There are many reasons why I would prefer National Signing Day — or, more specifically, the insanity/absurdity that surrounds it — didn’t exist, at least in its current way-more-important-than-it-should-be form. The following story is a big reason why I, and most sane people, hold that opinion.
For a lengthy period of time, Russellville (Ala.) High School linebacker/running back Brent Calloway was a solid verbal commitment to Alabama, which was a significant coup for the Tide; Calloway is a five-star player according to Rivals.com and the No. 5 player in the country at his position. Last month, Calloway abruptly flipped his non-binding verbal commitment to another school. And not just any school, either — Calloway committed to hated in-state rival Auburn.
That set off a firestorm of criticism of the teenager, leading to rude signs in the stands of his high school basketball games and crude remarks left on his Facebook page and other social media websites. Calloway’s father unintentionally added fuel to the fire by publicly criticizing his adoptive son’s decision to renege on his original commitment.
Kevin Scarbinsky spun an excellent yarn in this morning’s Birmingham News regarding the backlash Calloway’s faced since his flip. And how some fans of college football programs really, really need to find some semblance of a life outside of what teenage boys provide them.
He’s a high school student, but he didn’t attend class the last two days. He’s a high school basketball player, but he didn’t play in his team’s game Monday.
“He’s not even in Russellville,” said his high school basketball coach, Michael Smith. “He’ll be back after the signing.”
Back in school and back on the basketball team, sure. But back to normal? Calloway can only hope.
Smith didn’t say where Calloway was. The fact that he wasn’t at home, at school and on the court so far this week was a sad statement all its own.
His life has been turned upside down because too many people who don’t have a life have been hanging on his decision. He’s gone into seclusion because too many people who need a life have been tugging at him and trying to discover or influence his decision.
Scarbinsky closes by writing amongst other things: “Can you imagine the mind of a person who would criticize a teenager, let alone threaten him, because he wanted to play college football here rather than there? Sadly, if you follow recruiting, you can.”
Sad doesn’t even begin to describe it, unfortunately. “Creepy” and “disgusting”? Yeah, that’s getting closer.