Thursday, January 27, 2011
Big Ten recruiting Q&A: Part II
We're a few hours closer to National Signing Day, and here's the second half of my interview with Scouts Inc. recruiting coordinator Craig Haubert.
Also check out Part I.
What about teams like Wisconsin and Iowa? Are there geographical ceilings for them or can they reach the level where Nebraska is right now? What's a fair barometer?
Craig Haubert: It's harder for them because there's only so much they can do in state and they always do well in state. But they always find ways to produce because they find guys who fit their system. Wisconsin's in an interesting situation. Here's a team that you would think has a ceiling, and I don't know if they'll ever be to a level of what a Michigan or an Ohio State or an a Penn State can be, but they've got a chance to close [this year's class] pretty decently. They're down in Alabama [recruiting] Spencer Region, who's got an [ESPN 150] card. They remain in the mix for the two kids out of Florida, quarterback Jacoby Brissett and [linebacker] Curt Maggitt. They've got a good shot at Region. Wisconsin is a program that's doing well, they went to a Rose Bowl, so they've got a chance here in the next year or two, if they keep winning, to push that ceiling higher. If they can land one of those kids out of Florida and go to Alabama and land a guard, now they've got some small inroads into places that maybe Wisconsin didn't have. So they can push the ceiling.
Iowa has proved it before. You go back to 2005, they landed a big class. They were all over it down the stretch landing guys. Here they are in the hunt for Cyrus Kouandjio. I don't think they're going to get him, but here's a guy who's a top 5 player in the country and they've remained in his top schools throughout.
Those are two programs, I think they do have ceilings. It would be hard for them to ever get to a point where they maybe consistently recruit as well as Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State potentially can, but Iowa has proved before that it can have classes and flashes where it exceeds expectations, and Wisconsin's starting to get to that point. They can put together runs where they can get some of those classes that are top 15, top 20.
What have you seen so far from the Big Ten's other two new coaches, Kevin Wilson at Indiana and Jerry Kill at Minnesota?
CH: The buzz around Wilson's been real good. Indiana is one of those jobs where expectations need to be tempered, but I also think it's a program that shouldn't be nearly as bad as it has been. There's no reason for Indiana to make bowl appearances as frequently as Vanderbilt. So some new energy, a guy who's come in from a big-time program having a lot of success, he's bringing some winning ways. It's just a matter of getting the guys. As we've been looking at the rankings and preparing for signing day, they're a team people are really excited about, because it's a great class for Indiana. But when push comes to shove, right now they're still staring down the barrel of finishing last. What does that say when a class that has people excited can still finish 12th? I don't know what the fix is, but they've got to get to a point where they've got to start beating Purdue for guys and start beating Illinois for guys and make the small steps uphill. Of all the Big Ten teams, he's got the biggest challenge.
You go to Minnesota, they didn't win, but [Tim] Brewster didn't recruit badly. Jerry Kill's coming into a situation where he's very familiar with the Midwest and won at a school [Northern Illinois] where it's a little tougher to win. He's heading into a situation that's a little more favorable than the situation at Indiana. There's slightly more momentum there on the recruiting trail. Plus, they've got a new stadium to sell. Minnesota under Brewster was very active in Texas and those types of places. I would expect Jerry Kill to have a little bit more success, at least in the initial going, than Wilson would at Indiana.
Of those bottom-rated four -- Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Northwestern -- which program is the closest to boosting its profile in recruiting?
CH: Right now, Northwestern is the one doing the best. I would put them at the top right now, but there's no reason any of those other three can't get there. The energy that Pat Fitzgerald is bringing, they're in the best position of those four schools to start to move more in the middle of the pack than the bottom of the pack.