As I watched the Ole Miss defense resist opposing offenses with the ferocity of melted butter for most of the season, I couldn’t help but wonder what the impact would be on recruiting.
What would Matt Luke have to sell other than an obvious chance to play early?
Playing early only gets you so far.
Most kids, I suspect, would like to play for a team that has a chance to win.
It would take quite the imagination and an extreme belief in self for a recruit like Nakobe Dean to watch the Ole Miss defense this season and believe he could make it dramatically better. Why not play for a team already built to win in the SEC?
I believed early this season, and still do, that Luke and Ross Bjork made a strategic error in not firing Wesley McGriff last year or early on this season when there might have been time to do something about the defense or at least change the narrative. The defense was sloppy and hard to watch.
Why would a recruit who could play anywhere join himself to a sinking ship?
I’d like to join the optimistic few who believe that finishing last in the SEC West in recruiting is still good enough for a Top 25 finish and that a Top 25 class may be good enough.
But when it comes to recruiting rankings, the proof is in the pudding. Teams that recruit well win football games. The Rebels have now been out-recruited by the entirety of the SEC West for two consecutive years. Unfortunately for Ole Miss, every single team in the SEC West is on the schedule every season. That’s not good.
Obviously, Luke was dealt a tough hand having to lead Ole Miss out of NCAA probation. I get that. But the numbers are what the numbers are. The Rebels have to win recruiting battles to win in the SEC West, and it isn’t happening.
Blame the NCAA. Blame Hugh Freeze. Blame Bjork. Blame Luke. Blame McGriff. Blame whoever you want. At this point, blame doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the Rebels aren’t positioned to win SEC West football games for the next few years, and that’s a bummer.