Archive for the 'recruiting' Category

Evaluating the Recruiting Class of 2006

Evaluating the Recruiting Class of 2006–by Jeff Dunbar

Matthew Stafford was the first of many first-rounders from the 2006 recruiting class (google images)

In the world of college football recruiting, writers and analysts attempt to project a 17-year old kid’s talent to the next 4-5 years.  Many skeptics are quick to point out the over-hyped and underperforming players like 5-star phenom Willie Williams, who made headlines of his many altercations with the law, while in high school, but due to his sub-4.5 forty time and his amazing abilities, he still signed a letter of intent to play for the Miami Hurricanes

Williams never panned out at Miami or Louisville, where he transferred due to limited playing time with the ‘Canes.  Williams’ story is all too familiar, but you have to admit that the business of projecting how a high school football player will do in the spotlight of bigtime Division I football is somewhat of a crapshoot.

College FootBlog understands that, and in the case of Rivals.com’s breakdown of the class of 2006, we give credit where credit is due.

Rivals dubbed 28 players that year with the coveted 5-star status, and of those former blue chip recruits, four of them have already been selected as first round draft picks in the NFL, after leaving school early–Matthew Stafford, Andre Smith, Percy Harvin and Beanie Wells.

Five more, Gerald McCoy, Taylor Mays, CJ Spiller, Brandon Graham and Sergio Kindle are expected to go in the first round of this year’s draft, with Florida Linebacker Brandon Spikes  and Clemson DE Ricky Sapp likely to go early in round 2. 

When the dust settles, Rivals will have likely correctly tagged 15 out of their 28 selections as young men who will be playing on Sundays next fall.  That 54% hit rate is very impressive when you consider all the variables that must be considered. 

Some players cannot make the grades to get into a university, let alone stay eligible at one.  Injuries can and do happen.  Stafon Johnson was one of the 5-star players listed, and although he will likely get an opportunity to play in the NFL, his freak accident in the weight room will have an effect on his draft status.  Finally, some of these players either never reach their full potential, or they may have already reached that full potential in high school, and the rest of their college peers pass them by. 

No one knows how Tim Tebow, Stafon Johnson and the rest of these players will fare in the NFL, but rest assured–they will have a shot to make an impression.  The analysts and writers have no way of predicting the future, but with Rivals’ class of 2006, they did as good a job as possible, given the circumstances.

For the complete list of the top 100 players from 2006, check out rivals.com.

Which Kiffin was the Biggest Hire?

Lane Kiffin is known for making headlines, often times for the wrong reasons.  He was cited for several minor recruiting violations last year at Tennessee.  USC has had their share of negative media attention since the departure of Reggie Bush and the suspicious events that surrounded his parents’ home and its connection with a sports agent.

Monte Kiffin will once again be roaming the sidelines with his son in 2010 (google images)

Even with the numerous allegations of possible violations from the NCAA, combined with the departure of legendary recruiter Pete Carroll, the USC Trojans still put one of the top (if not the top) recruiting classes in the country a few weeks ago. 

 Carroll was as good of a defensive mind that USC had ever seen, but with all due respect, Carroll does not have an entire defensive scheme named after him. 

Enter Monte Kiffin, who created the “Tampa 2” defense during his tenure as defensive coordinator for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The acquisition of his son, Lane Kiffin as the head coach was not nearly as impactful as Monte as the defensive coordinator. 

If there were any questions of whether or not the elder Kiffin could translate his success to the college level, there is no doubt now.  Monte’s defense at the University of Tennessee was not only one of the best in the SEC, it was among the nation’s elite, ranking 22nd in total defense and 12th overall against the pass.

Despite the loss of several key starters on defense, including four-year starter and projected first round draft pick Taylor Mays, the Trojans have plenty of talent and depth for Kiffin to work with. 

The inexperience and injuries to the linebacker corps really hurt the Trojans last year, and let’s face it–they placed three linebackers in the first day of the last year’s NFL Draft.  Even with the plethora of athletes that USC has, replacing three NFL players (all of whom saw significant playing time as rookies). 

If there was a silver lining to the departure of Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga did allow Chris Galippo, Devon Kennard and Malcolm Smith to get valuable experience last season.   If they can stay healthy, especially at linebacker, look for the Southern Cal defense to very good in 2010, but they could be downright scary in 2011, after the Kiffins have two recruiting classes under their belts.

When it’s all said and done, it could be Monte, not Lane, that puts USC back in the hunt for a Pac 10 title and a National Championship.

College Football National Signing Day Recap

College Football’s National Signing Day for 2010 is now officially in the books.  In this edition, College FootBlog will take a look at a few teams that were big winners and a couple teams who finished stronger than some experts initially expected.

