This is not a surprise to any of us. We knew Kiffin could recruit when he was at USC his first time around. And we saw what he did at UT with two months to work with and we saw what he did over the past three weeks...
With just two months to salvage a mediocre class at Tennessee last winter, Kiffin and recruiting consiglieri Ed Orgeron dramatically improved the Vols' final haul, stealing coveted prospects Janzen Jackson and Nu'Keese Richardson from rivals LSU and Florida, respectively, at the the last second, then sealing the deal with the nation's best player, longtime Miami commit Bryce Brown, a few weeks later. This year, with even less time to cobble together a USC-worthy class in their new digs, Team Kiffin quickly secured a pair of five-star wafflers, Kyle Prater and Dillon Baxter, from Pete Carroll's crop of commitments, added four-star target Demetrius Wright down the stretch and closed with a resounding bang today, locking up cross-country signatures from five-star Georgia receiver Markeith Ambles, hotly-sought Florida cornerback Nickell Robey and the gem of the day, towering, top-ranked Minnesota offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson. No one was pegging any member of that trio for L.A. before Kiffin and Orgeron burst onto the scene.
In a single 12-hour gambit, the Trojans' 2010 crop went from an undersized, on-the-brink group hovering around the bottom of the gurus' top-10 lists -- a mediocre effort by USC standards, to say the least -- to one of the few truly elite classes in the nation, a Carroll-worthy haul that easily landed at No. 2* in Rivals' final national rankings. It might have threatened to come in at No. 1 if they'd landed UCLA-bound targets Dietrich Riley and Josh Shirley in the afternoon, but by any standard, Kiffin and Orgeron left no doubt that the USC recruiting beat lives on for the foreseeable future.
(*USC was named #1 in Rivals rankings after this was written)
Doc goes onto to say that Urban Meyer is still the king but the two situations are totally different. Meyer has been at UF for 4-5 years now having firmly planted roots and up until this past year a staff that was pretty much intact. Kiffin was only at UT for a year after being away from the college ranks since early 2007. There is also still the question whether or not Meyer will actually coach next season with all of his "supposed" health issues. If it was all a game to curry attention then that says more about Meyer than anything Kiffin may have done says about him.
As I noted on signing day, keep in mind that Kiffin did this all without a full staff in place and with everyone trying to poach this class with negative recruiting angles from possible NCAA sanctions coming down to Kiffin not being here at USC long enough for a second cup of coffee. The constant negative stories in the press leading up to, during and even after signing day have showed a constant barrage by influential members of the media to try and influence players and families to be wary of Kiffin.
Of course the most hilarious part of the day was Slick Rick claiming he got the better end of the deal and that ucla was close to passing USC.
Right. I would be interested to hear more of just how this is so...
Doc actually addresses this as well. (emphasis added)
At UCLA, maybe more than anywhere else over the last decade, all success is relative. For example: Rick Neuheisel's second full recruiting haul Wednesday was the Bruins' best in ages, a top-10 class in the estimation of every major service. The recruits include a dozen touted locals and the first five-star signee of Neuheisel's tenure, Oregon defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who also delivered signing day's most impressive Oscar speech before putting on a Bruins cap. UCLA snapped up late signatures from USC targets Dietrich Riley and Josh Shirley in the afternoon, which they added to the standing commitments from SoCal natives Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh, Malcolm Jones and Jordon James, all whom ranked among Rivals' top 200 overall prospects nationally. Except for the glaring absence of a quarterback following one-time commit Brett Nottingham's late defection to Stanford, the group as a whole might have been greeted as a breakthrough on the trail after a pair of good-not-great efforts in Neuheisel's first classes in 2008-09.
But by the other crucial measure in L.A., proximity to USC, even a step forward in any other context isn't necessarily getting the Bruins any closer to the Trojans' ballpark in terms of sheer talent on hand:
The first thing those numbers should show -- and expect the preseason polls to reflect this, to an extent -- is that the Bruins have no more excuses for feeling satisfied with 6-6 seasons that end with a close game against a MAC also-ran in the EagleBank Bowl.
Our friends across town are notorious for moving the goal posts to protect the fair haired kid. No self-respecting ucla fan has to feel good about this past season with the showing that ucla had. Yes, they had a 7-6 season, but they started off 0-5 in Pac-10 play and literally backed into their bowl game because Army lost to Navy and because Notre Dame took a pass on the bowl season (that says a lot about ND too BTW).
Where either team finished in recruiting is more about pumping your chest out than anything of real substance. Nobody wins in February, it is what you do from September to December and ucla has a monster schedule in 2010 so they have a lot to prove.
There is still a monopoly in LA and USC owns it!
Looking at what Kiffin and staff were able to pull off in just a short amount of time bodes well for the future. Imagine what they can do with a full year in place at USC, right smack in the middle of some of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. He has done it here before and now that he is in charge I see no reason why they won't do it again.