When last we took a look at the SEC recruiting picture, Mark Richt was rolling, Tommy Tuberville was getting rolled, and Sly Croom was having trouble luring young men to Starkville while also reviewing the section of his contract titled "Employee's Rights Upon Severance". Has anything changed? A little, but not enough to make Tubby or Sly any happier. For example:
Nick Saban still doesn't have time for this s%!*. Unless of course "this s%!*" includes convincing almost every highly touted high school football player in the state of Alabama to sign a blood oath of allegiance on his freshly printed houndstooth stationary (it's classy, but understated, just like the Bear would have wanted). The numbers don't lie. While many of these guys may end up pumping gas in Prattville by 2010, Alabama's commitment list is, as of right now, far more impressive in terms of "star power" than Auburn's. Of Rivals' top 20 players in the state of Alabama, 10 have given their verbal pledge to Nick Saban. None have cast their lot with Tommy Tuberville. Only one player in the whole state of Alabama (three star Birmingham defensive end Cameron Henderson) has given his verbal commitment to Auburn. Either Coach Tuberville plans to close with a fury, or he's in the process of getting thrown off of what was, until recently, his own front porch.
Now, we here at Dawg Sports have been accused in the past of unfairly piling on the Shug Jordan School of Tractor Repair and Soceolojical Resurch. Perhaps we are doing it again. But it's looking more and more like Nick Saban has convinced a lot of high school coaches and players in the Yellowhammer State that it's ok to love Alabama football again. That may be bad news for the Tubs. Which is, of course, good news for all right-thinking Dawg fans.
The "Georgia Juggernaut" has slowed. Just two months ago it appeared that the Dawgs might sign the nation's top recruiting class and not have a single scholarship available after Labor Day. But times change. After missing on offensive tackle Tyler Love, Norcross receivers Brice Butler and Devonta Bolton, while also having prior commitments Toby Jackson and Dwayne Allen waffle like line cooks at the Huddle House, things are looking less rosy for the Classic City Canines. It's still an excellent recruiting class top to bottom. And to be fair, Love was an Alabama lock from day one, and Georgia never really went after Bolton as hard as the Crimson Tide (who are getting an outside linebacker with a lot of potential). It is hard to blame Butler for picking USC for a variety of reasons.
But there's no doubt the momentum has slowed considerably as Coach Garner and the rest of the staff zero in on players they want to fill the last few slots available. Most of the players they are actively recruiting now have a lot of options, and those guys sometimes take a little longer to decide. In the end, if we fill our needs and keep a majority of the best players in the state, I'll be satisfied.
Croom and Doom in Starkvegas. With the possible exception of four star defensive tackle Templeton Hardy, Sylvester Croom has lined up 14 young men who most college football fans couldn't pick out of a lineup. I'm assuming that he and Neil Callaway must have each separately learned from Bear Bryant that they should only recruit the slowest, weakest and meekest of high school football players, and that preexisting shoulder injuries were a sign of good character. Neither one apparently realized that the Bear was joking at the time.
In all seriousness, Sylvester Croom is going to have to win some games this year to win back his job security. Only increased job security will allow him to recruit better. Sylvester Croom has thus become the protagonist of a Joseph Heller novel.
Concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that are real and immediate, such as losing one's job as an SEC football coach, is the process of a rational mind.That's why Sly Croom is pictured here trying to remember Mike Holmgren's cellphone number.
The Urban Crier is gaining momentum. Slowly, at least. He's up to five commitments, including two guys from Savannah who Georgia never seriously recruited (perhaps mistakenly). I'm certain that he'll get some of the best in the country to come to Gainesville before all is said and done, but it's been a very underwhelming recruiting season for the jort clad masses. Part of it may be the depth chart lined with freshmen and sophomores starting at key positions. Meyer just doesn't have a whole lot of early playing time to promise right now, and he's still trying to figure out how to get in touch with recruits without text messaging. That transition alone is sure to set him back 3-4 months minimum.
Fulmer's still stuck in neutral. Not a lot has changed up in the hills and hollers since last we looked in on Vol recruiting. While Fulmer is notorious for closing strong, his 2008 class is looking decidedly mediocre. That may change if he can get some of the uncommitted instate players like Chris Jordan and Barrett Jones.
LS-Who?Les Miles is escewing the flashy blue chippers he and his predecessor (some dolt who left to coach the Maiami Dolphins) previously relied on in favor of solid 3 and 4 star players from Louisiana and Texas. LSU's class reminds me of our class from last year, in that it relies on a lot of guys who aren't that highly rated to develop over time. We'll see how it works for him.
I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the national recruiting landscape. Until then,