In many ways, recruiting is like fishing. Sometimes the big fish get away. Sometimes the big fish are caught and brought in. Sometimes the big fish will fight and fight until the line breaks or cuts. Regardless, there are always more fish in the sea
In order for fishing to be successful, a fisherman needs to have the right kind of bait and lot of patience. Recruiting, in a sense, requires the same thing. For programs such as Alabama and Michigan, they have baits such as their storied tradition, multiple national championships, top-notch facilities, Heisman trophy winners, and outstanding fan bases to use. Unfortunately, Virginia Tech only has one national championship appearance, a few ACC titles, a bowl appearance streak, as well as top-of-the-line facilities to use for recruiting pitches. The fan base has helped make Lane Stadium one of the toughest venues for opposing fans to play in, but that doesn't hold the weight of the bling that the other schools can offer.
The news of Hand dropping Virginia Tech from his top three did not sit well with the majority of the fans. Many took to Twitter, message boards, forums and blogs to voice their displeasure. Some have gone as far as to say the new coaching changes have failed to secure new commitments, which is absolutely farfetched and ridiculous. Some have said Bud Foster, whom Hand has repeatedly said was his favorite coach, was not a terrific recruiter. For the record, Hand said Michigan was his favorite coaching staff. For those who are not in the know, the difference between one coach and a staff is huge. In a recent interview with SB Nation, Hand cited a gut feeling that Virginia Tech was not the right fit. What is not clear is what Hand meant by "gut feeling," but that is beside the point. The point is: Virginia Tech lost the big fish.
Then Jacob Park decided to commit to Georgia, another big fish that also got away, and fans once again voiced their displeasure. In David Cornwell's case, he was never a Virginia Tech lean in spite of his early eagerness.
To continue the fishing analogy, the coaches are fishermen, and fans are mere spectators. Recruiting, in real life, is not like what can be done on the PlayStation or Xbox consoles where players can go after every four and five-star recruit and secure their verbal commitments. The coaches have to build relationships with high school coaches and players along with their families. It is a time consuming and emotional investment. Sometimes it pans out, and sometimes it does not.
Perhaps with recruiting sites such as 247Sports and Rivals.com, it is easy for fans to latch on to prospects and try to recruit them to their favorite school. It is sure fun to speculate which prospective players would commit to Virginia Tech. It is fun to look at highlight tape and fantasize seeing them in the maroon and orange uniform, destroying offensive linemen or trucking a linebacker for a touchdown. It is not fun seeing prospects deciding to take their talents elsewhere. It is also not fun for the prospects or their families to see fans taking to Twitter and going on a rampage about it. After all, misery loves company. But that doesn't mean fans should jump on the internet and start firing off about it.
Perhaps for all parties, it would be better to let the recruiting process play out, and to remember that a verbal commitment is non-binding until National Signing Day, when recruits sign their National Letter of Intent. Even after the ink dries, there are no guarantees the commitments would be cleared to play for Virginia Tech.