<
>

USC's recruiting could be impacted by Jim Harbaugh's return to college

LOS ANGELES -- Certainly fans of the University of Michigan have every reason to be euphoric with the hiring of former San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, and his presence in Ann Arbor has already had an effect on the USC Trojans.

Harbaugh, the late Bo Schembechler’s former Michigan quarterback, has already infiltrated the John McKay Center with word that Trojans first-year offensive line coach Tim Drevno, who has a coaching history with Harbaugh, is set to rejoin his former boss at Michigan.

The next obvious question: How much in the future will the Harbaugh hiring affect the Trojans' recruiting, which at the moment is focusing in on a top-5 class in 2015?

During his heyday as head coach at Stanford, Harbaugh was not only a major Trojans coaching nemesis but also a USC recruiting adversary.

Although the Trojans and Wolverines aren’t exactly next-door geographical neighbors, there is a history of past recruiting battles between these two storied programs.

Now before there are any thoughts of recruiting surrender to Michigan and Harbaugh, the Trojans have a pretty good history of extracting talent out of the Land of the Maize and Blue.

Under Pete Carroll, the Trojans signed the likes of defensive end Nick Perry (2009-11), a standout out of Detroit King High. The Trojans also came that close in 2003 to signing defensive end LaMarr Woodley, who played for the Saginaw High Trojans. Woodley eventually played for Michigan against the USC Trojans in the 2004 and 2007 Rose Bowl, battles in which the Trojans prevailed 28-14 and 32-18, respectively.

If you wish to go back further in the USC-Michigan recruiting rivalry, the Trojans' 1978 national championship team under John Robinson was led on defense by All-America linebacker Dennis Johnson (1977-79), a product of Northwestern High in Flint, Michigan. Johnson helped defeat Michigan in the 1979 Rose Bowl, 17-10.

And even during the reign of legendary USC coach John McKay, a Michigan man was involved in center Bill Redding (1968-69) from Grosse Ile, Michigan, by way of Orange Coast College.

What fans of the Trojans and Wolverines doesn’t remember the recruiting battle for a SoCal tailback named Justin Fargas?

The USC faithful remember when the Wolverines shocked the Men of Troy in 1998 when Fargas (Encino, California/Notre Dame) passed on being the next great Trojans tailback and signed with Michigan.

After a series of injuries and disappointments, Fargas eventually came to USC and his one-season career under Pete Carroll helped rejuvenate the Trojans' program in 2003 and was a major player with two touchdowns in the 38-17 Orange Bowl victory over Iowa.

And, then there was the time the Trojans were spurned in 2003 by Vista (California) High defensive back Leon Hall, who would sign with the Wolverines, become a consensus All-American, and eventually matriculate to the NFL.

So, it seems that when either the Trojans or Wolverines sign a local product from the other’s region that player is usually a major national recruit, and that’s what could make the potential Steve Sarkisian-Jim Harbaugh recruiting battles potentially so fascinating.