OK, so the beginning of February is the farthest thing from college football season, so maybe it's fitting that one day in the midst of winter is the sport's version of Christmas Day.
At least for one day, every Division I college program can open up gifts in front of a crowd of well wishers (never mind that they wrapped the gifts themselves) and proclaim to a waiting world four words that reverberate throughout National Signing Day 2010:
"Our best class ever."
Whether you're Alabama or Army, National Signing Day is a ray of hope, a turning of the page for whatever ailed your team in 2009. And no, it won't radically change the hierarchy of the sport, but like spring training for baseball, it's a time where every team has something to look forward to in the weeks and months to come.
That is, except where National Signing Day is an afterthought.
For a variety of reasons, Georgetown chooses not to take the opportunity to showcase its incoming class on this occasion; never mind the goodwill that other Patriot League schools build by hosting events for coaches and alumni and have the same admissions firewalls for recruiting Georgetown has to deal with. The technical answer is that Georgetown won't announce players until they have confirmed an offer of admission and sent in a deposit, which is sometime after May 1, but when other PL schools are hosting events and Georgetown does not, you have to ask if Georgetown is missing out on some much-needed optimism around a program in the I-AA ditch and facing the dilemma of a changing scholarship landscape in its own league.
There is a conspiracy theory out there that suggests Georgetown doesn't release names because they actually fill the list after signing day (presumably to pick up those not signed earlier by other PL schools), but this is false. While I understand the rationale for a conservative approach, it is an opportunity lost.
It is more concerning, however, when local lists are published without any Georgetown representation--presumably these lists are coming from the high schools and players themselves. When the Washington Post lists six local signings by Ivy League teams and various recruits headed not just to Maryland or Virginia, but places like Holy Cross, Fordham, Marist, Bryant...but not Georgetown, it reinforces the perception that Georgetown is out of sight and out of mind for local recruits. It's no secret that Georgetown does not sign many local kids and high school coaches take note of this. However unfair, this perception reflects poorly on Kevin Kelly and his staff that Georgetown is not even a consideration for DC area recruits and their coaches.
National Signing Day also presents an opportunity for coaches to get in front of its boosters and constituents with a message of hope and optimism. This too, is an opportunity lost by Georgetown. Even something as simple as a letter from the head coach on the web site thanking supporters for hanging in there through an awful year, outlining what is ahead for the upcoming season, and commenting in general (if not specific) on the quality of the heretofore undisclosed recruits would be a sign that there is more to look forward in 2010 than what was seen in 2009.
Yes, Georgetown fans need a boost of optimism. The last four Kelly recruiting classes didn't turn this around, period, and if 2010 is the turning point, well, let's hear about it, and let's welcome the opportunity of growth and improvement. Georgetown is not recruiting students on an 0-11 record, they are selling growth and success. And recruits aren't coming to GU to be 0-11, they want to win. Let's hear about it, too.
To borrow a phrase from Kevin Kelly's former boss, Georgetown Football has a story to tell, and the introduction of the next class in The Long (Blue &) Gray Line are stories waiting to be told. Every one of these young men are looking forward to the tremendous opportunity to study and to play football at Georgetown, and every one comes with a record of scholastic and competitive excellence that's worth talking about. This staff doesn't recruit warm bodies, it recruits men of achievement, and it doesn't wait for walk-ons to fill the roster. And if Feb. 3 is not the proper forum for Georgetown to tell us about its next generation of Hoyas, well, there needs to be a time and place to do so.
Standing at 0-11 is not a time to lay low, it's a time to stand up and be noticed. At least for one day, Georgetown is not in the mix.