Interesting piece on ESPN.com by Ivan Maisel, in which he examines the effort by some college football programs to "go national" in their recruiting -- particularly after winning a national title -- and whether that actually benefits them. I thought this was particularly relevant to us, as Harbaugh and staff look to be recruiting the top names from all across the country.
The news hook here is Urban Meyer's talk the morning after winning the championship game about expanding OSU's recruiting beyond "the footprint of Ohio." Maisel's big point is that emphasizing national recruiting beyond a program's traditional recruiting footprint, especially their home state, doesn't really help.
It all makes sense, but what's significant is that recruiting nationally hasn't resulted in more championships. If it did, a team that won it all would do so again four or five years down the road once those picked cherries have morphed into veteran players. In fact, there are plenty of examples of programs that began to recruit nationally and not only failed to win another national championship, but failed to maintain their status as national contender.
He uses USC under Pete Carroll as an example:
But take a look at USC a decade ago. The Trojans won their second consecutive AP national championship in 2004 with a roster of 82 Californians, 18 of whom started. [...] Then USC's coach, Pete Carroll, once at the top, decided that he wanted to -- as Meyer put it -- cherry-pick the nation's best recruits. One of his USC assistants, Rocky Seto, told author Steve Bisheff for his 2009 book, "Always Compete," that Carroll "tells us he only wants [out-of-state] kids who are capable of being first-round NFL draft picks." The 14 freshmen signed by USC in February 2005 included five out-of-state players, four of whom made the USA Today Top 100.
But Carroll never won another national title. By 2009, the fifth year after he had shifted to his cherry-picking philosophy, USC had virtually the same number (81) of Californians on its roster as it had five years earlier. But the Trojans' starting lineup included only 12 in-state players and 10 from out of state. USC went 9-4 that season, got blown out by Oregon and Stanford and Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks.
Maisel cites Alabama in recent years as another example. He then goes on to ask why "going national" doesn't seem to help -- and happens to mention a certain Stanford program built by a certain coach we all happen to know:
There's also the theory that kids who don't grow up understanding Alabama football and wanting more than anything to play for Alabama -- or fill in your state university here -- don't make the same emotional commitment, that three-star players with heart supply the guts of a team with a smattering of five-star starters.
That's impossible to measure and doesn't take into account a success story like Stanford, which must recruit nationally because of its academic standards. The Cardinal team that won its second consecutive Pac-12 championship in 2013 included players from 30 states and three countries.
Lots of food for thought here. I'd argue Michigan is in a tougher position than many of these programs, because Michigan simply doesn't produce the quantity of in-state talent that California or Ohio or Texas or Florida or even Alabama do. We have no choice but to recruit nationally to some degree. We do need to concentrate on our traditional footprint -- MI, Ohio especially, and Pennsylvania -- and Hoke did a nice job with that, but I think Harbaugh's right to make a bigger effort going after kids in talent-rich states like FL, TX, and CA.
Maisel compares Texas A&M's tradition to Sparty's, and then shows why their move to the SEC makes sense but does kill the rivalries in the Big 12.
From yesterday's 3-point stance:
2. Nebraska fifth-year senior guard Keith Williams is a graphic design major with a minor in art history. His main interest is the early Renaissance, even if he has never seen any works in person. “There are a lot of (trips) offered, but because of my obligations with football ... ” Williams said. He didn’t consider asking coach Bo Pelini for time off in the summer to visit the great museums of Europe. “I want to see that reaction,” Williams said. “He would look at me and say, ‘Are you serious?’”
Some Michigan fan should call Mr. Williams to let him know summer workouts are voluntary, not obligatory.
This morning I'm listening to the ESPN college football podcast on the way to work, and at the very tail end something jumped out at me.
Ivan Maisel and Gene Wojciechowski were the two doing the show, and at the end of the program they were discussing which schools had overrated or underrated gameday experiences on their campuses.
Gene Wojo's "overrated" was Michigan. In short, when describing Ann Arbor on a gameday, he said, "Eh."
(It's the October 26th show, strangely listed second from the top).
Usually both of these guys give Michigan high marks when it's due, but perhaps this turn of events is due to the Rich Rod era??
He acknowledged that the Big House is cool to be in, but he claimed there was very little going on around the campus and the stadium. I'm not sure what game he was at, but he must have been at the wrong stadium.
Is this a wake-up call to the staleness of Ann Arbor on gameday, or a time when all us Michigan fans have to spell out all the great things that go on around town. Let's hear some great gameday stories and show Gene Wojo that we're just as good as LSU, Auburn, and all the other schools he mentions!