Category Archives: Recruiting

“Protecting the state of Louisiana is always going to be my job as the coach of LSU.”

Now, this is what closing the borders looks like.

One by one, they were asked to leave the state of Louisiana before they even arrived. Football coaches from Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Houston all planned to work satellite camps at Southeastern Louisiana University this summer. They were all unceremoniously disinvited last week. Tulane had announced it would work a camp with the Michigan staff. Disinvited, too.

If the coaches were confused, clarity came quickly. Tulane soon found a replacement for Michigan: LSU. And Southeastern Louisiana announced one new partner after severing ties with those A-list schools: Yes, also LSU.

The Louisiana schools are dancing around their reasons for kicking the out-of-state schools out of their camps. But they appeared to succumb to pressure from LSU, which has financial and political power in its state that few schools in the country can match. As one college official noted: “LSU’s influence is undeniable.”

By the way, Michigan has not one, but two, summer camps in Georgia next month.



Filed under Recruiting

“I’m a big fan of getting to know kids, and that’s difficult.”

I’m puzzled by a couple of things in this Ed Aschoff piece defending SEC coaches’ misgivings about the new signing period and related earlier visit dates.

First, if not having enough time to get to know recruits is now a legitimate concern, why haven’t we heard about this before in the context of junior college kids who have signed at the same in December for years now?  Other than the latter living away from momma for a year or two, what’s the difference?

Second, is Orgeron serious about this?

LSU’s Ed Orgeron went beyond just the recruit-coach relationship and mentioned the fact that a signing period in December is going to interrupt bowl preparation for the actual team fans watch and coaches coach. You think Alabama fans would be pleased with Saban and his staff hovering around a fax machine while simultaneously trying to run a practice leading up to the College Football Playoff semifinal?

Bowl prep conflicts, eh?  Substitute hovering over a fax machine for constantly working a cell phone texting recruits you have to stay on top of until February… from a time constraint standpoint, it’s hard to see any difference.  Christ, Kirby Smart was recruiting for Georgia while he was preparing for his last national title game at Alabama.  Somehow he managed both.  Are we really supposed to believe that these guys, with their substantial support staffs, can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

I’m not being snarky here.  I honestly don’t get what the big deal is.  Anybody have an idea?


Filed under Recruiting

Kirby Smart, and the allure of Boom Ball

I came across an interesting Reddit thread a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d share.  Its premise is to rank all P5 teams’ seasons since 1998 in order of opponents’ regular season winning percentage.  The top team might surprise you a bit.

20 Highest Opponent Win %

Rk Team W/L Opp W/L Opp W %
1 2012 Florida 10-1 93-38 71.0%
2 2012 Missouri 4-7 93-40 69.9%
3 2009 Mississippi St. 4-7 94-41 69.6%
4 2005 Oklahoma 7-4 82-37 68.9%
5 1998 Auburn 3-8 83-38 68.6%
6 2014 Arkansas 5-6 91-42 68.4%
7 2014 Mississippi 8-3 91-42 68.4%
8 2003 Alabama 4-9 105-50 67.7%
9 2015 Arkansas 6-5 88-42 67.7%
10 1999 Alabama 9-2 79-38 67.5%
11 2004 Texas A&M 7-4 81-39 67.5%
12 2015 Alabama 10-1 88-43 67.2%
13 2013 Georgia 7-4 88-43 67.2%
14 2015 Maryland 2-9 90-44 67.2%
15 2013 Tennessee 4-7 87-43 66.9%
16 2011 LSU 11-0 86-43 66.7%
17 2004 North Carolina 5-5 72-36 66.7%
18 2010 Notre Dame 7-5 94-48 66.2%
19 2014 Auburn 7-4 88-45 66.2%
20 2016 Florida St. 8-3 87-45 65.9%

That was no cheap accomplishment by the Gators, either, as a commenter in that thread points out.

People forget how ridiculous 2012 Florida’s resume was at the end of that regular season. Wins over (using final BCS ranking):

  • #8 LSU (10-2)
  • #9 Texas A&M (10-2)
  • #10 South Carolina (10-2)
  • #12 FSU (11-2, ACC Champ)

The only loss was by 8 points to #7 Georgia (11-2), for a total of 4-1 against top 12 opponents.

Meanwhile, in the regular season Georgia played two teams that were in the final BCS top 25: South Carolina (L, 7-35) and Florida (W, 17-9), then had the close loss to Alabama in the SECCG.

While I do understand why Georgia fans were upset that they landed behind UF in the final BCS rankings and missed out on the Sugar Bowl, it’s pretty hard to deny how strong UF’s resume was.

Now, Florida’s 2012 season may not have been pretty, but it was effective.  It was also peak Muschamp.  Per another commenter,

It was Muschamp’s ideal style of football. Excellent defense and an offense that hogs the ball, minimizes turnovers, and eats clock. It makes for a relatively small margin for error and means winning games by 2 scores or less is common even against inferior opponents.

His offensive strategy was basically “don’t fuck this up for the defense” instead of “we should try to score points.” And it was the only season where that kind of strategy actually paid off to any extent.

One reason it worked so well was that the Gators finished +15 in turnover margin that season (actually, +17 in the regular season).  It was a result that Muschamp would never approach again during his Florida tenure.

