This is Part 2 of the FSU v. Miami breakdown. Part 1 was posted yesterday. Clemson was covered in a single post last week. For the sake of commenting, please remember that this series looks at the talent each program is bringing in and what that means for the future. This series has little if anything to do with what will happen in the upcoming season. I'll cover that at a later date.
I want to address something that I didn't get into much yesterday, and that is SoFla recruiting. As discussed previously, Miami landed only three of the top 50 players in Florida and none of the top 25 in SoFla. And it's not just that those players chose other schools, it is that increasingly, Miami is ignoring local players and taking equal or lesser talented players from places like Boston, Oregon, and Illinois. Local high school coaches don't appreciate that. And they especially don't appreciate it when Miami is going out-of-state for skill players. It's long been understood that Florida and in-particular South Florida produces more skill guys (backs, wide receivers, linebackers, defensive backs) than it does offensive linemen or quarterbacks. It's much more understandable for a Florida school to leave the state to grab an offensive line prospect. It's almost entirely unnecessary to leave for a skill position player. But Miami has been doing that, taking marginal skill guys from other states while neglecting its local base. That doesn't sit well with coaches in the area.
Now on to today's part. Let's break down the rosters by position and by year to see how Miami's recent awful recruiting haul will impact the Canes in the coming years.
I listed the players as redshirt freshmen/ or sophomores because I do not know what Miami plans to do as far as redshirts go. I do know that there's very little difference between a redshirt freshman and a true sophomore, unless that sophomore got serious playing time. Both are 2nd-year players.
I do this to show how the shift in recruiting that I profiled yesterday will impact both programs in the coming years. Please keep in mind that Miami will add between 15-17 players in this coming class and the 'Noles will add 18-22. Both programs will lose players over the next three seasons to attrition.
Florida State has a large advantage at quarterback in 2010 and looking forward as well with the best QB in the conference in Christian Ponder and a proven backup in E.J. Manuel, who won the Gator Bowl MVP as a RsFr. The 'Noles starter for the next three years will be Redshirt-Juniors at a minimum, and in 2010 and 2012 FSU will start Redshirt-Senior quarterbacks. The battle in 2011 between Manuel and Harris should be something to watch, and FSU fans can only hope that Manuel won't lead the country in interceptions thrown as Harris did last season. The Canes could have trouble in 2012 as there are serious questions as to whether Highsmith or Morris can play. I'll reserve judgment on those two. If they can't play, however, Miami's coaches will need to turn to a 2nd year player (recruit from this coming cycle) or look to the Junior College route. To be fair, Miami was hurt by three transfers from this position that were somewhat out of the program's control. Given the Canes recent recruiting tactics, can Miami fans feel confident in their coaching staff's ability to plan for the future?
2010 & 2011 Edge: Florida State | Overall Talent Edge: Push
Ah, running backs. Both Florida State and Miami have talented backs. The 'Canes just happen to have a ridiculous amount. The Canes have 11 scholarship backs, which is two-more than Iowa's number that almost made the Gazette's head explode. If FSU looks short here for 2012, don't worry about it. Running back is the one position where young players can make an immediate and substantial impact. This would be a prime position for some attrition so that Miami can free up some scholarships. Or perhaps one or more of these guys could change positions. One thing is for sure, Miami did not need to take 4 backs in the last recruiting cycle. I'm sure http://eyeofthehurricane.net/wordpress/ will have something to say about the 'Canes allotting 13% of their available scholarships to backs. Edge: Miami They better have it with 11 scholarship players.
Wide receiver is a prime example of a position at which Miami currently has more talented starters, but at which FSU has more overall talent and better functional depth. It's also a position at which FSU is very likely to see some attrition before the 2011 season. As noted in the Roster Page, Easterling, Fortson, Wade, and Alexander all have reasons why they might not be with the team in 2011 or 2012. The Canes should again have an excellent group in 2011, featuring Benjamin, Johnson, and Byrd. But they lose a ton going into 2012 and are undoubtedly getting out-recruited at this position. Last year, Florida State took 5 receivers who are better than or at least as good as Miami's top receiver recruit. In fact, the 'Noles took Greg Dent away from the Canes, and he was Miami's top recruit at the position.
