Oct 27, 2012; Little Rock, AR, USA; Ole Miss Rebels cheerleader performs during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

MSU vs. OM Recruiting Philosophy

Dec 31, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs cheerleaders during the game against the Rice Owls at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs beat Rice Owls 44 – 7. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It’s recruiting season. Either you’re really into it, you are looking on with your nose clamped, or you wake up on signing day to avoid all the drama. At any rate, recruiting is a vitally important part of college football and there are many different strategies employed by programs across the country. In the state of Mississippi, Ole Miss and Mississippi State could not be further apart in their approach.


  1. Bring in “Mississippi State guys” – players that will work hard and buy into the program
  2. Evaluate players to find hidden gems
  3. Win with Mississippi players and a few from out-of-state
  4. Make sure a recruit wants to be at MSU, and can succeed at MSU
  5. Keep recruiting low-key


  1. Bring in the best possible athletes
  2. Convince 4 & 5 stars to come to Oxford
  3. Any star player from anywhere, come to OM
  4. Promise you the world, just come to OM
  5. Recruiting is a flashy, ultra-hyped time of the year – make a splash

Mississippi State’s recruiting strategy is to find players who will ultimately help the program win games. The act of recruiting is simply a necessary evil, and we’re glad when it’s over so we can put our focus on the field.

Ole Miss’ recruiting strategy is to put on as big of a show as possible and by whatever means possible to make the most noise and create attention to the program by bringing in top athletes. They’ll figure the rest out later.

Can you imagine Dan Mullen telling a player to de-commit from MSU for the sole purpose of re-committing a month later? Can you imagine him telling a player to commit to another school so he can flip to MSU at the height of recruiting season? Can you imagine our head coach telling recruits to give him a shout-out on Twitter just so people will notice? I can’t. But I’ve got it on good authority that Hugh Freeze does these very tactics. None of it against the rules at all – but it just goes to show how differently the programs view recruiting. MSU: a task. Ole Miss: a game.

Ole Miss wins at recruiting. They are simply better than MSU. Or are they?

  • According to Scout, Ole Miss has had a better class in 7 of the last 10 years
  • According to Rivals, Ole Miss has had a better class in 9 of the last 10 years
  • According to 247, Ole Miss has had a better class in 7 of the last 10 years
  • According to on-the-field results, MSU has beaten OM 6 of the last 10 years

For Ole Miss, and their fanbase, the show, and the perception of their program through recruiting is paramount. It’s just as gratifying to “win” in recruiting as it is to win on the field. It’s all about how Ole Miss is viewed – they want everyone to think they’re great, whether that is reality or not.

That was a tweet from the Ole Miss 247 site minutes after the Bulldogs beat the Rebels in basketball a couple of weeks ago. After winning the Egg Bowl and the first hardcourt matchup of 2014, the first thought was to brag about subjective recruiting rankings.

But as I mentioned above, Ole Miss “wins” that every year. Winning on the field? Not so much. In that same 10 year period (2004-2013) MSU has tallied five winning seasons, OM just four. MSU is 57-66 over that span, OM is 53-69. So, yeah, the Rebs are really good at “winning” in February, but when it comes to the ‘game’ that actually counts they aren’t any better than State – in fact, they are slightly worse over the last 10 years.

During this time of year it can be easy to get swept up in the hype of recruiting, and feel like your team just had a big win or loss just because of the recruiting rankings. But you have to remember that these are completely subjective. Not only do they heavily weigh quantity over quality, but they mis-read many athletes; there are more 3-stars playing in this year’s Superbowl than 4 & 5 stars combined..

I’m not here to say one school’s method is better than the other, just that they are different. As MSU fans, we’ve got to be ourselves and take in the players who will help us succeed at MSU. They may not be the flashiest, or make the biggest splash, but little by little a solid program is being built in Starkville and we’re on the right path to success.

