Category Archives: Recruiting

Early, but not too early

In light of coaches’ strong opposition, the NCAA’s Division I Council drops consideration of a proposal for an early June signing period.  (Another early signing period in December is still a possibility.)

Control, for the win.

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Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

If you sell it, they will come.

I’ve said it before, but the one area of unquestioned improvement under Smart is recruiting.  In little more than a month’s time, he locked down a good class in his first attempt, but that appears to be nothing in comparison to what Georgia will bring in after his first complete year chasing recruits.

How good an effort could this turn out to be?  Well, if things hold up (insert usual it’s not signing day yet caveat), unprecedented would be an accurate description.

If National Signing Day were today, Smart would have put together the SEC’s statistically greatest first full class in the 247Sports composite era. The Bulldogs were third in the 2017 recruiting cycle as of Tuesday, with 301.11 points. Those points come from recruits in the class, so the more higher-rated recruits a team has, the higher number of points its class has.

Only one first full recruiting class ever broke 300 points. That was Urban Meyer’s 2013 Ohio State class, and Meyer was a proven coach after winning two national championships at Florida.

That’s basically off the charts type stuff there.  The article goes on to compare Georgia’s potential 2017 class with other first full SEC classes to drive home the point.  One of those I found particularly interesting:

Hugh Freeze, 2013 points/class rank: 275.5/8th

Names to remember: 5-star OT Laremy Tunsil, 5-star DE Robert Nkemdiche, 4-star WR Laquon Treadwell

This class brought a lot of success to Ole Miss, as its members were key pieces in beating Alabama in two of the past three years and the Rebels’ winning the 2016 Sugar Bowl. But it has brought its fair share of problems. The NCAA has been investigating Freeze and the Rebels for Tunsil’s recruitment.

It’s an interesting point of reference not because of the rule-breaking — okay, alleged rule breaking — but because it’s an example of how one talented class can turn a program around in short order.

Sure, two words in response:  Ron Zook.  You’ve gotta coach ’em up and the program’s future won’t be sustainable unless Smart keeps repeating that success on the recruiting trail, but, damn, sitting here in January, 2017, that looks pretty impressive to me.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

“The kid’s world went into disarray.”

Yeah, the optics surrounding this ain’t pretty.

Ryan Dickens beamed for the crowd Sunday night, his mind racing over all he had accomplished and the future he was ready to tackle.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior linebacker from Raritan High School had just been honored with a 2016 Mini Max Award for his football excellence, strong academics and devotion to community service, which includes roles in teen suicide prevention, breast cancer awareness and fundraisers for families in crisis.

Dickens also had his most important decision locked up, having verbally committed seven months earlier to accept a scholarship offer to play football for the University of Connecticut. He wore UConn T-shirts to school, chatted in group text messages with other UConn recruits and had already planned to major in business. Now, he was only 17 days from signing his name to a National Letter of Intent and making his dreams official.

Or so he thought.

Dickens’ cell phone rang while he and his parents, Matt and Patti, were still in the parking lot of the awards banquet in Princeton Junction Sunday night. UConn coach Randy Edsall was on the other end. Ryan Dickens excitedly answered the phone, but in an instant his world was shattered.

Edsall was calling to tell Dickens the unthinkable: The school no longer had a scholarship for him.

“And the next thing you hear is Ryan’s like, ‘You’re kidding, right?’” Patti Dickens said. “And then he put the phone on speaker and Edsall said, ‘No, Ry, we just decided we’re going to go in another direction. We don’t have a spot for you.’”

The timing certainly makes it something of a dick move and I’ve never been a big fan of Randy Edsall, but I can’t say I’m totally unsympathetic to his decision to pull the scholarship offer.  Diaco was fired because UConn performed poorly; if you’re hired to improve upon that, it’s hard not to start by taking a close look at what the last guy left you with and evaluate what your best options are.  Being bound by the promises of a coach who didn’t win isn’t what they’re paying you for.

And it’s how the recruiting rules are set up, which is why there’s resistance among coaches to early signing dates.  Anything that lets a kid bind a school a minute earlier than a coach prefers represents a threat to the current order of things that coaches control.  Having the freedom to pull offers until the last minute, along with raiding your old school’s commitment list the second after you take a new job, are features, not bugs.