2010 Edge: Miami | Overall Talent Edge: FSU
NOTE: Andrew Talley (listed at defensive end) could also play tight end for the 'Canes, and I've been told conflicting things as to where he will play.
This is a position really lacking for star power. Florida State has never done much with its tight ends, but has some young talent with which to work. Reliford is an average tight end in a conference loaded at the position. Miami lost its top two tight ends in Graham and Epps. They now turn to a disappointing Gordon and JUCO-Transfer Chase Ford. Both schools have some young talent with which to work and both should land a 4-star recruit at the position in this cycle.
2010 & 2011 Edge: Florida State | Overall Talent Edge: Push
Offensive Line is the position that is the most difficult to evaluate outside of the 5-10 freaks around the country each year. It's also the position at which coaching matters the most. With Pat Ruel gone from Southern Cal, FSU now has arguably the best offensive line coach in the country in Rick Trickett. Miami's offensive line coach isn't regarded. The 'Noles offensive line is universally regarded as one of if not the best in the country. Miami's is average at best and a mess at worst. 2010/ 2011 Edge: Noles
But what about 2012? FSU looks to be short in this area. In actuality, however, the 'Noles are in the same spot depth-wise as Miami was last year. The Canes took 6 offensive line recruits. Florida State will take 5 of equal or higher quality. While it makes sense to blast Shannon for not understanding roster construction when it comes to running backs, Miami did a great job of shoring up its offensive line depth issue with the most recent class (I noted this yesterday).
Miami should again have one of the better defenses in the country in 2010, but are the Canes primed to continue that trend in the future?
The on-field talent in 2010 is about even on average, but with 6 2nd-year or older players, Miami has the edge. But the 'Noles aren't losing anyone for 2011, and the advantage should be slightly to the 'Noles. Florida State has really stepped up its game recruiting this position, securing commitments from two 4-star defensive tackles already, more than half-a-year from signing day. Unless Miami gets some serious (and I mean major) luck at this position, Florida State will have an enormous edge by 2012.
Miami is loaded at defensive end for 2010, and that's one reason why Andrew Tallman might play tight end instead of defensive end. Outside of Ponder, Bailey is the biggest loss for either team after the 2010 season. He's arguably the best defender in the country. For 2011, I do not expect Jackson to be a 'Nole, but it is possible. If Florida State moves Dawkins (DT) to end for the 2011 season, I'd call 2011 a push at the position. If not, it's likely advantage Miami. By 2012, however, FSU's recent recruiting advantage starts to shine through and it's more of a push.
2010/ 2011: Canes
This position is pretty simple. Noles, Noles, Noles. It's not close. Florida State has out-recruited Miami at linebacker in a big way over the last three years, despite not even taking any linebackers in 2009. In fact, FSU and Miami combined to take 10 linebackers in the most recent class. Of the 10, 5 of the top 6 went to Florida State. Additionally, FSU is likely to again out-recruit Miami at the position this season even if the Canes land Denzel Perryman, as the 'Noles are in good position with the state's top linebacker (Tony Steward) and have a commitment from likely 4-star Terrance Smith.
Can you sat attrition? Florida State and Miami could not be moving in more opposite directions at DB. The Canes secondary will be fairly loaded in 2010. But with Brandon Harris potentially leaving early for the draft and three other seniors leaving to graduation, Miami could be stuck with only 8 returning defensive backs! Depending on attrition, the 'Noles should have 10-11 returners in 2011.
Further, FSU already has 5 commitments at defensive back for the upcoming class, and all 5 are on the ESPNU 150 watch list. Miami isn't even in contention for 5 prospects of that caliber at this position, much less commitments.