Ole Miss has a much different approach to recruiting. It’s key to remember this while they’re partying hard this weekend with 25 official visits, flipping guys and making so much noise you’d think they won a national championship. They’re gonna have their fun, and catch their share of big fish, but just remember who has won 13 of the last 23 Egg Bowls, who has won the SEC West in their history, and who holds the Golden Egg Trophy right now. Trust in Mississippi State’s recruiting because it’s been proven to be just as successful – we may not win in the minds of recruiting “experts”, but we’ll prove our mettle on the field.

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Tags: Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • OxpatchReb

    There are huge holes and outlandish assumptions in the logic of this article. Care to have a reasonable, calm and rational discussion about them, one at a time?

    • The Croom Diaries

      Sure, go for it.

      • OxpatchReb

        Alright. First topic.

        How did you generate your list of 5 aspects of strategy for each school? If you were to ask coaches from both schools for their list, I believe it would look more like this:

        1) Recruit the best players available to the biggest positions of need, emphasis on MS and then nationwide where coaches or players have connections
        2) Evaluate each player for grades, work ethic, dedication and rating accuracy
        3) Develop relationships with targets as early as possible and maintain through signing
        4) Focus on signing players that are “under the radar” so that recruiting does not take too much time away from other areas of focus.
        5) Do all of the above without NCAA or SEC sanctions

        1) Recruit the best players available to the biggest positions of need, emphasis on only top MS players, then nationwide for the rest of the top players at each position.
        2) Evaluate each targeted player for grades, work ethic, dedication and rating accuracy
        3) Develop relationships with targets as early as possible and maintain through signing
        4) Use every possible mean or method to generate excitement and buzz around OM in order to appeal to national targets
        5) Do all of the above without NCAA or SEC sanctions.

        Your lists are full of opinion, based on your personal feelings about OM and MSU. Neither of which is accurate or unbiased. Reply?

        • The Croom Diaries

          Those 5 set-up of the narrative of this piece. Your list just includes more detail which is boring for the purposes of what I’m talking about here, and not relevant to the framework of this article. I focused on #4 on both your lists and expounded on them.

          • OxpatchReb

            So, you made assumptions about MSU and OM recruiting priorities and used those assumptions to attack one schools methods and defend the other. Fine. This is an MSU blog, so it’s expected. But I just wanted to see if you were capable of admitting as much.

            Second, you make assumptions that MSU views recruiting as a necessary evil which interferes with on field focus/results and that OM views it as a chance to self-promote and garner attention for the program by getting top athletes. Are readers supposed to believe that seeing their schools name and logos all over ESPN and other sports networks in association with high profile recruits, is a bad thing?

          • The Croom Diaries

            I never said the word “priorities” anywhere in the post. This is about philosophy/strategy. I never said those 5 things were the “priorities” of each program, that is something you generated on your own.

            This is simply a comparison of the two schools approaches. It is pretty clear, and I have direct confirmation, that OM uses the dog and pony show I described in this piece. If that’s what they want to do that is fine.

            You may have taken this piece as a slight to OM, but it wasn’t. It was written for MSU fans, to demonstrate that Ole Miss “beats” MSU in recruiting almost every year but the results on the field aren’t that different. Either in the head-to-head series or overall. And with that knowledge, there is no reason to get all worked up in 1) who OM is getting or 2) what MSU isn’t getting.

          • OxpatchReb

            Two (for now, because I don’t want to confuse you) things with your last paragraph.

            1) You’re ignoring the fact that we’ve had 4 coaches over those years while MSU has had 2. I’ll gladly agree that Mullen is better than HDN and the Ogre which is at least partly responsible for the discrepancy in W/L’s and at most, wholly and completely responsible. So you can’t correlate “results” with “crootin success”. We’ve remedied our coaching woes with one that (so far) can recruit like hell, is above average in running a program and is at least serviceable on gameday. Freeze gives the impression that he has issues on gameday because his offense and defense require radically different players than were here when he took over. Which means, you can’t properly evaluate him as a gameday coach until year 4 when all players in the 2 deep are his choices. To summarize, 4 diff OM coaches whom all recruit differently, were only here for an average of 2 years each and 2 of whom were program wrecking disasters, which means, all of your “data” to back up your assumptions about which team croots better or which team wins more are skewed at best and flat out incomparable at worst.

