Hooker: Expansion's impact on recruiting would vary

Dave Hooker

Now that conference realignment talk has slowed down (for now), let's look back at how some of the shifts could have affected Tennessee football recruiting.

Texas A&M was the talk among SEC circles for a few days before it decided to remain in the Big 12.

The natural conclusion was the Aggies would have helped UT and other SEC schools recruit the state of Texas because they would have increased exposure in the Longhorn state.

However, that may be a bit too simplistic.

The SEC is widely considered the top football conference in the nation. In many ways, it recruits itself. I frequently hear prospects from all over the country say they are determined to play in the SEC.

While the University of Texas is tough for an in-state prospect to turn down, other schools, such as Texas A&M, don't have the same mass appeal.

Therefore, many prospects over the years have opted to play in the SEC, especially if the other UT didn't offer them a scholarship.

Now, if Texas A&M had joined the SEC, prospects from Texas could accomplish two frequently mentioned goals by signing one letter of intent. They could have stayed close to home and played in the SEC for A&M. Why travel when you can play in the best football conference just right down the road?

That would have affected Tennessee somewhat, but LSU is the school that should feel like it dodged a bullet. The Tigers don't need nearby SEC recruiting competition when they delve into Texas.

Florida State was a fan favorite to join the SEC. It shouldn't have been.

Even though they're not as dominant as they once were, the Seminoles still pull in talented in-state prospects. And often, they pull those prospects from the Florida Gators, meaning UT doesn't have to play them every September.

If Florida State had joined the conference, there is yet another option for Florida prospects who want to play in the SEC. The Vols didn't need that, especially if the Seminoles landed on UT's schedule.

In fact, I'm not sure there is a school that would have definitely helped UT's recruiting.

Perhaps playing in Atlanta against Georgia Tech would help, but the University of Georgia already owns that city. Clemson? Same concept. The South Carolina Gamecocks own that state.

Perhaps the best school for UT's recruiters would have been Virginia. That is a talent-rich area with a football program that wouldn't compare to the powers in the SEC.

Well, the discussion is for naught - until 2012.

Dooley Noted: Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton doesn't expect first-year coach Derek Dooley to suddenly complete a fantastic recruiting class, even though the Vols picked up two commitments last week.

"He certainly has made up significant ground but we're behind a little bit because of the transition of the staff," Hamilton said this week on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page. "I hesitate to use the analogy of a marathon versus a sprint because February will be here before you know it … but the signing date's not until February.

"I think this is a staff that's going to have a great work ethic; they have shown that. When Derek gets in the home, which he has a limited opportunity to do, he'll make a difference with a lot of these kids."

Hamilton said there was a push among SEC athletic directors to allow more contact between head coaches and prospects during the recruiting process.

"The head coaches are real limited in their exposure to the kids," Hamilton said. " We put forth a couple of proposals in the SEC meetings that we ended up pulling back related to more phone contact.

"In the end, we heard from the coaches and they didn't want it to be as liberal as we suggested."

The debate is between those that favor more contact in order to better identify questionable character issues and some coaches who are concerned more contact could mean more headaches.

"What we heard from the coaches is quality-of-life issues matter, for both the prospect and for them as coaches," Hamilton said. "(But) I wish there was some way to have a little bit more contact then they're able to have now.

"…A lot of the kids are coming from far away and you're having to rely on people around them. Well, a lot of times the people around them, what do they want? They want the kid to get into better circumstances and so they're saying what they need to say to get the kid into better circumstances, and that's hard to evaluate character sometimes in that regard."

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Comments » 15

AllVol2008#1353998 writes:

Wow, that was so boring, I don't even know what to comment on.

oskie_score writes:

Was never a proponent of T A&M or FSU coming on-board...nor was I for Clemson, GA Tech, VA Tech, Miami, Mizzou, or KSU. OU, on-the-other-hand, brings a rich, winning tradition, fertile recruiting grounds (to include TX, KS, and NE) and sizeable Media market to the table.

