football Edit

Three-point stance: Former football powers that need to be revived National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s thought-provoking Three-Point Stance continues today with teams he wants to see return to power, highly seeded hoops teams and how they are in football, and how he pulls for two-stars.



When writing about the Oklahoma Sooners' excellent start to recruiting for the 2017 class, I began to think of how exciting it was to see OU and Bob Stoops back in the hunt for the national title. And it made me start to think of a few other programs I’d love to see come back to national prominence. There are so many I felt I should limit it to just five, otherwise it’s too easy. So here they are, in order ...


Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh (USA TODAY Sports Images)

With Jim Harbaugh at the helm, there is little doubt in my mind (after some initial doubts) that Michigan will be in the playoffs sooner than later. The last time the Wolverines played for a national title was seemingly 100 years ago (1997 was last title when they were tops in AP poll so we’re heading toward 20 years). College football and the Big Ten are better with a powerful Wolverines program and we are going to see one soon.


Charlie Strong
Charlie Strong (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Oklahoma returned the Big 12 to the main stage last season and hopefully Texas will be there shortly. I am still not sold on Charlie Strong being the guy to take the Longhorns back to the heights they saw as recently as 2009 and of course with Vince Young in 2005. The Big 12 needs the Sooners and Longhorns to be the big dogs, it needs the Red River Showdown to once again be one of the biggest games in the country and it needs Texas' recruiting to continue to be on the upswing.


Stacy Coley
Stacy Coley (USA TODAY Sports Images)

I started following college football when Miami was dominant and of course followed the program closely in the early 2000s when the Hurricanes should have won back-to-back national titles. The ACC needs a strong Miami even with Florida State and Clemson doing so well. When the Canes moved from the Big East, they were supposed to put the ACC on par with the SEC. Perhaps no program has fallen further from grace quicker than Miami due to scandal, lack of fan support, an NFL stadium 45 minutes from campus and average facilities. Can Mark Richt bring it back? I hope so, because when the Canes are great, college football is much more fun.


Vols fans are dying to be back in the national picture and their drought is almost as long as the Wolverines' slump, with their last title in 1998. With the recruiting ability of Butch Jones and an SEC East that is less than stellar, the Vols could be a year or two away from the playoffs if they can put it together and get past whatever SEC West power they face in the SEC title game. This is a rabid and amazing fan base, and it would be incredible to see the Vols return to the top.


The Huskers last played for a national title in 2002 when they were drubbed by a strong Miami team and they last won a national title in 1997 (split title with Michigan when Huskers were named national champ by coaches poll) after they destroyed the Vols. You could argue that Nebraska’s fall has been as swift and disappointing as Miami’s has been and that the Huskers have a tougher road ahead than the Canes. While both teams play in weak divisions inside strong conferences, Miami has a huge geographical recruiting advantage. But the Nebraska fans rival the Vols' fans when it comes to thirst for a national title and it would be equally epic to see the Huskers break through.


Oregon coach Dana Altman
Oregon coach Dana Altman (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Of the top eight seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament (Nos. 1 and 2 seeds nationally), six are Power Five football programs and, surprisingly, most of those six are very good in football. That doesn’t happen that often, at least as far as I can remember. Yes, Kansas is arguably the worst team in college football (UCF could argue) and Virginia’s football program has been a disaster, but Oregon, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Michigan State have all been national title contenders in the last couple of years.

The Ducks, for example, emerged as a national football power in recent years under Chip Kelly and were a playoff team the first year the NCAA went to four semifinalists. UNC almost edged into the playoffs this past season while Oklahoma and Michigan State were in the playoff. It’s somewhat rare when football and basketball line up for programs as well as it has for these four teams and the momentum of one sport can feed the other.


B.J. Raji
B.J. Raji (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Contrary to popular belief, I love it when two-star kids make it big in college, go on to become NFL first-rounders and have terrific college careers. The under-recruited and often ignored two-stars often use that as motivation at the next level and most of them never forget the slight in rankings or the many schools that passed on them coming out of high school.

So it’s no surprise to see Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji reference his two-star ranking out of high school in his retirement (or hiatus or whatever you want to call it) statement this week. Back in 2004, Raji’s senior film emerged very late in the process and only Boston College (where he landed), Rutgers and Wisconsin offered before National Signing Day. The rest, as they say, is history.

Of course I want to see our five- and four-stars go on to become first-rounders like Raji did (No. 9 overall pick in 2009), but it’s also great to see guys who never even had a chance to complain about their rankings because they weren’t on anyone’s radar hit it big. Year after year, the complaints regarding rankings become more frequent and I’ve always said at any speech I’ve given that “only one player is happy with his ranking, and that’s the No. 1 player in the country.”

But for every Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves or Laquon Treadwell, former five-stars who will be surefire first-rounders, I have an even greater appreciation of guys like Raji, JJ Watt, Matt Forte, Le'Veon Bell, Jordy Nelson and others. Guys who just put their heads down and tried to prove everyone who didn’t offer or those who ranked them as two-stars that they were wrong.