Category Archives: Recruiting

Is the second year still the charm?

I noted a few days ago that the second-year coaching bump effect is off to a somewhat rocky start in 2019.  Bud Elliott, in his Banner Society newsletter, speculates about a possible cause for that.

For whatever reason, though, the bump doesn’t appear to be happening with this year’s sophomore coaching class.

Let’s acknowledge that a two-week sample set is far too small to draw meaningful conclusions. Let’s also acknowledge that it is also possible that this group of coaching hires was simply poor…

As Banner Society’s recruiting writer, I try to think about everything in CFB as it relates to recruiting. And a very important recruiting thing happened in 2018: the first Early Signing Period for college football recruiting. Prior to 2018, when a coach was hired in late November or early December, he had about 10 weeks to assemble his staff and put together a recruiting class by the traditional National Signing Day, the first Wednesday in February. It wasn’t easy, really, to catch up on relationships with existing verbal commitments, evaluate the class, and target new recruits to bring in to the class.

As you might expect, the first abbreviated recruiting classes signed by coaches typically had a high wash-out rate and were not as good as the classes put together once the head coach and his staff had a full year or more within the program.

But with the advent of the Early Signing Period, which now happens a week before Christmas, coaches had only about three weeks between Thanksgiving and ESP to get their staff together and sign their prospects. And while waiting for the traditional National Signing Day date in February was technically an option, it wasn’t a realistic one, as more than 90% of FBS recruits signed in the Early Period.

There is not enough early data to prove this, but anecdotally, some of the recruiting classes signed by these programs in such short order are worse than what you would normally expect to see with an abbreviated class. It’s just a natural consequence of having so little time to put together the class. Some of the quality athletes who were “available” to be signed were likely available because they had character or competitiveness red flags that established staffs identified and stayed away from, while new staffs had to roll the dice in an effort to get some sort of talent injection.

The early period also set back some staffs in their second year. The major, successful programs who did not make coaching changes had most of their class wrapped up well before the Early Signing Period, and had already moved on to making contacts for the next class (in this case, 2019). Meanwhile, the new staffs hired during the Early Signing Period were having to recruit for the Early Signing Period and, thereafter, survey the landscape to try and fill out their class on the traditional NSD from the leftovers who did not sign in the ESP. This effectively gave the programs who did not make a coaching change a 100-day head start on the 2019 class. While new staffs were hosting official visitors for the class of 2018, existing staffs were hosting junior days, where the class of 2019 was checking out their program.

While not fatal, this did put the new staffs at a disadvantage for the 2019 class, which was to be their first “full” class.

Bud goes on to note that, except in cases like, say, Georgia Tech, where the administration realizes the rebuild is going to take time, new coaches need to hit big with that first class and that usually there’s a decent chance they will because of the excitement and a new direction surrounding their hires, neither of which has been tainted by disappointing on the field results.

Yeah, it’s way too soon to draw any substantive conclusions, but Bud says at the end exactly what I was thinking as I read his piece:

Could the mad dash to make something out of the first Early Signing Period have caused a snowball effect that is seeing coaches fail to meet expectations and show progress? I’m not ready to say yet, but I’ll be watching. And as time goes by, if more data supports that theory, it has some fascinating ramifications for the CFB hiring calendar.

In other words, ADs will panic earlier than they do now, even though hiring or firing based on a recruiting class is generally a mug’s game.  What do you guys think?

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Filed under Recruiting

Remember, it’s what’s on the front of the jersey that sells.

Murray State head football coach Mitch Stewart shares a recruiting tip:

Murray State became one of the darlings of last year’s college basketball season. The team was led by Ja Morant, a consensus first-team All-American and the eventual #2 overall pick in this June’s NBA Draft. I asked Coach Stewart if that publicity has had any impact on the football program, and what it’s like recruiting at Murray State in general… “It definitely helped us from a recruiting standpoint. Automatically kids recognize our logo. We have a yellow ‘M’ on our shirts when we walk into a school so a kid gets really excited because he thinks he’s talking to University of Michigan at first. But then we say no, we’re Murray State and the kid goes ‘Oh, Ja Morant!’ And boom we have something to talk about. Ja Morant awarded us $317 million in free advertising.”

“Sometimes we’re talking to a kid and his buddy is a FBS guy but because he knows Ja or is a fan we get to build a relationship…”

I hope Morant at least got a thank you for that.  Not that you can spend thank yous…

21 Comments

Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, Recruiting, The NCAA

“The Pac-12 just doesn’t have the numbers.”

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.

8 Comments

Filed under Pac-12 Football, Recruiting

Your Daily Gator is re-ranked.

This is what closing the gap looks like:

17. FLORIDA(252.45 points)

Signing Day Rank: 9

Biggest Loss: 4-star CB Chris Steele (transfer to USC)

Top Transfer Addition: LB Jonathan Greenard (Louisville)

Buzz: The Florida class took one hit after another with four four-stars not making it to campus and two more transferring out before the season.

The good thing is that even though ‘Bama finished first, Georgia second, TAMU third and LSU fourth in the revised rankings, Dan Mullen can coach rings around all those other guys.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

When they tell you it’s about the Jimmies and Joes…

… it’s about the frickin’ Jimmies and Joes.

16 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, Stats Geek!

A complete mystery

Can somebody look at the above chart and explain to me how Clay Helton is still gainfully employed at Southern Cal?

28 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

“It certainly didn’t accomplish what everybody hoped it would.”

Really, is anybody even the slightest bit surprised that, when it comes to recruiting logistics, Kirby Smart has more on the ball than Phil Fulmer?

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Filed under Recruiting