The SEC redoubtably stands as the nation’s premier football conference (eight national championships since 2006), but the league lags behind some in one category related to National Signing Day:
Pomp and circumstance.
Remember when a fax machine was the star attraction for signing day at Alabama, as the ESPNU cameras were singularly captivated by an electronic device which cemented the Crimson Tide’s many blue-chip signings (along with program interns shuffling back and forth)?
Well, the University of Michigan — led by maniacal head coach Jim Harbaugh (in a good way) — has taken things up a notch for college football’s national holiday, organizing a “Signing Of The Stars” party for signing day, where a slew of A-list celebrities (headlined by Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, wrestler Ric Flair) will celebrate the Wolverines’ 2016 class of prep recruits — in style.
There’s even a secondary listing of celebrities, featuring actress Jessica Szohr, NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski, musicians Mayor Hawthorne and Josh Gracin, baseball pitcher Derek Holland, longtime MLB manager Jim Leyland, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan and college football luminaries, such as Denard Robinson, Jon Jansen, Desmond Howard (1991 Heisman Trophy winner) and Lou Holtz (led Notre Dame to a national title in 1988).
It’s easy to connect Brady (Michigan’s quarterback from 1995-99) and Jeter (a Michigan native and Wolverines baseball recruit, circa 1992, before signing with the New York Yankees) to Michigan’s signing day party.
But Ric Flair? How did Michigan convince the fabulous ‘Nature Boy’ (16 world titles in his decorated pro career) to make the trek to Ann Arbor … for a football party?
Harbaugh is a huge wrestling fan; and Flair represents the cherry-on-top attraction to a signing day party like no other in the country.
Which brings us to this: Does the SEC have an impromptu game plan for matching Michigan’s party, where the celebrities will presumably announce each signing for the ESPN cameras?
Here’s a listing of potential signing day celebs for the various SEC programs, broken down by genre. And yes, it’s imperative for one of the schools to make a last-ditch effort to bring one of Flair’s four greatest wrestling rivals to campus, in advance of Wednesday’s chaotic fun:
In no particular order … Sting, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Hulk Hogan or Lex Luger (see hype video below).
RECENT SEC ICONS
Peyton Manning, Tennessee (if he’s not too busy this Wednesday)
Cam Newton, Auburn (ditto for the likely 2015 NFL MVP)
Eli Manning, Ole Miss
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (presuming no more police-helicopter searches)
A.J. Green, UGA
Julio Jones, Alabama
Eric Berry, Tennessee
Matthew Stafford, UGA
Mark Ingram, Alabama
Katy Perry (Ole Miss fan/Trevor Knight enthusiast)
Kenny Chesney (Tennessee superfan)
Selena Gomez (Texas native)
Jimmy Buffett (attended Auburn)
Lyle Lovett (Texas A&M alum)
Sheryl Crow (Missouri alum)
A-list actor Brad Pitt (attended Missouri)
Best-selling novelist John Grisham (Mississippi State undergrad/Ole Miss for law school)
Apple CEO Tim Cook (Auburn)
Dallas Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones (Arkansas)
National champion coach/Super Bowl champion Jimmy Johnson (Arkansas)
BASEBALL LEGENDS OF THE SEC
Frank Thomas, Auburn
David Price, Vanderbilt
Will Clark, Mississippi State
Albert Belle, LSU
Rafael Palmeiro, Mississippi State
Cliff Lee, Arkansas
Tim Hudson, Auburn
Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media), has previously written for SI.com, The National Football Post, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports.