NOTE: I am UPDATING this post top to bottom to reflect new numbers. Thanks to reasonable-USC-fan Tmon for actually providing backup data.
Also note: USC is STILL screwed.
It seems odd, doesn’t it? You have a program crushed by the NCAA, bowl-forbidden, and with a shady coach, and somehow USC is still, STILL pulling in an insane recruiting class. I’m sure that the program is still very attractive to incoming frosh – the bowl ban will be over by their sophomore years, it’s still USC – one of the best known and visible programs in the country – and Kiffin has a solid staff. Plus, I don’t think these kids really get what the impact of the schollie reductions will be down the road.
About those reductions – there’s been a lot of chatter recently about USC’s current recruiting class and the numbers in it…What happened to the reductions? How can they have so many players? So, I thought I’d address it as I understand it. I may not have it all right here, but from digging around and reading things, this is what I understand to be the case. Please chime in in the comments if you have additional info or if I got anything wrong…
First, the schollie reduction is ‘on hold’ while USC appeals the ruling. So this means that the 10 per year reduction will not take effect until the 2012 recruiting class. So, this year USC is given a pass. So Kiffykins can sign up to the 25 limit (plus any extra spots they gain through attrition/graduation(ha, right!)/the NFL/pulling a walk-on’s schollie. That’s 14 spots + any extras freed up from any of those methods.
USC’s current class stands at 24, with a reported 9 EE’s, and they have a few more guys potentially coming into the fold. So they’ll likely have some early enrollees that count against last year, some grayshirting, etc. But regardless, they’ll have a full complement this year for sure.
But, next year with the recruiting class of 2012 it will start to hurt USC…and it will only get worse with any losses in any of the classes going forward for any reason (injury, transfer, etc).
Assume that next year USC has a full complement of 85 players given this recruiting class. Yeah, they’ll be loaded in the under-classes and not so much in the upper classes, but they’ll have a full 85. USC will have 13 or 14 seniors on scholarship next year (depending which USC fans you believe – if you believe some, they will have 14 due to a walk-on getting a scholarship. if you believe others, this guy does not exist), and they can only sign up to 15 next year because of the restrictions. So net-net, they would still have 85-13.5 = 71.5 for the 2012 season. And they’re limited to 75 total scholarships, which means that next year’s class will be, get this, 3.5 (so 3 or 4 pending the existence of the mystery walk-on man). So, because of that limit, they’ll have 75 scholarship players. That’s not that bad, but USC will essentially be playing with over 10% fewer total players than their competition.
Also note why this sucks for them: You have a class of 3 or 4 guys! That means you can’t cast any kind of net whatsoever. There’s no room for error. If one guy doesn’t pan out, 25-33% of your class hasn’t panned out. And in 4 years, your senior class is 3 or 4 guys! That’s not good. Where do you find leadership in 3-4 guys?
The next year, USC will be even worse off. They will lose 17 scholarship seniors that year, dropping their total number of returning players to 58. Assuming they recruit their full 15, they’ll play in 2013 with only 73 players. So in 2013, USC will be playing with 12 fewer players than their competition. That’s a lot.
And in 2014, it should, in essence, stay the same. They’ll have 14 seniors that year and can recruit 15 so they’ll be at 74. This is where the USC fans in the comments think they’ve ‘won’, but I still think they’re screwed. Why?
Because there’s no way that they hold on to every player they’re bringing in this year. And this year’s frosh and sophomore classes could see attrition as well. Even if you expect only 1-2 per class to not pan out in some way (transfer, injury, flunk out), that’s another 3 to 6 guys gone from that squad of 74. So USC is down to 71 or…68. Pretty much the same number I had before.
68!!!! Taking away ~20% of a roster is a huge penalty, and it will devastate the Trojans. They’ll have serious issues having any depth whatsoever, and injuries will be a huge problem.
Not to mention, I do expect the quality of their classes to diminish each year as well. Why? Well, they won’t be able to cast as wide of a net because they’ll hit their limit so quickly. They won’t be able to go out to guys and sell them and wait on them, because they’ll need to ENSURE that they get their full 15 each year. And if they do cast a wide net, they’ll end up screwing over a lot of kids when they quickly hit their 15 scholarship limit. (Note that I fully expect this to happen. Kiffin will over-sign like an SEC school to get the best guys in within the limit. It will piss off some kids, but that’s the breaks I guess…)
The other thing is that it will take them a lot of time to get back up to 85 because they’ll still be limited to 25 in 2015 going forward. That next year’s senior class should be about 16 (if they all make it, which they won’t) So they’d have, say, 70 players and lose 16 = 54. If they sign the full 25 that year, they’ll still only get up to 79 in 2015. And if we assume that they lose 20-25 the next year because of this huge haul this year, 2016 will feature a bit under 85 USC players. So it will be 2017 – 2017!!! – the next time USC has a full complement of players. That’s 6 years with some kind of penalty impacting the Trojans. Man, that’s a looooooooong time.
Also note that when they lose someone in the next 3 years for any reason – academics, permanent injury, etc they are irreplaceable. There will be no JUCO signing to shore up any gaps. There won’t be any signing of anyone. So each guy lost for any of those reasons will be gone forever. Do we really think that all of the 25+ incoming guys this year will be around for 4 years? No freaking way. A few will transfer. A few will fail out. A few will go pro early. This is why 17 vs 16 or 13 vs 14 doesn’t really matter all that much. Once you get into the 75 and 15 per year limits, it’s only downhill from there.
This all, of course, assumes that the appeal is laughed out of the room (as it should/will be). So we’ll see how that plays out. In 2014, as Lynch, Tuitt, Williams, Councell and LNIII are leading ND’s D on a championship run, USC will be in pain pain pain. And that pain will last for a while. I hope it was worth it Reggie, Poodle. You’ve put your guys in a rough, rough spot.
But at least Haden will have an excuse to fire Kiffin.