Does it really matter if you win the bragging rights to college football’s “best recruiting class” for the year?

It sure does to the fans. All you have to do is check out the fan message boards around the country. Some fans are complaining about their team’s ranking while others are gloating about theirs…the recruiting rankings provide a lot of fuel for posting on the boards this time of year.

The realists out there (you are out there, right?) recognize that the rankings put out by rivals.com, scout.com, and a multitude of other sports sites mean absolutely nothing until the athletes have proven themselves on the field.

In a signing day press conference two days ago, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall offered his unique perspective on the ubiquitous star ranking systems:

“We don’t really care how many recruiting stars a player has when he comes here. Every player, once he comes to Provo, starts out with no stars. What we care about is how many stars he has when he leaves.”

Thanks for that fresh dose of common sense, coach.

By the way, for some peculiar reason, Mendenhall’s recruiting classes are downgraded by the ranking services every year, and yet BYU is 22-4 in the past two seasons with two undisputed Mountain West Conference championships, consecutive bowl wins over Pac-10 teams, and consecutive Top 20 rankings to their credit.

This year, Brigham Young’s recruiting class was ranked #53 by rivals.com and then they dropped 30 spots when 4-star linebacker recruit Uona Kaveinga reneged on his commitment and defected to USC. The Cougars signed 21 of their 22 commits and yet that one player dropped them below the rankings of Kent State and Middle Tennessee?

That’s just one example of how unreliable the recruiting rankings are, so let’s have some fun with them…on to the recruiting awards for the Class of 2008:

The “I have another top 10 recruiting class and I better figure out what to do with it quick” award goes to Charlie Weis of Notre Dame. There is no excuse if this man cannot win in South Bend from now on because he’s had three fantastic, top 10 rated recruiting classes in a row. The cupboard wasn’t exactly left bare when he took over for Ty Willingham, either.

The “This will keep our fans happy until we start winning consistently again” award goes to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Yes, it’s a superb recruiting class, ranked Numero Uno by several analysts, if that really means anything. Only time will tell, though with Nick Saban pulling the strings, it should happen sooner than later.

The “Good for you, tough luck for those who have to be patient” award goes to Terrelle Pryor, the Jeannette, Pennsylvania phenom who is considered to be the next Vince Young of college football. Pryor was going to announce his decision between Michigan and Ohio State on Feb 6, but decided to postpone his decision and take some time after his high school basketball season to check out Oregon and Penn State more closely. Pryor never verbally committed to any program, so good for him to take his time on this huge decision. Hopefully, he’ll realize playing for one of the Big Ten’s illustrious coaches (Paterno, Tressel, or Rodriguez) and the education he’ll receive at those universities will be far more beneficial than suiting up for Mike “Hothead” Bellotti out on the Left Coast…

The “Can you believe they got this kid?” award goes to Dan Hawkins and the Colorado Buffaloes for landing the #1 ranked running back in the nation, Darrell Scott. Scott, a 6-foot, 204 pound, 4.4-40 superstar athlete from Southern California, turned down offers from USC, UCLA, Texas, Florida, Miami, Florida State, Michigan and Penn State to sign with Colorado.

The “Waffle Waffle” award goes to Southern California prep linebacker Uona Kaveinga for back-to-back smack-downs handed out to UCLA and BYU. It’s understandable that Kaveinga broke his verbal commitment to the Bruins after Karl Dorrell was fired, but to break another “my word is golden” pledge just a month later in favor of a last-minute super-sell power play by Pete Carroll? Let’s just say this kid’s off-the-field credibility doesn’t match his on-the-field potential.

Talk about credibility…

The “Best acting award of the year” goes to Kevin Hart of Fernley High School in Nevada. Hart, a 6’5″, 290 pound lineman, set up an official signing ceremony at his school that attracted two local TV stations and the local newspaper. He claimed that he was signing with the Cal-Berkeley program and head coach Jeff Tedford. The only problem is Tedford and his staff had no idea who the kid was — he wasn’t recruited by any program! A law enforcement investigation is underway to determine if anyone else was involved in the charade.