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McKnight Charts his own Path

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Having not attended college myself, I have never experienced the things that make a rivalry great. Sure, I've attend numerous college football games and had a blast listening to all the trash talk and such but living it everyday is a much different experience. I think its safe to say that the SEC has some of nuttiest fans out there its no secret that they take their college sports seriously but it isn't just what happens on the field but off the field as well like say recruiting.

There have been numerous stories about some of the goings on down there but the one hit home the most is this years story about Joe McKnight. LSU fans seem to think that if a player lives down on the Bayou that they are a lock to go to LSU, obviously nothing could be further from the truth.

From the L.A. Times:

[...]In person, granted, McKnight doesn't necessarily strike you as USC's eighth Heisman Trophy winner.

Plopped down in his high school coach's office, between classes, he is wearing a fire engine-red polo shirt, jeans and tan work boots. He is not particularly tall (6 feet), big (190 pounds) or imposing.

USC's extraction of McKnight out of Louisiana, however, has been equated to a Bayou Brink's Robbery.

J.T. Curtis, football coach at the John Curtis Christian School, and son of the man who founded the private school in 1962, was supposed to deliver the goods to Louisiana State.

"For Joe to go to LSU, I'm the hero, but that wasn't what Joe wanted to do," Curtis barked from behind his desk. "I was not disloyal to my state. I was loyal to my player."

The backlash has been, in the finest Southern football tradition, unkind.

"Some said I didn't have any state pride by not staying home," McKnight said. "Some would say that I'll go out there [to USC] and sit on the bench for three years."

And the ultimate insult: "Some said I was scared to play in the SEC."

Louisiana has not taken this well.

While performing in this year's Mardi Gras parade, the Curtis School's marching band got jeered.

A member of the band came back and informed J.T.: "You're marching in the next one! They want to kill you and Joe."

You gotta love it! I admire their passion but they are absolutely nuts down there. As Peter Bean over at Burnt Orange Nation said here LSU is "Dinged Les Miles Points", as he hasn't performed at the level they have come to expected especially with some of Nick Saban's players. This is the one reason why Pete Carroll has been so successful, his ability to go into places that some wouldn't even consider and pull out top recruits. Joe McKnight is only one example and the fact that the local fans went crazy over his pick of USC shows at least to me that some fan bases act as if they have some form of entitlement and that these sorts of players should never look at anything other than the local school.

McKnight obviously has bigger plans than just football. Sure, like all players he will look to take a shot at the pros but in the end he wants to have other options when his playing career is over and the fact that he wants to go into communications shows that he has a plan. Going to the Annenberg School, which is top notch in its field, coupled with the strength of the USC football program it seems like a no-brainer.

Also, it isn't just Pete Carroll, Todd McNair and Ken Norton, Jr. have been on the front lines in the recruiting wars and don't get the credit they deserve. This isn't like hiring some local high school coach to sway a recruit to come over like Nutt did at Arkansas or Dorrell did with Scott from across town. That works but for only so long, these are guys who find a way build relationships and build the players trust.

USC put former NFL star Ken Norton Jr., a Trojans assistant coach, in charge of Operation Tailback Conquest. "From our very first conversation, we just hit it off," Norton said.

Norton described the chase as "challenging" and "fun."

"From the onset, it was not like I was recruiting him like we were the third-best school recruiting him," Norton said. "From day one, to me, he was a Trojan. I recruited him as if he was a Trojan."

Somebody's bound to pay for this in Baton Rouge.

I'm sure that list is long but LSU may have overplayed its hand in trying got convince McKnight to go to LSU by constantly harping on him about it. McKnight's talent is well known and has been the stuff of legend for years down there I guess they just thought they had it in the bag.