading sack leader. Umenyiori won two Lombardi Trophies with the New York Giants.
Paulus had cups of coffee for one season each with the Tennessee Oilers, Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles. His last job as a player was with the Amsterdam Admirals.
When judging a draft class or a recruiting class, wait three-four years to truly see its value.
I am kind of old. I remember full-service gas stations, 8-track tapes and when the Heisman Trophy was awarded to the best player in college football.
This past Saturday, I pumped my own gas, downloaded a Todd Snider song and Bryce Young won the Heisman.
Is Bryce Young the best player in college football? No. Is he even the best player on his team? No. And before I am accused of just being an Alabama hater, I voted for Will Anderson, Jr., for the Outland Trophy. Anderson is the best player in a Crimson Tide uniform this season.
Will Anderson Jr.:
𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗧𝗘𝗥𝗠𝗜𝗡𝗔𝗧𝗢𝗥 ⚡️@AlabamaFTBL #SECNation pic.twitter.com/BTU85DWCw0
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 20, 2021
But back to Young. He might not even be the best player in the Alabama offensive huddle. That distinction could easily go to wide receiver Jameson Williams.
Imagine thinking you’re too good for Special Teams when Jameson Williams had these stats in the SEC Championship and (season):
7 (68) REC
184 (1,445) YDS
26.3 (21.3) AVG
2 (15) TDs
while he brings THIS…pic.twitter.com/5VgHQdXcZm
— Danny Schaechter 🦅 (@CoachDShack) December 5, 2021
Without the Ohio State transfer – along with fellow receiver John Metchie III – Young’s numbers would be much lower. Add to that an offensive line that often gave Young time enough in the pocket for his bevy of receivers to run wild and get open, and he might be the fourth or fifth best player on the Alabama offense.
So how did Young win the Heisman? It’s simple. It’s marketing. Young is talented, has a good story and is an easy sell to voters. I have been a member of the Football Writers’ Association of America for years and that affords me the opportunity to be in the target audience of any sports information department which believes it has a candidate for the Heisman.
I have received a videotape of former Oregon quarterback Joey Herrington playing classical piano. I have a Byron Leftwich bobblehead somewhere in a closet. And just where did I put that Jared Lorenzen paper weight?
It is common for sports information departments to assign a member simply to spearhead the marketing and publicity efforts into trying to get their candidate’s story to the voters. And it works.Jason White won the Heisman. So did Geno Torretta and Eric Crouch and Rashaan Salaam.
Were any of those players the best in college football that season? No. But they each had a story to tell and a story to sell.
The Best Region in Non-FBS Football
The quick thought would be the southeast, Texas or maybe even California as the stronghold of the Football Championship Subdivision.
The quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs took place over the weekend (wow, a playoff of more than four teams can work) and three of the teams come from the same region. It is a place that is a hotbed of talent in cold weather.
Next week, Montana State will play South Dakota State in one semifinal, while North Dakota State takes on James Madison to try and earn a berth in the title game.
The region could have made it a clean sweep, but the JMU Dukes beat Montana Friday night.
Maybe Another Southern Natty
Valdosta (Ga.) State will battle Ferris (Mich.) State for the Division II Championship.
Should the VSU Blazers win, it will be the third consecutive title for the Gulf South Conference. Last year’s season was scrubbed, but in 2019 West Florida won it all and Valdosta State took home the trophy in 2018.
It could have been a four-peat for the GSC, but in 2017 UWF fell to Texas A&M-Commerce.
A Cool Way to End the Season
Saturday, Navy upset Army in the best rivalry in college football. Earlier this season, the Midshipmen beat Air Force while the Falcons had defeated Army.
NAVY BEATS ARMY! pic.twitter.com/vL8B5G4zRg
— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTB_Vids_YT) December 11, 2021
With Navy’s win, that puts each service academies’ record 1-1 in the round-robin tournament.
Therefore, each of the academies will share the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy. It is the first time the trophy has been shared since 1993.
The three academies stress teamwork and having the other branches of the military’s back. What could be better for the armed forces than to share the trophy.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.