Spring practice has ended and depth charts are being finalized, as programs go into the summer off season. The position battles in the fall will be key to the immediate success of programs but as we all know college football at times can be a war of attrition as; “he with the best depth can survive key injuries which occur at key times”. This idea of quality depth speaks to recruiting and the ability of coaching staffs to recruit. With the shifting of programs into new conferences the issue of recruiting is the hidden piece to each program that has jumped conferences, which will ultimately determine whether a programs will be able to consistently compete.
Nebraska’s move to the Big-10 was thought to immediately have a negative impact on recruiting.
The long held belief has been that the Huskers have made a living on recruiting and snatching skill position talent from Texas, so with the move to the Big 10 the assumption would be that Huskers recruiting efforts in Texas would take a significant hit. If you count the number of players from the state of Texas on the roster that are not from this current recruiting class there are 18 players, divide that by four (counting redshirts years), and you will find Nebraska signs an average of four athletes from Texas per class. This year the Huskers signed five athletes from the Lone Star State including two national recruits. So the perceived difficulty of recruiting in Texas now that Nebraska is in the Big-10 may have been greatly exaggerated. The move to the Big-10 may affect recruiting in Texas ultimately but it has not immediately.
The state have Texas supplied talent to Nebraska in this recruiting class but Colorado on the other hand was not able to sign any recruits from the State of Texas in this year’s recruiting class, but before we start looking at this as an indictment of the move to the Pac-12, Colorado has a total of four athletes from Texas on its current roster. The fact that Colorado has been bad within the Big-12 has been more of a deterrent to signing Texas recruits than the prospect of going home to play has been a help in recruiting. It has been more difficult, over the years, to find a recruit from Texas wandering the Boulder campus than it has been to find a conservative in Boulder. Colorado’s focus over the years, when it comes to recruiting has never been Texas, it has been mostly Southern California, which with the move to the PAC-12 will only benefit the Colorado program, if one harkens back to the late eighties and early nineties; the Buffs would swoop into southern California and pluck recruits from PAC-10 schools, and had some success in that decade including a National Championship.
Utah’s move to the Pac-12 will and has been great for recruiting efforts. Utah was able to get a better caliber of athlete, which is to be expected when you go from playing a schedule of New Mexico, Colorado State, and UNLV and the possibility of playing in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl to USC, Oregon and UCLA and a possible trip to the Rose Bowl. Utah however though many have picked Utah to do damage in the Pac-12 count me as someone who believes that it will be at least four years before Utah goes to a Rose Bowl.
Boise St flirted with having their highest ranked recruiting class but wound up with a class ranked in the 60’s (according to Scout.com). Now if you are wondering where Boise St.’s recruiting classes usually rank, the blueturfers usually have recruiting classes ranked in the 60’s , so the move to the Mountain West did not affect recruiting significantly.
The movement of programs into new conferences, initially have not hampered recruiting efforts for this year, however that is a sample size of one year. The challenge for those four programs is to continue to improve their programs by recruiting athletes which will help them to compete within their new conferences.