SEC greed, baby!

I’m sure most of you are aware that the SEC dominated this year’s recruiting cycle.  (To put things in perspective, Vanderbilt, facing its traditional limitations and James Franklin’s successful raiding of much of its initial batch of commitments, still finished in the top fifty in the country.  Georgia Tech did not.)  But there’s an element to its success that may not have been brought to your attention.

Take a look at this interactive map.  You’ll see that the conference’s recruiting footprint has spread.  Some of it is the result of expansion, of course – it seems like most of the conference has jumped into Texas – and some appears to be the product of new coaches’ old ties (Arkansas and Vanderbilt, for example).  But notice the clawing into Big Ten territory and up the eastern seaboard, as well.

Here’s a chart John Pennington compiled.

School   AL   AR   FL   GA   KY   LA   MS   MO   SC   TN   TX   OTHER   Total Signees
  Alabama   7   1   2   2   0   4   2   0   1   0   1   7   27
  Arkansas   0   5   5   2   0   3   0   3   0   0   2   3   23
  Auburn   7   0   2   10   0   0   3   0   0   0   0   1   23
  Florida   1   0   14   0   0   1   0   0   1   0   1   6   24
  Georgia   0   0   6   11   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   3   21
  Kentucky   1   0   4   2   4   0   1   0   1   0   2   13   28
  LSU   0   0   2   0   0   12   1   0   0   0   6   2   23
  Miss. State   3   0   0   4   0   0   15   0   0   0   1   0   23
  Missouri   1   0   7   3   0   0   1   8   0   3   2   3   28
  Ole Miss   2   0   1   4   0   1   14   0   0   1   1   3   27
  S. Carolina   1   0   4   5   0   0   0   0   9   0   1   1   21
  Tennessee   1   0   3   4   0   0   0   0   0   10   1   13   32
  Texas A&M   0   0   0   0   0   2   1   0   0   0   16   3   22
  Vanderbilt   3   0   1   5   0   1   0   0   0   3   2   7   22
  State Totals   27   6   51   52   4   24   38   11   13   17   36   65   344

So from a total of 344, SEC schools signed 65 kids from outside the conference footprint, just shy of 20%.  Every school but one had at least one such signing.

And SEC schools aren’t settling for mere quantity, either.  As Michael Elkon writes,

According to the 247Sports Composite, Alabama signed the best player in Virginia, Iowa, and Oklahoma and the second-best player in Minnesota and Texas. Okay, you might say, Alabama is the best program in the country and can be expected to pick off five-star players from around the country, just like Florida State and USC did when they were dynasties.

Why don’t we take a look at Kentucky, the team that finished dead last in the SEC? The Cats signed Thaddeus Snodgrass from Ohio, a four-star wide receiver who claimed offers from Notre Dame and six Big Ten schools. They also signed Darius West, a four-star safety from Ohio who claimed offers from Notre Dame and eight Big Ten teams. The fact that the last-place team in the SEC is able to pull from Ohio a pair of blue-chip players with offers from at least half of the Big Ten (and eight of the state’s top 35 players) is a nice illustration of the point that SEC teams are now more likely that Big Ten teams to lure out-of-region players. Put another way, Ohio is supposed to be the primary recruiting state for the Big Ten, not unlike Texas for the Big 12 and California for the Pac 12, but Kentucky managed to sign more four-star Ohioans than any Big Ten program other than Ohio State[Emphasis added.]

That can’t be good news for Jim Delany.

All of this is being driven by a chase for better and better classes.  Even in places like Georgia and Florida, there are only so many elite athletes to go around.  Here’s another Pennington chart.

School   Leading Talent State   % of Total Class   In-State Talent   % of Total Class
  Alabama   AL (7 of 27)   25.9%   7 of 27   25.9%
  Arkansas   AR & FL (5 each of 23)   21.7%   5 of 23   21.7%
  Auburn   GA (10 of 23)   43.4%   7 of 23   30.4%
  Florida   FL (14 of 24)   58.3%   14 of 24   58.3%
  Georgia   GA (11 of 21)   52.3%   11 of 21   52.3%
  Kentucky   OH (11 of 28)   39.2%   4 of 28   14.2%
  LSU   LA (12 of 23)   52.1%   12 of 23   52.1%
  Miss. State   MS (15 of 23)   65.2%   15 of 23   65.2%
  Missouri   MO (8 of 28)   28.5%   8 of 28   28.5%
  Ole Miss   MS (14 of 27)   51.8%   14 of 27   51.8%
  S. Carolina   SC (9 of 21)   42.8%   9 of 21   42.8%
  Tennessee   TN (10 of 32)   31.2%   10 of 32   31.2%
  Texas A&M   TX (16 of 22)   72.7%   16 of 22   72.7%
  Vanderbilt   GA (5 of 22)   22.7%   3 of 22   13.6%

Less than half the schools in the conference brought in a majority of their classes from their home states.  (Isn’t it about time we knock off the “close the border” griping of Richt?)  Again, some of that isn’t anything new, as Fulmer made a living over the years grabbing out-of-state kids to make up for talent shortcomings in Tennessee.  What is new is how widespread this is.

