There is nothing quite like it in sports or television in general, and the showmanship rivals anything you would see under a Big Top. Is it National Signing Day, where impressionable young men decide where they will take their talents on the football field. What is an intensely personal decision has become an all-consuming media circus as these recruits are bombarded for months by coaches, fans and media about what school they’re leaning towards. There is no spectacle that can quite match it. This is the first in a series of articles covering NSD, still to come include class rankings, top storylines and the biggest surprises, so stay tuned.

The decision on which college to attend for most people is huge. Some kids get into several of their top choices and have the luxury of choosing. On the other hand, there are those who do not get into their dream school and have to choose from among their ‘safety’ ones. There is nothing like that for a big time college football recruit. This is doubly so for those at the top of rankings as all the top programs in the country will be calling them. As well as texting, tweeting, facebooking in this day and age. As if the decision isn’t tough enough as it is for the recruits.

So why has this become such a big thing? Is it coaches trying to get the best talent they can to produce a winning football team? Is it the fans who scour message boards and recruiting sites in the hope of their team getting that top rated recruit, as if that 5 star guy will turn around their team’s fortunes. Of course the media is perhaps the biggest reason NSD has become a circus. ESPN alone has 10 hours of coverage today on ESPNU filled with ‘experts’ breaking down these boys without much regard for the human aspect. But that’s true of the media in general, they seem to care more about what school the player is going to, then on what it means to the player himself.

Speaking of absurdities, the recruit’s announcement has become the centerpiece of the Signing Day circus. There’s the simple act of picking the hat of their intended program, but some have upped the ante. When OLB Kwon Alexander announced for LSU, he had trouble taking off his jacket. Not only was it awkward but you could see the purple suspenders and bowtie, making the choice of LSU anti-climatic. That is to say nothing of the announcement of Landon Collins’ choice of Alabama and his mom immediately saying he should have picked home state LSU. Those are just two of the many announcement stories.

National Signing Day is what is, all enveloping day of media coverage on TV, online and in print. It certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What should be simple for a young man has become a life-altering, and program-altering in some people’s eyes, decision. However, just because a recruit has committed, the coverage is not over. People will pick apart his choice and some will question it, with some taking it too far.