Mark Richt is going from strength to strength.
While at Georgia, Richt found himself smack-dab in what is arguably the most fertile recruiting region in the country. He had nearly limitless financial resources, top-notch facilities, institutional and fan support, and the brand recognition to target the nation's top high school players every year.
Now at Miami, Richt finds himself in yet another tremendously favorable recruiting situation in talent-rich South Florida. That said, getting players at The U will not be nearly as easy. How much tougher will recruiting be at Miami than it was at Georgia? We're glad you asked.
Recruiting Nation's experts ranked all 65 Power 5 jobs by ease of recruiting, weighing five factors that contribute to the procurement of recruits (see box at right). The idea was to evaluate each job, as Richt did at Miami and his successor, Kirby Smart, had to before signing on at Georgia, as essentially a blank canvas. Our experts were instructed to discount the presence of an iconic coach (so no "Alabama is a great recruiting job because Nick Saban is a monster recruiter") or an attractive scheme (so no "Baylor is an attractive recruiting job because Art Briles runs a fun scheme") in making their determinations.
For the complete five-point breakdown (Insider) of each recruiting job, click on the link that follows each team's brief summary in the list below:
Georgia must go no farther than its own backyard for the nation's top talent, has minimal in-state competition for recruits, has top-notch (and ever-improving facilities) and a proven track record of sending players to the NFL. If you can't get players here, check your pulse.
Complete breakdown (free)
The Buckeyes have one of the strongest brands in sports (national titles help), lie in a high-quality area for football talent, and can point recruits to the 55 players they've had selected in the NFL draft in the past 10 years. Population trends southward have been noted as a potential issue long term, but for now, that has been a blip on the radar at this football factory.
Resources, facilities, a surplus of local talent -- the Longhorns have it all. The only thing that puts Texas behind Georgia and Ohio State in the eyes of recruits are the empty seats that can be conspicuous when a Texas team fails to meet fan expectations.
4. USC Trojans
The Trojans are in a fertile recruiting area, are well-heeled financially, have a track record of NFL success to show recruits and have tradition like none other in the Pac-12. Past and recent history proves that USC can get rolling in any era.
5. LSU Tigers
In a state that is seriously loaded with talent, LSU has no serious in-state competition for players, has terrific facilities and a huge and passionate (if occasionally unreasonable in its expectations) fan base. Having to compete for players with the rest of the blue bloods in the SEC West is the only drawback.
No team in college football has a stronger tradition than Alabama, but unlike fellow SEC teams Georgia and LSU, it must share its state for recruits. Nick Saban is a force of nature on the trail, but without him, would the Crimson Tide be as attractive?
Florida is among college football's strongest brands and the Gators reside in one of the most plentiful states for talent, but must compete with Florida State and, to a lesser extent, Miami and others for recruits. Any coach should be able to get players here, but there's work involved.
FSU can sell national titles, Heismans and the promise of the next level to its many top-level recruits. Though there is a lot of competition in the state, the Seminoles have been the most consistent in landing talent.
The Wolverines have a highly visible brand that resonates with recruits, have a huge fan base and play in one of the all-time iconic venues in sports. Drawbacks to overcome include less in-state talent than chief rival Ohio State, as well as some academic considerations that present the occasional hurdle in attracting top recruits.
10. Oklahoma Sooners
This is a first-class program with tremendous resources, facilities, tradition and evidence that players can play at the next level. The only drawback is the need to go out of state for most talent.
11. Auburn Tigers
With a pair of national championship appearances (including a title) since 2010, the Auburn brand is strong among recruits. The Tigers also spend seven figures to execute a national recruiting plan. Having to share the state with the school in Tuscaloosa is never going to make things easy, but getting consistently good players here has not traditionally been a problem.
12. Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M can never complain about talent on the recruiting trail -- a total of 3,559 players from the state of Texas have committed to Power 5 schools in the past decade. There is a lot of competition for those players, and some local talent is not attracted to the SEC, but the Aggies still have things pretty good.
13. Clemson Tigers
Clemson has not been an annual national title contender, but the Tigers' brand is strong (and about to get stronger) among recruits, and the program is able to target a good base of local talent. The facilities are top-notch as well.