And I’d say the trends favor that continuing and even growing.  The SEC Network is going to bring more money and more exposure to conference teams.  And as that noted sage Les Miles remarks, don’t ignore the effect of technology.

I think the country gets smaller.  And I think it gets smaller with technology.  It gets smaller with I pads and TV and phones that are computer driven.
I had a prospect who is currently on our campus and going to school, so I guess he would be our LSU Tiger, and he said to me, here, coach, I want you to talk to Trey L, and he handed me his phone.  And he was Face Timing Trey L.  And I could see this little square in the corner that was me and this big, happy, smiling Trey there.  And I could tell him that we were closer and that this was easy.  And that we might try it again.  Except that I made the observation that it was me he was looking at and that had to be painful.  So I may kind of face time one way, if I can.  But my point is that that’s what’s going on today.  Today the planes seem to fly more efficiently.  The travel seems to be easier.  I think this country is smaller and it continues to shrink.  And I think the opportunity to play at best programs.  The opportunity to play at places that you’re being played as a freshman, the place that will make sure that you get your degree, the place that will allow you to show your skills and abilities in the NFL.  Those places have advantages and that’s where the players want to go…

They’ve got the money.  They’ve got the pressure to succeed.  They find it easier to reach out to national recruits than ever before.  Of course this will continue.

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36 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

36 responses to “SEC greed, baby!

  1. Sanford222view

    When was the last time UF did not sign one player from Georgia?

    • When was the last time UGA did not sign a player from Florida?

      • Sanford222view

        Georgia signed 6 from Florida. Not sure I get your point. Florida did not sign any from Georgia this year and that was very surprising to me. Usually UGA is competing with the Gators for players in both south Georgia and the Atlanta area.

  2. When the composite rankings showed that 10 of the top 19 classes in the country were in the SEC, Stewart Mandel tweeted something to the effect of:

    “What that means is in a couple of years, an SEC coach with a legit top 20 roster is gonna go 5-7 and get fired”.

    Crazy how much talent is being pulled into the conference year after year. It’s always been a cyclical thing in college football over history, and I guess the pendulum will eventually swing away from the SEC at some point, but it sure is hard to see how that can happen anytime even in the next 10 years or so.

    • It has the distinct possibility of a pendulum swing if SEC teams eat each other for lunch. Only a few will survive that kind of competition leaving lesser conferences time to rise.

  3. Dawgoholic

    I would not base my theory on SEC spread on the fact that Kentucky can recruit Ohio. Lexington is closer to half the state of Ohio than it is to the western third of Kentucky. Some of the other points may be legitimate but getting a recruit from a border state – especially when your school is relatively close to the border – doesn’t mean a lot to me as far as “conference spread” goes. UGA getting kids from Charlotte is another example of this.

    • Really? How much success has UK had recruiting Ohio before?

      • Agreed. When Stoops was hired last year, he made a big deal about how they had to make inroads into Ohio, that was a huge part of his plan for turning around their recruiting (I think OH, and JUCO’s were his two major points of emphasis). I definitely got the sense that that was not an area KY had recruited well in the past.

        • Here’s more from Year2 about UK in Ohio:

          According to Rivals’s reporting, none of the 11 Ohio players that Kentucky secured had offers from more than two other SEC schools. Three of them didn’t have any SEC offers other than Kentucky’s. All of them had offers from at least two other major conference schools not counting UK or the SEC, and four of them—Mike Edwards, Jarrett LaRubbio, Thaddeus Snodgrass, and Darius West—had eight or more offers from non-SEC major conference schools. This wasn’t a case of Kentucky simply outbidding MAC schools for guys the Big Ten didn’t want.

          Sounds like a new development to me.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        I don’t know how, exactly, you would measure success for Kentucky recruiting in Ohio, but I believe they have traditionally recruited there…Tennessee, too. Cats have 11 Ohio kids on the current roster.

        • No idea how highly rated those 11 currently on the roster were, but my guess is that the ones KY signed this year are a cut above.

          Plus if they had 11 on the whole roster before, which would cover 4 years of recruiting, then signed 11 just in this class, I’d say that’s a decent measure of success for this year. :)

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            The interesting change, to me, is that traditionally TOSU got who they wanted, end of story. This year that changed. I don’t care where they went, if Shithead did not get them, this is a good thing.

            • Cojones

              Finally! Someone caps his title to signify who we all know owns it. They should have a “Pass the Mantle” ceremony on that football field.

              Good on Ky for gettin’. Now if we can just raid that area of states for OLs, I’ll be a satisfied camper.

            • Darrron Rovelll

              But think of it this way … Ohio St. signed 22 recruits this year. Only 9 of them were from Ohio. They signed kids from GA (2), MI (1), IL (2), KY (1), VA (1), IN (1), TX (1), PA (1), NY (1), NJ (1), and TX (1). Just like everyone else, they are limited in scholarships (pretty certain Urban & OSU are not over signers?) so if they take kids from outside OH, then a D1 talent is going to go elsewhere.

