South Carolina’s players have already turned their attention to Kentucky, but the significance of the win over Alabama could linger – perhaps for months and even years –in recruiting.
The victory could mean more in the long term – even if the Gamecocks win the SEC East – than it will in the coming months. The impact on recruiting might help USC land Class of 2011 heavyweights like Jadeveon Clowney and Brandon Shell, but it also likely left a significant impression on many of the nation’s top juniors and sophomores.
“I’ve never been a person that thought one win was going to be the end all, be all for a recruiting class for a particular school,” ESPN’s Jamie Newberg said. “But for South Carolina I think it’s a little different, because this was the signature win of the Steve Spurrier era. Everybody has been waiting for this, and it just hasn’t happened.
“I’m a big believer that recruiting is about momentum. Moving forward this can give them momentum and a big boost in recruiting.”
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But how long will the effects linger? And if the Gamecocks struggle down the stretch, will the win carry as much significance?
There are a lot of variables involved in answering those questions. Combine them with the many variables in recruiting and it becomes nearly impossible to quantify and difficult to qualify the impact of the win. However, Spring Valley coach Miles Aldridge, a longtime college coach, believes the victory could produce far-reaching results.
If nothing else, he says, USC’s recruiting opponents will lose conjecture in the art of negative recruiting.
“It’s monumental,” he said. “You want to build an atmosphere of positiveness. That kind of puts the icing on top of everything you say. Wow, these are nice people, this is a nice area, it’s a great campus, this is a great weight room and these are great coaches. Now they can beat the top team in the country.
“At least now somebody can no longer say they haven’t beaten [one of the best teams in the nation]. Now they can. It gives you credibility.”
USC hosted a number of high-profile recruits for the game. That allowed many of them to enjoy the celebration, an impression that may be impossible for any school to duplicate in the course of the recruiting process.
“They were in the locker room after the game,” USC recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer said. “You could tell they were excited, too. They all had smiles on their faces.
“I certainly think the impact of the crowd, the atmosphere and the win over a No. 1 team gets you in the door with people and hopefully opened a lot of eyes, not just for this year’s seniors but also for juniors and sophomores and other guys down the road. If we’re able to build on this and continue to have success, it could be huge without a doubt.”
Of course, USC could diminish the significance of the win by continuing its current run. An appearance and/or a win in the SEC championship – and a potential berth in a BCS bowl – would certainly elevate the Gamecocks into an even larger recruiting realm than the one they joined Saturday.
Newberg believes such feats could be on the horizon.
“If they play .500 football the rest of the way, it probably won’t help them or hurt them,” he said of the Alabama win. “They’ll recruit well and try again next year, but I have a feeling this team will contend for the East and it wouldn’t surprise me if they win the East. If they do that, it’s going to carry over into recruiting. It’s unfortunate they already have 20 commits. They don’t have many numbers to play with, so it may help them more next year than this year.”