Fellow SBN blogger and Big Ten Blogger Founding Father Maize n' Brew Dave can't get enough recruiting ["What's a petter-ass, Walter?" -- ed.], so he posted an impromptu roundtable. Hey, it's better than reading about last night's basketball game, right?
By the way, all videos referenced here are at gohawks.com.
1. As a general question, evaluate your recruiting class. Is it more or less what you expected, were you pleasantly surprised or horribly, horribly disappointed? Were your team's needs adequately addressed or will you be starting a two star running back at center next year?
What most people don't know is I base my evaluation on a special recruiting class checklist:
- Road grader offensive guard from isolated mountain west state - CHECK (Casey McMillan)
- DE/OLB who hits like the bastard son of Matt Roth - CHECK (Steve Bigach; that video is not to be missed, and should be played with Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" turned up to 11 for full effect)
- Kicker who can throw a 20-yard out pattern - CHECK (Trent Mossbrucker)
- Defensive back whose name immediately lends itself to Clubber Lang references - CHECK (DeMarco Paine)
- Defensive lineman who could not be
boughtpersuaded at the last minute by the sweater vests - CHECK (Joe Gaglione)
- Tight end whose entire recruiting video consists of him refusing to give up on a block - CHECK (Jonathan Gimm)
That is six for six. The last class to get six for six? The 1979 BYU Cougars. I think we all know how that ended up, don't we? [No, we don't, you old bastard. -- ed.] They won the national championship in 1984. [Who did they beat, West Point? -- ed.] They beat Michigan in the Holiday Bowl. [Did they even wear facemasks? Was BYU running the Wing T? Was Red Grange playing tailback? -- ed.] Shut up, inner monologue.
2. Who were the big catches in your recruiting class? Name two players matriculating to your school whose existence everyone else in the Big Ten will curse for the next four years.
David Cato, who will eventually be paired with Jordan Bernstine as the next set of guided missiles at safety for Iowa.* Sumbitch will take your head off just for looking at him cross-eyed.
Jeff Brinson, who will eventually convince KOK to institute the Wing T offense. We will run nothing but counters and traps, and we will get 7 yards per carry behind the blocking of McMillan and Gimm. Take your spread option and shove it up your ass, Michigan. We're going old school here.
3. You can't win them all. Maybe some slick talking carpetbagger schmoozed his way into your living room, sold you a set of ginzu knives made out of tin foil, and walked off with your wife and your star recruit. Perhaps an in-state lock who grew up with [Insert University Here] posters on his wall and your coach's face tattooed on his arm decided to go elsewhere for reasons no one seems to understand? Did your recruiting class lose someone big on signing day, who was it, and was your school able to yoink someone else to cover his loss?
We didn't gain or lose on signing day, despite Jim Tressel's best efforts. Earlier this winter, we lost two running backs to Zooker, but that's to be expected; Ferentz preaches the values of hard work and personal development, and Zooker knows how to do magic. Little known fact: High school kids dig magic.
They're called illusions, guy
Of course, we got John Wienke, who was going to Michigan until learning he was allergic to snake oil. We'll be glad to have him; the last time we had a 6'4" statuesque Drew Bledsoe clone behind center, we beat Michigan and Florida. Where have you gone, Nathan Chandler?
We also picked off cornerback Greg Castillo from Villanova at the last minute, thereby fulfilling our "white defensive back" quota for the year. Taking a recruit from Villanova is a little like taking candy from the love child of Robert Gallery and Hellga from American Gladiators; you might have no trouble winning now, but if that baby gets a chance later (basketball season), it's going to beat you like a rented mule.
4. There's been a spirited debate about this whole "Coaches' Code" among the members of the Big Ten coaching fraternity. Do you believe this exists or is it a line being floated by the guys who couldn't keep their recruiting classes together? Bonus points for declaring your coach a poacher or a poachee in creative fashion!
If it existed -- and I think it did, to a certain extent -- it was forgotten back when JoePa could still control his own bowel movements. There's too much money on the line for any kind of "gentlemen's agreement" between the coaches or schools. This is especially true now, with the influx of coaches from other BCS conferences; believe me when I tell you Zooker and RichRod would tell you to take your "gentlemen's agreement" and shove it up your ass. Frankly, that's how it should be. Everyone seems to agree there is probably a better way of governing recruiting practices, but as long as the current rules are in place, coaches should not limit their opportunities in the name of a chivalrous obligation to the conference or its other coaches. Every man for himself, I say.
As for Ferentz, he's neither a poacher or poachee. He's repeatedly said he doesn't actively recruit kids who are verbally committed to another program, but he's happy to take their call if they are having second thoughts (which is precisely what happened with Wienke, though he may have made a slight push with Castillo). It's the civilized way of poaching, unlike sending unsolicited DVD's of your win over aOSU to kids pledged elsewhere like the Zooker, or sending unsolicited DVD's of your tryst with Angela Lansbury like Joe Paterno.
You can't avoid that mental image. Give in.
5. Finally, who's the slickest, smoovest, most Billy Dee Williamsesque recruiter in the Big Ten? Who's the worst, most incompetent, "trip over the flat tire on his Yugo" recruiter in the Big Ten?
The Zooker is the obvious choice for slickest, but I'm going to go with Tressel. While Zook and Rodriguez take all the heat, Sweatervest flies under the radar, holding down Ohio, occasionally raiding the south, bringing in five-star recruit after five-star recruit, and keeping Columbus Cadillac dealerships in the black. While Zook will gladly show you who is in his Five, Tressel doesn't need to publicize how he gets the job done; just the fact that it's done should be enough. If Zook is Rico Suave, Tressel is Julio Iglesias.
As for most inept, it's hard to fault Pat Fitzgerald for not getting top-notch recruits to Northwestern, and I'm willing to give Dantonio a break for his first year in East Lansing. The most incompetent recruiter, then, would have to be the whiner. Joe Tiller never stops complaining, especially about Michigan, and yet refuses to change anything to make himself or his staff more competitive on the recruiting trail. Of course, much like Iowa, Purdue somehow manages to survive on its never-ending string of 2- and 3-star players. Go figure.
* -- For the coaching staff's talk of "Offensive Line University," the highest percentage of Iowa starters to make it to the NFL during the Ferentz era are safeties. Sean Considine and Marcus Paschal are both with the Eagles. Derek Pagel had a cup of coffee in the NFL, as did Matt Bowen. I feel like I'm forgetting someone...
Oh yeah, that guy.