              Also, they signed 4 WR’s in that class and all were from out of state. So this kid was probably going elsewhere. Either he didn’t want to go to OSU from the beginning or OSU decided they liked these guys from out of state.

              • Darrron Rovelll

                Apparently I was under the impression that there is TX and another TX.

              • James

                THIS.

                It seems wildly simplistic to look at this list of Ohio kids going to KY:
                2014 – 10
                2013 – 3
                2012 – 2
                2011 – 0
                2010 – 3

                And headline “oh nose delany.”

                Ohio has always “provided for the Big Ten” because it’s a huge state. So, math. The only other team to really pull players OSU has wanted has been Michigan, and they’re recruiting much more nationally than they did 30 years ago. And so is Ohio State. So sure they lose players out of state, but that’s kind of been the case for a while.

                • James

                  And actually, read this even though the methodology is a little weird (specifically, having that tiny Northeast region, as well as not including PA with the rest of the Big Ten states, seeing as how Ohio State and Michigan have significantly increased PA recruiting since PSU joined):

                  http://mgoblog.com/content/hokepoints-doesnt-see-regional-trend

                  tldr on it: Less players in every region east of the Mississippi are playing football in that region now than 10-15 years ago.

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          Mike Hartline was from Canton, Ohio…fwiw

      • Darrron Rovelll

        UK has always pulled a few recruits out of Ohio in years past, but I would expect that they look for players across the river more frequently.

        Stoops’s Youngstown connections will open a heck of lot of doors. Legendary football family from Eastern Ohio.
        Ohio is a lot like Georgia in terms of ratio of talent to Major D1 scholarships available. There are lots of football players with the talent and The Ohio State Univ. cannot take all of them especially if the Buckeyes are going to recruit nationally. Michigan will get their fair share too and up until this year Penn St had not signed a major recruit from Ohio in like 5 years. So if you are a really good player not at a position of need from OSU, Mich, or Penn St – where are you going to go? Cinci? Athens … OH? Miami … of OH? Bowling Green? UK would be really attractive. Big School. Best football conference, virtually every game on TV.

  4. Dawgoholic

    Whether they traditionally recruit well there or not, this is not about SEC expansion with UK but instead an attempt at competence in football. This is akin to UGA starting to sign big-time prospects out of Atlanta in basketball and someone stating it is a sign that SEC basketball is changing.

  5. Interesting … In the state chart, Georgia ties MSU & A&M for the most zeros.
    ~~~

  6. Hobnail_Boot

    I know that NC doesn’t house an SEC school, but I wouldn’t exactly call it “outside the conference footprint”.

    UGA’s “3” is misleading. 2 are from next door (NC) and the other is from GA, with a nod to Juco.

    • Next door if you happen to hop over SOUTH Carolina, that is.

      • I can promise you that no one born in NC considers Georgia ‘ next door.’ More like latrine door, maybe.

      • Macallanlover

        I live in the Georgia mountains, I can hit a 5 wood to the NC line from the development entrance and 2/3s of my view is the NC mountains. I consider that “next door” but agree that the majority of football players we get are from areas where coaches from Athens would have to “hop over” SC…which is a good place to just pass through.

        I don’t get the geographical discussions about recruiting, including the “building a fence around the state” arguments. I want talent from wherever we find it, and if it is 30% from GA, or 65%, doesn’t matter to me. I feel recruits think about geography in terms of how far it is from home for friends and family to come see them play. And some do not care about that either. Very likely that Evans passed over Auburn just to not go to school in his hometown, college is about expanding your horizons and getting away from daily parental exposure is a big part of that.

        • Dawgaholic

          If a state you border is not next door, then what is?

          Literally, the kids from Charlotte are closer to home in Athens than the kids from Thomasville, Valdosta, and Camden County.

          • Macallanlover

            And that is the key point, it is the drive time that is more important than the zip code or state designation. “State loyalty”, especially around Atlanta, isn’t a significant factor.

        • Darrron Rovelll

          WNC used to be considered East TN when Majors and Fulmer ran the show there. They routinely pulled good to great ballplayers from that area and you would see far more Orange paraphernalia than Carolina blue or NC St. red.

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Heath Shuler, who it was said was just not smart enough to play in the NFL Business…but went to the U.S. Congress…figures.

            • Macallanlover

              Understandable to me, he was a Dimocrat. What wasn’t clear are the conservative voters who sent him there. In the “good/better old days”, a representative stood for his district’s constituents, not the Party’s, so it didn’t matter so much if it were a R or a D. Today you are electing the Party and the Representative is coerced to vote with them. Very sad turn, and has not only helped further divide the country, it seriously limits and compromise which would moderate bills to better fit the national mindset. Most Americans are somewhere between the two Parties’ extreme positions. We deperately need other alternatives or the whole structure will break….soon. I might not have liked Shuler anyway since he was a Vol, but this….ugh!

  7. JasonC

    Did you notice that GA had more signees than FL? (meaning the states, not the schools).
    CUE: How come CMR can’t sign all them kids in the state?!