Anyway, reading this, all I could think in reaction was that it all sounds like Kirby Smart’s mantra for the 2016 season.  (Let’s not forget the regard Smart holds for Coach Boom.)  Georgia finished 8-5 behind a +8 turnover margin; all other things being equal, how would Smart’s first season have turned out had the Dawgs matched Florida’s 2012 result in that department?

All of which brings me to a Chris Brown post from several years ago (don’t ask me how my mind works) that raised some relevant points about how to recruit for a power ball approach in a spread age.  Start with this:

For the truly elite-level recruiting teams, I think the agnosticism of pro-style treats them well because they basically recruit incredible players and then figure out the system and scheme later. Moreover, spread offenses, option offenses, and really any pass-first offense (including West Coast attacks of which I’d put Georgia in the category) require very good quarterback play. Alabama and LSU are basically designed to win in spite of their quarterbacks; Nick Saban does not want to return an all world defense with a bunch of five-star playmakers and lose because his QB was a junior and had some “growing pains”, which absolutely happens at every level. In other words, if you get be a top 5 recruiting team every year, it’s not that you want to be pro-style it’s that you want to be “system neutral.” They can get superior talent and can fit plays around those incredible guys. Note that this isn’t the same as “fitting your scheme to your players,” because we’re talking about first round draft choice guys not guys with certain strengths and certain weaknesses. I leave aside whether pro-style is truly more attractive to recruits or not.  [Emphasis added.]

With that bolded quote in mind, go back and read something I posted about what Saban wants out of his offensive coordinator this season.  And then think about what that means for Jake Fromm’s chances to wrest the starting job away from Jacob Eason this season.

Chris finished that post with

… The deeper your roster, the more you can play around with guys, move them around, and try to dedicate them to certain things. The less you have the more constrained you are to get into what you want to do, whatever it is. That said, I think for most players, the difference in what they are asked to do in a spread versus a pro-style scheme is vastly overrated, particularly in the case of run-first spread teams.

Ultimately I think the question is a good one but maybe too complex to even answer. I do think quarterback is the X factor for every single college and pro team nowadays, with extremely rare exceptions. The most “pro-style”-ist pro teams need great quarterbacking, but teams like LSU and Alabama do not. The reason: compared to their opponents, LSU and Alabama are simply much better teams, advantages that pro teams and very few, if any, other college teams have.

That is where I believe Kirby Smart wants to go, which is why you should watch his recruiting in a particular light.

Yes, I know there’s been a great deal of talk about how he’d like to sign a dual-threat quarterback.  I even credit him with making a sincere effort in that regard.  But it’s more likely that Smart is simply looking for another bullet in the holster than a wholesale makeover of Georgia’s offensive scheme.  The bigger question to ask at this point is whether he’ll succeed at accumulating enough talent to get away with not having to worry about his quarterback fucking things up for the defense.


Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

“It’s a war out there. Now you have two of them.”

There is no better way of framing the coaching response to the new early signing period than through these two quotes:

Florida coach Jim McElwain: “It will put some players that have maybe taken reservations rather than commitments places, it’s going to call that bluff, as well as a lot of schools that have a lot of offers out. … I truly believe it’s going to call some people’s bluff, both from the players’ side and the schools’ side. It’ll be interesting to see.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban: “I think evaluation is important, and I think the sooner you have to make decisions on these guys, the greater opportunity you have to make mistakes.”

Saban really doesn’t have time for this shit.  It’s gonna make for some fun times on the ol’ recruiting trail come December 2018.


Filed under Recruiting

One name, four vowels

Go, Sam Pittman, go.

That is all.


Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Today, in duh

Give Kevin Sumlin credit for stating the obvious:

One positive from an early signing date is that coaches will know who’s serious, who isn’t and who just isn’t ready. Kevin Sumlin sees the early date working because it will give coaching staffs a better perspective about how kids are really feeling. “If I guy doesn’t sign in December, he’s not committed. He has a reservation.”

You could say the same thing about coaches, too.


Filed under Recruiting

“Recruiting moral high ground” is an oxymoron.

I don’t follow Wisconsin recruiting, of course, so it’s interesting to see what utter nonsense the program’s decision to revoke its offer to Ben Bryant is, based on its recent track record.

Yes, the contact, offer and tweet could have been contributing factors, but if those were the reasons, the Badgers are hypocrites. A player being committed to another school hasn’t stopped Wisconsin from going after them, most recently offering defensive tackle Apu Ika (Salt Lake City), who has been committed to BYU since last summer. And the tweet thing? Doesn’t hold water, either. Safety Reggie Pearson (River Rouge, Mich.) committed to the Badgers in August 2016, and a week later tweeted an offer he received from Arkansas. He remains a member of Wisconsin’s Class of 2018.

The author goes on to surmise that the real impetus behind the revocation was that Bryant no longer fit into Wisconsin’s plans, a conclusion that doesn’t require a huge leap in logic to make, and then adds this observation:

No matter what, this is an unfortunate black eye for Wisconsin. Pulling a scholarship is a rarity for the Badgers. The program, especially under former coach Bret Bielema and current coach Paul Chryst, has carried itself as being somehow morally superior when it comes to recruiting. Bielema once famously called out Ohio State coach Urban Meyer for “illegal” recruiting tactics, and saying, “We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC in any way, shape or form.” Bielema was in the SEC less than a year later, but his point stands. Wisconsin has recruited the right way.

This latest move, though, suggests the Badgers may not be holding that moral high ground any longer.

A message that will no doubt be reinforced on the recruiting trail.


Filed under Big Ten Football, Recruiting