We all have different reasons for our college football allegiances. Perhaps you’re an Ohio State fan because you grew up in Ohio and that’s how it’s always been for you. Maybe you’re a Notre Dame fan because they were always on TV in your pre-streaming-media youth. Maybe you’re an Alabama fan because you hate joy.
Whatever the reason, we’re all pretty bound to these loyalties, and might even daydream about what it might have been like to suit up for our beloved team. Your hypothetical top-tier college recruit might have different priorities, though, as hard as that can be for some people to believe.
“Don’t you appreciate the unique traditions of the University of Cincinnati? The legacy of Nippert Stadium, named after James Gamble Nippert, who died from an on-field spike injury that became infected, probably because of chicken droppings on the field from a pre-game chicken race!?”
That’s all true, by the way, college football history is incredible.
Anyways, this tweet by Friend of the Program @Athens_Grease got me thinking:
My dude @_2XL_’s NCAA ‘14 recruiting experiment reminds me of my favorite game:— Athens Grease (@Athens_Grease) October 4, 2018
If you were a 5-star football recruit and could play anywhere you wanted, where would you go?
This is a great question. Let’s expand the scenario:
You, likely-above-college-aged, likely-not-in-FBS-recruit-shape reader, discover a magic pair of cleats or something, and BOOM. You’re a five-star recruit and it’s weeks before signing day. Every program in America would love to have you next fall. It’s time to announce that you’ve narrowed your focus to five schools.
What approach do you take?
You’re in this to win it, and you’re betting on the most successful teams in recent memory. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State.
You want the most classic college football experience. Many of the schools above apply, but you’re also considering places like Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, because championships aren’t a necessity,
You didn’t come here to play school or to win championships: you want to burnish your draft stock. Maybe there’s a coach with a history of player development. Maybe you’re going to a school where you’re guaranteed to start as a freshman.
The NCAA’s stopped paying attention to Ole Miss by now, right? It’s probably fine.
Maybe you’re committing to spend the next three to five years of your life somewhere for a lot of work and no money (unless it’s Ole Miss), and you want it to be somewhere you’d actually want to live. Somewhere warm, or scenic, or in a big city.
What do you choose?
Here’s my top five, to kick off the discussion. These are entirely subjective and based on my own set of personal preferences, and therefore right.
Sure, they’ve spent the last decade post-Pete Carroll alternating between “hey maybe they’re back” and “no, they’re not”, but they check most of the boxes. A legacy of players making the pros. Pretty consistent success. Fantastic traditions. Also, you’re living in Los Angeles, and not subject to the stifling pressures of a single-minded college town.
2. Ohio State
A lot of the same reasons as above, Columbus isn’t LA but it’s way better than Tuscaloosa, also I was born in Ohio and I’m sorry this shit is in your blood, it’s like lead poisoning, let’s just move on
3. Miami (FL)
No one care if you don’t win, reasonable pipeline to the pros, you’re living in Miami.
Big city. Beautiful stadium. Been pretty good the last few years! Not a lot of pressure. Quietly a great option.
Facilities, money, resources, tradition. Austin is still a big city, even though you’re not going to escape the spotlight there. So hungry for a return to success that you’d get a parade for a ten-win season. (Late edit, because I wrote this before Saturday: TEXAS BACK?)
What’s your top five?