Sanction Management 101
Beating the odds of limited scholarships
-By Dave Bartoo, The CFBMatrix & your Anti-Homer Follow @cfbmatrix
A Special Contribution to
247Sports and FightOn247
One of the aspects of the College Football Matrix I have forced myself to enjoy is being wrong. Or at least have the Matrix predictions be incorrect and against the odds. And, to date, with the USC Trojans I have been wrong about the recruiting effects of the NCAA sanctions.
Why I have been wrong
When the sanctions for lost scholarships came down I immediately went to past history. There have been a handful of teams that took less than 20 kids in a recruiting class and only one, Ohio State and an elite recruiter themselves, was able to crack the top 25 with so few scholarships. The conclusion I had was two fold. They would have 4 years of sub 25 ranked classes and depth would be compromised. The depth is still an issue over a 13, 14 or 15 game season but they have dismissed the notion that the loss of scholarships with reduce the talent and quality of the overall team at SC.
What they have done right
First, it was probably getting rid of Garrett. Though it will never be admitted or proven, I feel that he added significant penalties to the sanctions with his brash, loud mouth, uncooperative behavior. In a nutshell, good riddance. They brought in Mr. Haden and with it organization and planning. Two critical elements in dealing in a restrictive environment. I would love to see their chart on the wall of projections of turnover and scholarship limit planning.
They have taken advantage of early enrollments (EEs) and turn kids going early to the NFL a plus by quickly filling their spots with EEs. I feel that they have also created a supply and demand issue choosing to focus on the highest quality player with limited scholarships. Instead of a negative, it is marketed as a positive. Kids, especially kids, love to get what they can’t have. And like USC or not, a degree from that University is great to have in your hands. They have taken this limited supply on the road and aggressively filled up their scholarship limits.
From the standpoint of talent and recruiting at USC they will continue to trend slightly down. Not because the classes are poor, but because the classes in the past were so dang good. I look at the run of classes that CPC had and wonder what could have been if they played the system, not the schedule. Many NCG opportunities lost.
Regardless, the team had a composite class of #13 in the country last year. The lowest rank in a decade. They are the consensus #1 today but with just a few spots left that ranking will start to dip. With over 80% of all top 25 classes on September 1 staying in the top 25 on NSD, they shouldn’t slip too far. I am projecting #7 to be conservative. Justin Hopkins, the lead guy at Duck Territory 247, likes them at #4. Mix in a #11 class for 2014 and the 4 year recruiting rank of USC bottoms out at about #8. You can see the NCG Berth line above in blue and USC is projecting above it the entire time. I had posted previously that I felt that number would be in the 20s. Keep in mind that 21 of 22 NCG berths in the last 11 seasons belonged to teams with a CFBMatrix adjusted ranking of #16 or better (Hokies!).
If USC can overcome it’s depth issues and even bigger coaching effect issues then this is a team that is and will remain in the CFBMatrix pre-season BCS Berth group for the foreseeable future. The same group that the winner and loser have come out of for 8 straight seasons. By 2015, the classes should be bigger and ranked higher. Once the Trojans solve the coaching problems with the current staff or a future one, the sanctions levied by the NCAA will be long forgotten thanks to the proper management.
Special offer for readers: Use coupon code FightOn for 25% off the entire season of CFBMatrix Best Bet picks for 2012. You drive to Vegas from SocCal? You will want to add the 55-21 season record and 25.57% ROI in 2011 to your weaponry.