Nick Saban likes to tell a story about how when he was an assistant at Ohio State he couldn't buy gas in Michigan or even turn in a receipt from "that state up North" while on the recruiting trail. Pat Gazzola, who owns the legendary Catfish Hole in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is still heart-broken that former five-star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham selected Missouri over Arkansas. And who can ever forget the story about Reuben Foster, who signed with Alabama despite having an Auburn tattoo on his arm.
The rivalry games that dominate this week's schedule are a major part of what makes college football so great. But if you think matchups like the Iron Bowl, the Game, the Civil War and the Egg Bowl are only combated on the field, you're sadly mistaken. The same bitterness and hatred displayed on the field almost always carries over to recruiting when rival schools are fighting over the hearts and minds of 17- and 18-year-old superstars.
"You bet rivalries extend to recruiting," said Matt Dudek, Arizona's director of on-campus recruiting and player personnel. "They definitely do, especially because of your rival's close proximity. You're often recruiting the same high schools as your rival because it's in your backyard. You're often recruiting the same players because in most states there are only so many good players. You don't ever want to lose a recruit to the other school across the state."