Thursday, January 20, 2011
Ranking the top recruiting coordinators
By Ted Miller
ESPN.com's Ryan McGee ranked the nation's top five recruiting coordinators, and two from the Pac-10 made the cut, including a surprise No. 1.
McGee ranks USC's Ed Orgeron No. 5, but he doesn't only praise the recruiting legend. Writes McGee:
There was a time -- a very long time -- when Orgeron would have been the undisputed number one on this list.
But a trail of issues has followed him from one school to another. Some say that's simply the result of his aggressive personality (example: his current selling point to recruits is that USC will beat their current NCAA bowl ban and scholarship restrictions when they win their pending appeal). Others say he lives life with a "ready, shoot, aim" mentality that is a blatant disrespect of authority.
I'd say the reason Orgeron is a great recruiter is players love him and he is relentless. Those two facts often create the above impression, which is supplied by grumpy rivals who typically just saw their guy commit to Orgeron's team.
Ah, but McGee has high praise for his No. 1 guy: Oregon's Don Pellum. Writes McGee:
The first four coordinators on our list all have one very important advantage in common: they live and work right smack in the middle of football talent pipelines. Not Pellum. An Oregon grad and a former recruiting coordinator for the California Golden Bears, he long ago established footholds up and down the West Coast, helping to build up the Ducks from a longtime also-ran into a national power. Now he routinely stakes claims in far-flung locales to the east. Of the Ducks' 20 early commits, there are two apiece from Florida and Texas and three of those four are listed among the ESPN 150. "It's a long way from Florida to Eugene," says former Ducks coach Mike Bellotti, "But if anyone can sell that move it is Don Pellum. Of course, winning doesn't hurt either."
When I arrived in the Northwest in 1999, Oregon most recruited regionally and in Southern California -- just like very other Pac-10 team. To me, the transformation of the Ducks from just a "good" program to an "elite" program has coincided with their new aggressiveness recruiting nationally.
Ten years ago, going "east" for a recruit meant the Ducks hit Colorado. Just one player on the roster in 2000 -- a team that finished ranked seventh in the country -- was from the East Coast (who wasn't a JC punter): hard-hitting linebacker Wes Mallard, who hailed from Columbus, Ga., and was initially a walk-on.
And, of course, a guy named "Mallard," well, where else could he possibly play football?
This year's roster featured players from 17 states and Canada. And Oregon is extremely active in Texas now, see running back LaMichael James, quarterback Darron Thomas, receiver Josh Huff, running back Lache Seastrunk and running back Dontae Williams, to name a few.
Of course, recruiting nationally has its downside. It can lead to coming in second in a lot of recruiting battles, which is often worse than not making the effort. Wasting time and resources in recruiting can be a killer come signing day. A lot of young men from other regions also enjoy taking trips to "exotic" places but have no intention of playing far from home. More than a few East Coast prospects use USC and UCLA to get their first taste of LA, then sign with SEC schools.
Still, if you want to run with the big dogs, you've got to, er, run with the big dogs.