2010 Edge: Miami | 2011 Edge: Push if Harris stays, 'Noles if he goes.
The most important takeaway here is that Florida State can put distance between itself and Miami with the upcoming class as the 'Noles will take about 5 more prospects. The way things are currently shaking out (more on this in the coming weeks), it looks as if the 'Noles will definitively beat the Canes in recruiting for the 2nd year in a row. And that is big. Miami has the 2010 and arguably 2011 talent advantage because it beat the 'Noles in recruiting from 2007-2009. If the 'Noles win the recruiting war in 2011by the same amount they did in 2010, it's inescapable but to conclude that they will have the better talent on the field in 2012 and 2013. But if Miami can close the gap or even out-recruit FSU, the Canes should have a nice shot at sustaining high quality football teams. And that's what this series is all about. I'm asking "what are you doing in recruiting and how will this impact your team down the road?"
This is the area in which FSU was most lacking (aside from leadership) during the lost decade. Jimbo Fisher has quadrupled the weight, flexibility, medical, nutritional, and mental health staff. Call it Alabama South or LSU East, but Saban has proven it works at two places. This is an area in which Miami cannot keep up due to a lack of money.
In 2011 the canes will play Ohio State, Kansas State, at South Florida, at Marshall, at Florida State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, and at Virginia Tech, and at Maryland. That's 6 teams likely to be ranked in the top 25 and likely 8 bowl opponents. Plus, for some unexplained reason, Miami is playing a road game at Marshall. That's the kind of game elite programs do not play. It's a 3,000-mile road trip into the mountains of West Virginia. There are zero recruits in WVA that Miami might need to impress and it's not like there are many Cane fans in the region either.
In 2012 Miami is currently scheduled to go at Kansas State, host Cincinatti (tenative), South Florida, as well as Florida State, at Boston College, at Virginia, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina; Virginia Tech and NC State. Additionally, the Canes are very close to a deal to face Notre Dame in Chicago and are in talks to face Alabama in Atlanta to open the season! That's 6 teams likely to be ranked in the top 25 and likely 9 bowl opponents.
In 2014, Miami will play Notre Dame, at Nebraska, and at Memphis Florida State, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Clemson, at Wake Forest, and at Virginia. That's 6 teams likely to be ranked in the top 25 and likely 8 bowl opponents. Plus, for some unexplained reason, Miami is playing a road game at Memphis. That's another game elite programs do not play.
It's not that Miami won't be better than many of the teams it is scheduling. It's that Miami is trying to win a 100-yard dash by running 120 yards when every other program is running 100-yards. The Canes can't win that race. No program can. The cumulative battle of attrition will bite any program attempting such a yeomen's schedule
Miami is a good school. They offered me a scholarship. So I have to conclude that Miami understands the scheduling game but just needs the money. That's the only possible explanation. Because if the 'Canes don't need the money, their scheduling practices demonstrate fundamental misunderstanding of the way the game is currently played. While Bob Stoops, Mark Richt, and Jimbo Fisher all decried playing more than one marquee non-conference game while rivals Texas and Florida played one or none; Miami is scheduling itself into an enormous hole for much of the coming decade.
Perhaps the new TV deal will help the 'Canes financially and Miami will stop scheduling themselves out of the BCS. Perhaps if Miami had a stadium of its own or a decent booster base not comprised of convicted-felon rappers and ponzi-scheme masterminds. But the 'Canes have neither. Miami is a small private college with a small Alumni base. FSU fans out-number Miami fans when the Canes host the Seminoles.
Miami is absolutely one of the best 15 teams in the country and should be in 2011 as well, but its schedule will likely render it behind much worse teams in the polls.
Miami should always be a decent team. The 'Canes access to talent unparalleled. But if Miami doesn't fix its financial, scheduling, and recruiting issues, Cane fans might feel silly if 2010 and 2011 are the best Miami teams for the foreseeable future. If the Canes fix those issues, then they can come close to hanging with the 'Noles for the long term.