National Signing Day is a big day for the Georgia Bulldogs and every other team in the SEC. And why not? The SEC has become the most prestigious conference in football. It has produced the past seven BCS Champions, and National Signing Day is the culmination of every team’s struggle to reel-in the top recruits in the nation.
September 29, 2012; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt celebrates after the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs won 51-44. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
This past Wednesday showed just how important National Signing Day is to the Bulldog Nation, as a majority UGA fans were up in arms due to what was seen as a sub-par 2013 recruiting class. What fans need to realize, however, is that a season is not decided by how many five-star 18 year old boys are signed in a single off-season. Success in college football is – and always has been – decided by coaching. If a team does not have a great coach who can get players to buy into the program and play at the best of their ability, then the recruiting class doesn’t matter nearly as much.
Over the past two years, teams like USC, FSU, Auburn, and Texas have all been in the top 5 when it comes to recruiting – but what do they have to show for it? None of them finished as a top 5 team at the end of either season, while a number of programs with much lower recruiting rankings passed them in the final standings. Only two teams with a top 5 recruiting class finished ranked in the top 5 at the end of the last two seasons – the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2011 and 2012, and the Georgia Bulldogs in 2012.
What makes Alabama and UGA different from the other top recruiting teams? Coaching.
In the end, it all comes down to coaching. This is why criticism of Georgia’s 2013 recruiting class is not fully warranted. Additionally, it is important to realize that the Bulldogs did still manage to end National Signing Day with the 10th ranked recruiting class. Last time I checked, a top 10 class is pretty good and fully acceptable, especially when it’s combined with 2011’s 6th ranked and 2012’s 5th ranked classes. I understand that a majority of the top prospects in the state committed to other schools – and that does need to be addressed – but Mark Richt’s main goal this recruiting season was to have more depth, and he accomplished that goal by adding 32 players to the Bulldogs’ roster.
So try not to be too upset over the events of National Signing Day. If Bulldog fans want to be angry about something, be angry that a defense consisting of a majority of NFL caliber players gave up 350 yards on the ground to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Be angry about not spiking the ball at the end of that same game. Heck, you can even be angry that Mark Richt was out-coached by the best coach in college football on that fateful night. But understand that the Dawgs still have a very good coach, and that coaching will determine the Bulldogs’ success, not the stars by a player’s name.