I hate National Signing Day. There, I said it.

Posted at 11:12 PM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 00:12:06-05

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot that can and should be celebrated on signing day. It's hard to earn a college scholarship to play a sport, and the free education that comes along with that scholarship is invaluable. It's an accomplishment that should be cherished by the athletes, their parents, their coaches and everyone else who helped them along the way.

But, each year, when the first Wednesday of February rolls around I cringe. Coaches, universities, fans and yes, we in the media, put way too much hype and pressure on these young kids.

These are 17 and 18 year olds that on this day get treated like celebrities. Recruiting services go around the clock, tv sportscasts are expanded and newspapers give them fullpage spreads.

The result of that isn't healthy for the kids or the sport.

All of these kids are terrific players on the high school level, but against a wide variety of competition. Now the experts are trying to project how good they will be at the next level. The more stars a prospect gets, the more his decision will be scrutinized by college football's most passionate, er, crazy fans.

Look up a top recruit's Twitter mentions after he makes a college commitment. Often times the number of fans cursing him is more than the number congratulating him. Grown men criticizing, and even ridiculing, kids.

The attention often times brings out the worst in the recruits as well.

Levi Jones is a four-star linebacker from Austin Texas that had narrowed his list down to Florida, Florida State and USC entering Wednesday. He announced his decision by taking off a sweatshirt to reveal a blue Florida t-shirt. The crowd cheered, only for Jones to quiet them down as he then stripped off the Florida shirt to reveal a maroon Florida State t-shirt. Watch the announcement here.

But he wasn't done. As the crowd hushed completely, mostly stunned, Jones proceeded to take off that shirt to reveal that his actual choice, and final t-shirt, was USC.

"Fight On," Jones said, putting two fingers in the air, probably thinking of himself as quite the showman.

No one who is self aware could possibly think that that show was classy or funny and anything but disrespectful. But that's the problem with what recruiting has become.

These kids, and they are kids, are celebrated at every turn and propped up as program saviors and superstars. How would they know better?

The hysteria around recruiting has become so big that in 2008 a Nevada teen named Kevin Hart called a press conference at his school on signing day to announce that he would be going to Cal on a football scholarship.

The only problem was that Cal had never even heard of him.

Hart made it all up, desperate for the attention that comes with being one of these glorified recruits.

Somehow a day that should celebrate the best in high school athletics brings out the worst in all of us.

For these kids Signing Day is the moment a dream comes true, but for college coaches it is the lifeblood of their programs.

Imagine having your job, your livelihood, depending on the decisions of 17 year old kids.

It's a decision that they have to make. But should we really be televising them live across the country?