Ryan White spurned UofL for Vanderbilt and the SEC
We talked a great deal about this on our radio program last night and it simply can’t be ignored any longer. I think most of us thought that if Louisville found itself stuck in the Big East down the road that eventually negative recruiting would catch up with them. Guys would be scared to play for a team that isn’t afforded a legitimate shot at a major 6 Bowl Game, let alone the Playoff Final Four. But few of us saw those negative effects coming and hitting us as quickly as they have. Just in the last week alone the Cards have lost two 4-star players from the city of Louisville to programs in major conferences (SEC and Pac-12, respectively). Both players cited their school’s conference affiliation as major components in their decisions. The fact of the matter is, the future is here. Right now. Coaches from the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 will continue to use their leverage of being part of the national championship scene as a clear-cut advantage over schools like Louisville that play in a watered down, inferior league. They’ll tell recruits how they won’t have a shot at playing on ESPN (most likely) or that they’ll never be able to compete in the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, or Playoff Bowl games. And as of right now, they’d be telling the truth. The Big East currently has no TV deal in place, no commissioner and one of the schools they’re adding next year just got slapped with major NCAA sanctions. Where’s the momentum that the conference promised? Frankly, it simply doesn’t exist. In fact, the league is caught in a swirling vortex that seems to be grabbing and pulling each and every program toward the depths of mediocrity. The fact that Louisville has remained such a recruiting force down south and appears poised to explode on the national scene is actually quite an amazing phenomena when you really stop to think about it. They’ve been able to sustain a positive rep on the recruiting trail (at least up until now) and win games while teetering on the brink of a sinking conference ship. The problem is, how long until things catch up with them? As mentioned earlier, it appears like it could be happening sooner than later, and that’s a scary thought.
ESPN’s Big East blogger Andrea Adelson has taken a look at the theme of negative recruiting for Louisville and she wrote about it last night on her site. Here’s an excerpt and you can read the entire thing here.
Strong was then asked how much he has to deal with questions about the Big East on the recruiting trail.
“Yes, every kid is asking that question,” Strong said. “You’re getting it because whoever your competition is … they want that answer.”
So essentially schools competing against Louisville for prized recruits are putting doubts in the kids’ minds about the stability of the Big East, and whether Louisville has lost its chance at getting into the Big 12.
I do not think it is a coincidence that Strong made his remarks just one day after losing top recruit Ryan White, a four-star cornerback from Louisville. White had committed to the Cardinals this year, but changed his mind and made a commitment to Vanderbilt. It is unclear whether changes to the Big East impacted his decision. White did not return calls from ESPN Recruiting Nation.
But last month, Louisville lost out on another recruit from its backyard, four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher — who plays with White at Trinity High. Hatcher made a commitment to USC, and said afterward that the Big East did play a role in his decision. According to WDRB.com, Hatcher said the conference situation concerned him, “a little bit, honestly, with the Big East falling apart the way it is.”
“That wasn’t the main reason,” Hatcher said. “I’m not going to say it was a big reason, because I believe you can have success at any school at any conference. But the Big East, that was kind of a small concern, being that after the next couple of years they might not even be a BCS contender.”