As signing day comes to a close, after watching my beloved Georgia Bulldogs miss out on two major in-state prospects toward the end of the afternoon (Derrick Brown to Auburn and E.J. Price to Southern Cal), I found myself thinking one thought: Georgia isn’t “cool enough” for local products to commit to. Of the top 10 players in the state of Georgia (sites may vary but still), only three committed to play for Kirby Smart. In the top 10 of the state of Alabama, Auburn and Alabama both reeled in 4 a piece while competing with each other; LSU pulled in 7 of the top 10 in Louisiana (14 of top 21).
So why is it that Georgia kids don’t want to go to Georgia to play? How does LSU keep so many of their top prospects in-state? Georgia doesn’t face any real competition from Georgia Tech but only manages 3 of 10, yet Alabama and Auburn have to battle with each other and both still pick up 4.
I witnessed it first hand with the guys I played with and against in Gwinnett county; so few of those great players wound up being Bulldogs. The guys that were getting the big time offers didn’t really even consider UGA. I remember talking with Bear about this a few months ago, when Mark Richt and Les Miles were on the hot seat. We discussed how LSU always had such great in-state classes and Georgia always let some of the should-be-locks get away. To me, Louisiana kids always seemed to have much more pride in Louisiana State University than Georgia kids did in the University of Georgia.
Today I read LSU commit Drake Davis’s piece on the Player’s Tribune today (it was brilliant, that site is awesome), and it completely validated what I had been thinking a few months ago: purple and gold runs deep in Louisiana kids. Every kid that picks up a football in the state of Louisiana dreams of wearing the purple and gold. They don’t dream of being NFL stars, they just want to be Tigers. This is blatantly evident in LSU’s signing classes year in and year out.
Georgia kids don’t have that pride that makes UGA the primary destination. Somehow that lack of pride prevents UGA from being a cool enough destination. It might be because Georgia hasn’t won a national championship recently, but it isn’t like the Dawgs haven’t been good. It might have to do with things like Katrina, which has built a stronger sense of community in the state and where “home” is, Bayou voodoo. Who knows? I’ll have to ask Bear.