USC Trojans: #AskLoogs

#AskLoogs: Tracking JuJu Smith

November, 13, 2013
11/13/13
12:30
PM PT
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



Official visits often leave prospects feeling warm and fuzzy all over for a good 24 hours after they have been completed, and then the decompression period takes effect and it’s onto the next visit.

JuJu Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic) without question feels good about Oregon, but with all West Coast prospects I am waiting to see what happens with USC and their hire.

I wouldn’t read too much into how any prospect reacts from one visit, as down the stretch there is going to be so much that happens, including in-home head coach visits that can go a long, long way in January.

As for Smith, he is a difference-maker in our opinion, not too different from Marqise Lee when he came out as a player, who could be a viable commodity on both sides of the ball and where his heart is when it comes to what position he wants to play could have a major impact on where he signs. We believe a lean toward safety gives him the biggest upside at the next level.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

From @JWasJamaal on Twitter: Should USC go after only O-line and D-line with their 15 scholarships?

While it is critical to build your team from the inside out, beginning with the trenches, the process for the new coach will be much more strategic than what you have suggested. They will have to really examine their roster and find the biggest holes -- due to talent or depth or both -- and address those first, regardless of position. They must dissect each class and the numbers within those classes to determine where to address first, then second and so on.

Keep in mind, with USC’s roster being so fragile, they might have to account for some attrition, which is generally the norm when you have a coaching change, whether it be due to players not being happy or not buying in or, in some instances, being run off because they don’t fit. USC might not have the luxury of the latter, as they need bodies first and foremost.

The most important thing the new staff must do once hired is re-establish USC as the premier power on the West Coast in the eyes of prospective prospects, and I do not think this will be difficult. The difficulty is going to be fielding a winning product while trying to revamp the roster.

USC is USC, and I believe if they hire the right guy, one who places a tremendous premium on player evaluation, they will be just fine.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



So much of the answer to this question depends on who they hire. With the right guy, they could clean up because they are USC and that carries a ton of weight, even with prospects who might have been fatigued with the Lane Kiffin-led Trojans. They can easily get back in with a multitude of California-based prospects including ESPN 300 cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) and athlete JuJu Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic).

The good news for USC fans and whoever takes this job: There are a ton of West Coast prospects who are still uncommitted, so you know right off the bat that you have a chance down the stretch. The scholarship numbers are starting to get back up, too, which gives them more flexibility with who they pursue.

Don’t be surprised to see USC have a huge January.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



In my opinion, I would likely take Texas on resources and finances alone, but Florida would be a close second and nose to nose with USC.

Florida edges USC slightly because of the player pool available to them in the states that border Florida. USC does not have this luxury with the states that border California.

Texas is perhaps the biggest national brand in sports there is today. From a resources standpoint, they are the only team that could compete with Alabama when it comes to the ability to get things done when needed as a program. Fan base, alumni, booster support, player pool for recruiting, image, branding, etc., are all at a premier level, and this is why if Texas were to make a change that financially if they wanted to, they could get Nick Saban at Alabama to at least listen.

Texas might be down a bit now, but there is not a coach in America, including those at current top-10 programs, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be the coach at Texas. Yes, Texas is that big.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



Significantly. Prospects do not like instability or uncertainty. The decision Pat Haden made will buy time for USC between now and signing day. USC has the power and national brand to get caught up quickly once it makes a decision on its next coach. Of the top-10 graded players in California, not one is committed to USC, but only three are committed at all. Making this move now allows prospects to take a wait-and-see approach. At the end of the day when the leadership is solidified, USC will be able to get back in the mix quickly, and its competitors know it. USC is still the top dog from a perception standpoint when the dust settles, and now that the Trojans will be getting their scholarships back, there is nowhere to go but up. Don’t be surprised if they make a mad rush down the stretch with west coast prospects.

#AskLoogs: Kiffin's credibility

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
9:30
AM PT
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



I’m not convinced that Lane Kiffin’s personal credibility is at stake with prospective student athletes, but moreover the perception and credibility of the overall program based on wins and losses is what prospects see most. In a world of uncertainty, players want as much of it as they can possibly get when possible. If USC continues to struggle on the field, then more negative publicity will be directed at the program and create uncertainty over Kiffin’s long term viability as the head coach. This is never a good thing especially with UCLA’s sudden resurgence and ASU, along with Washington and others, starting to come on. If a coach’s job is constantly in jeopardy then that will allow for negative recruiting tactics against them by their competitors. Who would have ever thought that the class of the Pac-12 would be Oregon, not USC? High school prospects in the state of California (even out of it, their best defensive player is from Florida) still view USC a premier program, but confidence is waning. USC might not have their pick of the litter the way they’ve been accustomed to in the past, but I think it is more of a byproduct of NCAA sanctions and a lack of meeting a level of expectations than it is the credibility of Kiffin in the eyes of recruits.

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