As the final returns for the 2011 signing day are coming in, I can't help but think of the lost opportunity in the football program. Statistically, this is the worst recruiting class (per Rivals.com) in the last 10 years, since the data they have only goes back to 2002. Our current national ranking is #48 and #6 in the new Pac-12. We've landed a mere three 4-star players, the least since 2005. And this is occurring despite the ongoing USC probation and massive downgrade at the head-coaching position over there.
My view on the CRN hiring was that it was a poor gamble given his previous track record, but that at least he would improve the recruiting so that a better talent pool would be in place for an eventual successor. Nothing in the first three years of his tenure suggests to me that he is a quality head coach, but his first two recruiting classes were ranked very highly (I credit 2008 to KD, but CRN and DW did hold the class together).
The way the coordinator replacements were handled only reinforces my view that was previously based upon the on-the-field performance of the team. I know there have been numerous posts about the lack of committment from the administrations, lack of funds, etc., but in spite of that the recruiting efforts over the past six years should have yielded FAR better results. Explanations are numerous, but the bottom line is that good coaches win quickly and with less talent. You see it throughout sports in general and in college football in particular.
For all the complaints about the lack of depth in the program, consider the following table:
Nat Pac-10/12 4-Star
Year Rank Rank Recruits
2011 48 6 3
2010 8 2 12
2009 14 2 11
2008 13 2 12
2007 40 6 6
2006 17 2 7
Every program has it's share of busts and injuries, but there is no credible explanation for our lack of on-field results with this recruiting history that doesn't start with sub-par coaching. CRN can roll out the myriad cliches about working hard, better results, etc., but words don't score touchdowns.
I'm not concerned the Seto is ex-SC like others (or Chow for that matter), in fact I think hiring coaches from successful programs is generally wise. I am concerned about the nature of the dismissals of both coordinators and the hiring process, however, and again that speaks to the quality of the head coach.
Now, maybe 2011 is the year when the team comes together, when youth matures, a QB emerges from the rubble and the defense flies to the ball. Maybe the foundation is in place and we are on the road to prominence. Given the past three years, though, I wouldn't bet on it, and fear that the coordinator turmoil and the decline of the recruiting pool this year is a precursor to a regime change.