Perception is really important in recruiting. Recruits want to see progress.
To that end, I got into an interesting Twitter discussion Wednesday about recruiting in Texas. The Aggies are falling off a bit, and Texas had a big close to its 2016 class. I argued that if Kevin Sumlin could have his pick, he would probably have wanted to save the 10-win seasons of 2012-13 for 2014-15.
The reason for this is that coaches get a big recruiting boost from what I call "new coach smell." Kids love the newness, the excitement, the promises of greatness and playing time. But after a while, that wears off and schools must sustain recruit interest via wins and NFL picks. Sumlin didn't need those 10-win seasons to attract recruits to A&M: he had newness, the SEC and a flailing Texas.
Timing and trajectory matter. The big seasons helped some, sure, but I'd argue maximum recruiting value was not extracted like it would have been if they had come in 2014-15, showing the program was on an upward swing. Instead, the perception is that the fewer Mike Sherman-recruited players in the program, the fewer wins for the Aggies. And to show progress, A&M would have had to ascend to the super elite status of 11 or 12 wins per year, which is basically impossible.
The same thing happened to Brady Hoke at Michigan, as he won 11 games and the Sugar Bowl in Year 1 with a team that was out over its skis, and couldn't keep up the pace in subsequent seasons. Ditto Charlie Weis, who won 19 games at Notre Dame in his first two seasons and just 16 in seasons three through five.
If those sequences were reversed, would Jim Harbaugh and Brian Kelly be in Ann Arbor or South Bend?
Charlie Strong, on the other hand, could show an upward trajectory just by not losing seven games. He could show progress in each of the next two seasons, never win the number of games Kevin Sumlin did in 2012-13, and yet still have a better public perception for Texas than A&M.
I enjoyed reading this profile of Texas safety recruit Brandon Jones.
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