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Another Example of Stellar Journalism

Since this is the run-up to UNC-NC State in football columnist across this fine state are digging deep for angles of every kind as though the fact UNC and NC State are playing each other with possible bowl eligibility on the line is not enough of an angle. Anyway, the Fayetteville Observer, which rarely cross my field of vision, has an article stating that the upcoming game has some sort of impact on in-state recruiting. Let's take a look shall we with lots of THF snarky commentary.

UNC-N.C. State game impacts recruiting

The outcome of Saturday’s North Carolina-N.C. State game will definitely have an impact on recruiting, especially with in-state prospects.

Please note he said definitely and not maybe or might or we are not real sure but it could, he said definitely.  And isn't stating that it will especially impact in-state recruits putting forth a very obvious point?  Does anyone outside North Carolina really care what UNC and NC State do to each other on Saturday? Are there actually recruits in Virginia basing commitments on what happens in another state it just happens to be less profound than here?  I think not, but those pesky implications say otherwise.

But measuring the level of that impact isn’t an exact science. Even the experts have trouble calculating it precisely.

Wait a minute, you just said definitely. Now the impact is not "an exact science" nor is measuring it "precise"  According to the handy thesaurus on Microsoft Word some synonyms for definitely are: absolutely, certainly, positively, unquestionably, undeniably, without doubt and beyond doubt.  So if something cannot be measure in an exact manner even by the experts how can it be declared as definite?  It usually cannot except in the mainstream media who cares not for the need to be logically consistent in what they publish.

Head coaches tend to downplay the affect as N.C. State’s Tom O’Brien and UNC’s Butch Davis did this week.

“All those years we played Virginia-Virginia Tech, I don’t know if anyone ever chose a school because of the outcome of that game,’’ O’Brien said, referring back to his days as an assistant coach at Virginia.

Davis conceded the outcome of such a rivalry game might be a factor for some recruits, but doesn’t believe it ranks high on the list for most prospects.

“There are probably 20 things that go into a player’s decision why they go to a school,’’ Davis said. “Who wins and who loses the game might not even be in the top 10. I’d say that’s maybe even a national thing.

“In 33 years of coaching and talking to players, it’s the relationships with the head coach, it’s relationships with the position coach, it’s opportunities to play, it’s educational aspects, all those things.’’

No coaches you are WRONG! You know how I know because the author of this piece used the word definitely when he said it impacted recruiting and he put a big headline with a huge bold font at the top of the page which means it must be true! On this basis I will ignore the fact the two of you have been coaching probably twice as long as I have been alive and listen to the guy with the nice headline.

The players themselves, however, see the outcome of rivalry games a bit differently.

UNC defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, who is from Weldon, said the winner between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack can gain an upper hand with prospects.

“It definitely has an impact on in-state recruiting in my opinion,’’ Balmer said. “Wake Forest is becoming a power, too, so you can’t count them out. But N.C. State-Carolina is probably the biggest in-state rivalry and everybody is paying attention to what happens in the game, especially the in-state guys.’’

N.C. State defensive end Matrel Brown said the outcome is especially meaningful to prospects being recruited by both schools.

“Coming out of high school you’ve got parents and fans talking to you (about recruiting),’’ said Brown, who is from Maxton. “A lot of players probably go with whoever wins this game, so it’s a big part of helping recruiting.’’

Whew, good thing for Mr. Batten the players swooped in an bailed him out here.  There is nothing that screams credibilty more than the word of college football players especially when compared to veteran coaches.  And since Mr. Batten failed to find players who actually validated his theory by having the rivalry game factor in their own recruitment he basically talked to whoever was willing to say the theory was correct.  In both cases, the players seemed adamant that the game does matter even to the point of being the final deciding factor.  This might be one of the more ridiculous things I have heard in awhile and if it is true means NC State has been royally screwed for three years running.  The funny thing, according to, Brown only had NC State recruiting him, the same was true of Balmer with UNC.  In other words neither one of these guys had to factor anything into their decision to attend their respective schools, there was only one team calling them which means they really cannot speak to the point beyond pure speculation.  Nothing like rich, creamy speculation to float your theory.

The article then veers off into a rundown of prospects visiting which schools and who is interested in who which sort of further douses the theory.  In most the cited cases these prospects have multiple suitors which means looking to the winner of this particular game as having a leg up is a little silly since it has no bearing on how the other schools are viewed.  Also add to that the fact both NC State and UNC are a little down which casts the Saturday game as a "Which team sucks less" kind of game despite the bowl eligibility implications.

I agree with Davis on this.  There are multiple factors that go into the decision to attend a school and when you are discussing the top tier players, the rival game winner is way down the list.   I would think the list looks like this:

1. Playing time
2. Coaches
3. Offensive/defensive system
4. NFL prep
5. Proximity to home
6. Friends' opinions
7. Co-ed ratio
8. Odds of being a star by your junior season
9. Facilities
10. Parents' opinion
34. Who won the NC State-UNC game

These players are 17-18 year old kids with the world laid before them.  There is so much more that goes into a decision of this magnitude than which team wins one particular game out of the season.  Recruting is so much about the relationship the coach develops with the prospect and selling him on the idea that your school is the perfect fit for him.  The outcome of Saturday's game does very little to augment that relationship or alter the perception of the recruit as to the other mitgating factors.

The fault I have in the article, despite it being poorly constructed in both premise and execution, is postulates a theory without providing one ounce of solid evidence to back it up.  In fact the two strongest comments in the article come from the two coaches who downplay the issue.  Had Mr. Batten found a handful of players on each side who stated for the record they used the rival game as a deciding factor I would be inclined to see merit in the idea. Outside of that, there is nothing but another useless point of analysis in a media full of them.