Some pretty eye opening data here:
According to the NFSHSA, participation in California dropped by approximately 3,000 athletes year-over-year and is now down 11.7 percent over the latest five-year stretch (2014-18).
Meanwhile, Florida, which feeds numerous Power Five conferences, has experienced a decline of just 0.6 percent over that five-year span.
Georgia, a key feeder state for the SEC (and others), has lost just 3.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Texas, the primary pipeline for the Big 12 and a vital recruiting ground for the SEC, has experienced an increase in participation over the five years.
* In the fall of 2014, there were 163,998 players in Texas (11-player tackle).
* In the fall of 2018, there were 165,641.
Contrast that to California:
* Participants five years ago: 103,740.
* Participants last fall: 91,305.
Or, to put it in an even more dire perspective: “Last fall, there were 4,000 more high school football players in Texas than in the entire Pac-12 footprint.”
Parents’ fears over head trauma are playing into that, although that’s not the only reason for the decline. But as a trendline, that disparity means this:
Daniel Jeremiah spends hundreds of hours watching film of NFL prospects and talking to coaches while preparing for his role as lead analyst for the NFL Network’s draft coverage.
He’s also a Southern California resident with a son who plays high school football.
Personally and professionally, Jeremiah’s life is the Pac-12’s talent pipeline at its entry and exit points.
“You see some individual players” as good as those in the SEC and Big Ten, he explained recently when asked to compare the Pac-12’s high-end talent to its Power Five peers.
“You’ll get one here or there, but the difference is the waves of guys, especially on the lines, the defensive line,’’ he said.
Now, this is just me speculating out of my ass, but if you’re steadily losing ground on your home turf, the only way going forward to make up for that is to go elsewhere for talent, and if that’s the path you have to take, how do you make it attractive for recruits outside the region to come west? Well, that California legislation might not be as bad a thing as Larry Scott might think right now. Just sayin’, necessity can be a mother sometimes.