Sanctions may help UF take on USC

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The recruiting rivalry between Florida and USC was supposed to only intensify with former Tennessee coach — and Urban Meyer agitator — Lane Kiffin taking over in Southern California. Not only was Florida beginning to tap directly into USC’s backyard, but the Kiffin-Meyer saga figured to add even more spice.

But could one of the most exciting annual recruiting storylines fade after the NCAA slammed its hammer down on USC in June? The Trojans were slapped with a two-year postseason ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over the next three years.

The chore for Kiffin and his coaches will be to sell recruits on a program that no longer has a Hollywood-type head coach in Pete Carroll (now with the Seattle Seahawks), won’t compete for a bowl in the next two years no matter what its records are and won’t be able to put together major, blockbuster classes with fewer scholarships.

So far, USC has only felt the damage with two transfers and the wavering of top 2010 signee Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, Minn., Cretin-Durham Hall). As for the 2011 class, USC has remained relatively unscathed and even landed a commitment over the weekend from Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson linebacker Kent Turene, who appeared to be favoring Florida earlier this summer.

“The sanctions might have an effect on some players, but not many, and the first sign that it’s not going to be a major headache is that no players have decommitted, yet,” Rivals.com West Coast Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney said.

“Other coaches haven’t had enough time to get their hooks in players and hype up the sanctions, but there really isn’t a lot of meat to them for 2011 prospects since they’ll only miss one bowl season.

“That no prospects have decommitted speaks to the power of the USC brand and to coach Lane Kiffin and his staff aggressively pursuing top prospects and convincing those already in the class not to stray. It’s a long way to National Signing Day but I don’t expect a mass exodus like maybe some would hope for.”

The Trojans have gotten 11 verbals this year and Gorney said he hasn’t noticed any sort of panic in recruits when talking about USC and the NCAA sanctions. To him, USC is still selling one of the most exciting brand names in college football.

But what of Florida’s recent Cali success? The Gators signed two top California — and national — prospects in defensive end Ronald Powell (arguably the top recruit in the country) and cornerback Joshua Shaw. Both came out of USC’s backyard and both were top guys on the Trojans’ board. Because of Meyer’s well-documented feud with Kiffin, one would have to expect a bit of mudslinging from the Gators’ side with USC recruits, but the Gators can selling winning, bowls and championships over anything else.

“One thing is for sure: USC has been hit by sanctions. Florida has not,” Gorney said. “At the very least, maybe that gives the Gators the slightest of edges with some kids who’d be open to traveling that far.

“More than the sanctions, what can help the Gators is if they are in the national title hunt again this season. That way as National Signing Day nears the coaching staff can sell the idea of playing on the biggest stage for four years instead of three. Winning will have more of an influence than the sanctions.”

Florida won’t be the only team looking to somehow capitalize on USC’s situation, and no matter what USC says, recruiting will be more difficult for the Trojans in these next couple of years. Still, Gorney believes USC will still have the edge in getting the top prospects it wants.

“There’s no way Kiffin and his staff will back down in any way, that hasn’t been their style and it won’t be in the future,” he said. “USC football is a special entity out here, there’s playing for USC and everyone else. Basically, it’s a surprise or there’s a special connection for a major player in southern California to leave and not play for USC if he’s offered.

“Florida will definitely have its chances with guys but the staff will target only a few and not try to go head-to-head with USC. It’s just too difficult to compete when USC is here every day.”

18 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like the guy speaking about USC is all gaga over all things Trojan. Ask the question in a year or two and see what he says USC’s brand is after those scholarship reductions are biting.

    I hate homerism.

  2. USC is a legend in college football, and kids growing up in Cali want to play there, but as the father of two boys, there is NO WAY in hell I would ever let them play for Lane Kiffin if they were to develop into blue-chip prospects.
    That said, they will get their’s and we will get ours. Urban>Lane everyday of the week and twice on Sundays.

