With camps and recruiting gearing up for the summer, in this opinion series, we look at how USC recruits against UCLA in football, why it is effective, and what UCLA can do about it.
In spite of a new and mostly unproven coaching staff, the loss of recruiting legend Ed Orgeron, and a couple of uninspired seasons of football, USC was still able to land some of the best recruits in southern California on signing day. Almost all of them had UCLA as their other finalist.
And now many UCLA fan sites (but not us) are already preparing their fans for a repeat in the 2015 class. The fan sites are afraid that right up to signing day, recruits like Rasheem Green, Iman Marshall and others will continue to list USC and UCLA as neck-and-neck, only to spurn UCLA and sign with USC on national signing day.
How does USC continue to recruit so well?
First, the families of recruits who live in California remember the glory days of Pete Carroll’s USC. They remember the dominance, the flashiness, the cockiness, and of course the Heismans and championships. The recruits have been hearing about it from their dads, uncles, brothers, coaches and every other adult around them all through their youth as they were growing up. In some of these families, USC has achieved almost mythical status. Many a recruit has heard his father say that he would love to have his son play for USC, and that is a powerful statement to a 16 year old.
Of course, many of these people know nothing of the USC of today. They live in the past. They don’t follow USC closely enough to know that Carroll, Orgeron, Bush, and the rest are ancient history over on Figueroa. They blindly buy into Sark’s “USC has returned to glory” mantra.
Second, USC has built-in academic advantages. The Trojans can, and do admit recruits that sit on the lowest NCAA qualification scale. UCLA, on the other hand, has higher standards. The UCLA administration belief is that enrolling a student who will have difficulty graduating, is not fair to the student-athlete. Other schools like Stanford share the same ideals (interestingly, CAL, a UC school, appears to have the same low standards as USC). This higher standard cost UCLA as least two if not more elite recruits in the last recruiting period.
Third, USC has always understood that recruiting is the name of the game in winning in college football. There is a reason that ace recruiter Ed Orgeron was one of the highest paid assistant coaches in America in spite of only being a defensive line coach at USC. There is a reason that after being hired at USC, Sarkesien made hiring young recruiting stud Tosh Lupoi a priority. Before being hired, he ran into a little recruiting violation trouble so Sark had to drop his hiring. However, that didn’t bother Lane Kiffin who learned a few recruiting tricks at USC. Kiffin is now at Alabama and brought Lupoi with him there. See the connection? Big time programs bring in big time recruiters.
What makes these Trojan recruiters so effective?
In How To Out-Recruit USC Part II, we delve into how USC recruits against UCLA and how the Bruins can turn it around.