Recruiting impacted by conference uncertainty
Athletes and coaches talk about how conference realignment impacts the recruiting process
Published: Monday, December 5, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 00:12
Conference realignment changes the recruiting trail. The conference a school competes in can affect a recruit's decision, according to players and coaches.
With Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference and West Virginia heading to the Big 12, the Big East conference's lanscape as a basketball league will be much different. The reputation of the conference as a tough, physical conference is known around the world.
"We heard it was like the hardest and most physical league," said Enosch Wolf. "That's probably the biggest thing we heard before. We heard it was the best conference in the states."
Wolf and Niels Giffey, both sophomores on the UConn men's basketball team, are from Germany. Even beyond America, recruits know what type of conference the Big East is. Two Huskies shared the same opinion as to whether or not a recruit pays attention to what conference they'll be spending their college career in.
"I think it definitely does [affect a recruit]," said Tyler Olander. "How you play personally, you know how the team operates and the other teams [in the conference] defintely plays a role."
Olander, a Mansfield product, stayed in his hometown to attend college but said the conference affects a player's choice. Junior Alex Oriakhi, of Lowell, Mass., felt the same way. Oriakhi said a conference's reputation for certain types of basketball players as well as where its opponents play matters.
"I think it mattered a lot because for me I wanted to stay close to home," Oriakhi said. "I also loved the Big East because I knew it was also one of the best conferences in the country and real physical. I felt that's where the best big men played at the time. I definitely think it mattered a lot to me and Connecticut was the perfect fit."
With college football driving the expansion and shifts of conferences around the country, Big East football coaches' gave their opinion in an Oct. 28 article by the Associated Press detailing how to recruit around conference realignment. Lack of stability in the Big East affects football prospects.
"The thing that recruits want to know is what's going to happen with the conference," Louisville coach Charlie Strong told the AP at the time. "Who's all leaving, who's staying? You'd like to have it [resolved] more sooner than later because we're going to get into recruiting season and I think that's how people are going to recruit against you."
Other Big East coaches had the same feelings on the issue.
"I hope everything settles down and we can keep playing [in the conference] but I don't know," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano told the AP. "I don't get into it. All I tell them is that I do know who we are and what we are and I'm confident that when all the dust settles we're going to be in a good situation here at Rutgers."
"There are so many moving parts and there is so much speculation going on," Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said. "And really, nobody knows."
Schools like Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia benefit from knowing where they'll be playing for years to come.
"I think that's very important to sit back and know that we're going to be competing at the highest level both academically and athletically," Pitt coach Todd Graham told the AP.
Another unsettled issue is if Boise State, Navy, Air Force, SMU, Houston and Central Florida will accept invitations to join the Big East conference. UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni wouldn't mind a conference with those schools.
"We'd be in the BCS formula," Pasqualoni told the AP. "[That's] pretty exciting to me and I think pretty exciting to the prospective student athletes. I think that would be a very positive outcome for the Big East."