Mossman Prophecies No. 028
July 2, 2007
Of the two groups most prone to forecasting things these
days, recruiting gurus have it a lot better than meteorologists.
It has been a bit of a tough winter for the weather
folks. A couple times they called for substantial winter
storms -- excessive snow, etc. -- in central Oklahoma,
only to see the weather-maker dissipate or strike somewhere
Of course, the rest of us are left to yuck it up about
how the “big one” never really came. One
local business even has a commercial airing now that
makes light of what could have been heavy.
Forecasting the weather has to be tough. A five-minute
stretch of turbulent air on an airline flight is about
all one needs to appreciate the volatility of Mother
Trying to predict the outcome of anything, especially
the weather, is hard because of the element of change.
The same goes for football recruits. That’s what
makes much of signing day so interesting. Rarely has
anything been more over-reported and less checked.
Recruiting services, apparently after watching tape
or gaining eye-witness accounts, make a list of high
school and junior college prospects, then start attaching
stars to their names. The more stars, the better, or
so they say.
And some times, that is true. The really greats ones
typically pan out to be better than average. But it
is also true that many of those rated very highly don’t
live up to the stars, and several of those relegated
to very few stars rise way above the prognostication.
Why? Because of change. Perhaps in no other sport is
physical change and maturity as important as they are
Mark Clayton is an extreme example, but when he arrived
on the Oklahoma campus he tipped the scales at 160
pounds and bench pressed 40 pounds less than his weight.
He had about as much chance of playing in the NFL as
Four years later, his weight was 193 pounds and his
bench was up to 275. His 40 time had plummeted from
4.74 to 4.42.
Now he starts for the Baltimore Ravens.
Teddy Lehman was similar in what was expected of his
career. A fairly low-rated player out of Fort Gibson,
Okla., he won the Butkus Award as the nation’s
best linebacker and was drafted by the Detroit Lions.
Unfortunately, for every Clayton or Lehman there also
is an example of the door swinging the other direction.
Some just don’t transfer to the field those things
that were listed on that recruiting web site.
The furor of signing day -- the 12-hour radio broadcasts,
the constant updates on the internet and all the rest
-- is devoid of that perspective. Signing day is just
that, a day, with little regard for the four-year span
that will determine the legitimacy of any recruiting
Some decide on that day just how bright or dim the
future might be for a certain program and how skilled
a coaching staff is at attracting talent... with no
thought toward future development or on the individual
nuances of each prospect.
If only the meteorologists had it so good. Their
results are visible in 24 hours or less. It takes years
to measure the recruiting experts, and four years later
hardly anyone takes the time to do so.
We’ve been having some fun this winter with the
weather staffs of the various media outlets.
My hunch is that if we laid down their success rate
next to those in the recruiting game we might gain
a greater appreciation for that group that spends more
time with its head in the clouds, the real ones.
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Kenny Mossman, Associate Athletics Director for
Communications, provides his perspective on Oklahoma
Athletics in his regular column on SoonerSports.com.