First of all - Tuberville? Dead. He's a good coach. He'll be fine. Of course, the 3 million he gets in two days, plus the 3 million he gets next year will help him be fine. But he'll be coaching somewhere soon. I have no doubt.
Moving on. Anybody looking forward to playing Georgia Tech's offense in the Fillet-Our-Defense bowl? Nah, me neither. So let's pretend it's not going to happen and look at recruiting.
If you have been paying attention, you know that LSU has a great recruiting class already on the books. Assuming the current rampant mediocrity of the team doesn't sour any of these high school kids, Les Miles is going to bank a great class this year.
So far, LSU has landed commitments from two 5-stars, twelve 4-stars, five 3-stars, and one 2-star. The biggest of the big names is Russell Sheppard, a 5-star QB from Houston who is arguably the best QB in the country and certainly one of the best athletes. Plus, he appears to be an amazingly mature and high-character young man who not only gives LSU a good name just by committing, but has been actively helping the LSU staff recruit. I'm not sure LSU has ever had a recruit like this guy. Pay attention to him.
Other big names: Chris Davenport, a 5-star defensive lineman from Mansfield, LA. Stavion Lowe, an offensive lineman from Texas. and about eleven other high quality 4 stars.
Bottom line: LSU already has - relatively securely locked - a Top 5 class in the country.
On deck are a number of high quality recruits that will only increase the Tigers' recruiting ranking. One of those is 5-star safety Craig Loston, who ESPN is already showing in LSU's take. They may be jumping the gun a bit, but all intel points to Loston signing with LSU. Perhaps the fact that he's Sheppard's cousin may play a role? Uh, yes. Another top recruit LSU is likely to land is 5-star receiver Rueben Randle from Bastrop. Randle is being very quiet about his plans. And there's a lot of speculation that Bama will steal Randle away. If they did, it would rank up wth USC's feat of grabbing Joe McNight a few years back. But much of this is likely just people filling the vaccum of Randle's silence with wishful thinking. I'd put Randle in LSU's column. But anything could be happening there - the kid truly has been tight-lipped.
There are other names as well that you can look up: Mingo (LB), DeBose (WR), Campbell (DT), and others.
But what I'd really like to explore is this: will the mediocrity of LSU's current football season impact recruiting? I think the answer is no. With one important caveat.
First the caveat. Will Coach Miles take big action on the defensive end? To me, that's the only question. Gary Crowton and the LSU offense basically will get a pass this year because they've had to deal with a series of very inexperienced QBs. And LSU is still 7-5. But the defense is under serious scrutiny. LSU has not had this anemic of a defense in recent memory. Worse, this was supposed to be a banner year for the LSU defensive line - billed as incredibly deep and unusually experienced for a team that lost Glenn Dorsey. Yet - they sucked this year. And I think that's being generous.
If Coach Miles takes aggressive action on the defensive side of his staff, I honestly think the recruiting class will fall into place. LSU has two national championships in this decade. That fact is NOT lost on recruits. Perhaps more importantly, LSU places respectable numbers of quality players in the NFL. That plays large on the minds of highly touted recruits.
Look for LSU to end the recruiting season on National Signing Day, Feb 4, 2009, with a top 3 class. Although LSU fans are quickly becoming jaded when it comes to LSU football, the recent string of highly ranked classes at LSU cannot be underestimated for it's importance. If Coach Miles can't generate SEC championship quality teams (i.e. competitive) routinely from that kind of recruitment, then he is doomed. I'm a big Miles fan. I think he'll do it. But if he doesn't? There's no excuse. We can't expect a BCS bowl bid every single season. But we can certainly expect to be competive in the SEC West. How Miles handles this year's defensive coordinator fiasco will be a signal, I think.
One of the most amazing things about LSU football lately is the lock the program has had on Louisiana athletes. With no in-state competition, LSU has the run of the state's talent. ULM, ULL, LA-tech - cannot compete. Very few programs are able to lock down the best in thier states like LSU does. USC is one exception, where Pete Carrol very rarely has to venture outside of a 75 mile radius of his campus to find the talent to field USC's consistently excellent program (hold the tomatoes, please.). Bottom line: when Les Miles can't hold almost all of LA's talent, then something's wrong.