Thursday, June 02, 2005

Look at the stars. See how they shine for you. | by Pat

"At Noon EDT Monday, AMP presents a behind the scenes look at the rankings process 24 hours before the release of the first five stars!"

"Tuesday, AMP again will bring you coverage of the rankings release with an 8 a.m. EDT sneak peek just hours before the five stars are released!"

"Be sure to tune into Rivals Radio on Tuesday as five five-star selections will be released live at 11:45 a.m. EDT!"

"On the recruiting network message board, five more of the five star selections will be released exclusively at 11:50 a.m.!"

How the hell did we ever survive so much excitement?

Wednesday capped off two days of celebration and unbridled recruiting hoopla/paranoia as the Rivals Recruiting Network finally unveiled their brand-spanking-new 5-star rankings and Top 100 Recruiting List for 2006.

There were thrills! There were spills! There were shocks and upsets!

There were...well, there were people like me, who wonder why there's so much hype for a list that's going to change plenty of times before National Signing Day in February.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking down my nose at those who follow recruiting. I've already taken the red pill/stepped through the looking glass/eaten the forbidden soul donut/you name it. I follow recruiting as much as the next guy.

But somewhere along the line, recruiting journals decided that providing simple, concise updates on the unfolding story just wasn't enough, and some sort of ranking system was needed. Thus, the birth of the "star system": a scale ranging in complexity somewhere betwen the Periodic Table of Elements and the dichotomous purity of Beavis and Butthead ("He kicks ass / He sucks").

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.As if mixing together the different player positions into the same listing isn't bad enough (how exactly do you tell that a 6'5 lineman is the #2 prospect to a 6'1 wide receiver?), each service has to have its own criteria. Rivals will only have 27 5-star players. But if your guy doesn't make their cut, just mosey over to Scout, where they'll be listing 50 5-star players. And if he's still not high enough? That's where Max Emfinger comes in. He has just over 200 kids graced with the 5-star label. It seems the main criteria to earn a 5-star rating with him is to be brave enough to pick up the phone when his name pops up on the caller ID.

But wait! There's more!!!

It gets better. Rivals also augments their Stars with some sort of bumfuzzled numerical grading system. Check out this scale.

• 6.1 / Franchise Player. Considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation's top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect.

• 6.0-5.8 / All-American Candidate. High-major prospect; considered one of the nation's top 200 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team.

• 5.7-5.5 / All-Region Selection. Considered among the region's top prospects and among the top 500 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team.

• 5.4-5.0 / Division I prospect. Considered a mid-major prospect; deemed to have limited pro potential but definite Division I prospect; may be more of a role player.

• 4.9 / Sleeper. No expert knew much, if anything, about this player; a prospect that only a college coach really knew about.
A scale that goes from 4.9 to 6.1? It's like GPAs Gone Wild.

Ever since Rivals and Scout (and Emfinger and Lemming and everybody else) started peeling off little gold stars and sticking them on a player's sheet, fans have been using these imperfect rankings as the primary ammunition in countless scintillating water cooler arguments and internet flame wars. And every year it seems to get a little more shrill, a little more hysterical. It worries me that the emotional health of so many people is riding on the whims of a couple of guys in Tennessee surrounded by stacks of videotapes.

A while back I poked fun at how serious the US Army All-American bowl took itself. The same thing can be said for and their Top 100 list. A multiple day, multi-staged unveiling of a list destined to change numerous times between now and next February is just ridiculous. With recruiting, there's plenty of authentic drama to go around; there's no need to drum up even more hucksterish ballyhoo with "behind-the-scenes sneak peeks at our ranking systems" and the like.

So anyway, how'd we stack up? (After that rant, I shouldn't even indulge. But like I said, I'm already a recruiting degenerate.)

ND placed two guys in the Rivals 100, both of them 4-star prospects:

28James AldridgeRB6-1/215Crown Point (IN) MerrillvilleNotre Dame

His ability to go from first gear to full speed is unmatched by anybody in the nation. His burst helped him rack up 2,100 yards and 22 scores in 2004.

44Zach FrazerQB6-4/215Mechanicsburg (PA) MechanicsburgNotre Dame

Strong arm, accuracy and Charlie Weis should equal success for Frazer at Notre Dame. Racked up 3,684 passing yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior.

Surprisingly (or not), that's as many as ND has ever had since Rivals started this silliness in 2002. Ok, Greg Olsen made it 3 in 2003, but let's only count guys that make it through freshman orientation. And I applaud Rivals for their sagacity. By my own assessment, James Aldridge was precisely the 28th-best prospect in the country. They nailed it. Bravo, Rivals. (I had Frazer at 42nd, but you can't be perfect.)

Anway, we here at BGS didn't want to fall behind the times, so herewith we present to you our own Blue-Gray Sky Star Rankings™. We'll be updating periodically through the year, and additional rankings may be presented without warning. In the meantime, here's a super-special sneak peek at what we have so far. Can you stand the excitement? Neither can we.
New Coke with Lime ad jingle: 3 stars
Vonage ad jingle: 1 star

Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones: 4 stars

ABC's Dancing with the Stars: Ironically, only 1 star

Carl's Jr. $6 Low-Carb Burger: 2 stars

South Bend City councilpersons: 1 star

Billy Idol, comeback tour: 3 stars
Billy Idol, original tour: 1 star

The Shirt, 2005 version: 1 star
The Shirt, if worn by Jennifer Connelly: 5 stars

Belushi: 5 stars
Farley: 3 stars
Sanz: 1 star

EZ-Pass: 4 stars

"My bad": 1 star
"Rad": 3 stars

Watching the movie "Sideways": 3 stars
Quoting the movie "Sideways" at a restaurant or wine bar: 1 star

Dancing Grannies: 1 star
Sausage races at Miller Park: 3 stars
Milwaukee Brewers baseball: 2 stars

Star Jones, used to be pushing 4 stars, now just 2 stars

Golden Retrievers: 4 stars

Halls Fruit Breezers Screaming Fan of the Game: 1 star

Southwest Airlines "Festival" Seating: 2 stars

James Aldridge: a whole lotta stars

Rivals Top 100: 1 star

Blue-Gray Sky: 5 stars (alleged regional bias)