Louisville coach Charlie Strong was asked for his latest pitch on the recruiting trail during his session with print reporters at Big East media day this week.
Strong began his comments with something that should alarm Big East fans just a little bit. Strong said this in response to the question.
"Well what has to be critical for us right now is you’re getting hit with the conference, you’re getting hit with the championship," Strong said. "So what I’ve been trying to tell kids is just, let’s wait and see what’s going to happen. You don’t have to do anything until February. So wait and see where we’re going to fall, and then you make that decision. But as far as picking a school, I tell them all the time, I say we will be placed in the best situation for the University of Louisville. I say I feel confident enough in our president, I feel confident enough in our AD that we’ll be placed in the right place, where we’re going to have a chance to go compete for a championship."
Strong was then asked how much he has to deal with questions about the Big East on the recruiting trail.
"Yes, every kid is asking that question," Strong said. "You’re getting it because whoever your competition is ... they want that answer."
So essentially schools competing against Louisville for prized recruits are putting doubts in the kids' minds about the stability of the Big East, and whether Louisville has lost its chance at getting into the Big 12.
I do not think it is a coincidence that Strong made his remarks just one day after losing top recruit Ryan White, a four-star cornerback from Louisville. White had committed to the Cardinals this year, but changed his mind and made a commitment to Vanderbilt. It is unclear whether changes to the Big East impacted his decision. White did not return calls from ESPN Recruiting Nation.
But last month, Louisville lost out on another recruit from its backyard, four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher -- who plays with White at Trinity High. Hatcher made a commitment to USC, and said afterward that the Big East did play a role in his decision. According to WDRB.com, Hatcher said the conference situation concerned him, "a little bit, honestly, with the Big East falling apart the way it is."
"That wasn't the main reason," Hatcher said. "I'm not going to say it was a big reason, because I believe you can have success at any school at any conference. But the Big East, that was kind of a small concern, being that after the next couple of years they might not even be a BCS contender."
Strong has made it clear he wants to own the state of Kentucky on the recruiting trail. Losing out on two four-star prospects in his own city has to hurt, particularly if conference affiliation played any role at all. The Cardinals still have a commitment from one four-star linebacker, and have made significant inroads into the state of Florida, so they are still in good shape for the class of 2013.
But it cannot feel good to hear from the head coach himself that the Big East might be impacting his ability to recruit.