The problem with asking detailed questions is getting detailed answers. Especially when you've gotta put those answers together into an interesting post. So in an effort to bring as much information to everyone as possible, and save me from throwing my computer out the window, I'm going to be as inclusive as possible in the first two questions and abstract for the last three. Why? Because it's my roundtable. That's why.
1. As a general question, evaluate your recruiting class. Is it more or less what you expected, were you pleasantly surprised or horribly, horribly disappointed? Were your team's needs adequately addressed or will you be starting a two star running back at center next year?
In the interest of equal time, I'll try to give everyone a class by class rundown of the Big Ten, based of course on who answered.
Nittany Lion bloggers were generally positive about their recruiting class, but weren't exactly blown away. Part of the issue stems from the fact the Lions didn't have a boatload of scholarships to dole out, with Mike at Black Shoe Diaries putting it at 15-17 scholarships available. Making things a little troubling is the fact Penn State only inked 14 players.
The Nittany Line was fairly pleased with the results of his class but looked a little further down the road. "Avoiding a slip up next year is the key, it’s going to be a large class (almost SEC-ish) with lot of openings in skill positions. At first look, this would be conducive to landing several big-time, premier gamebreakers, however, there is currently a lot of uncertainty surrounding what the future holds for the football program following this season. Personally, I think everything will work out fine, that’s not the case for some of the more vocal, irrational sections of the fan base." Irrational? On the internets? nahhhhh....
Nittany White-Out offered, "with the limited amount of scholarships we could have offered this year, we got what essentially were the basics. Great linebackers and a decent running back in Brandon Beachum will carry Penn State a long way in the following years." Mike over at Black Shoe Diaries was positive, but little more critical "We got a good running back and a good wide receiver which were both big needs for us, but truthfully we needed another of each to really fill our needs. The offensive tackles we signed weren't exactly big names, but then it's hard to evaluate offensive linemen.
The Gopher faithful seem pretty damn excited, donchaknow. Gopher Nation needs a towel. "This class is outstanding and arguably the best class in Minnesota history." However, he's still realistic about things. "Give me the 11 best defensive players in the country and we still move from the worst defense in the history of the NCAA's to a mediocre defense. So nothing would adequately meet our IMMEDIATE needs." Chin up Goldy. That Brewster kid may not be able to coach, but holy shit, anyone who can convince a kid from Florida to play at an outdoor stadium in Minneapolis deservers some credit.
Best response of the Roundtable: "Who gives a shit, let's see what these big, bad, ugly fuckers can do on the field! Some insight -- at this point, I think you can plan on the big green slotting VHT Fred Smith as a true-frosh starter at defensive end."- The Enlightened Spartan.
Somewhat depressingly, Off the Tracks said he "would probably best describe this class as underwhelming and developmental... The other side of the issue tough is that we have probably leveled off as a program. You can't take the next step and compete for championships without better guys."
Boiled Sports wasn't too much happier "The problem is, many of Purdue's recruits are also being recruited by Wyoming, Stephen F. Austin, Temple or no other school." Unfortunately, even after that statement "Purdue did get a couple more talented gets than the last two seasons." I know he meant that as a good thing, but it's still depressing.
Eleven Warriors delivers his response via Escalade, "One of the benefits of having a coach that wears sweater vests every Saturday in the fall is that you don't normally get a lot of surprises out of the guy." Translation, "Ha Ha, mother fuckers."
Considering a coaching transition happened and Coach Rod had only a month or so to really recruit, I'd say that Michigan's recruiting class for 2008 is unbelievably good. With the recent addition of Martavious Odoms, Michigan actually moved up to #5 in the Scout.com rankings. Credit goes out to the old and new coaching staffs as this really was a combined effort to put together such a great class. - Michigan Sports Center
Lake the Posts took a decidedly Irish approach to describing his recruiting class "This is a meat and potatoes class without a lot of sizzle, but we definitely addressed needs anchored by landing 5 offensive lineman."
