football Edit

Tuesdays with Gorney: UGA's domination of Florida is all about recruiting

“Guys, if you don’t recruit, there’s no coach out there that can out-coach recruiting. I don’t care who you are. The best coach to ever play the game better be a good recruiter because no coaching is going to out-coach players. Anybody will tell you our defense is good because they have good players.

“So spending time on the phone, spending time with people at your house, spending time with people when they come to your campus, I’m not with my family when I’m doing that. My family sacrifices so that I can go and spend time with other peoples’ families so that we have good players. That’s 25 percent evaluation, that’s 50 percent recruiting and another 25 percent is going to be coaching but if you don’t recruit, you got no chance.

“Just go look at the best teams out there, they got good football players and that’s the reason I believe in recruiting and I believe you better always be recruiting, always be recruiting because if you’re not, somebody else is.”

That quote is from Georgia coach Kirby Smart after the Bulldogs whipped Florida, 34-7, on Saturday in a game where the wheels fell off for the Gators in the second quarter of the frustrating afternoon in Jacksonville.


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Georgia looks like a potential national champion and Florida has limped to a 4-4 season. Florida coach Dan Mullen was upset post-game (understandably) and looked miffed Monday when asked about recruiting, as Mullen sidestepped an answer and then pointedly asked for the next question.

Another theme has unfolded in recent days, if not weeks: Mullen can’t coach and needs to get out of Gainesville. Let’s remember, this is the guy who took Mississippi State to No. 1 and helped Florida to national championships as an assistant under Urban Meyer.

And this is where it circles back to recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. Like always. Those Gator teams had Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin and so many others. Meyer was a manic recruiter like the sport has maybe never seen before.

Instead of just spouting off opinions, though, about whether Mullen does enough recruiting or if he’s hands-on enough, I dug into the numbers. And it’s clear since the end of the Meyer era in Gainesville following the 2010 season, Georgia has recruited markedly better and really put the pedal to the metal once Smart took over in Athens.

Those numbers are extraordinary – here’s a look:

Since Smart took the Georgia job, the Bulldogs have signed 23 five-stars through the 2021 class. Since Mullen took over (and considering he has two fewer recruiting classes to speak of) the Gators have signed four.

Since the end of the Meyer era, Georgia has dominated in five-star signings with 30 to Florida’s 13. Four-stars are about the same with the Bulldogs holding a 138-130 edge so this advantage is almost purely among the elite of the elite.

Georgia is 110-31 since the start of the 2011 season; Florida is 85-49. The Bulldogs have beaten Florida in four of their last five meetings. In their prior six games, the two SEC teams split and that leads us back to the Meyer era ending after the 2010 season.

In terms of team recruiting rankings, Georgia has not finished outside the top-10 since the 2013 class. Florida has only three top-10 finishes since 2015. Only twice in the last 11 recruiting classes that coincided with the end of the Meyer era has Florida had a higher recruiting class in the team rankings. It’s not that the Gators’ recruiting classes are bad, it’s just that they’re not as good as their SEC East rival.

The first question Mullen got at his Monday press conference was about recruiting and he said: “We’re in the season now. We’ll do recruiting after the season. When it gets to recruiting time we can talk about recruiting.”

Mullen then cut off the reporter and asked for the next question.

I’m not in Mullen’s head but I think he meant that he wanted to answer questions about his team, the South Carolina game, whatever else. He didn’t want his press conference to spiral into questions about recruiting or Smart’s comments or anything else. He wanted to put Saturday behind him and understandably so since it was so ugly.

I cover recruiting for a living. Florida’s assistants are out there battling. They’re involved with many of the nation’s top prospects. They are trying to keep commits and flip kids from other schools and land uncommitted five- and four-stars. Kids all the time talk about how they love Florida and want to play for the Gators. It’s not a recruiting catastrophe there.

Here’s where the frustration lies though: Georgia has just been way better on the recruiting trail and it’s really starting to show on the field.