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.
- Bring in “Mississippi State guys” – players that will work hard and buy into the program
- Evaluate players to find hidden gems
- Win with Mississippi players and a few from out-of-state
- Make sure a recruit wants to be at MSU, and can succeed at MSU
- Keep recruiting low-key
- Bring in the best possible athletes
- Convince 4 & 5 stars to come to Oxford
- Any star player from anywhere, come to OM
- Promise you the world, just come to OM
- 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.