Three-Point Stance: Luther Burden effect, James Madison, rankings & offers
Rivals national recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove has thoughts on Luther Burden's effect on recruiting in Missouri, James Madison's bowl eligibility and the importance of star ratings versus offers in the recruiting world.
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1. The Luther Burden effect
I spent Thursday through Sunday in Missouri, with an emphasis on the St. Louis area. A common theme from players to coaches to fans I met along the way is the impact that Luther Burden has had on the overall state of recruiting in the state of Missouri. I grew up the son of a coach that had a ton of success recruiting Missouri. Later, I recruited and scouted the state for over a decade myself. That has led to a deep-seated belief that if the University of Missouri could keep its top players home, then the Tigers would compete for championships.
While the football, from top to bottom, may not be as good as recruiting hotbeds like Florida or Texas, the elite talent from the state of Missouri and the area that borders on the Illinois side of St. Louis can compete with the best in the nation any day of the week. Whether they were heavily pursued by Missouri or not, think of Missouri rosters packed with players like Ezekiel Elliott, Jameson Williams, Kyren Williams, Antonio Johnson, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Rachaad White, Hassan Haskins, Sam LaPorta, Christian Kirksey, AJ Epenesa, Jeremiyah Love and Tony Adams. A single team with players of that caliber would certainly compete for championships.
Missouri and St. Louis have always been up for grabs. Gary Pinkel had some success with keeping a handful of the elite talent home, but no coach has really come close to building a border around the state. Like Illinois, where I live, top talent is always going to leave the state and that is a given. But Missouri – and the St. Louis football community in particular – is tight knit and to many future stars staying at home was not the answer as they felt success elsewhere was the best way to attain a career in football. Burden changed that, and the Burden effect is real.
Ryan Wingo's decision Wednesday could impact Missouri football for years to come. Missouri landed a commitment from in-state five-star Williams Nwaneri. The Tigers have Burden pushing for a Heisman and should they land Wingo the Luther Burden effect will come to fruition. In fact, a commitment from Wingo could cause a tsunami that changes college rosters across the nation.
2. Why can't James Madison go to a bowl?
The James Madison Dukes are 7-0 with a chance to run the table and go undefeated. But for some reason the NCAA is taking an archaic stance on James Madison's bowl eligibility. Why? Because the Dukes are a transitional Football Bowl Subdivision program that is told they need to wait for their opportunity to compete with college football's top teams in a bowl game. NCAA rules state that programs moving up to the FBS are required to undergo a two-year transition period and are ineligible for bowl games.
Just when you thought the NCAA was enlightened enough to provide opportunity to all, it has decided to take an age-old stance on bowl-game eligibility. This is another example of the NCAA clinging to its old ways at the expense of many for the gain of absolutely nobody.
Preventing James Madison from competing in a bowl game – or the chance at a national championship – when it has met every requirement to play as an FBS school is flat-out wrong. Think March Madness, when schools and players that few pay attention to, get their chance at greatness. Think of the NIL opportunities the NCAA is preventing players from capitalizing on. Think of the coaches' families who don't see their spouse or parent for months at a time. Would it be that big of a deal to give a program that has earned the right to compete at the highest level an opportunity? Absolutely not.
3. Do stars or offers come first?
This is important to address, because I receive this question every day and have received it more than ever this past week. College scouting services that are paid by colleges do evaluations and provide a grade as to level of play. The media outlets that cover recruiting are following newsworthy events that matter to the major college football world and determining how a school's class is rated, and then these outlets are later judged on how the ratings transfer to the NFL Draft.
The fact of the matter is there is a process and order of operations when it comes to college football recruiting, and it starts with being identified by a coach or scout, then the school evaluates a recruit based on need and profile and then an offer, when warranted. Then, and almost always then, is the time a recruit should start worrying about stars.
Rating a bunch of players who have upside but no offers doesn't do anybody justice unless the recruit signs with a Division I program. I say all of this to prove one point, with the intent of making high school prospects chase the only thing that matters, and that is an opportunity to play at the college level.
Once a player has Division I offers they become part of the star evaluation process and any player that signs at the FBS level will be assigned stars eventually. So, to answer the question: Offers come before stars 90% of the time, and a high school player's time is better spent chasing offers than stars.