USC & Ohio State's Secrets To Success: Recruiting

Chip MinnichCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans celebrates after a USC touchdown against the San Jose State Spartans on September 5, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

USC’s Pete Carroll is considered to be among the best coaches in college football.  To review some of Carroll’s accomplishments at USC, he was hired in 2001, leading USC to an initial 6-6 record in his opening season. 

Since that season, Carroll’s USC teams have not won fewer than 11 games in a season, have won or shared seven straight Pac-10 conference championships, and have won or shared two national championships.  Not too shabby for a person who was not exactly looked upon as a savior by the USC fan base when he was hired in 2001.

Ohio State’s Jim Tressel has also developed a solid reputation amongst college football’s head coaching elite.  Similar to Pete Carroll, Jim Tressel was hired by Ohio State in 2001.  In another similarity, Jim Tressel’s initial year at Ohio State was a modest 7-5 record.  Beginning in 2002, Tressel’s Ohio State’s teams have averaged 10 wins per season, have won or shared five Big Ten conference championships, and won the 2002 BCS National Championship.

Like any good coach, Pete Carroll and Jim Tressel follow one of the oldest coaching maxims around, to win at this game, you have to have talent.

Both Pete Carroll and Jim Tressel recognize the need to recruit and develop top talent.  Both coaches make an effort to keep their top in-state talent at home; Carroll emphasizes the top talent in California, while Tressel recruits the top talent in Ohio.

Both USC’s and Ohio State’s annual recruiting classes are ranked highly by analysts every February on National Letter Of Intent Day.  Both coaches allow for incoming freshmen to win starting jobs or earn playing time if they are considered to be the best at their position.

The biggest difference between the two, as far as I can see?  Pete Carroll seems to recruit for a system in mind – big dropback passers such as Matt Barkley, fast and aggressive linebackers such as Chris Galippo, versatile running backs such as Joe McKnight, etc. 

Jim Tressel seems to identify talent, then build the system to fit the talent  - for example, Tressel has recruited and signed quarterbacks such as Justin Zwick, Troy Smith, Todd Boeckman, and Terrelle Pryor.  While Zwick and Boeckman were more traditional pocket passers, and Smith and Pryor would be considered mobile quarterbacks, Tressel designed an offense that allowed each of them to be effective when they played at Ohio State.

Which way is better?  Considering the results I listed up above, it is highly debatable that either coach is erring in terms of recruiting or player development.  Come Saturday night in Ohio Stadium, it will be interesting to watch the approach each coach has made with their respective teams.