We enter the final week of recruiting for the 2014 season and many schools in the league look poised to replace the talent lost to the NFL. Recruiting, however, is a year-round business now and this is why so many coaching staves are stretched thin with just nine assistant coaches.
The AFCA discussed adding a 10th coach in the future at its convention and personally I like the idea. I am not sure it solves the year-round recruiting issue, but it does help improve special-teams play at many schools. The 10th coach can be a full-time coordinator of special teams and maybe assist with the offensive line or a position with numbers. Right now many coaches have the title of special-teams coach but they coach another important position full time.
I also think adding recruiting staves for all the big-five conference schools would also make things much smoother. It starts with a recruiting coordinator and works its way down to player-personnel employees. College football is a big business and schools need to operate it more like the NFL with regard to staffing and job descriptions.
The latest look at 247Sports recruiting rankings has Alabama No. 1, Texas A&M No. 3 and LSU No. 4. There are seven SEC programs in the top 10 and thirteen in the top 40. The only school on the outside looking in is Vanderbilt who hopes to close strong with Derek Mason after his class was raided by outgoing coach James Franklin to Penn State.
The biggest surprise has been Butch Jones at Tennessee. He has his school at No. 6 in the rankings and despite a 5-7 season, he has been able to maintain the recruiting momentum he generated when he first stepped on campus.
Finally one of the reasons I believe Alabama and Texas A&M are where they are in the rankings is due to the impressive number of lineman in their class. The SEC is still the best lines of scrimmage league and Bama has nine offensive linemen committed and 10 are locked in for the Aggies.
I mentioned a few weeks back that quarterback competitions would be vital in the SEC this spring. I believe that great quarterback play results in effective third-down offense and efficient red-zone production. The five teams that finished with double-digit wins (LSU, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and Missouri) all finished in the top seven in the league in third-down efficiency.
Of these schools only Auburn returns its starting quarterback. Missouri and South Carolina return Maty Mauk and Dylan Thompson, respectively, who both had a quarterback rating of 140 or higher. The highest rated quarterback in the league on third down was Zach Mettenberger and yes the Tigers were the best third-down team in the league.
The top five teams also rank in the top seven in the league in red-zone touchdown percentage conversions. The Aggies at 72.6 percent with Johnny Manziel led the way as you would expect, but looking at the No. 2 team you find Auburn. The Tigers were at 72.13 percent just behind the Aggies and do return Nick Marshall. I realize the Tigers finished a lot of drives with the powerful run game, but Marshall had a quarterback rating of nearly 164 and threw five touchdowns and zero interceptions on 23 throws inside the red area.
AJ McCarron was the highest rated red-zone passer with an astronomical rating of over 225 with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
This and That
- With Jacob Coker going to Alabama it made me think of the most successful SEC transfer, or at least one of recent memory. I would say it was Ryan Mallet, who left Michigan to play for Bobby Pertrino and Arkansas. He only threw nine interceptions in two seasons with 62 touchdowns and nearly 7,500 yards. The biggest thing he did was make the Razorbacks relevant, and with 18 wins in two years they were considered a serious challenger to Alabama and LSU out West.
- The Super Bowl is Sunday and it’s a great match up of great offense versus great defense. I am going with the defense and the Seattle Seahawks. Weather should play a factor, but keep an eye on Earl Thomas the safety for Seattle. He may have a big game.
- Finally, Northwestern players led by Kain Colter are attempting to unionize college football players as employees. If successful this could be the end of the NCAA as we know it. But whether it happens should not deter from what needs to be done; update the NCAA rules and legislations and give the student athletes what they deserve. If a medical student can cost of full tuition then a student athlete should be able to receive the same benefit. It is not about getting paid, it’s about what is fair and equitable.