Even with his future in limbo, Urban Meyer hauled in the nation's top recruiting class (google images)

The Texas Longhorns ranked second in most major recruiting polls, and again, it was not a surprise.  Signing Day is typically uneventful for Mack Brown, as he usually has his class locked up by August.  Although most of the Texas class was in tact before the holidays, the Longhorns added Jackson Jeffcoat to the class last week.  They also lured stud-linebacker Jordan Hicks away from the state of Ohio.

Auburn made a huge push this season, keeping the momentum for Gene Chizik.  The Tigers landed OL Shon Coleman, RB Michael Dyer, QB Cameron Newton and they were able to beat out Florida State for the services of the top-rated DE in the state of Florida, Corey Lemonier.

A couple of teams that finished strong, despite mediocre seasons and head coaching changes were Tennessee and Florida State.  Tennessee benefitted from eight prospects who were early enrollees, which included DE Corey Miller.  But the Vols managed to take one of the top players in the country out of Georgia by landing WR Da’Rick Rogers.

Florida State had big, big problems on defense last year, and they helped themselves a lot with this year’s class.  The Seminoles landed the #2 ranked outside linebacker in the country, Christian Jones, and the #1 cornerback, Lamarcus Joyner, and the #1 inside linebacker, Jeff Luc.

College FootBlog wants your feedback!  Let us know what you think of the posts, and let us know if there are any subjects you would like to see from us.

Time for the NCAA to Change with the Times

With all the strong emotions created from college coaches coming and going from football programs like most of us change shoes, one thing has been lost–the student-athletes these changes affect.  While there are many arguements for and against a college coaches right and opportunity to walk from a program despite the agreed upon contracts, it is not the administrations, athletic departments and alumni that are affected the most, but instead, the young men who made their commitment to the particular school.

Despite only monetary punishments (and in the case of Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia, a possible law suit), there are no real sanctions in place for coaches or universities not holding up their contracts.  The players, on the other hand, are still required to sit out a year if they wish to transfer.  This is due to an NCAA rule that is strictly enforced.

Now, more than ever, college sports, particularly college football, have quickly become a huge income producer for colleges and universities.  The NCAA gets their cut of the revenues, too.  In 2008, the NCAA reports revenues showed over $590 million from television and marketing rights alone. 

This big business has created an environment where many top coaches will go to the highest bidder, and while the lack of loyalty is ridiculed, it is accepted as just a sign of the times.

Don’t tell that to Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.  Mallett originally signed his letter of intent to play for Lloyd Carr and the Michigan Wolverines out of high school.  When Carr was forced out of Ann Arbor, Mallett would find out that his new coach would be West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez, who ran a completely different offense that the traditional pro style offense that Michigan ran when Mallett decided to enroll there.

Mallett transferred to Arkanasas, and despite an appeal to the NCAA, he was forced to sit out the entire 2008 season for not honoring his commitment.  In the end, the NCAA showed no compassion for an 18-year old kid who was caught in a bait and switch by the Michigan athletic department, and he was punished accordingly.

It now appears that Kiffin will not be singing "Rocky Top" anywhere next season (google images)

More recently (just three weeks before college football’s National Signing Day), it was announced that Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has decided to jump ship for USC after just one year in Knoxville.  Nevermind the 18 recruits who have committed to UT.  Two of those recruits have already signed the letter of intent, which binds them to that commitment.

And nevermind the fact that a huge factor in the commitments of these recruits was because of the coaching staff, that will subsequently not be there any longer.

A similar situation has been brewing in Gainesville, Florida, where head coach Urban Meyer announced that he was resigning, due to health issues.  A day later, after a huge fallout of the 2010 recruiting class for the Gators, which included a brief decommitment from safety Matt Elam, the bell cow of the Florida class, Meyer quickly changed his mind, at least to the media and the recruits. 

He said after going to one practice, he realized that he would instead take a leave of absence, and it has been reported that he has told several prized recruits that he plans to resume the head coaching role in August.

If Meyer does what many expect, he will not be the head coach at Florida next season.  But in the high-stakes game of college recruiting, the Florida Gators could not afford to take a big hit, just weeks before signing day, so Meyer’s resignation was downplayed to an indefinite leave.

Whether health, family or any other issues do not allow Meyer to roam the sidelines in time for the fall, 20-25 young men will be playing for a coach that they did not commit to, and they will be punished, should any of them choose to transfer. 

Unless the NCAA changes or at least, modifies their current rules on transfer rights of student-athletes, coaches and universities will continue to have every right to fire coaches, leave for greener pastures and in some cases, even lie or mislead 17-18 year old kids

Why should the NCAA hold 17-22 year olds to a higher standard than the coaches and administrations that are designed to support them?  In the meantime, the recruits who have committed to schools in transition, like Florida and Tennessee, now have three weeks to make a decision that will have a direct effect on the next 4-5 years of their lives. 

Better get it right, kids….the NCAA is watching.

Has Bobby Bowden Lost Control of the Program?

