Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Few elements in the world of modern-day college football are as controversial as the Internet's now-ubiquitous recruiting services and recruiting rankings. Some fans consider them an excellent gauge of a team's future talent; some consider their evaluations worthless. Some consider them a distracting blight that feeds the egos of young athletes and builds (or lowers) expectations for a program based on nothing more than wild guesses; some see them as a fun, engaging, necessary diversion that helps pass the offseason grind and makes fans more informed to boot.
But one of the biggest questions surrounding recruiting rankings (like those by our Maxpreps colleagues and Tom Lemming ) has been: do they matter to the people in college football who, you know, matter? Though it's only one very small response as part of a much larger Q&A, an answer given by Cal linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Kenwick Thompson at a recruiting-centric Bear fan gathering (as recorded by California Golden Blogs ) suggests that, yes, on some level they do.
According to Thompson , the recruiting process at Cal begins with the Bear coaches examining "data" from Rivals and Scout as well as a third (unnamed) recruiting service. It's that data which helps Thompson and the rest of the staff create a "dossier" of potential recruits which the Bears may or not pursue according to the team's needs.
Thompson's not the first coach to admit that he's aware of (or even using) the recruiting services. Larry Coker's Miami staff reportedly bypassed much of their own evaluative process in favor of simply using Rivals rankings. Auburn recruting coordinator Curtis Luper once said of the rankings that "if they're keeping the score, you want to win, right?" Penn State assistant Jay Paterno wrote himself only last week that some coaches have been so fixated on recruiting rankings that they've become willing to oversign to make sure they stay near the top of them.
This is not to say that Thompson's Bears or any staff are letting the recruiting services do their work for them. From the rest of Thompson's Q&A, it seems clear he and Jeff Tedford's staff are using the "data" collected there only as a starting point, with plenty of evaluative legwork still to do afterwards. But it also seems clear that the recruiting sites are very much on the minds of FBS coaches, and that yes, the information they provide --unless the Bears are the only ones, which seems highly unlikely -- is being put to some kind of use by programs at or near even the top of the college food chain.
Love them or hate them, what you can't say about the recruiting services is that they aren't having an impact on the landscape of college football.
HT: EDSBS .