USC Football Needs to Win the Pac-12 To Keep Recruiting Strong


It was a good weekend for USC football recruiting, with Steven Sarkisian and staff keeping the following adage true: “I don’t know if he can coach, but he can recruit.”

RELATED: Top 10 USC recruiting misses on Signing Day

Friday, we learned that 4-star tight end Cary Angeline committed to the Trojans’ 2016 recruiting class, followed by 4-star defensive tackle Keyshon Camp on Saturday.

This should cause fans to not only rejoice, but to also remember that this same sort of thing happened in the not too distant past.

Let’s go back into what may be termed by USC fans as ‘the dark ages’, or more commonly 2012.

National recruits will not come to a team that is not even competitive in their own division.

It was a year when, before the season, many thought would bring USC three things it had not had in years: the No. 1 recruiting class, a Heisman winner in Matt Barkley, and a BCS National Championship, after being forbidden for bowl games for 2 years.

Many hoped that would be the case, but here’s what actually happened:

  1. USC ended up with the No. 16 class, losing several four and five-star commitments. Several to rivals like UCLA and Notre Dame.
  2. Barkley was not even invited to New York City, and didn’t play in the last two games due to injury.
  3. The Trojans didn’t even win their own division, which went to UCLA.

The Men of Troy went 7-6 that year, losing in terrible fashion to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

But it is the third thing that is of concern, particularly the second sentence. The Trojans didn’t even win their own division.

Feb 4, 2015; Long Beach, CA, USA; (editors note: caption correction) Long Beach Poly High Jackrabbits cornerback Iman Marshall poses after announcing his decision to attend the University of Southern California at press conference at Long Beach Poly. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Why? Because what do Mr. Camp and Mr. Angeline have in common?

Answer: They are national recruits. This is not the same as trying to get Iman Marshall from local Long Beach Poly, where he grew up a Trojan fan. Rather this is like trying to get Jalen Ramsey from Tennessee.

SEE ALSO: 14 Recruits USC Signed From SEC Country

National recruits will not come to a team that is not even competitive in their own division.

They will only come to those teams that will be competing for national championships and are nearly shoe-ins to win their respective conferences.

When that doesn’t happen, they de-commit and end up elsewhere, sometimes at the rival of the school to whom they were once committed.

What does this mean for 2015? Simple, they must live up to the hype. It will not be easy.

USC has not started off 3-0 since 2011. While the Trojans should beat Arkansas State and Idaho in stylish fashion, it certainly will not be easy to beat Stanford, who are licking their wounds from the last two games that they let get away.

After them, Arizona State will want to prove that last year’s victory wasn’t a fluke.

RELATED: Ranking USC’s 12 Opponents By Threat Level

Then Washington will want to show Sark the consequences of abandoning them when a more attractive job came around.

Notre Dame will want revenge at home, and so on and so forth. Oregon at home also will not be a simple task, even without Marcus Mariota.

Lastly, the Trojans must beat rival UCLA if they want to keep the local recruits from heading to Westwood after four straight losses.

Legendary Coach Pete Carroll had a ‘win the Pac-12 and get to  the Rose Bowl’ philosophy. That should be the same philosophy that the Trojans now employ.

If they are able win the Pac-12, recruiting will take care of itself.

Fail to do so, and the national recruits will head elsewhere and Steve Sarkisian may be joining Lane Kiffin as an offensive coordinator elsewhere.

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