Over the past five years, Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden and his close friend, Penn State coach Joe Paterno have not only battled for the most major college football wins, but they have also battled boosters, analysts and the media, who has questioned whether or not the game has passed them by.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden has not had much to smile about lately (google images)

FSU coach Bobby Bowden has not had much to smile about lately (google images)

While Penn State has turned the corner the past few years, in part, thanks to an Orange Bowl victory over FSU in 2005, Bowden’s Seminoles have taken a turn for the worse.  Last weekend’s loss to Boston College put FSU’s 2009 record at 2-3, the worst start for Bowden since 1983.

Doak Campbell Stadium, which saw the ‘Noles go undefeated in 54-straight home games in the 90’s has dropped to a very mediocre 14-10 at in the last 24 home games, with many of those wins coming from inferior opponents such as Western Carolina, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Jacksonville State to name a few.

What is more disturbing than the rapid decline of the win totals might be the dysfunction of the coaching staff.  Rumors have been swirling for a while now, but they have escalated recently.  Most rumors suggest a rift between the offensive coaching staff and the defensive staff.

In 2007, it was announced that offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher, was the “Head Coach in Waiting.”  At the time, the move was not only necessary for Florida State to keep Fisher from leaving for a different head coaching position, but it also allowed FSU to provide a sense of stability to potential recruits who were unsure what the future held at FSU.

The combination of Fisher’s title (and future) combined with a seasoned defensive coordinator who is set in his ways (Mikey Andrews) and the hiring of fired NC State coach, Chuck Amato has developed into the perfect storm. 

While the team and athletic department will not confirm anything, there definitely appears to be a disconnect on the Seminole coaching staff.  And Bowden acting as more of a figurehead instead of the leader of the program has allowed the disconnect to turn into an outright division in the staff of Fisher and the new offensive coaches (OL coach Rick Trickett, TE coach James Coley and WR coach Lawrence Dawsey) on one side, and Bowden’s contingents on the other.

How bad has it gotten?  For the first time, FSU’s Board of Trustees is calling for Bowden’s resignation at the end of this season.  The Chairman of the Board, Jim Smith, said on Monday, “I know the coaches are snipping at each other, and that’s just terrible.”

Smith went on to say, “I love Bobby Bowden, but I tell you what, I love FSU more.”

Either way, it appears there could be some answers in the near future.  Some outlets are suggesting possible changes and/or plans for these changes as early as this Wednesday.

If these changes are not made soon, FSU’s recruiting efforts, especially on the defensive side of the ball, can and will continue to suffer.  The ‘Noles already lost the commitment of stud defensive end, Corey Miller from Byrnes High School in South Carolina to Tennessee.  On the same weekend, they also lost Miller’s teammate, defensive lineman Brandon Willis, who was once considered a strong FSU lean before he followed suit and committed to Lane Kiffin’s Vols a few weeks ago.

If the necessary changes are made on FSU’s staff and they are announced quickly, the ‘Noles may be able to stop the bleeding.  If not, Jimbo Fisher may be inheriting a program with little to no defensive talent when he finally gets the reigns.

College Football Recruiting Continues to Find New Lows

In the back-stabbing, cut-throat and very high-stakes game that is college football recruiting, coaches have always pushed the line between propaganda and outright deceit.

The bar continues to be lowered by University of Miami’s head coach, Randy Shannon, who has taken negative recruiting of other colleges and universities to an entirely new level.  It was recently reported in SunSentinal.com that one of Shannon’s newest recruiting tactics is to share a report of a list

UM head coach Randy Shannon is taking negative recruiting to a new level these days

UM head coach Randy Shannon is taking negative recruiting to a new level these days

 of crimes such as murder, rape and assults in several cities of college campuses as they compare to Coral Gables. That list includes the cities of University of Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and Alabama, just to name a few.

Shannon says he pulled the list from city-data.com, and he encourages the parents to check the site as well. Encouraging parents to go to a website to collect information is one thing. Handing them a manipulated sheet of data is quite another.

What Shannon will not tell you is that the tragic shooting death of defensive lineman Bryan Pata in 2006 does not show up on his data sheet. That’s because Kendall, FL is the city where Pata’s tragic death occured.

Shannon’s skewed list only breaks down crime in the cities in which colleges and universities reside, meaning Coral Gables (home of University of Miami) is isolated from the cities of Miami and of course, Kendall, which is approximately four miles from UM’s campus.

Oh, how the mighty Hurricanes have fallen. Instead of selling parents and recruits on a great opportunity to play football and earn a degree, they are instead, claiming that there is a much greater chance of getting shot at their rivals’ schools.  In the words of Ron Burgandy, “Stay Classy, Miami.”  (It was actually San Diego, but you get the point.)

If Shannon and the rest of Miami’s staff is going to use that angle, they should at least present accurate, unmanipulated information. But then again, that would be going against everything college recruiting stands for these days.