According to Black Heart Gold Pants, Iowa went 6 for 6 in their recruiting checklist. Their most impressive check off? "Defensive back whose name immediately lends itself to Clubber Lang references - CHECK (DeMarco Paine)"
2. Who were the big catches in your recruiting class? Name two players matriculating to your school whose existence everyone else in the Big Ten will curse for the next four years.
WR Martin Bayless and TE Quentin Williams. Bayless, although somehow only a 2-star recruit, chose NU over Ohio State and Florida.
Eleven Warriors picked out Jake Stoneburner and Etienne Sabino from their top 10 class. "Stoneburner is 6-5/225 and can run. He'll be Pryor or Henton's bread and butter in 2009. Sabino is a 6-3/230 inside backer that plays on a permanent fast-forward. Both kids are academic performers and once processed by the strength and speed programs in Columbus, will no doubt register in the hate corner of opposing fans' minds."
ES is a big fan of Steve Gardiner. Not that he needed it, but apparently he's academically qualified! (3.5 GPA and a 23 ACT to go with his 180 tackles)
BHGP is already picking out casket makers for the soon to be victims of incoming safety David Cato, "who will eventually be paired with Jordan Bernstine as the next set of guided missiles at safety for Iowa."
BS and off the tracks pointed to Ken Plue as the next massive Purdue offensive linemen who can and should actually start next season, he's 6 fucking 8 and 360 plus. That's a boy that's never missed a buffet.
Gopher Nation is picking quarterback recruit MarQueis Gray as their prime catch. Gray was, if I'm correct, Minnesota's first U.S. Army All-American in several years. If he's as good a passer as he's rated and can run, I hate him already.
MSC and I are in agreement on Boubacar Cissoko and Sam McGuffie. Sean's not positive McGuffie will be "able to bring his signature hurdle move to the Big Ten without a big risk of injury, but he already has the `wow' factor." You wait, Sean, he's gonna be hurdling bitches left and right.
3. You can't win them all. Maybe some slick talking carpetbagger schmoozed his way into your living room, sold you a set of ginzu knives made out of tin foil, and walked off with your wife and your star recruit. Perhaps an in-state lock who grew up with [Insert University Here] posters on his wall and your coach's face tattooed on his arm decided to go elsewhere for reasons no one seems to understand? Did your recruiting class lose someone big on signing day, who was it, and was your school able to yoink someone else to cover his loss?
Some schools did well. Others took it where the sun don't shine.
The Happy People:
Michigan - Everyone stuck around. Woo. Perry would've been nice, though I think Sean's taking it a little harder than I am.
Michigan State - "Some might think that MSU wuz screwed when former Spartan All-American Mark Ingram's son selected Saban and Roll Tide... but, naaaah... for MSU these days, we'll always use the weather as an excuse for anything... especially recruiting." - ES
Northwestern - Didn't expect to see the `Cats here did you? But LTP points out they got their big fish in this class and the real question is the QB slot for NEXT season.
Iowa - They managed to keep the sweatervest at bay and poach a Michigan quarterback along the way. The key? Who knows? But apparently Ron Zook knows Magic!
Good, But Could've Been Better
Ohio State - The Wolverines signed 7 Ohio kids, including a pair from Trotwood. Buckeye fans can spin this all they want, but most of the 7 were quality recruits and Ohio kids always play with an extra chip agains the Buckeyes (Howard, Brewer, Sutton, etc.). - Eleven Warriors
The Sore People
Minnesota - Gopher Nation is bitter. He's tired of losing the top two recruits in-state to other people. You'll be able to find him on the Border of Wisconsin erecting a Gaza style fence to keep you poaching bastards out of the state.
Penn State - BRAINS! Damn DickRod! He stole Shaw! A surprising mention of not recruiting now-Colorado RB Darrel Scott.But Mike steals this question when he talks about the loss of WR Deion Walker. "Somehow Charlie Weis hypnotized him by jiggling his fat chins and convinced him to go to Notre Dame."
