College football is one of the most competitive sports in the world. Teams annually compete for division, conference and national titles. Rivalries have formed throughout the years, and new ones are currently taking shape.
Another reason why college football is competitive is its recruiting rivalries. Programs do not have to play one another to bump heads on the recruiting trail. Tussling over prospects can be the foundation for mutual disdain between two programs, and the 2014 recruiting cycle has seen several rivalries come to the forefront.
The SEC is developing a recruiting rivalry with an entire state rather than a single program. A coach in the Big Ten must add some bricks to his state's recruiting wall, as a nearby program is gradually entrenching itself in his territory. Also, a trio of schools who are known rivals are continuing their competition for recruits.
LSU head coach Les Miles is one of the best recruiters in the country, and the same can be said for Dabo Swinney at Clemson.
The pair of lead tigers are competing for recruits such as receivers Trey Quinn, Saeed Blacknall and Malachi Dupre, per each recruit's 247Sports profile. Defensive end Kentavius Street is also considering LSU and Clemson, among several other schools.
Swinney beat Miles in the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and he is looking to beat him again on the recruiting trail.
The Crimson Tide have already raided southern California for a great prospect, as Golden State guard prospect Viane Talamaivao is committed to Alabama.
USC is trying hard to keep local recruits such as tight end Tyler Luatua and Damien Mama from also playing in Tuscaloosa, as both elite prospects are considering USC as well as 'Bama, according to their 247Sports profiles.
Before Alabama, USC was once considered the premier program in the country, and the Trojans surely want their glamorous stature back. Beating Alabama for Luatua and Mama would be a great start.
Urban Meyer has to be careful going forward, as the 2014 Ohio recruiting trail has been raided by upstart Kentucky.
Mark Stoops, an Ohio guy at heart, has 20 commitments, and eight are from Ohio. Kentucky is a neighboring state to Ohio, so Stoops can pitch Ohioans the idea of staying relatively close to home while playing in the SEC.
Although Meyer has a great recruiting class, he could start to lose battles to Stoops for Ohio prospects in forthcoming recruiting cycles.
Aside from fighting with Oklahoma for recruits, Texas has essentially had a recruiting monopoly operating in its backyard.
That is now changing, as the other BCS schools in the state are starting to stand up to the Lone Star State recruiting bully that is Texas.
Texas A&M is the main new recruiting rival for Mack Brown, as the Aggies' SEC membership has provided an amazing boost on the recruiting trail. Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech all have also found new confidence not to shy away from battling Texas for a prospect.
Ohio State vs. the SEC is a rivalry that appears to be developing into one that will last for many years. The Buckeyes are no strangers to recruiting in SEC country, but Urban Meyer has elevated Ohio State's southern recruiting presence to a new level.
Meyer has connections on the SEC recruiting trail stemming from his days as Florida's head coach. He has fiercely gone after southern recruits such as linebacker Raekwon McMillan, offensive tackle David Sharpe, running back Derrell Scott and receiver Johnnie Dixon, per each recruit's profile at 247Sports.
Meyer is going after SEC talent and is not backing down from anyone.
The Gators, Hurricanes and Seminoles are known as the "Big Three" in Florida. They are not friendly toward one another and are all nasty rivals.
The rivalry spills onto the recruiting trail, as they all compete for the same prospects. Defensive tackle Khairi Clark was expected to commit with Miami, according to the experts at 247Sports, but he instead chose to play at Florida.
The rivalry between the three programs will never end.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines are part of a classic rivalry, and they bump heads on the recruiting trail.
Cornerback Jabrill Peppers seriously considered Ohio State before committing to Michigan, per Brian Dohn of Scout.com (subscription required). Ohio State has a commitment from Damon Webb, who attends Cass Tech in Detroit, which is normally a Michigan pipeline.
Athlete John Smith is an elite underrated recruit who is considering both programs, says 247Sports.
The Iron Bowl schools are at it once again, as several 2014 recruits are torn between Alabama and Auburn.
Offensive lineman Josh Casher was once committed to Auburn but is now expected to sign with Alabama, according to the analysts at 247Sports.
Outside linebacker Ronnie Clark, running back Racean Thomas and receiver Cameron Sims are considering both schools, per 247Sports), and even Auburn commit Tre' Williams considered Alabama, says Jason Caldwell of AUTigers.com (subscription required).
New Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has shown he has what it takes to compete with Nick Saban for recruits.
Texas A&M being in the SEC has opened up the Lone Star State's recruiting trail to the southern schools, and vice versa.
LSU has been aggressive in Texas during the 2014 recruiting trail, as Les Miles has plucked four Texans to add to his roster, including stud defensive back Edward Paris.
Cornerback Tony Brown is another elite prospect from Texas who is considering SEC schools, per 247Sports.
That has not stopped the schools in Texas from raiding SEC country. Texas is being considered by Louisiana running back Leonard Fournette, according to Jason Suchomel of OrangeBloods.com, and Texas A&M is one of Louisiana receiver Speedy Noil's top schools, says 247Sports.
Florida is expected to sign safety Jamal Adams, who is from Texas, according to 247Sports.
Alabama vs. LSU may be the best rivalry in the SEC today. The programs operate in such contrasting fashions that it's fascinating.
Nick Saban is a coach with a serious and disciplined approach to the game, while Les Miles is an animated player's coach. Each coach has netted results with his style, and their contrasting personalities make it hard for recruits to choose between them.
Stud 2014 prospects such as running back Leonard Fournette, offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, cornerback Tony Brown, receiver Saeed Blacknall and safety Laurence Jones are expected to decide between the Tide and Tigers, per their 247Sports profiles.
A big part of this rivalry's greatness is that it is not only fierce on the field but also on the recruiting trail.