Last Friday, we thought we might actually get off our ass and talk to someone who may know what theyre talking about in the brutal, Darwinian landscape of recruiting. Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals.com talked with us for a while about the time and a half hours recruitniks put in, the programs cleaning up on the road this year, and which programs seem to be losing a step in the handshake wars.
OS: How much have you been on the road lately?
JC: Let me put it this way: my little girl is five and a half months old, and for the first eight weeks of her life I was on the road for four of them. So, yes, a lot.
OS: Whos whiffing in recruiting this year, or at least not getting their usual results?
JC: Lots at teams with a record of prior success. Virginia Techs not in our top 25 and theyve always been there. They recruit a great state, theyre a great program, and Im surprised theyre not there. Oregons usually big in southern California but this year its hard to discern what theyre doing there. Both NC State and UNCs lack of presence in North Carolinaa state with loads of talentis odd to me. For NC State the loss of Doc Holliday to Florida probably has something to do with that. Hes a great recruiter.
Tubercular, but effective.
OS: Whos making a great debut?
JC: Well, you cant exactly call it a debut, since he was such a good recruiter at Southern Cal, but Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss has surprised a lot of people. Hes an established recruiter, but hes building a very good class there despite not having a lot of wins coming out of the season.
Arizona and Mike Stoops have had two back to back top 25 classes with the same thing: not a lot of wins, but plenty of buzz around the program. Theyre getting kids who are being recruited by USC, and are becoming something to deal with.
The Pitt Panthers are the third team I wanted to mention. Theyve gone top 25 despite struggling this season on the field. Bob Junko deserves a lot of credit here; hes a fine recruiter.
OS: Youve got three coaches to pick to run your recruiting ops. Who do you pick.
JC: Rob Ianello, ND. Rodney Garner at UGA. Joseph Forrest at Oklahoma State.
OS: Whats up with C.J. Spiller? Please tell us you know.
JC: I really cant say. Thats tough. Thats what happens when the best come after you. It happens every single day, and thats a tough decision. Hell be branded with it for the rest of his life, and thats not an easy choice. Itll be difficult.
OS: Meyerwhat kind of voodoo is going on there with recruits?
JC: Its not a total surprise. He was a good recruiter at Utahvery good. He had a good scheme, he was young, he was energetic. These same things are still true, theyre just doubled now that hes at Florida. Throw in the SEC. Throw in rabid fans. Its the perfect storm. They should finish at number one. I love their class.
OS: Any last minute surprised youre suspecting?
JC: Most of the kids in play are in the southeast, particularly in Alabama. Its like waiting for the Electoral College to come in.
OS: Why the southeast?
JC: Nowhere else in the country do you have as many schools as close together. So many kids are so heavily recruited by the ACC, the SEC it makes it tough for kids. Thats why it takes longer in the south.
OS: What do make of Arkansass hiring of Mitch Mustains high school coach as a OC? Is that beyond the pale of what youve seen coaches do
JC: I dont know if theres anything dirty about that. If someones saying that they havent done a lot of research about the job Malzahns done at Springdale High. Was it the deciding factor? No. I dont think theres anything wrong with that. I think hell do a fine job there.
Malzahn: nothing fishy, according to Crabtree.
OS: Is the process of recruiting more transparent now than in the past with the advent of the internet?
JC: It levels the playing field more for recruits. He has to figure out whether coaches are telling the truth or not. Ten or twenty years ago, youd get to camp and find out that two or three other qbs were signed. On the flip side, it helps the coaches and school scout kids more accurately, too.
OS: Its a full time gig now, right?
JC: Absolutely. We have our first Junior Day February 1st. Notre Dame already had theirs. Its the lifeblood of college football. You cant put it on the backburner and go drink margaritas on the beach for a month anymore and expect it to work out.
OS: What are the emerging trends in recruiting?
JC: More kids enrolling early, which is better for academics. Youll see more and more of that as time goes on. Also: no more combines on college campuses anymore. Thatll change the way people get information about players, for sure.
OS: Thanks for talking with us. Rest up!