Thursday, February 3, 2011

The year-long war . . .

Let's start this recruiting wrap-up on a high note. The white bulldog puppy runningback Isaiah Crowell pulled out when he announced for Georgia on Wednesday is the cutest and most novel exclamation point ever put on what is normally a boring and predictable hat ceremony.

But that was about it for charm.

This year's SEC recruiting wars seemed particularly bloody, fueled largely by the growing number of nutcases feeding their inner Komodo dragon on the Web.

A top recruit in Mississippi claims to have decommitted from MSU because of Internet stalkers. When Cyrus Kouandjio, the country's top offensive line prospect -- and long considered a lock to join his big brother at Alabama -- announced instead for Auburn, the cyber nether world erupted. When the big kid didn't sign the paperwork, instead announcing he was reconsidering his decision, trolls from both fan bases took over Kouandjio's Facebook page to rekindle their One Hundred Years War.

Silly us, we thought the Iron Bowl showed the best and worst of a college rivalry. But those hatreds mutate into something even more toxic given the freedom and the anonymity of the Web.

Here's hoping the kid and his family go off the grid for a couple of days and figure out what's best for Cyrus, regardless the uniform he chooses. Don't expect an announcement until Friday, when another tsunami of online invective will undoubtedly be unleashed. Here's the latest from the Washington Post. Meanwhile, back to the fun part.

Once again, the SEC dominates the recruiting rankings, with only Texas, FSU -- more SEC than ACC anyway -- and USC -- where coach Lane Kiffin thumbed his nose at the massive NCAA sanctions -- interrupting the run of conference schools.

The Big Winners: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU. The strong got stronger, and Georgia coach Mark Richt's newest players may quickly determine if he keeps his job.
The On the Cusps: Florida and Tennessee, which closed quite strongly under first-year coach Derek Dooley.
The Dissapointments Mississippi State and South Carolina didn't clearly capitalize on breakout seasons, though Steve Spurrier signed a multitude and is the favorite to land Jadeveon Clowney, considered perhaps finest prospect of the last 20 years. (No pressure there.)

Jess Nicholas of did his annual bang-up job of objectively analyzing the signing classes of each SEC school. How objective? Even St. Onge couldn't find fault with Jess's assessment of Auburn.

You can read more here.