National Signing Day is a huge event around SEC Country. The problem, though, is that so much happens over the course of 24 hours. It’s hard to keep up with it all. Who were the winners, and who were the losers on the recruiting trail?
There will literally be hundreds of opinion pieces written on the internet that attempt to answer that very question, but only one column has the gravitas to present The First Annual SEC Country Recruiting Awards.
This is that column, and these are those awards:
The Alec Baldwin Award goes to Alabama coach Nick Saban
Baldwin is famous for his line in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross when he said to a room full of salesmen, “Coffee is for closers.” Well, if that’s true, there isn’t a coach in the SEC more caffeinated than Saban. He closed the deal with enough top recruits on Wednesday to finish with the No. 1 signing class in the country again for the sixth consecutive year.
The Billy Baldwin Award goes to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn
This could also have been named the Stephen Baldwin Award or the Danny Baldwin award, or really any of the other Baldwins because Malzahn compared to his in-state rival is the much less impressive little brother.
The Taylor Swift Award goes to Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze
Freeze is similar to Swift in that he’s no doubt learned that “haters are gonna hate, hate, hate” after his impressive recruiting class this year has been met with skepticism from others around the league, because it’s assumed he didn’t earn that class fairly. For now, Freeze seems unconcerned with the “Bad Blood” he’s got with his rivals, and is content to focus on trying to win the SEC West. Although it is safe to assume Freeze and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema are “Never Getting Back Together.”
The Donald Trump Award goes to Arkansas coach Bret Bielema
Speaking of Bielema, only in American politics can a man be found who’s more unconcerned with his words and who those words offend than the Razorbacks coach — who somehow managed to irritate both Florida fans and Ole Miss fans simultaneously when he compared the two schools on Wednesday. Additionally, just like Trump, the more Bielema hurls the insults, the more popular he seems to become with his key constituency — in this case, Arkansas fans.
The Bill Murray Award goes to LSU coach Les Miles
Murray is the iconic actor famous for his role in the movie Groundhog Day — a film in which the plot centers around a day that keeps repeating itself. LSU fans can relate to that storyline, because somehow the program that has a roster loaded with talent but missing an elite quarterback has managed to put together a recruiting class loaded with talent but missing an elite quarterback. It’s the same thing over and over again with Miles, and the assurances this week that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will return for 2016 can only mean that the future offers more of the same. Cue the Sonny and Cher song, I guess.
The Kim Kardashian Award goes to UGA coach Kirby Smart
Smart is just getting started on the recruiting trail as an SEC head coach, but one thing can already be known for sure: Smart will go to Kardashian-like lengths to gain attention. How else can Smart’s decision to visit recruits by helicopter on the final days before National Signing Day be explained? Even though that trip didn’t result in a commitment from five-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown — who ultimately signed with Auburn — it did leave the rest of the conference wondering what Smart will do next.
The Charles Dickens Award goes to Tennessee coach Butch Jones
Most of us know more about outlaw country than we do English literature, but we’re all smart enough to figure out that adding another top 15 class to a roster already loaded with talent — which Tennessee did on Wednesday — means the Vols will have Great Expectations in 2016.
The Adele Award goes to Florida coach Jim McElwain
You know that song on the radio you’re tired of hearing? Well, Adele is the one who sings it. The way you feel about that song is the way other coaches feel about McElwain, who, much like Adele, seems to be everywhere all at once. The Gators not only racked up the usual number of in-state signees on Wednesday, but McElwain also successfully recruited prospects from seven other states as well. Gators fans will get to say “hello” to many of them this September.
The Jimmy Butler Award goes to Kentucky coach Mark Stoops
Last season Butler was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player, and if there was an award for a coach who most improved his roster on National Signing Day in the SEC it would have to be Stoops who managed to sign three four-star players in this year’s recruiting class.
The Hillary Clinton Award goes to South Carolina coach Will Muschamp
Muschamp and Clinton have a lot more in common than it seems. For instance, Clinton was the darling of the media in 2008 as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, and then everything went wrong for her and she lost badly. Muschamp was also once something of a “can’t miss” prospect when he was hired as Florida’s coach in 2011, and he eventually failed too. Both Muschamp and Clinton are getting second chances in 2016, and both must surely be aware there won’t be a third try for either of them.
The Katy Perry Award goes to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin
Perry once professed her attraction to then-Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight on ESPN’s College GameDay. Well, whatever Perry felt for Knight is nothing compared to Sumlin’s feelings for him after Knight decided to transfer to Texas A&M and possibly provide stability for the Aggies quarterback situation this fall.
The Mike Rowe Award goes to Missouri coach Barry Odom
Rowe is the host of cable TV’s Dirty Jobs. That seems like a pretty good description for the situation first-year coach Odom inherits at Missouri — a program with no shortage of turmoil over the last 12 months. This year’s recruiting class didn’t do much to help things, either.
The Seth Rogen Award goes to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen
Rogen starred in the 2014 movie Neighbors where he played a character tormented by a noisy group next door who was having a lot more fun in life than Rogen’s character. What better metaphor could there be for the current comparison between Ole Miss and Mississippi State? The Rebels — based on their recent recruiting success — are partying every night, and the Bulldogs — on the heels of a disappointing class — just want them to turn the music down.
The Participation Trophy goes to Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason
Hey … at least he’s trying.