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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Mailbag: Preseason hype, recruiting, '04 title

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Thanks for all the questions, everybody. Didn't get yours answered? Try again with a more interesting one.

Jon D in Davis, Calif., asks: Other than trying to pad his legacy or résumé, I cannot believe that Tuberville is being serious about his comments and the vacated 2004 title. Auburn should be the champ? Is he nuts? Was that not the same year that Auburn had the 90th-100th toughest schedule in the country? His comments make about as much sense as that hack that runs Ohio State and spews garbage out of his mouth "little sisters of the poor." We all saw how Wisconsin and the Big 10 handled that little sister TCU.

David Ubben: I can't believe people have a problem with him campaigning for it. As a lover of college football, I'd like to see it remain vacated if for no other reason than awarding it to someone else doesn't do very much and cheapens the title for the program that gets it.

But imagine if it was your school or in Tuberville's case, your team. Criticize the nonconference schedule all you'd like, it cost them a spot in the national championship. But the Tigers still made it through the SEC undefeated, and went 13-0 with five wins against top 15 teams. That's a national championship-caliber résumé. Tuberville's campaign is futile, but that doesn't mean it's misguided. I'd probably do the same thing if I were in his shoes.

Rob in St. Peters, Mo., asks: Why is aTm getting more preseason love than Missouri? Does nobody remember the beating that the Tigers gave them @ Kyle Field last season?

DU: Here's the thing: I've realized over time that fans have a very warped perception of a team based on how it played against them the previous year.

I saw A&M play in person four times last year, and watched their entire games on a few other occasions. I'll be clear about this: That was the worst performance the Aggies had last year by a wide, wide margin. It's the same reason why all my friends from Arkansas thought they were going to roll the Aggies in 2010. I disagreed then, too.

More than anything, the lack of an experienced QB is why Texas A&M is going to be favored by the posse of prognosticators this fall. But despite Missouri's solidness just about everywhere, I'd take the Aggies at just about every position other than defensive line. They're a solid team who, in the past, has shown some problems handling hype. We'll see how it ends up in 2011. Both are good teams, but A&M is just a bit better at almost every position. That pays off. I'm in the minority in thinking Missouri is a top 20 team, but I'd say A&M is a borderline top-10 team to kick off the season.

Edward in Austin, Texas, asks: Hey Ubbs...love the blog. It seems to me that talent doesn't necessarily translate from one level to the other; a lot of (if not, a substantial portion) of the time, highly-touted HS players don't do that well at the college level. And maybe as an extension of that, players that weren't highly sought after become superstars. I guess my question is, how much stock do you put in the ESPNU 150 rankings?It also seems the same is true for the next level. To recent memory, a couple of Heisman trophy winners (Matt Leinart and Eric Crouch) flopped in the NFL. Also you look at guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady...who were afterthoughts in their respective drafts. Am I being overly critical? Your thoughts?

DU: I'll nitpick a bit before I answer this question and point out that Manning was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft, but I get your question.

Obviously, the ESPNU 150 isn't the gospel, but it's still a good indicator of future success. Guys will hit and miss, and you can pick out plenty of All-Americans or Heisman winners who weren't top-flight recruits, but a good percentage of those All-Americans and Heisman winners? They were. It's no guarantee, but get more ESPNU 150 guys, and you're liable to have a better team. The simple truth is the chances of them turning out to be stars is much higher. Sure, there's a few two and three-star guys who become big time, but there's a whole lot more who don't. I'd be interested to see the percentage of guys who become starters after being five-star recruits vs. guys who become starters out of the three and two-star group. I'd bet good money the top guys are a lot higher.

John in Stillwater, Okla., asks: Why do you think recruits are decommitting from OSU? Are there any reasons to be alarmed?

DU: I assume you're talking about LB Dalton Santos and ATH Bralon Addison, a pair of former OSU commits who were ESPNU 150 guys. Santos reopened his recruitment and Addison did so briefly before committing to Texas A&M.

They were doing something right to get them to commit in the first place.

It's no cause for alarm. Nothing happened for them to jump ship. It's different for every guy. I don't really see a trend. The larger trend is Mike Gundy being in classes that are better and better, and you've seen that with OSU's recent rise, culminating in the first 11-win season in school history last year.

You never know what exactly causes high school kids to pick or not pick a school. When they do, it's a lot of the same comments about "family," etc, but it comes down to the best fit and what each individual player wants out of his college experience. Not every guy goes to the best school he possibly can go to. You have to consider playing time, helping a program rise, family connections, etc.

OSU's recruiting is fine.

Jared in College Station, Texas, asks: With all the hoopla around A&M's recruiting class, how much of a disappointment is it that they only have a few guys on the ESPNU150? (Especially since Texas has 7)

DU: I wouldn't get too wrapped up in it. I don't get out and watch or scout high school guys, so it's tough for me to say definitively. If a top recruit is playing a game on national TV, I'll usually DVR it and kind of half watch it while I work.

But, every indication about A&M's class is that the strength is in that second group. You only see three of them in the ESPN 150, but if it was the ESPN 350, I bet you'd see a ton more.

Cal Hardage in Chelsea, Okla., asks: All the talk about ESPNU 150 makes me wonder which coaches do more with less. Sure Texas (outside of 2010) wins, but they also bring in highly rated recruits. I'm not sure how you calculate it. Number of stars per win? Wins per star? Do you use only starters, two-deep, or entire team? I'm sure you can figure out a great way for it. Thanks!

DU: Yeah, you could probably break it down over time, but from a birds-eye view, I'd say it's pretty clear Missouri does the most with the least of any team in the Big 12. They don't haul in a lot of top-flight recruits, but they've won consistently in the last six years or so under Gary Pinkel, winning a share of the North three times and playing in the Big 12 title game twice. Texas Tech is probably a close second in that group.

Both teams always seem to find a lot of great players that weren't highly recruited. Sean Weatherspoon and Danario Alexander are two great examples of guys that not a lot of schools wanted but became stars at Mizzou.