  3. I don’t think the USC recruits realize that the football team will not be playing for the PAC 10 title after the bowl band because of the scholarship loses. It took Miami years to recover and they still haven’t gotten back to top form after they had scholarship loses. So what they’re signing up for is 2 yrs of bowl bands followed by 2-3 yrs of mediocre bowls. And the longer they stay out of the lime light the worst their recruiting is going to get. Kiffin really got his dream job at the wrong time. I wonder if they’ll give him more time based on the handicap he’s starting with?

  4. Lane Kiffin is going to have a tough time winning at USC. Too bad he had to cause all that bad blood between UF and Tenn…
    He seems to be a good recruiter and a fair coach and didn’t have to start slinging all that mud. Those who sling mud are usually covered themselves in goo.

    I feel bad for USC juniors and seniors who had no role in the penalty causing behaviors but I have to admit I kind of like seeng Lane squirm. What goes around, comes around…right.

  5. Recruits and current players are probably being encouraged to wait as long as possible while USC gets a handle on the appeal process. In the meantime, they claim the sanctions are far beyond precendent; therefore, the penalties will be reduced. If the athlete is that interested in playing at USC, it won’t hurt them to wait to see if the NCAA adjusts its attitude toward the level of punishment. If Charlie Strong had taken over at USC instead of Kiffin, the views here would be very different.

  6. Reggie Bush, Barry Bonds, OJ Simpson, Tiger Woods, I could go on, these are also legendary Californians. Haven’t seen much coming out of California lately I’d want in my state.

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  7. Lane is getting what he deserved. Karma is sure a big B. Lane and Ed Orgeron are great recruiters but they are slimy in my opinion. By the time the sanctions are over, Monte will seriously start considering retirement.
    Don’t be messing with the Urban Legend.

  8. Since the Gators were reportedly #2 on Sentrell Henderson’s list to USC, and now he’s released, would he not have Florida at the top of his list? When did the Hurricanes move to the front on this?

  9. Gorney is a piece of work.
    .
    After watching UF pull two of the very top Cali recruits last year, he has the gall to say nobody gets top Cali kids if USC wants them.
    .
    BTW, Turene will end up at UF unless we fill up at LB with higher ranked guys, in which case he will likely go to UM. USC? Doubt it.

  10. If you want to see what Kiffin is going to accomplish at USC, just see how he left the University of Tennessee…….a big mess for somebody else to clean up. And any player who would want to go there now, with all the revelations…I don’t think I’d be too interested in that guy ending up at UF….probably all about “me”, not Gator material.

  11. All of this hoo-haa about USC recruiting is just that. It’s going to take them six or seven years, at the earliest, to re-establish that as an elite program.
    You don’t compete with the Floridas of this world without three or four complete recruiting classes.
    The losses will begin to mount. The mediocrity will set in. Someone other than Garrett will hire someone other than Kiffin to try to rebuild the program.

  12. Seantrel Henderson was being chased by Miami, Florida, Ohio State and Minnesota other then USC and now that he has been released does anybody know if Florida even has any scholarships to offer the kid should he coming calling. He was not only the #1 OT but the #1 player overall this past recruiting season.

    I think he’s a Hurricane, that’s what i felt in January and I’ve no reason to change my mind now.

  13. Some are mis-informed about recruiting numbers.

    1. USC rarely uses all its scholarships every year. In fact, they average about 17.
    2. Although USC is losing 5 players, they are gaining 5 scholarships which will go out this summer/spring. Granted, there may not be a lot of options on players who have already signed, but they have already landed 2 for early entrance that will not count against the limit imposed because they’ll count towards last years class. They have at least three to give out now. So through some clever use of numbers USC will minimize the reduced limits.

    3. The article fails to mention how USC has been equally adept at stealing Florida recruits. Mike Williams, Keith Rivers….USC has stolen their fair share as well. This is usually a trade off year in and year out.

  14. Gorney’s comments make it seem like the decision to attend USC for a 2011 recruit is to accept one year without a bowl, then all will be as it has been. The reality, as other posters on this site have stated, is that is exactly when the effects of losing 10 scholly’s per year for 3 years will kick in.
    So it’s no bowl, then no BCS bowl, or at least not the title game, for those 2011 recruits in all likelihood.