[Photo: Spurrier burning up the Recruiting Trail]
I think it's important to dismiss the curse and look at exactly how shallow the Blue Chip recruiting pool in the state of South Carolina is.
I think it was Danny Ford who recently said on the Paul Finebaum show that "the state of South Carolina has about 12-14 blue chippers each year, and everyone wants them. Not just Carolina or Clemson."
12-14 blue chippers? Geez. That doesn't sound like many kids. Let's look at the numbers.
5 Star Players in SC: 2
4 Star Players in SC: 3
3 Star Players in SC: 16
(Source: Scout.com as of 9/29/05)
Now compare that to....
5 Star Players in GA: 2
4 Star Players in GA: 14
3 Star Players in GA: 49
[Photo: Spurrier vomits in his own mouth upon seeing the stats]
It doesn't sound like Danny Ford and Scout.com are that far apart. It also looks like Gwinnett County, Georgia may have as many blue chippers as the entire state of South Carolina.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the recruiting services are always right. There will always be 3 star kids like David Pollack that become All-Americans, and 1 star kids like Thomas Davis who become first round draft picks. There will always be 5 star players like Jasper Sanks or Patrick Pass who basically bust out.
Recruiting is not an exact science, but recruiting is DEFINITELY a numbers game.
[Photo: Spurrier holds all Gamecock Trophies in the palm of his hand.]
Above I showed the difference in blue chip players QUANTITY in Georgia compared to South Carolina. Now, let's look specifically at the Top 25 players in the State of South Carolina.
Currently, SC has only one of the Top 10 players in state committed (#10 Rodney Paulk). They have already lost 5 of the Top 10 in state kids to other schools. They only have 2 of the Top 25 recruits in the state committed. Granted, they are still in the running for #1 Clifton Geathers and #4 Adam Patterson, but things don't look great in state.
Scott Kennedy of Scout.com told the Athens Banner Herald, "you're only talking maybe 15 caliber SEC guys [in state], you can't afford to lose three to your neighbor and watch Tennessee and Florida State get one."
[Photo: Lou Holtz explains how he won all of those SEC East 4th Place Divisional Championships]
So will Steve Spurrier ever build an SEC Champion at South Carolina? I say no.
That's not to say he won't win some ball games. And it's not to say that he won't beat UGA every now and then. In fact, he's got a great shot at beating Georgia next year in Columbia as we graduate 2 of everything. He will probably beat UGA once every 4 or 5 years just like Carolina always has.
But in terms of sustained ability to compete for the SEC Championship. No way. He doesn't have access to the players.
And much more importantly, it is very difficult to build a program when the other teams on your schedule are Up. Ideally, you attempt to build a program during a power void where the teams around you are down.
When Spurrier first arrived in Florida in 1990, he found Goff at UGA, a declining Dye at Auburn, and a declining Majors at UT. Today, UF, UT and Georgia are Top 10 programs, and Clemson is in as good or better shape than SC.
The only way for Spurrier to win is to recruit the heck out of the state of Georgia. And that means getting kids that Georgia and Georgia Tech want. Not our leftovers. For instance, it isn't a recruiting coup when you sign kids that want to enroll at Georgia Tech, but don't have the grades to even be allowed to visit the campus (like Carlos Thomas).
Spurrier will build a better program than he found. But an SEC Champion? No way.
He'll play UGA tough just like Holtz always did. And he'll walk away defeated by a turnaround job bigger than he could have ever imagined. Just like Holtz did.