4. There's been a spirited debate about this whole "Coaches' Code" among the members of the Big Ten coaching fraternity. Do you believe this exists or is it a line being floated by the guys who couldn't keep their recruiting classes together? Bonus points for declaring your coach a poacher or a poachee in creative fashion!
Heh. Heh. "Geez, Dave. Are you trying to bait me into poking the MGoBlog minions again? Things were just getting back to normal around here." You got it Mike. Nothing makes the readership happier than a good `ole fire breathing round `o hate.
To everyone's credit, the majority of responses resisted the urge to call names or insinuate some newly arrived coach from out East was ruining the conference. That being said, three responses particularly stuck out to me. The first was Eleven Warriors succinct statement:
The second was from Lake the Posts who admits he has no dog in this fight, but that,
Personally, I think there's truth in both statements. A "coaches code" basically benefits the biggest, traditionally strongest programs. Recruits to lower tier schools are naturally going to gravitate up as the opportunity arises, even if there is no recruiting contact from the big schools. Good players want to play on the big stage. What happens is the lower rung schools are going to end up empty handed under this code.
Like Sean and BHGP, I think this thing existed years ago, before the telegraph changed our world an' flying machines populated the skies.
Despite my biased opinion, perhaps the best response to the subject came from The Nittany Line
Allow me to second that motion. I'd be remiss if I didn't include his awesome photoshopping.
In fairness, Mike and NWO aren't alone in their position a Code exists and it's being broken on a daily basis. Off the Tracks is with them on this point. Other than Mike's running feud with MGoBlog on the subject, the most salient point made in support was NWO's postion that
Graphic. But to an extent he's right. I just don't agree with him.
I'm with the ES who put it simply "Coaches' Code? What in God's name is this bullshit?"
Rodriguez - MSC, MnB
Dantonio - poacher and a backstabber - ES
Zook - Just about everyone
Tiller - OTT, BS
Brewster - GN
Paterno - NWO & BSD
Ferentz - BHGP
Tressel - 11W (cough... BULLSHIT... cough)
Fitzgerald - LTP
5. Finally, who's the slickest, smoovest, most Billy Dee Williamsesque recruiter in the Big Ten? Who's the worst, most incompetent, "trip over the flat tire on his Yugo" recruiter in the Big Ten?
I've gotta give the honor of best recruiter to Ron Zook over at Illinois. If he's clean, the he could sell a box of condoms to a bunch of nuns. - OTT,
The slickest has to be Jim Tressel... he only way he could possibly elevate his ability to recruit is if he rolled up in an Aston martin. - NWO
While Zook will gladly show you who is in his Five, Tressel doesn't need to publicize how he gets the job done; just the fact that it's done should be enough. If Zook is Rico Suave, Tressel is Julio Iglesias. - BHGP
Tim Brewster by far is the slickest recruiter right now. His team went 1-11 this past season yet he still managed to get 7 4-star recruits and a top 30 class overall. On top of that, who wants to play football for Minnesota with the weather they get up there? - MSC
Another Tim Brewster supporter, a team that had a year like that, with a new OUTDOOR stadium in Minnesota and he lands a top 25 class. Huh? I've heard from my Texas in-laws that Mack Brown boasts Brewster is the single best recruiter he's ever seen (Brewster recruited and landed Vince Young). - LTP
Kirk Ferentz - Hell even Iowa State is doing better than Iowa. - NWO - ouch. ouch. ouch...
Joe Paterno - "The old icon isn't traveling to meet recruits and although he did get his usual batch of hard-nosed linebackers, he didn't get much of anything else. Ole Miss, North Carolina and Southern Miss pulling in better classes than Joe Pa? Say it ain't so." - 11W
Tiller - "Everyone else recently has had either a really good class or a breakthrough season within the past few years except Purdue." - OTT & BS
The most incompetent recruiter, then, would have to be the whiner. Joe Tiller never stops complaining, especially about Michigan, and yet refuses to change anything to make himself or his staff more competitive on the recruiting trail. - BHGP.
Well, that's a wrap. Thanks to everyone for participating. If I was a moron and failed to include someone, let me know and I'll add you in.