OK, I'll play along. I mean, there has to be a punch line somewhere.
What head coach is the best recruiter? Come on, it's not even close.
You can have Urban Meyer or Butch Davis or Nick Saban. All good choices, all guys who breathe and bank recruiting every day of the year.
And none of them can touch Pete Carroll.
The one-time NFL washout — remember when stodgy USC alums were ticked he was hired? — arrived in Los Angeles in 2001, and everyone has been playing catch up since. This argument isn't about BCS national titles, because even Carroll would be the first to admit his team should've played for two or three more than it did this decade.
This is about recruiting: The procurement of talent, the dance of building relationships and connecting on a level that forces 17- and 18-year-olds to dig deep under the pandering and posturing of grown men and find themselves.
"It came down to when I looked in the mirror, was I going to walk away from competition?" USC wideout-turned-fullback D.J. Shoemate told me last summer. "That's where Pete gets you. If you don't come, it's almost like you're backing down from a challenge."
Year after year, recruiting class after recruiting class, Carroll sells the concept of competing.
And it has led to this: Since 2003, his recruiting classes have been ranked first (2004-06), second (2007), third (2003) and eighth (2008) by Rivals.com. This current class is ranked third, and could move up to No. 1 with a late push.
But those numbers don't do this machine, this ridiculous stockpile of high school All-Americans sitting behind each other on the depth chart, near justice. Consider this: In the last five years (not counting this current recruiting class), USC has signed 25 five-star and 55 four-star recruits.
That's 80 — eighty — blue-chip recruits over a five-year period. Remember, the NCAA gives athletes five years to play four, and there's an annual 85-scholarship limit. Now how utterly spectacular does that number look?
At one point in 2006, USC had 10 tailbacks on the roster — nine of whom were high school All-Americans. The reality is, Pete could sell Big Macs at Weight Watchers, Red Bulls to insomniacs.
Pete: "It's an awesome opportunity, guys. Let's go make some history!"
Even the big, bad NCAA can't slow him down. Last January, the sport's governing body banned head coaches from making off-campus recruiting visits during the spring evaluation period to eliminate the practice of coaches "bumping" into players.
Carroll was livid with the rule, saying it favors lazy coaches.
Then again, it hasn't helped any of them close the gap.
CFT: Syracuse confirmed that former quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson will have their respective jerseys raised to the Carrier Dome roof this year.
CFT: Senior receiver Wilson Van Hooser is transferring from Tulane to help care for his ailing mother.
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Since 2002, USC has finished in the top 4 in every final AP poll. No other school has finished in the top 12 every year. In fact, USC, Ohio St., Oklahoma and Texas are the only schools to end each of the last seven seasons in the Top 25.