Post-Signing Day Mailbag (cont.)
Can you please explain the difference between [Steve] Spurrier's and Kiffin's accusations? Didn't Spurrier specifically mention Kiffin's name in an accusation about illegal contact of a recruit? Where's the balance in reporting Mr. Ethical Journalist? Why not write a column about how Slive criticized Kiffin, but did nothing for the previously mentioned situation?
It would be my pleasure to explain the difference, but Ted won't like the answer. Ted refers to this Dec. 2 story from The (Columbia, S.C.) State in which South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wondered aloud to excellent beat writer Joe Person whether Kiffin took the NCAA-required recruiting rules test before he called Tampa, Fla., tailback Jarvis Giles, who had committed to the Gamecocks after decommitting from the Vols following Phillip Fulmer's firing.
What we have here are issues of semantics and scale. Spurrier didn't directly accuse Kiffin of cheating. Sixteen seasons as an SEC head coach can make a man wily like that. Spurrier asked whether Kiffin had taken the test. Spurrier implied wrongdoing, but he didn't use the word "cheat" -- which Kiffin did. As we learned during Kiffin's introductory press conference, he did take the test before he accepted the job and before he called Giles. My guess is that SEC commissioner Mike Slive took umbrage at one of his coaches blatantly labeling another a cheater, especially considering Kiffin accused Meyer of breaking a non-existent rule. Spurrier's innuendo probably merited a call from the SEC office as well, but it wasn't a direct accusation, and it wasn't captured on video and streamed to the nation on the Web. The public embarrassment the conference received from the incident probably ticked off Slive more than anything else.
So let that be a lesson to Kiffin. The next time he accuses someone of cheating, he needs to have a sense of humor about it, and he needs to make sure there are no cameras present.
Are "we" (and by that I mean you) paying attention to UCLA's recruiting haul? It was a good class that became spectacular today with four four-stars (including another USC defection).
We noticed, Tony. As I wrote on Signing Day when Provo, Utah, offensive tackle Xavier Su'a Filo chose the Bruins over the Trojans, Rick Neuheisel and his staff are doing an excellent job recruiting players to Westwood. Grabbing receiver Randall Carroll -- another former USC commitment -- was excellent as well.
If you studied the California maps in our State of Recruiting project, you know there is no excuse for UCLA to be a mediocre program. Southern California has enough talent to support two elite programs. Neuheisel seems determined to correct that imbalance. It should be fun to see what offensive coordinator Norm Chow does with all his new toys in the next few years.
Every year it seems Florida State lands a top 15 recruiting class. Why do you think these rankings haven't been a reality on the field for the Seminoles?
Because recruiting rankings are utterly meaningless devices created solely to provoke debate and Internet traffic among fans who are starved for college football news in the dead of winter. How else do you explain the fact that Virginia Tech's classes never get ranked in the top 10, yet the Hokies win 10 games every year? Frank Beamer obviously can coach, but he also recruits some awfully talented players.
Florida State is a nationally "sexy" program because the Seminoles had an incredible 14-year run of top five finishes. Though FSU hasn't performed that well on the field in almost a decade, it's tough for recruiting gurus to rid themselves of the notion that any player recruited by FSU must be an elite player. Notre Dame and Miami classes have suffered from the same misconception this decade. I don't think this is done consciously, but it does affect the rankings.
Also, some classes are ranked highly based on the signings of players who either never arrive on campus or who flame out early. FSU's 2005 class was ranked No. 2 in the nation by Rivals.com. A big reason was the signing of defensive tackle Callahan Bright, the nation's No. 14 overall prospect. Bright never qualified and was last spotted at Shaw, a Division II school in North Carolina. The other star of the class was receiver Fred Rouse, who was dismissed after his freshman season.
That's why it's completely unreliable to rank recruiting classes before the two- or three-year mark. Looking back now at FSU's 2005 class, it was solid but not spectacular. The two best players were defensive end Everette Brown and kicker Graham Gano. Looking at some of the other classes, USC (LB Brian Cushing, LB Rey Maualuga, QB Mark Sanchez, WR Patrick Turner) seems an excellent choice at No. 1, while Texas (RB Jamaal Charles, WR Quan Cosby, QB Colt McCoy, DT Roy Miller, DE Henry Melton, LB Roddrick Muckelroy) seems laughably low at No. 20. The moral of the story is that you never know until the players get on campus.
What exactly does an athlete receive for being a "preferred walk-on?"
It means he is offered a chance to make the team without having to attend a cattle-call tryout. He either is placed on the roster without a tryout, or he goes to a small, invite-only tryout where, basically, the coaches are only looking for reasons why they shouldn't put him on the team. He won't get to eat at the training table or enjoy some of the other perks of being a scholarship player, but if he proves he can play at the program's level, he can earn a scholarship down the road.
I'm writing to point out that today's Rivals.com college football "recruiting national championship" awarded today to Alabama may be based on fuzzy math. Rivals.com uses a formula that has Alabama with a total of 2,786 points, enough for No. 1 on its list. The problem, however, is that review of the formula and the factors plugged into it reveals that Alabama should have only received 2,746 points -- 40 points less than it is credited for by Rivals. The rub is that this inexplicable jump allows Alabama to overtake LSU, which has a rightful 2,762 points.
What a coincidence! The BCS national champion usually gets determined using fuzzy math. But seriously, please re-read the first sentence of my response to Joaquin's question -- and thanks for the spreadsheet.