Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and the Best Recruiting Coaches of the 2000s

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IMarch 5, 2013

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and the Best Recruiting Coaches of the 2000s

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    Recruiting really soared to new heights when the 2000s came due to the boom of the Internet. Coverage increased from just annual/quarterly magazines to everyday extensive coverage on various websites. The 2000s, to some people, marks the start of the "modern recruiting era."

    With increased coverage came increased competitiveness on the recruiting trail and that's when good recruiting coaches became great. The 2000s are a legendary time in recruiting and the head coaches who recruited well usually are the ones who have best records during this time in college football.

    For this read, let's stroll back to the 2000s, when the word "swag" wasn't used, nobody knew who Nicki Minaj was and when college football recruiting was just starting to really become a sub-industry.

    Here are the best recruiting coaches of the 2000s.

Lloyd Carr, Michigan

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 5

    Notable Recruits: Justin Fargas, Lamar Woodley, Prescott Burgess, Mike Hart, Chad Henne, Mario Manningham

    Carr was a terrific recruiting head coach for Michigan. He's a legend around Ann Arbor and is one the best coaches in college football history. Michigan football is a brand all by itself, so recruiting for Big Blue isn't overly tough.

    Yet Carr and his staff did nothing to derail the recruiting train and reaped the benefits. 

Mark Richt, Georgia

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 6

    Notable Recruits: Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, Max Jean-Gilles, Leonard Pope, AJ Green

    Richt took the UGA job by coming over from Florida State. He's been solid as a recruiting head coach, benefiting well from the talent in his program's home state. He's also not shy to go out to land a prospect, evidenced by getting Stafford from Texas and Moreno from New Jersey. 

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 7

    Notable Recruits: Adrian Peterson, Brodney Pool, Landry Jones, Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Jermaine Gresham, Travis Lewis

    Stoops is a quiet assassin on the recruiting trail as Oklahoma isn't flashy, but its recruiting prowess is proven. Stoops is a great coach and has a winning track record that attracts talent. OU is always among the best in the Big 12 and the country and that's because Stoops has recruited well, especially in the mid-2000s. 

Larry Coker, Miami

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 4

    Notable Recruits: Kenny Phillips, Greg Olsen, Devin Harris, Eric Winston

    The talent that's come through Miami has been basically ridiculous and the school sits in one of the very most talented hot beds in America. It's not tough to recruit well here, but let's give Coker some credit, shall we?

Steve Spurrier

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    Spurrier left Florida right when recruiting coverage was intensifying, so he may not have as many documented top 10 classes as other coaches on this list.

    Yet Spurrier still must be recognized as one of the best recruiting head coaches during the 2000s.

    He brought in a ton of talent to Florida and started the modern Florida brand that recruits identify with today.

    He hasn't recruited too shabby at South Carolina since arriving there in 2005, either. 

Les Miles, LSU

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 5

    Notable Recruits: Eric Reid, Morris Claiborne, Rueben Randle, Russell Shepard, Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Ryan Perrilloux

    Miles took the reins from Nick Saban and added some flair to the LSU program. He can be a little kooky and a little quirky, but recruits love the guy. He belongs on this list and has LSU in the top 10 recruiting rankings every year.

Jim Tressel, Ohio State

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 4

    Notable Recruits: Maurice Clarrett, Terrelle Pryor, Ted Ginn Jr., Troy Smith, Santonio Holmes, Bobby Carpenter, Donte Whitner, Chris Wells

    The man in the sweater vest was nothing to play with as a recruiter in Columbus. Tressel recruited at a high clip and that helped him field some impressive Ohio State clubs. The Buckeyes may not have had the fastest teams, but they still had a lot of talent under Tressel. 

Bobby Bowden, FSU

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 6

    Notable Recruits: Joe Mauer, Lorenzo Booker, Kamerion Wimbley, Brodrick Bunkley, Ernie Sims, Antonio Cromartie, Fred Rouse, Myron Rolle, Zebrie Sanders, EJ Manuel

    Bowden is one of the best to ever do it and was Nick Saban before Nick Saban was "Nick Saban."

    Florida State is one of the best recruiting programs in the history of college athletics and that's thanks to Bowden's ability to close out recruits in January and February. 

Mack Brown, Texas

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 6

    Notable Recruits: Vince Young, Larry Dibbles, Justin Blalock, Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Brian Orakpo, Sergio Kindle, Lamarr Houston, Aaron Ross

    Texas has top recruiting classes year after year and the Longhorns don't really leave their state too often. Brown is so popular in the Lone Star State that he may be held in higher regard than the Governor.

Urban Meyer, Florida

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    Top 10 Classes from 2000-2010: 4

    Notable Recruits: Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden, Jaye Howard, James Wilson, Aaron Hernandez

    Meyer had one of the best recruiting runs ever during his stay in Gainesville. A few classes he brought in were ranked No. 1 and of course Tebow went on to become an icon. under his watch, Meyer had Florida recruiting like a machine.

Nick Saban, Alabama/LSU

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010:

    Notable Recruits: Justin Vincent, LaRon Landry, Dwayne Bowe, Matt Flynn, Buster Davis, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw, Mark Ingram, AJ McCarron, DJ Fluker

    Saban's the best coach in the country and he's also the most well-known figure in the game, so that makes him an elite recruiter. Alabama is the premier program in the country and it's because of Saban.

    He's the Bill Belichick of college football and his recruiting methods have proven results. Don't forget Saban was an excellent recruiter at LSU, too. 

Pete Carroll, USC

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    Top 10 Classes 2000-2010: 7

    Notable Recruits: Shaun Cody, Mike Williams, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Matt Leinart, Keith Rivers, Taylor Mays, Matt Barkley, Joe McKnight, Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga

    Now, please remember that the order of this list wasn't any sort of ranking. But I still believe Carroll's the best recruiting head coach in the 2000s.

    Cody is the recruit who opened the flood gates, as when Carroll convinced the DL prospect stay home USC then became a mainstay in the top 10 recruiting rankings. Several classes were ranked No. 1 and served as foundation for BCS bowl teams.


    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to, and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.