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The Zooker Takes on the "So-Called Recruiting Gurus"

Looks like Blankman and I were simultaneously posting the same story... Be sure to read his take as a former contributor to Scout.

Illinois coach Ron Zook doesn't like the new "Saban Rule" that places restrictions on what head coaches can do during the spring evaluation period currently underway. He's not alone... Saban (no duh!) and Pete Carroll also aren't happy about it either.

But Zook didn't stop there in his interview with the Arlington Heights' Daily Herald, telling Lindsey Willhite that some coaches are secretly using recruiting services (such as Rivals & Scout) as an intermediary to communicate with recruits. The recruiting services can communicate with recruits outside the NCAA's control...and with some schools giving some of these services extra access to the program, that leaves a hole in the system to be exploited.

"We're turning the recruiting over to the so-called recruiting gurus," Zook said. "Now, all of a sudden, just like you've got basketball coaches complaining that it's turning over to the AAU coaches, now we're turning it over to these guys that can call them.

"Well, you know what a lot of them are saying. They're selling their school to these kids, and we're not able to talk to them. To me, we're losing this thing, in my opinion."

Why would Zook call them "so-called" gurus? Well, in Terry Bowden's online column this week on Bo Pelini, he compared 2007 Nebraska with the rest of the Top 10 (PDF) (and boy, was it ever ugly except for Nebraska's passing numbers.) But at the same time, he pulled out the Top 10's recruiting rankings for 2003 to 2007 from Rivals, which should have ranked nearly every player in each program.

What did he find? Well...some of last season's best teams had highly ranked recruiting classes...and some didn't.

  1. LSU (1, 2, 22, 7, 4; average 7)
  1. Georgia (6, 6, 10, 4, 9; average 7)
  1. USC (3, 1, 1, 1, 2; average 1.5)

Wow, sounds like these recruiting services are rock solid!

  1. Missouri (28, 29, 39, 47, 33; average 36)

Whoa! Well, Missouri was a bit of a surprise.

  1. Ohio State (41, 9, 12, 12, 15; average 18)

A little closer. Not bad, though.

  1. West Virginia (46, 47, 31, 52, 23; average 40)
  1. Kansas (39, 51, 48, 38, 50; average 45)

Ummm... Something doesn't look right.

  1. Oklahoma (4, 8, 3, 9, 14; average 8)

Nailed that!

  1. Virginia Tech (27, 41, 14, 32, 29; average 28)
  1. Boston College (24, 24, 49, 37, 46; average 36)


Nebraska (42, 27, 5, 20, 13; average 21)

Hmmmm... So four teams in the top ten (LSU, Georgia, USC, Oklahoma) had great recruiting. Of course...they've been top programs in recent years.

A couple of teams (Ohio State, Nebraska) had good recruiting. One team made it to the National Championship game. The other had a season to forget.

Virginia Tech didn't show any signs of being a top ten program in their recruiting, but still made it into the top 10. Boston College and Missouri rode rather ordinary recruiting rankings into the top 10. And West Virginia and Kansas won BCS bowl games with the worst ranked recruiting classes of the bunch.

In other words...sometimes the recruiting rankings get it right...sometimes they don't. And at least in 2007, they got it wrong a lot more than they got it right, it seemed. And that's why they are merely "so-called" gurus.