An early signing date won’t have much impact on the elite prospects, but it should make for some interesting changes in what coaches tell the lower-tiered kids like Dickens.  My bet is Randy Edsall won’t be too happy about that.

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Filed under Recruiting

“And these guys aren’t just talented, they’re huge.”

David Ching has a nice help-is-on-the-way piece about Georgia’s offensive line recruiting here.  Best line:  “For one thing, they certainly won’t need a redshirt season to add size.”

Pittman will take whatever blessings he can get in that regard, I’m sure.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Great moments in athletic department management

Check out one of the reasons cited (h/t) by the Minnesota athletic director for letting the head coach go:

Johnson said Coyle cited the program’s poor performance in recruiting rankings and a dwindling season-ticket base as two primary reasons to fire Claeys. However, the ticket issue was also due in part to former athletic director Norwood Teague’s decision to drastically increase ticket prices for the 2016 season.  [Emphasis added.]

Not recruiting, but recruiting rankings.  “Tracy, you’re currently 61st in Rivals… what are you doing about that?”

Maybe the AD should start tweeting eighteen-year olds who don’t have the Gophers on their visit lists.

 

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Mean Coaches

Hugh Freeze, topic of conversation:

Many conversations in the hallways and lobbies inside Opryland Hotel centered on Ole Miss. Coaches here anticipate NCAA sanctions for the Rebels in the next two or three months — presuming there is not another round of investigation, which still remains a possibility.

Some coaches and industry sources are of the opinion that the results will wind up costing coach Hugh Freeze his job. One of those sources said he believes Freeze “is on the hot seat as much as any coach in the country.”

Another coach pointed out that skepticism — and maybe jealousy, to some extent — is perhaps causing coaches to wish for doom in Oxford more than it will actually come. But even those close to the program seem to be bracing for NCAA impact.

At their most optimistic, people inside the football building are hopeful that, like the Miami case, the hovering cloud and perpetual fear wind up being worse than the punishment itself.

“With the NCAA, you just never know,” one industry source said. “Impossible to predict.”

Vultures, vultures everywhere.

If coaches are saying this to the media, one can only guess what they’re saying to recruits and their families.  The great thing is that they can play the faux concern card on the recruiting trail and still get plenty of mileage out of the sheer uncertainty surrounding the program right now.  In that light, another round of NCAA investigation putting off Judgment Day a while longer would be a bug, not a feature, for Freeze.

By the way, Ole Miss currently sits next to last in the current 247 SEC team recruiting rankings.

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

Out of control

Back to AFCA for a moment… in the wake of the model proposed by the NCAA’s football oversight committee that would create two early signing periods in June and December for high school prospects, the coaches announced support for an early signing date.

Date, as in singular.

“We would like to now start the conversation going about multiple signing days,” Berry said at a news conference. “This is something that we have never come to agreement on, and we’re ready to take that step.

Berry said coaches understand the current model is “archaic” with student-athletes and both high school and college coaches wanting more flexibility and earlier signing periods. He also said many high school athletes enter college after concluding their senior seasons.

“We think this is the least intrusive to the current model and allows for the best study because this is the biggest step,” Berry said. “What is a multiple signing date going to do to the recruiting date? This is the biggest step of all. We need to evaluate that.”

That is why the coaches unanimously agreed to recommend an additional signing day on the third Wednesday in December, currently the mid-year signing day for junior college student-athletes with no limitations. The signing date also needs approval from the Collegiate Commissioners Associate, which administers the national letter of intent.

“There are still a lot of concerns with the model that is being proposed, and I think everybody that was a part of that model would say that we recognize there was going to be some holes in the model,” Berry said. “As coaches, we don’t think that’s fair to the student-athletes to put them through an experiment.”

Damn, there’s that “fair to the student-athletes” thing again.  Wonder how many of those guys honestly believe the transfer rules are fair to the student-athletes.

You don’t have to dig very deep into Berry’s language there to realize there’s a great deal of reluctance to embrace more signing dates, unanimous support of adding one in December notwithstanding.  And it’s not because of fairness.  It’s because these guys recognize a threat to their control of the signing process.  (If there’s one thing they’re good at, it’s recognizing threats to control.)

Early signing dates mean things like contingent offers and slow playing commits get flushed out earlier, which leaves kids more time to assess their real-world opportunities.  That’s so unfair — to the coaches.

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