nobody is putting on the pads or throwing a pass. It's National Signing Day, a time when
high school studs across the country put pen to paper and make their college choice official.
After months and years of the recruiting process which included thousands upon thousands
of letters, calls, e-mails, texts, tweets, and probably some under the table cash, the next wave
of stars put their signature on a letter-of-intent.
How big has this day become? Check out the cover pages of ESPN.com, CNNSI.com and
manypapers throughout the country. There will be television shows across many sports
networks dedicated to telling college football fans which 5-star players are going to their
favorite school or alma mater.
The man behind these shows is now a professional sports agent, but a long time ago, Scott Alexander put together a program that became the model for which all others followed. You
know when the players put a number of hats, each representing a school that was heavily
recruiting their services, in front of them and then carefully and dramatically picks one out
to the cheers of family, friends, not to mention fans and college coaches? That was all
Alexander's creation. So are the live talk backs with college coaches and recruiting "experts".
Everything you see on these recruiting shows were the ideas of Alexander who was the
producer of "Countdown To Signing Day" on Fox Sports Net South, which began running
the show in the late 90's, long before ESPN, Comcast SportsNet, and CSTV, now CBS
Sports Network, even thought about producing one.
"Countdown To Signing Day" was the signature program of Fox Sports Net South for
many years, an Emmy-award winning program the network hung its hat on. But they didn't
just do it on National Signing Day, they did it every week for the four months leading up
to the climax of the recruiting process. Alexander was the main cog in the machine. He was
a mini Mel Kiper, Jr., who knew every stat, every time in the 40-yard dash, every pound
of a recruits bench-press, and every school in the country that was recruiting him. Alexander
was way before his time when it came to knowing how to make a recruiting show purr.
Alexander would get video on every important player in the country, which meant calling
television stations in cities you've never heard of, much less can pronounce. With a shoe-string budget, he had to use the power of persuasion to get these sports directors and photographers
to not only shoot the video, but package it up and send it as well. And on their dime. That's
no easy feat in the world of television.
The LSU grad had every big-time coach in the country on speed-dial and he'd get them
on the show. Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, Bobby Bowden, if they were big in college football, Alexander would get them to appear on his program. "Countdown to Signing Day" was
shown weekly in the the south, the hot bed of college football and recruiting.
People in that rabid college football state wanted any type of information on players who
could possibly be signing with their school, and Alexander would always give it to them
every Saturday during the season, and in a 2-hour special on recruiting day. But he not
only did it for football, but basketball, as well. And he'd get high school phenoms like
Lebron James and J.J. Reddick to come on the show live and talk about where they
were being recruiting.
Alexander coaxed LeBron to fly down to Atlanta from Akron with nothing but a plane
ticket. King James complained that his tickets weren't first class, but "Scotty A" just laughed
and said, "You won't have to worry about that next year." Alexander had a way with players, coaches, and parents. He could get anyone on the show. Didn't matter how big they were
or how far they'd have to travel, they'd come to Atlanta just to be on "Countdown To Signing Day."
For some reason, Fox Sports Net South dropped the program five years ago. They cancelled
a show that many in the south were simply addicted to. Just as every other network in the
country was following the model that Alexander had established, Fox Sports Net South dropped
the show like it was piping hot. And it was. It's akin to Mark Zuckerberg investing hours
upon hours on Facebook and then saying, "Eh, I'm done. Too much work."
the recruiting shows on television today, remember who made them what they