As you might have heard tonight, Christian Lemay, the top pro-style quarterback recruit in the 2011 class announced his intentions to play for Georgia. You're probably thinking "So what? Lemay wasn't considering FSU." But this announcement has positive implications for Florida State.
The most important of these is that it affords Mark Richt greater job security. Mark Richt is a good coach, but good is the enemy of great and FSU fans should realize that Richt at Georgia is a very good thing for the 'Noles. Florida State does very well recruiting in South Georgia and routinely beats UGA for players within a 40 mile radius of Valdosta. Richt might talk a big game and could even win a few battles against the 'Noles given his renewed efforts in the region. But consistently beating the state school for highly prized prospects in Georgia is an important part of the 'Noles plan to get back on top. And Richt is much, much better than the alternative. What's the alternative, you ask? Why none other than Kirby Smart of Alabama.
Smart is considered the heir apparent to the UGA job whenever Georgia decides that Richt simply won't do. Granted, the Dawgs seem pretty content winning 8-9 games per season (or to put another way, losing 3+ games a season, which Georgia has averaged more than over the last 4 years), but most consider Richt on the hot seat. Smart is a beloved figure at Georgia after walking on and becoming a team captain. But he's even more beloved in South Georgia where he played high school ball in Bainbridge. Smart is an excellent recruiter and the last thing Florida State needs is for the state school to use Nick Saban's organizational recruiting techniques (that FSU is already using thanks to Jimbo Fisher) in South Georgia. Add to the inherent advantage of being the state school and that Smart is a better recruiter than Richt, that Smart knows the area perhaps better than anyone and would be immediately welcomed into all South Georgia high schools, and it's easy to see why FSU fans want Richt to stay at UGA for as long as possible.
Richt will be starting a promising redshirt-freshman quarterback in Aaron Murray this season. Young, talented quarterbacks buy coaches additional time that they might not otherwise be afforded. Adding Lemay to the mix only buys Richt more time. And who knows, maybe he can take Georgia from good to great (doubtful given his team's complete lack of attention to detail and killer instinct), but if he does so it likely won't be on the back of great recruiting hauls from Valdosta and the surrounding area. In fact, Florida State fans annually root for UGA to beat Florida in the World's Largest Cocktail Party and would be quite happy to see UGA succeed provided the Dawgs aren't doing so by cornering the market on the top talent out of South Georgia. And UGA beating UF helps FSU in recruiting as the Gators tumble in the polls. FSU is just too close to the area (45 minute trip to Tallahassee opposed to a 3hr+ trip to Athens) for someone without serious ties to the area (Smart, Kirby Smart) to dominate the region, and hopefully Smart is smart enough not to wait around for the UGA gig.
Moreover, Smart is ready to be a head coach right now. If Richt stays at Georgia two or three more years, I can't see Smart staying as Alabama's DC waiting for UGA to implode. And even though it is thought that the only job Smart would accept would be UGA, I can't see him turning down the position at LSU when Les Miles finally gets the boot in Baton Rouge. That's important to Florida State fans as well, because assuming Fisher does a decent job with the 'Noles, he would be on LSU's short list. LSU can afford to pay its head coach a lot more than Florida State can, so plugging that job (and it seems inevitable that Miles will be gone with the track his program is currently on) with someone other than Fisher is a good thing for the 'Noles. I am not saying that Fisher would leave or would even consider leaving after the emotional capital he has invested in the Florida State program, just that eliminating options is a good thing.
Additionally, Lemay will not be attending Clemson or North Carolina. FSU will almost certainly not have to face Lemay unless it meets Georgia in a bowl game and this leaves Clemson in a tough spot. There are no elite level quarterback recruits considering the Tigers this season and Clemson did not take a quarterback in the last recruiting cycle. No doubt FSU's biggest division rival will get a quarterback this cycle, but there is little doubt that it will be someone other than an elite kid.
As for Florida State's quarterback recruiting efforts, Lemay to Georgia means that Wilcox Co. Georgia QB Nick Marshall is not Georgia's top quarterback target. He is Florida State's top quarterback target and while there is a chance he could go to the Dawgs as UGA is looking to take two quarterbacks (and his cousin plays for UGA), the greater likelihood is that he becomes a 'Nole.
Funny how a 17-year old kid's college choice can impact programs throughout the Southeast.