Sometimes all this recruiting stuff matters.
For all the pimply-faced, stammering prom kings we make into minor gods, there is one certainty. Well, almost a certainty.
Finishing with a top 10 recruiting class means something. While finishing that high isn't a guarantee of success, it's pretty darn close.
|Even before Joe McKnight opted for Southern California, the Trojans had another top five class. (AP)|
Not surprisingly, the list is topped by Southern California. Since 2002 (Pete Carroll's second year), the Trojans have had six of the 12 No. 1 recruiting classes. They had consensus Rivals/Scout No. 1s in 2004 and 2006.
It isn't even close. During that time period, no coach or program has done more with its recruits than USC, which has a record five straight Pac-10 titles, five BCS bowls and two national championships (and played for another).
The other nine teams combined for three national championships, 13 conference titles and 18 BCS bowls since 2002.
Proof again that Carroll is college football's reigning alpha male when it comes to recruiting. Yes, I know: Water is also wet and the sky is blue. USC already is everybody's preseason No. 1 (on the field) in '07.
It seems like it has been that way since Carroll was hired -- and went recruiting the same day.
"One is his energy," USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. "He's not afraid to get on the road and recruit. He wants the kids to see him. No. 2, it's our history of playing freshman players. It's not just talk. Not only are guys playing, they're playing significantly. Those are the two areas where it really stands out."
In one three-year period (2003-05) Carroll bragged of playing 40 true freshmen. How many teams have done that? The same amount that developed one Heisman winner (Carson Palmer) and recruited two others (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush) in a five-year period.
Coaches across the board complain about recruiting being one of the more distasteful parts of the job. The best turn a negative -- wooing fickle teenagers -- into a positive: recruiting = winning = better recruiting = more winning = a pay raise/better job.
Nothing fazes Carroll, not even the NCAA. So far. He has lost Heisman winners and All-Americans only to replace them with more Heisman winners and All-Americans. The Next One might be Louisiana tailback Joe McKnight, a Reggie Bush clone who chose USC over LSU and Ole Miss on Wednesday morning.
Nothing stops Carroll, not even turnover. Only two coaches remain from his original staff. He has gone through three offensive coordinators and produced three head coaches off his staff. The Trojans went 11-2 and won the Rose Bowl in '06 -- a rebuilding year.
|Top combined recruiting classes, 2002-07|
|1. USC, 85 points|
|2. LSU, 59|
|3. Florida, 58|
|4. (tie) Tennessee|
|Florida State, 55|
|6. Oklahoma, 54|
|7. Texas, 53|
|8. Georgia, 50|
|9. Miami, 40|
|10. Notre Dame, 24|
|Source: Rivals.com, Scout.com|
Pardon me while I gush.
Two of those coaches left for better jobs and came back within Carroll's six seasons.
Sarkisian started as a graduate assistant, became quarterbacks coach, then left for a year in 2005 to take the same job with the Raiders. Sarkisian recently turned down an offer to become Oakland's head coach (wise). He will become Carroll's sole play caller after Lane Kiffin took the Raiders job that Sark turned down (wiser).
Nick Holt started as a linebackers coach in 2002. He then left for Idaho in 2004-05 (unwise) before returning in 2006 as defensive line coach (wise).
USC probably won't finish No. 1 overall this year, but another top five is a definite possibility. Which keeps the eternal recruiting wheel spinning. Winning = better recruiting = more winning ...
Recruiting wrap '07
Hey Arkansas recruits, you might want to check out what AD Frank Broyles said last month at a Dallas alumni meeting.
The recorded comments came to light when broadcast by an Arkansas television station.
"Arkansas is the eighth-ranked team in our conference -- for potential. What is potential? The old recruiting base and the old financial base," Broyles told boosters.
"My friends have told me that you will never be able to hire a top coach at Arkansas because of that ranking."
On the infamous meeting with Springdale, Ark., parents in December:
"Before the (SEC) championship game I got a call from one of the Springdale parents who wanted to come see me ...
"So I called (coach) Houston Nutt real quick and I said, 'Houston you've got to stop ... I don't want to talk to parents.'"
The parents of three players eventually did show up on Broyles' doorstep.
"You know what they wanted to talk about?" Broyles said. "Why their tickets were on the 40-yard line."
The 80-something Broyles also blamed special teams for the Hogs' final three losses and suggested that special teams coach James Shibest might have to be replaced.
What about that potential? Maybe Broyles is overrating his program. Rivals.com has the Hogs ranked ninth this year in SEC recruiting. ...
Exactly seven months after taking over as Northwestern coach, Pat Fitzgerald will sign his first player. Make that his first commitment.
Not many coaches are on the job that long before signing their first class. But Ann Arbor, Mich., tight end Cameron Joplin believed in Fitzgerald after the 31-year-old coach took over following the death of Randy Walker.
Joplin committed to Northwestern on July 24, 17 days after Fitzgerald was named Walker's successor on July 7. ...
Lloyd Carr reportedly had his contract adjusted recently to receive a $300,000 bonus on July 1, 2008.
Previously, the clause read that Carr would get the annual bonus only if he was head football coach. The language was changed to say Carr would get the bonus if he was employed in any capacity.
A hint that Lloyd is thinking about hanging it up? ...
Alabama quietly went off probation on Feb. 1. To refresh: five years, the loss of 21 scholarships and a two-year postseason ban.
During those five years, 'Bama went through four coaches (if you include Mike Price and Nick Saban), won 10 games twice and finished below .500 twice
Wow, it seems like only yesterday when infractions committee chairman Tom Yeager said: "They were absolutely staring down the barrel of a gun."
That's code for Alabama almost getting the death penalty.
'Bama survived, if surviving means going through a Rolodex full of coaches and yo-yoing up and down the SEC standings. The most important thing first, last and always is recruiting. With a late start, Saban landed an '07 class that is rated in the middle of the SEC. ...
Florida is your national champion. Again. This time in national recruiting, according to most of the rating services.
Will it matter? Judge for yourself. Florida won the national championship (on the field) with talent from the past five classes (2002-06) that averaged a top 10 finish by Rivals.com.
The worst class was rated No. 20 in 2002. Ron Zook's next two classes were rated No. 2 (2003) and No. 7 (2004). Urban Meyer's first three classes have ended at No. 15 (2005), No. 2 (2006) and No. 1 (2007). ...
My final top 10 for 2007:
- Notre Dame
- South Carolina
It's only fair to list the top five classes landed by down programs.
- North Carolina
OK, maybe this stuff is out of control. Top quarterback prospect Landry Jones of New Mexico is in the process of taking unofficial visits and wants to make his mind up by March.
That would be March 2007 -- his junior year.