November 7th, 2012 12:09 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Kentucky
Tags: Adolph Rupp, NFL, SEC, UK
As the rumors really start to swirl in the Bluegrass State — hello, Rex Ryan and Jim Tressel — we’ve been giving a little thought to what Kentucky needs to find as the school searches for Joker Phillips’ replacement. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said earlier this week that the Cats need a James Franklin-style recruiter who can sell a traditionally inferior product to talented teenaged recruits. When your last nine coaches have left town with overall losing records, there’s no doubt about that.
But UK needs more than just a salesman. Athletic director Mitch Barnhart needs to find the right salesman. So what would such a hire bring to the table? These:
1. The ability to recruit
Over the past 25 years, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has produced 56 NFL draft picks. Not the University of Kentucky, mind you, but the entire state. Of all the high school football players from the Bluegrass State, only 56 have been drafted into the pro ranks between 1988 and 2012. That’s the smallest talent base in the Southeastern Conference. The state of Arkansas has produced 58 draft picks. Missouri has produced 74. Tennessee 99.
Like every other school in the league, past Wildcat coaches have blazed a trail to Georgia and Florida in search of future stars. The next staff will have to do the same. That doesn’t mean a series of 4- and 5-star recruits will need to walk through the doors of the Nutter Training Facility, but the Cats will not compete so long as they’re inking 1- and 2-star players. The next coach needs to bring in more than his fair share of 3-star athletes. (And no, recruiting rankings aren’t perfect, but the better a signee’s ranking, the better the chance that your school will have inked a solid player.)
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