Notre Dame football recruiting: SC game a chance to impress

ND Insider

How USC continues to recruit so successfully is easy to explain.

It's one of the major schools in the country, which is kind of similar to Notre Dame's situation, and the school has got two of the premier recruiters in the country in Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron.

No matter where they are, they succeed. Orgeron had great talent at Mississippi. Kiffin has always been a great recruiter -- at USC as an assistant, as the head coach at Tennessee for a year and now at SC as the head coach. He's always been a great recruiter.

And just this year they got a new football facility.

Though they're in a bad neighborhood, and crosstown rival UCLA seems to have everything, USC stays on top because tradition and aggressive recruiting win out.

Prior to the new football facility, they were near the bottom in terms of facilities, but they still recruited great.

What USC sells in recruiting is the Los Angeles atmosphere, a path to the NFL and an exciting brand of football. It seems to work. They sell sunshine, girls and football.

Right now, USC is No. 1 in recruiting and Notre Dame is No. 2. SC is in the top spot despite NCAA restrictions. It's magical that they're able to do it.

But again, it's aggressive recruiting. They take negatives and turn them into positives, and the kids just seem to fall in line.

Kiffin has been able to succeed because he relates very well to the top recruits, and he spends a lot of time on recruiting. He, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Al Golden and James Franklin all relate to the recruits.

They know how to talk to them and their work ethic is second to none. I was recently talking to Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 junior, in his coach's office. For three hours we watched film, and then the coach told him he had to call Kiffin at 3:30 and Saban at 4.

College coaches can't call these guys because they're juniors, but they can call the head coach and have him have the player call the college coach. Lane Kiffin was the first coach mentioned, and he has Fournette call Lane every week.

People wonder how these guys do it. They outwork everyone else. They're at powerhouse schools and they outwork their competition.

That's what Kiffin is doing.

Same thing with Orgeron. It's really a duo. There is no better combination in the country than these two and that's the reason they're No. 1 in recruiting.

Normally, I would say that as long as the game is close, it would help both teams, but this year, Notre Dame is in the hunt for a national title, so it does matter in recruiting if ND wins.

It's reminiscent of 1964 when they lost, and 1988 when ND went out to California won and it led them to a national title.

USC will have every top junior from California at the game, so it should certainly benefit ND assistant Mike Denbrock, who recruits the state.

Notre Dame isn't allowed to talk to the kids, but the kids are still seeing the team and coaching and everything else there.

Notre Dame always has some success in California. There are a lot of Catholic schools, and ND has always had a presence in the state.

It's allowed them to successfully recruit one of the top three states in the country. The pipeline has been going for 90 years, since Notre Dame played in the 1925 Rose Bowl. ND's captain that year, center Adam Walsh, was from California, and the flow of talent really hasn't stopped.

Notre Dame has been more successful in California than it has in Florida and Texas over that period because of all the Catholic schools in California, and because of the alumni connections throughout that part of the country.

I would say that every top junior that Notre Dame has offered or will offer in California will be at this game, so I think it's imperative that ND has a good showing.

USC in the past has used the Notre Dame game in South Bend as a launching pad for their recruiting.

I remember the 2003 game when ND had a lot of top players at the game. USC ended up with most of them.

Notre Dame can reverse that this year by having a great game.

Ty Isaac