Latest Team Rankings
Free Rivals Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
January 31, 2012
Not-so-secret to success: Local talent
After all, every hire at every school does. It is as predictable as promises to win championships and, of course, run a clean program.
And there's a reason for it. If you can do the first, it's easy to accomplish the next two.
For Flood, the need is immediate. His ability to save Rutgers promising incoming class - perhaps the best in school history - in time for National Signing Day on Wednesday will be how he is judged short term.
But make no mistake, his long-term success will be based on it, too.
It's been the not-so-secret to success in college football for decades. Coaching legend Howard Schnellenberger provided one of the greatest examples when he used it to turn the University of Miami from a fledging program to a national power in the 1980s.
"It's always best when you get a local kid," said the recently retired coach Schnellenberger. "It's so much better for him to stay. His family, his girlfriend, his high school teammates all become fans and want to go see him play. The attrition rate is not as great and there is a loyalty to your state."
Success, Schnellenberger said, will breed success.
"The idea was if we could keep the very best kids in South Florida at home, we knew we could get it going," Schnellenberger said. "We thought those kids would go back to their high schools that were only 20 or 50 miles away and be our ambassadors to those schools. Those kids would get a feeder system going. And that's actually what happened."
Flood, however, may soon find out that preventing favorite sons from becoming prodigal sons isn't always an easy task.
There are always programs from bordering states and those that recruit nationally trying to lure away star players.
"The teams that do the best job recruiting out of state are major programs in low-talent producing states like Nebraska, Oregon, Oklahoma and Notre Dame," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt says. "These schools are, or have become, nationally recognized programs but do not have the depth of talent in-state to build a solid recruiting base."
While all those programs have been successful, Schnellenberger says those programs also always will be at a disadvantage.
"The best players in the state generally go to [the local] state schools," Schnellenberger says. "Some kid has always heard that you go off to college or thinks you become a bigger star if you go 1,000 miles way. But most want to stay close to home."
Schnellenberger always knew the importance of in-state players. In fact, they were so vital that he declared the three counties surrounding Miami - Dade, Broward and Palm Beach - as the "State of Miami" and focused recruiting there.
It transformed Miami.
"The Miami coaches of previous years always went back to Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to get the best players they could because they had their roots in Pittsburgh," Schnellenberger said.
"I decided there was no reason to fly over the state of Florida, where they were more football players than anywhere but Texas or California."
Programs such as Miami, in highly populated, talent-rich states, have a natural advantage in landing the most heralded in-state recruits. But some excel more than others at bringing in home-grown talent.
Using the past three recruiting classes (2009-2011) as a gauge, Rivals.com looked at the four- and five-star prospects who stayed at home to play for an in-state school (see chart).
Obviously, some states produce more talent than others. As a result, some programs are more reliant on in-state talent than others.
So while in-state programs may do well by percentage (the three FBS schools in Mississippi schools signed 22 four- and five-star in-state prospects, a 73 percent rate), that doesn't necessarily mean they have been as successful as programs that have lower percentages but more prospects (the numerous FBS programs in California signed 70 four- and five-star prospects, a 61.9 percent rate).
Twelve of the 14 BCS national championship teams have been successful recruiting elite in-state talent. Only Oklahoma (2000) and Tennessee (1998) are largely dependent on recruiting beyond their state borders.
Alabama and Auburn have won the past three national championships and have recruited extremely well in-state. In the past three recruiting cycles, those schools have combined to sign 29 of the 33 four- and five-star recruits (88 percent) from the state of Alabama. Tide coach Nick Saban landed 19 of those.
That type of success shouldn't change. Of the 14 four- and five-star prospects in Alabama this cycle, the Tide has commitments from four and Auburn from three.
LSU, which won national championships in '03 and '07 and reached the national championship game this year, may be best at keeping its home-grown talent at home.
LSU signed 24 of the state's 35 four- and five-star prospects I the past three recruiting cycles. That's a healthy 68.5 percent success rate. This time, LSU has commitments from six of the state's 12 four- and five-star recruits.
"On a year-in, year-out basis, LSU does the best job of keeping in-state talent at home," Helmholdt says. "In most cases, when a Louisiana kid gets an LSU offer, the sense is that his recruitment is over."
The same can be said for USC, which signed 31 four- and five-star California prospects from 2009-11 and has commitments from eight this cycle.
"Kids, especially in Southern California, have grown up watching USC have tremendous success and they want to be a part of it," Rivals.com West Coast analyst Adam Gorney says. "Once the Trojans start recruiting the best players in that part of the state, it's almost a guarantee that they will end up there."
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the Arizona schools, which have struggled to sign elite players in their states.
The state of Arizona produced 18 elite prospects from 2009-11, but just seven of those prospects stayed home: four with Arizona State and three with Arizona. Each of the top six in-state players in 2011 left Arizona, and new coaches Todd Graham at Arizona State and Rich Rodriguez at Arizona have acknowledged a need to find a way to keep top in-state players at home.
Graham made good on his promise just this week, landing Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro athlete D.J. Foster, the state's No. 2 recruit.
Greg Schiano built Rutgers into a respectable program, but he never did achieve his goal of the "State of Rutgers" - something he pledged at his introductory press conference 11 years ago.
Rutgers typically has watched the elite prospects go elsewhere. (It signed just five of the state's 22 four- and five-star players in the past three cycles.) The tide appeared to be turning this year, with Schiano seemingly ready to land three of the state's top four players.
Rutgers will find out if it can land the state's No.1 player, five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton, Tuesday night.
Hamilton was generally viewed as a Rutgers lean until Schiano left. Now some feel he's also considering Miami and Florida.
Landing Hamilton would get Flood off to a rousing start. But continually landing players of Hamilton's caliber will eventually determine his fate.