Well, at least we got past Jadeveon Clowney's Big Moment without needing a shower. The nation's No. 1 recruit didn't tease us with the ol' hat dance. Clowney didn't clown us by pulling a live gamecock out from underneath the table.
The kid may have calmly chosen South Carolina on national television Monday morning, but he clearly has no sense for modern recruiting theater.
Now we can all get on with our lives, realizing the following ...
• If Steve Spurrier is a lion in winter, South Carolina's coach is suddenly the Lion King -- making kill after kill.
The landing of Clowney makes it a top-10 recruiting class (in MaxPreps). That's about the 34th most impressive thing about Spurrier at the moment.
More important, Spur Dog is energized. He is coming off an SEC East title that it is starting to look like he will defend. He got the No. 1 player out of South Carolina last year, tailback Marcus Lattimore. He beat out Alabama and Clemson for the No. 1 national player this year in Clowney. If nothing else, that creates the perception of success. Let's see how much recruiting momentum this creates for 2012 and beyond.
For a guy who never particularly cared about recruiting, is Spurrier becoming ... wait for it ... the next Nick Saban in the silly season?
Don't get too fired up Gamecock Fan. Spurrier has no commits -- zero -- for the 2012 class at this moment, according to MaxPreps college football editor Steve Spiewak. While that's not a huge deal, look for that situation to change. Soon.
• Wonder how Mark Emmert feels about this one? It's not the first time a puberty-challenged teenager has made a life decision on TV. Still, I wonder if the NCAA president was watching Monday morning while a national network made advertising revenue and legitimized its subscription fees on the back of one of those teenage recruits. Again.
Great for Clowney, great for South Carolina, but there is still something about this process that makes a lot of us want to throw up in our mouths a little. The whole process remains a bit seedy but we have only ourselves to blame. We watched it.
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• Think about the addition by subtraction theory in this story.
Alabama may have won another national championship soon with Clowney. Hell, let's go ahead and say it: Alabama may win another national championship soon without Clowney. But how many bowl and championship hopes will be nicked up by South Carolina because other teams didn't get the No. 1 player? In perfect world, Clowney is an impact player at an impact position. Given the history of his position in the SEC, his future is mapped out for him.
Clowney's addition didn't just solidify a recruiting class, it helped South Carolina gain on conference powers and its biggest rival, Clemson. Think of Clowney having one of those three-sack, forced-fumble games that keeps Florida, Alabama and/or Auburn out of a BCS or SEC championship. That may one of the biggest fallouts from Monday.
• Will there be Jadeveon Clowney Rules for opponents?
Will every team have to cheat a blocking back toward his side? Will double teams now be renamed "Clowneys"? In other words, will all coaches eventually be saying, "We had to Clowney that big defensive end. He was killing us?"
Will Clowney blot out the sun when he jumps to knock down a pass? Will SEC offensive tackles have to go to remedial blocking school? If you answer yes to all those questions, you are definitely a victim of recruiting hype.
• Speaking of recruiting hype, we bring you this reminder in the name of rational thinking ...
As good as Clowney is, there is a long way to go. He is a man -- physically at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds -- but the kid turned 18 on Monday. Suddenly, he's got a large part of the hopes and dreams of an SEC program on his shoulders. Let's see how he handles it.
Will he be a Da'Quan Bowers or a Bryce Brown? Bowers was the nation's No. 2 overall player, also out of South Carolina, in 2008. After three years, Clemson's monster defensive end is expected to be a top NFL draft choice. Brown was the nation's No. 1 player in 2009. The Wichita, Kan. running back transferred from Tennessee to Kansas State after one season and will be eligible this fall. His family is still fighting Tennessee to get Bryce's scholarship release. He is paying his own way to K-State this academic year while the battle goes on.
• Bravo to Clowney for signing on his terms. He is the fourth consecutive player considered a No. 1 national recruit to decide after National Signing Day.
Prospects have until April 1 to sign each year. It seems as if the top ones are realizing they have the leverage when it comes to making a decision. In 2008, Terrelle Pryor delayed because he wanted to take a look at Oregon and Penn State. Brown took his time in 2009. Seantrel Henderson committed last year on CBS College Sports to USC, then reconsidered after NCAA penalties became an issue. Henderson eventually signed with Miami.
Clowney waited because Monday was his birthday. Good for him. Now if only more kids realized they could wait. Recruiters want to bind prospects to a school as soon as possible. That's why NSD is portrayed as some kind of deadline. Not true. The National Letter of Intent is a voluntary program. Theoretically, recruits don't have to sign a NLI. It's the college coaches and hype that put the pressure on. A recruit can sign a "scholarship agreement" and still entertain offers from other schools. He is not actually bound to a school until he enrolls.
• Clowney's announcement sort of brings an unofficial end to the 2010 season. It lasted roughly 5½ months since Labor Day. Less than seven months to go until actual football again.