Wednesday, February 3, 2010

EXPATS critique - Recruiting Day 2010

Though it might have lacked the surprises of yesteryear, National Signing Day across the SEC was not without its notable performances.


The Pravda Award for Controlling the Message: After stiffing Alabama and announcing he would sign with a school that hardly recruited him, Keenan Allen's mother and handler went the extra yard to stick to their script. They had a Tuscaloosa News reporter thrown out of Allen's Greensboro press conference after he dared to ask about reports that Allen's family will follow him to Berkeley. Read more.

Fresh Recruits for an Endless Civil War. Auburn and Alabama appear headed for Top 5 finishes. But the Tigers' Gene Chizik gets this vote for Recruiter of the Year. After getting thumped by Alabama for three straight recruiting classes, Auburn finally fought back. Though Alabama landed most of the best in-state kids, Chizik and his band of merry men held their own. They also roamed far across the Southland to get such studs as Michael Dyer (Arkansas), Trovon Reed (Louisiana) and Shon Coleman (Mississippi).

The next test: The 2011 class in Alabama is killer, and Saban and Chizik will go head to head on far more high-profile kids. Alabama already has two top in-state commitments for 2011 and is expected to announce more in a matter of days. How will Chizik and Auburn respond?

I'm Not Dead, I Was Only Sleeping, and I Wasn't Out Long: When we last saw Urban Meyer, he was barely holding it together on the sideline as his team was being blown apart by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. In quick succession, he served as the honored guest of his wife's a 9-1-1 call, then announced his retirement because of health concerns. Sleeping in late with the Mrs. didn't last long, of course. But how Meyer was able to literally get off the floor and sign one of the greatest classes in modern recruiting history is a testament to his manic energy, the program he has built and his utter hatred of losing. Many expect this class to win a national championship. Will Meyer still be healthy enough to coach them?

The Bill Clinton "It Depends on How You Define the Word 'Commitment'" Medal of Excellence

In most years, the magical mystery tour that led Keenan Allen, his brother and two former Greensboro teammates to the cliffs of the Pacific might take top Switcheroo honors. But Da'Rick Rogers' jump from Georgia, which had recruited him for two years, to Tennessee, which only has had its coach for two weeks, was equally bizarre.

Most teams add players down the stretch. The Dawgs shed them like fleas, turning a potentially great class into a good one. Suffice to say, the talent gap between Georgia and the SEC's top-tier teams didn't get smaller today. Coach Mark Richt will have some 'splainin' to do if UGA doesn't physically rebound in 2010 and put up more of a fight. For now, who can argue that something essential isn't suddenly missing in Athens?

And On the Eighth Day, He Rested . . .

When Lane Kiffin fled Tennessee, only the headline writers mourned. But Romper Room's late-night elopement to USC left the Volunteers on the cusp of a recruiting nightmare, particularly when no one seemed particularly interested in taking the job. Enter Derek Dooley, best known for his parentage. Yet, the Saban disciple soon showed he intended to do far more than simply salvage a class. He flipped in-state offensive lineman James Stone, long considered a Bama lock (Turns out, Stone just disliked Kiffin). He stole Rogers, perhaps the gem of the Georgia class. And even though Kiffin shamelessly kept wooing his former recruits, Dooley did a respectable job keeping them in Knoxville. One late loss to USC, receiver Markeith Ambles, could be a big gain. Given the kid's mouth, he seems a perfect fit for Kiffin.

When OK is Not Really OK

Bobby Petrino and Houston Nutt have never shown much knack for recruiting, and this year's classes indicate they are building more question marks than momentum at Arkansas and Ole Miss, respectively. Why Petrino put up so little fight for Michael Dyer still doesn't make much sense. And Nutt's class, following the mammoth one he brought in last year that led the SEC to adopt size limits, is distinguished only for its lack of distinguishing talent. Meanwhile MSU's Dan Mullen continues to shake the magnolias in the Magnolia State, beating Nutt head to head on several key recruits. An common omission: None of the three appears to have found a future SEC quarterback.

It's hard to say LSU had a down year with its expected Top 10 finish. But the Tigers started fast and ended so-so. Still, Weep Not for Les, Louisiana. No school in the SEC holds a statewide recruiting monopoly like the Tigahs, and they capitalized again with an impressive array of talent. Next year, the bayous are teeming with even more first-rate players. Unless LSU struggles on the field, and every year more Cajuns seem to question The Hat's coaching chops, Miles should boat plenty. If he doesn't, well . . . how do you say "tick-tock" in French?

Long Live The King.

While Texas did its annual great job of shooting fish in a barrel, and Kiffin built on what Pete Carroll started at USC, the SEC again mostly led the national recruiting ranks -- with Florida as the near unanimous No. 1 class, and Auburn, Alabama and LSU all near the top. That gives the conference three straight mythical recruiting titles to go with its four straight national championships. Alabama is favored to make it five in a row -- but first The Tide has to get out of the SEC alive.

While Bama leaves NSD reloaded and heavily armed, next season includes two potential games against Florida, plus the typical murderer's row. And as we all know by now, in the SEC, everybody's packing.



Mark said...

Rivals rated the University of Southern California #1 this morning.

roberts125 said...

Bref minuterie - Short timer in French

Anonymous said...

If more of Kiffin's top recruits are arrested again, it really doesn't matter what Rivlas has them ranked.

Michael said...

Mark, saw that and did some editing to reflect the change.

Kiffin had a great last week. Interesting that the Rivals' rating includes the commitment of the Henderson kid, who won't sign the paperwork until after USC meets with the NCAA.

Smart move.


Mark said...

I agree - smart for him to wait. I have heard from the USC athletic department and it is very unlikely that there will be any sanctions - their recruiting would have been a disaster had this not been the case. Thanks for the column.

Michael said...


Sure, drop by again. Suffice to say that there are others who think the Trojans' are about to get nailed. But we'd all grow poor betting on what the NCAA will do.


Pete said...

If I recall correctly Rivals only looks at 20 recruits in a class for their ranking, which discounts the other 8 commitments Florida has than USC. Late in the day Florida added Chaz Green and Adrian Coxson and didn't move in the points on Rivals while USC jumped due to a flake who won't sign with them right away if at all.

Mark said...

Rivals included all the recuits through last night - USC also picked up two big commitments late in the day. I don't think Henderson is flak. As far as I am concerned, congrats to all the teams that recruited well.

Anonymous said...

Two games vs. Florida? Don't count them chickens too soon, MG. Yes, your class is loaded with studs. But your in-state rival has an honest-to-gawd QB for the first time since 2004. There's a decent chance you're gonna be spitting up turkey the day after Thanksgiving. WAR EAGLE!!!

Does anyone know if BigDawg has been put on suicide watch?