Potential alignment;
Western Division:
Alabama
Arkansas
Auburn
LSU
MSU (flip w/ Ole Miss)
OU

Eastern Division:
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Ole Miss (or flip w/ MSU)
South Carolina
Tennessee
*Vanderbilt
*Denotes VU to the ACC (better fit) or SEC can add a 14 member.

One man's humble opinion...The SEC would remain atop the college football powers that be regardless of PAC-10, Big 12, 11, 10, ...???, Big Ten, Big East and ACC (present or future) alignments. Furthermore, the SEC would benefit (financially and otherwise) from OU other sport (men & women i.e. BB, Swimming, Track, Baseball, Softball, Wrestling, etc) programs as well.

Just a thought...

rich182x writes:

LMAO... to cut them slack, it is Sunday...

volsoutwest writes:

Not a lot of substance but some good points. Come on guys, it is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

My son was born Friday morning, got to bring him home today on Father's Day.

I'm blissfully happy today fellas!

gohawks1 writes:

in response to SECFB:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, Hook's comment referenced Virginia and not Virginia Tech, which does make more sense.

volboy81 writes:

why would the Virginia schools joining the SEC have helped UT in recruiting...you'd go from recruiting against them as an ACC school to recruiting against them as another SEC school...and lose your "play for an SEC school, not an ACC school" edge!...and as far as the Gamecocks "owning" South Carolina over Clemson...check again! That state is about as 50-50 as you could get!

dalvol writes:

AllVol, it wasn't as boring as your post!

Lizardgrad89 writes:

I don't agree with Hooker. I read something that said Missou had 9 Texans on the team, while LSU, which is much closer to Texas, had only 2. The difference, of course, is conference affiliation.

If TAMU were in the SEC, teams could recruit Texas with the idea that SEC games will be shown in the state, and the recruit will have two games guaranteed in Texas during his 4 years (SEC West teams). The result would be A&M growing in stature to meet or exceed Texas, AND the SEC picking up a lot of elite athletes that currently go to the Big 12-2.

This would certainly not hurt the Vols. UT is an out of state recruiter, this would open up a new state for you guys. Yes, it would be of more obvious benefit to Bama and LSU, but those states are so full of talent now, how much better could their classes get? Either those schools would get Texas kids, leaving more in state talent for UT to go after, or stick with their home state, leaving Texas wide open for the Vols.

How can that be bad for UT? I just don't see it.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

I don't agree with Hooker. I read something that said Missou had 9 Texans on the team, while LSU, which is much closer to Texas, had only 2. The difference, of course, is conference affiliation.

If TAMU were in the SEC, teams could recruit Texas with the idea that SEC games will be shown in the state, and the recruit will have two games guaranteed in Texas during his 4 years (SEC West teams). The result would be A&M growing in stature to meet or exceed Texas, AND the SEC picking up a lot of elite athletes that currently go to the Big 12-2.

This would certainly not hurt the Vols. UT is an out of state recruiter, this would open up a new state for you guys. Yes, it would be of more obvious benefit to Bama and LSU, but those states are so full of talent now, how much better could their classes get? Either those schools would get Texas kids, leaving more in state talent for UT to go after, or stick with their home state, leaving Texas wide open for the Vols.

How can that be bad for UT? I just don't see it.

You need to read something else. LSU has 13 Texans on their roster.

oskie_score writes:

in response to AtlantaHawk:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True, Texas is considered an elite program and too, recently on or near par w/ SEC powers FL and 'Bama but I respectfully disagree that TX would "kick our butts" on a regular basis.

I speculate that Texas would play in the Western Division so inner-Division games (like the East FL-GA-UT) vs. Alabama, Auburn, and LSU would take its toll...even upstarts Arkansas and Ole Miss (like him or not CHN can coach and prepare his teams especially for the BIG games as past more superior/talented Vol teams discovered) could play upset roles.