            2) You admit we sign better talent. Imagine what Mullen could do, coaching our recruits? The fact that he either can’t or won’t put as much effort, emphasis or resources into getting similar levels of talent, should concern MSU fans. In direct comparison over the past 2 season for Freeze and Mullen, OM is even with MSU. Averaging 7 wins.

            Look, this piece is meant to pump sunshine for MSU fans. It’s meant to give them a false sense of security about Mullen and MSU. There would be no need for you to write this, if people were confident and content with MSU football right now. We are out recruiting MSU badly and have been for 2 years. The only way that fact doesn’t matter (the entire point of this piece) is if Freeze is as horrible a coach as Ogre and Nutt. He’s proven no such thing over the past 2 seasons. In fact, most levelheaded, reasonable, logical people agree that he’s going to do nothing but get better with experience and time. No amount of EB trophies over 23 years, EB trophy from last year or single SECW banners in 100 years is going to change that. You’re focused on history when what you need to be concerned with is present and future.

          • The Croom Diaries

            I still think the comparison is apt. You conceded that Mullen is a better coach than Nutt or Coach O, well Croom was a worse coach then both of them and I think you’d have to admit that. The span of 10 years was simply a round number (although I admit conveniently after 2003) that encompasses both Croom and Mullen’s tenure. In those 10 years you had Cut’s last year + two 9-win seasons from Nutt (best two-year win total at OM since the early 60s) + two years with Freeze = 5 good years. That’s 5 years with a good coach = 5 years with Mullen. You can argue all you want about what Nutt did to your program, but for two years he won you a lot of games with the talent Coach O brought in so we can’t just throw ’08 and ’09 out because you didn’t like ’10 and ’11.

            Is Mullen good at winning recruiting battles? No. Does he have an eye for talent? Yes. Is he a good developer? Yes.

            Mullen has his shortcomings, sure. But that book has yet to be written on Freeze. Could he take these recruiting classes to much better things at OM than what we’ve seen in recent history? Sure. But you’re also speculating based on your hope that he will. I’m speculating based on my hope that you won’t. We are each entitled to what we think will happen in the future, but neither is right or wrong until those events occur.

            This post was intended for MSU fans, and was a comparison about the differences in recruiting strategy. It’s easy for the casual observer to notice we are ranked in the low 30s and say that’s bad, but we have a low quantity. If we had room in this class we could easily pick up 6 three-stars and be in the 20s. It’s that silly. Ole Miss will make a lot of noise this weekend but it doesn’t mean anything until they hit the field. Just because those players graded out higher by talent evaluators doesn’t mean much as I’ve pointed out. How will they be used? Will they stay at OM? There are a lot of factors that haven’t been proven in Oxford under Freeze. Mullen does at least have a track record for low attrition, finding hidden talent and developing what he has. Obviously the ideal situation would be to attract all 5 stars and win immediately, but that is not an option that has been proven with Mullen. So we have to take what we have and while it’s a slow climb it’s nothing to be worried about.

            Finally, I’ll say that in no way am I trying to give MSU fans a false sense of security about Mullen. I am probably Mullen’s loudest critic within the fanbase. There are a fair amount of State fans that couldn’t stand me in November when I was publishing article after article about his shortcomings. I am the furthest thing from a sunshine pumper.

          • OxpatchReb

            Then just admit that if Freeze remains on his trajectory and Mullen remains on his, OM will exceed MSU in Football over the next 5 years.

