There’s been a lot made over the past few years about how many top recruits are leaving the state of Texas. It’s a big concern, when so many kids are opting out of playing for one of the many home-state teams, but it seems like most of the coaches at major Texas schools are handling the exodus like you’d expect. Patterson, Herman, Rhule, Kingsbury, and Sumlin seem to do what coaches do when they see kids they want going other places:
1) they recruit harder, and maybe employ some different strategies (like assigning assistants to different regions, etc.) or...
2) they dig deeper in-state to find some other guys, and go out of state to fill the rest of their class. For schools in the state of Texas, especially TCU, Texas, and Texas A&M, that means dipping into the talent pool in Louisiana.
It’s pretty simple, when it comes to recruiting. Sometimes you win the kids you want, sometimes you lose good kids to other schools. Gary Patterson always puts it well, though, with his mantra: It’s not the kids you don’t get that hurt you, it’s the ones you get who don’t perform.
But, it seems for the most part like the coaches in Texas handle recruiting in a way that their fanbases can be proud of, a.k.a. like adults trying to get kids to come play a sport for them. Sure, opposing fanbases may hate coaches for winning some recruiting battles, but that’s just the nature of the beast. However, there’s a new level of pettiness in the recruiting arena.
Enter: LSU head coach Ed Orgeron.
Ed’s been the “official” head coach of Louisiana’s premier football school for about six and a half months, and he’s reacting quite poorly to other schools coming into Louisiana to recruit some of the The Boot’s wealth of talent.
As you’ll remember, TCU landed the best QB from the state, and LSU’s No. 1 QB target for the class of 2018, Justin Rogers, back on May 31st. Beyond Rogers, TCU has two more commits from the 2018 class that hail from Louisiana, with the potential for five or six more on the way. Plus, TCU already has a commit from a 2020 Louisiana wide receiver, Jacobi Bellazin, who could very well be the best wide receiver in the state for his class.
Meanwhile, Texas, while they don’t have many offers out to Louisiana kids at the moment, has been trying to co-host several camps in the state as Tom Herman works to gain a foothold and, you know, generally bring Texas “back.” It’s a strategy that’s gaining popularity across the country. Out-of-state schools, in an attempt to create a stronger recruiting pipeline, co-host camps with smaller in-state schools to get a look at some of that state’s talent.
But Orgeron, or, “Paranoid Ed” as Hal Mumme recently called him, used LSU’s clout to shut down the most recent Texas attempt to camp in the state. He’s surely not the only coach who doesn’t like the idea of satellite camps, but it doesn’t appear as if other coaches are blocking camps. They’re just hosting their own.
Orgeron also blocked a recent transfer attempt by OL Willie Allen, who had wanted to transfer out of the SEC to TCU. It’s incredibly rare for a kid to have a transfer blocked to a school that a) isn’t in his first school’s conference or b) on a future schedule for his first team. Alas, whether it be bitterness, or fear, or some other too-much-gumbo-triggered emotion, Ed decided that a kid who wanted to leave for Fort Worth could not do so. Allen has yet to decide on another school.
It’s odd, really. You’d think that the head coach at LSU wouldn’t be afraid of out-of-state schools coming into Louisiana to try and recruit. You’d think that the head coach at LSU would trust that the program was in good enough shape, simply by way of being “it” in Louisiana, that they’d be able to convince pretty much every top in-state recruit to play for the Tigers.
And if LSU’s grip on the state started to slip, maybe employing the “recruit harder” strategy would help tighten things back up. Of course, Ed is a part of a new staff at LSU, and there’s always a small, but expected, blip in recruiting when that happens, even at a longtime powerhouse like LSU. But, it’s pretty typical for a school of LSU’s ilk to recover quickly and hit the ground running, locking down big recruits close to home and securing a strong class. And sure enough, LSU currently has the No. 3 recruiting class for 2018, according to 247 Sports.
In spite of this, though, Ed seems intent on pressuring other schools in the state to stop hosting camps with out of state schools. It’s a petty move. He wants a wall around Louisiana, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be built.
Here’s the funny thing, though, as told by Gil Lebreton of the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
The irony is that as Mumme and Herman were being chased out of Louisiana this week and as LSU was denying Allen’s appeal, the TCU football staff was in Baton Rouge on Wednesday, working at a camp hosted by Southern University. Several Louisiana schools – Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech and Nicholls State, among them – joined the Frogs coaches at the camp.
Border patrol apparently wasn’t asked to storm in and shut down the Jaguars camp. And TCU coaches returned safely.
I’m betting they will be back.
As concerned as Ed seems to be with out of state teams, he seems to be most focused on the wrong one. Texas, as I said above, has only a few offers out to Louisiana kids, three, to be exact. TCU, meanwhile, has that many Louisiana kids committed to the 2018 class already, with offers out to 16 more (including several current LSU commits).
Maybe Ed thinks Texas is back. Maybe Ed thinks TCU could be a perennial recruiting threat. Either way, TCU is going to keep recruiting Louisiana with success, it seems. And, much to Ed’s dismay, Texas may not be far behind.