OK, for all you critics who believe Bill Lynch and his staff spend too much time on three-star guys and not enough time on superstars, here are a few thoughts.
Tom Lemming, one of the most respected recruiting analysts in the country, has come out with his list of the top 100 studs for the Class of 2011. These are the best of the best, the guys Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, Penn State and Florida will go after.
Now imagine you’ve just been named Indiana’s head football coach. You’ve got the pressure to become a perennial bowl participant, and the No. 1 priority is getting and developing talent. Do you go after these players, knowing the competition you’re facing, or do you go after players you have a better chance to land?
It would help if some of these players were from the state of Indiana. A lot of guys want to stay close to home. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, no one in Lemming’s top-100 is from Indiana, although you’ve got some from Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.
Is that close enough? You’ll have to make that call.
You could just go with need. IU needs defensive players. It could use a great pass rushing defensive end, a dominating linebacker, a shutdown cornerback. On Lemming’s list you have Jadeveon Clowney, a 6-6, 240-pound defensive end from South Carolina rated as the nation’s No. 2 player. You’ve got No. 4 Stephone Anthony (North Carolina linebacker), No. 14 Ray Drew (6-5, 245-pound defensive end from Georgia), No. 16 Wayne Lyons (Florida defensive back) and No. 17 Jermauria Rasco (a 6-4, 244 pounds defensive end from Louisiana).
Those are just the guys in the top 20. They are difference makers. Sign a few of these guys and who knows what you could do.
Of course, all these players are from SEC country. They grew up watching Louisiana State, Alabama and Florida kick rump. They know all about Florida State and Texas, who aren’t in the SEC, but who are elite football powers. Yes, we know Florida State has a new coach and hasn’t dominated lately, but the Seminoles still have recruiting clout.
So you’re going to have to convince these guys to come to Indiana. Yes, the Hoosiers now have the nation’s largest weight room. Renovated Memorial Stadium is very impressive. And the Big Ten is very much a cool conference to play in.
Still, is that enough? What do you think the odds are of any of these guys coming to Indiana? Would you and your staff better utilize your resources by targeting players a step down from this list?
That, in fact, is what Lynch and his staff have done. They target players they have the best chance of signing. Sure, if Clowney wants to wear Cream ‘n Crimson, the Hoosiers will offer him. If not, they’ll move on to the next guy.
And so they have.
For the record, IU has players from Florida and Georgia and California and Texas. They’re not superstars, but they have potential. If they work hard, if the coaches put them in their best positions and develop them to their fullest, they can make a difference. They can take the Hoosiers where they want to be.
In an ideal world, the Hoosiers can have classes loaded with 4- and 5-star guys. But you know what? In the end you win with quality guys, effort guys, high-motor guys, players who don’t get out of position, who are disciplined and accountable and who care. Players who lead, who do the right things on and off the field, including going to class and earning solid grades.
If Lynch gets enough of those players, he’ll win. He has two years to get it done. In truth, there needs to be a big jump made this season. If not, he’ll be gone and someone else will get a shot.
And then the critics will have a new target to pick on.