            Because that’s all that is important. To both you and me. How many wins in 2014. Then how many wins in 2015, etc, etc, etc. What you’re doing in this article is comparing historic apples to oranges and using that as “proof” that OM is not any better than MSU currently or in recent history, in fact, we’re a little bit worse. Which means nothing…

            And btw, that tweet you referenced, was actually stating the opposite of the conclusion you draw.

            Here’s his next tweet for your clarification:
            Kipp Adams
            Jan 21

            5 of 280 5-star prospects playing in Super Bowl (1.78%), 20 of 2535 4-stars (.78%), 34 of 7353 3-stars (.46%).


            That means that almost double the % of 4 and 5 stars get to the SB than 3 stars. Which is another way of validating recruiting services ranking acuity.

          • OxpatchReb

            So I guess you don’t want to talk about the inaccurate assumptions you draw from that Kipp Adams tweet either?

          • The Croom Diaries

            Not really. I hope you’re done with this discussion because I do not with to continue any further. I appreciate you refraining of sheer mudslinging like the other OM commenter, but I don’t really care to debate with OM fans all day. This is a MSU site, and intended for MSU fans. It was just a comparison, and while many in your fanbase took it as me saying OM’s strategy doesn’t work, that is not accurate at all. The point was that over the last 10 years they’ve pretty much worked out equally with MSU having a slight advantage. You can argue about the future and what you think will happen this and that, but it’s all just conjecture that at the end of the day is a waste of time.

          • OxpatchReb

            I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think this piece says OM strategy doesn’t work.

            I think it’s an attempt to get MSU fans to believe that MSUs strategy works just as well or better than OMs strategy. Which is completely impossible to determine using past data or even suggest rationally using current data.

            Basically, it’s a fluff piece. Your history as a Mullen antagonist is irrelevant. THIS piece is riddled with holes, half truths, assumptions, implied results, incorrect associations and inaccuracies. I tried to point them out one by one, but you’ve grown weary of my attempts before I was able to address all the issues in this piece.

            Good day.

  • OxfordRebel

    First, win 20 in a row to even the series, and then we will talk more about dominance. Next, since the dogs don’t care about big time athletes, go check and see who they have offered. Check and see how many are from MS and how many outside MS. Also, let’s not forget what they did to a MS kid just a few weeks back. They told him about the word committment and to not take anymore visits. The kid and his coach did exactly what was asked as they turned coaches away. Then, with 2 days left until the dead period, they pull his scholarship. Yep…nothing but class there in Starkville. A real “caring” for MS athletes. Oh yes…and low key recruiting as you take your recruits to the Pony. Pay them not to visit Ole Miss. Buy them used mustangs and if it’s true, send state seals to come spy on what we are doing. And let’s not forget the auction on Cam. Yall should concentrate on your next billboard rather than recruiting. You have won the last decade on the field, which coincidentally you went a whole decade without a bowl game, but the overall record speaks for itself. If you want to put up billboards and brag about beating us this year, knock yourself out. However, that night, those were two HORRIBLE football teams battling it out. But hey, state fans lives revolve around Ole Miss. Your HC has beaten 2 ranked opponents in 5 years (or however long he’s been there)…let’s talk about that. I’m done. My message isn’t professional so I am sorry. Congrats on beating Rice too. I am sure yall probably went ahead and scheduled them for a series. Of course they will have to wait until after yall play MUW, but I am sure they are willing to do it.

    • The Croom Diaries

      Nice rant.

      Where did I say MSU doesn’t care about big time athletes?
      Where did I say anything about MSU “caring” for MS athletes?

      That decade without a bowl game you speak of was 1964-1973 for MSU. Ole Miss’ last decade without a bowl game was 1972-1982. Which one is more recent? I’ll let you do the math.

      Yes, our world revolves around Ole Miss. That’s why you are here, on a Mississippi State blog, commenting on an article intending for Mississippi State fans.

  • Dalek Sec


  • LNLes

    hey fucktard if you want to be an Ole Miss fan just say it. Almost all of your post are about the flagship university…seems to be all you can talk about.