Just my prospective...

cooper65#432178 writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

I don't agree with Hooker. I read something that said Missou had 9 Texans on the team, while LSU, which is much closer to Texas, had only 2. The difference, of course, is conference affiliation.

If TAMU were in the SEC, teams could recruit Texas with the idea that SEC games will be shown in the state, and the recruit will have two games guaranteed in Texas during his 4 years (SEC West teams). The result would be A&M growing in stature to meet or exceed Texas, AND the SEC picking up a lot of elite athletes that currently go to the Big 12-2.

This would certainly not hurt the Vols. UT is an out of state recruiter, this would open up a new state for you guys. Yes, it would be of more obvious benefit to Bama and LSU, but those states are so full of talent now, how much better could their classes get? Either those schools would get Texas kids, leaving more in state talent for UT to go after, or stick with their home state, leaving Texas wide open for the Vols.

How can that be bad for UT? I just don't see it.

There are many diehard Aggies in Texas, but if you lived in TX you would know the tu shorthorns will always be #1 in the hearts of most Texans. Horns are Hertz and Aggies are Avis.Mack Brown has the easiest recruiting job in the country with USC, ND, and the Gay Turds trailing.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

My son was born Friday morning, got to bring him home today on Father's Day.

I'm blissfully happy today fellas!

Congrats!

Happy Fathers Day.

Lizardgrad89 writes:

in response to cooper65#432178:

There are many diehard Aggies in Texas, but if you lived in TX you would know the tu shorthorns will always be #1 in the hearts of most Texans. Horns are Hertz and Aggies are Avis.Mack Brown has the easiest recruiting job in the country with USC, ND, and the Gay Turds trailing.

Today that's true, but Georgia Tech was once much higher on the CFB food chain than Georgia. Them going to the ACC screwed that up royally.

20 years from now, TAMU being in the SEC would have pulled them even with UT in the PAC-10, if not past them.

After all, what's more interesting, annual Aggies games against the Tide, Tigers, and Tigers/War Eagles, plus occasional games against the Vols, Gators, and Bulldogs or the Horns getting Oklahoma every year and USC once every 4-5 years.

Heck, I would say it would happen faster than 20 years, but it takes time to change a culture.

kyletrktr writes:

in response to oskie_score:

Was never a proponent of T A&M or FSU coming on-board...nor was I for Clemson, GA Tech, VA Tech, Miami, Mizzou, or KSU. OU, on-the-other-hand, brings a rich, winning tradition, fertile recruiting grounds (to include TX, KS, and NE) and sizeable Media market to the table.

Potential alignment;
Western Division:
Alabama
Arkansas
Auburn
LSU
MSU (flip w/ Ole Miss)
OU

Eastern Division:
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Ole Miss (or flip w/ MSU)
South Carolina
Tennessee
*Vanderbilt
*Denotes VU to the ACC (better fit) or SEC can add a 14 member.

One man's humble opinion...The SEC would remain atop the college football powers that be regardless of PAC-10, Big 12, 11, 10, ...???, Big Ten, Big East and ACC (present or future) alignments. Furthermore, the SEC would benefit (financially and otherwise) from OU other sport (men & women i.e. BB, Swimming, Track, Baseball, Softball, Wrestling, etc) programs as well.

Just a thought...

Great suggestion. I love the Oklahoma idea, but that leaves an overpowered West with an East that may not be able to compete with the West, particularly in the Championship game. Georgia is in turmoil, Vandy isn't getting any better, Ole Miss usually underperforms no matter what the expectations are, Kentucky is midlevel at best. The only ones with potential are Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina. Where as you would have OU, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, and Miss. State all respectable programs. Think about it, all of those programs were in the top 25 this season. I would have it like this: lose the East/West thing. call it something different to allow more flexibility. For convenience, I'll use D1 and D2 as the divisions.
D1:Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, OU, Kentucky

D2:Ole Miss, South Carolina, LSU, Florida, MSU, Arkansas

And like you say, Vanderbilt needs to be in the ACC.

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