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The Recruiting Wars: UCLA pulls ahead?

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With a snap yet to be taken in the 2007 season some are focusing on how the 2008 rosters may look. I have noted in the past that I am not a fan of rating recruiting classes prior to signing day. So may things can happen and until a recruit actually signs on the dotted line it is hard to tell where they will actually end up. Even then it really is hard to say just how great a recruiting class is until they actually at least one season under its belt. Urban Meyer's 2005 class is a great example.

Obviously the recruiting services have a vested interest in getting as much information out about prospective recruits, its how they pay the bills and those who follow the sport at its most concentrated level pick apart every detail provided within their premium subscriptions. I don't have a problem with it, I have premium subscriptions to some of the services but I take what I read with a big grain of salt in how great a player actually is.

I understand that you have to start somewhere, there has to be a baseline in order to rate an incoming recruiting class and that baseline should be the final tally on signing day. But when we start rating next years class before the current season is underway it gets to be a bit much.

RealFootball365.com has an intriguing article rating USC's 2008 class versus ucla's 2008 class. As expected it looks at quantity vs. quality.

At this point, it's evident that UCLA's victory over USC last season did a lot for Karl Dorrell and the Bruins on the recruiting trail. Right now, everyone from Scout to Rivals to smaller Web sites like NCAA Recruiting Scoop have UCLA in their top five in terms of 2008 team recruiting rankings (we're talking verbal commitments here). In fact, all of the sites seem to have the Bruins coming in at second overall.

Which, of course, is better than UCLA's greatest rival, the USC Trojans . Though USC does find itself in the top 10 in terms of verbal commits for the 2008 class, none of the aforementioned sites has the Trojans in their top five.

Not yet, anyway.

That's right, not yet. The article goes on to argue both teams cases as to where they are and what their respective recruiting boards look like.

But you can't have your milk without the cookies. At this stage of the game there are few things that this article conveniently leaves out. Sure, ucla's win over USC last season probably did have some positive effect in some of those recruits picking ucla over USC but that is only a small part of it. The fact is Karl Dorrell has never been a great recruiter so I am not sure that he is all of a sudden a recruiting guru, but having 20 plus scholarships to hand out makes it a bit easier to recruit talented players. We saw the same effect with Urban Meyer's class this past recruiting cycle. He has some talent on that roster for sure but the sheer numbers in recruits he signed propelled him to the top of the list, depending on what list you read.

But again it's the back story that shows the bigger picture. USC didn't go after every single player that ucla has received a verbal commitment from. Some of the players that ucla has recruited may not have even had SC on their list with the logjam of talent at both the QB or RB position. Others may not have wanted to step up to the challenge of competing for a starting position regardless of who's on the roster like we have seen at SC. There is also Pete Carroll and his legendary strong finish, PC always finds a way to pull more than a few rabbits out of his hat as signing day approaches. Then there is the pink elephant in the room, ucla's Eric Scott. It seems pretty clear, even to our rivals, that Scott's hire was purely to land recruits. His lack of coaching experience at this level and his current legal issues have really put this hire under a microscope as it shows just how desperate Karl Dorrell is in trying to keep up with SC.

While this case has yet to be resolved it was noted elsewhere that ucla was on the phone to their recruits as soon as the Scott story broke to make sure that no one wavered on their verbal commitment. What is hard to tell is what happens if Scott is fired and if Dorrell has another lack luster season and is subsequently let go. I'm not sure that some of these recruits will honor their verbal's. I understand there are a few what ifs here, as that could be said about any recruiting class. But with the amount of turmoil going on across town I find it difficult not to at least acknowledge that there is more to the story. They may look better on paper but its early yet.

There is a long way to go and I will stack my guy up against theirs any day of the week.