There may have been a perception years ago that the Fighting Irish's cachet was fading among recruits, but in 2015, the Notre Dame name is very strong. This is a national program that competes for titles and has arguably the No. 1 national following in college football. Its appeal isn't universal among recruits, but the lure remains.
15. UCLA Bruins
Plenty of talent resides in Southern California, and the facilities and resources for recruiting are improving, but this is known as a basketball school that chronically has to fight the perception that it's No. 2 to USC in its own city.
Tennessee is not a talent-rich state relative to what some of the above SEC schools draw from, and the Vols' recent tradition is nothing to write home about. But they have great facilities, a huge, passionate fan base and will spend the money it takes to bring in elite-level prospects.
17. Miami Hurricanes
The U practically invented swagger, and sits in what is arguably the top talent-producing area in the country, but the program remains limited by poor facilities -- the stadium is 21 miles from campus and the dorms lag way behind those of the Hurricanes' competitors on the trail.
Penn State has a strong local recruiting base, is not afraid to spend money on the trail or on facilities, and has traditionally turned out NFL players. If there's a residual stain on the brand from the Sandusky child abuse scandal, it's not being felt much on the recruiting trail -- the Nittany Lions have a top-10 class coming in for 2016.
19. Oregon Ducks
The football program that Nike helped build will always have plenty of money, and the facilities and other enticements like uniforms remain cutting edge. But there is precious little in-state talent, and the rest of the world may be starting to catch up to Oregon's distinguishing characteristics.
David Shaw, and Jim Harbaugh before him, made it work at Stanford in the face of academic restrictions and other handicaps like game-day experience. The Cardinal have a national recruiting footprint and have put in the resources to become successful in an extremely demanding environment.
The Cowboys don't have things quite as easy in securing regional talent as does Oklahoma, nor do they have the tradition of OU to sell recruits, but the program still has the ability to recruit Texas and the Kansas junior colleges in order to remain in the Big 12 title picture.
22. TCU Horned Frogs
TCU is new to the Big 12 and perhaps lacks the brand identity with recruits that can be attractive, but this is still a very good situation in recruiting. The Horned Frogs are in play for all of Texas' top talent, and their facilities and ability to deliver players to the next level have made them a Big 12 and national player.
The perception that the Spartans are second banana to Michigan in their state is shrinking among recruits, but it is still there. Coach Mark Dantonio and others have proven that you can get players here and win big, but this program must work harder than most of its competitors near the top of college football.
24. Ole Miss Rebels
Coach Hugh Freeze has shown that it's possible to get elite recruits in Oxford, but Ole Miss has to work twice as hard as most of its SEC West contemporaries to get that type of player. The facilities here are good and the local talent is decent, though having to compete with Mississippi State in its own state is a drawback.
There is not much elite talent in the state, but Arkansas can lay claim to pretty much all of it. Producing a large number of NFL draft picks (36 since 2004) helps mitigate the lack of an SEC title-winning tradition, as does the fact that the Razorbacks have generally been a competitive, bowl-type team.
26. Baylor Bears
If coach Art Briles left tomorrow along with his staff and his scheme, how attractive would this job be for candidates, and how attractive would Baylor be to recruits? Still pretty attractive, clearly. For recruits, the beautiful stadium, strong recent tradition and name-brand players like Robert Griffin III help mitigate many of the negatives -- like the appeal of Waco.
The Golden Bears are in a rich recruiting area and can point to as much high-profile NFL success as nearly anyone in the country (Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson), but there are academic hurdles, and the university is never going to outspend some of its contemporaries in the Pac-12.
Mississippi State suffers from the same affliction as half of the SEC West. The Bulldogs have shown the ability to recruit at a high level, but in a division with heavyweights Alabama, Auburn and LSU -- not to mention in-state nuisance Ole Miss -- the margin for error is incredibly slim.
Seattle is far for a lot of recruits, but it is a big city with an appeal to many. The Huskies have resources and good facilities, though a shortage of recent NFL names and recent title-winning tradition hurt a bit.
Like Baylor, Texas Tech has the disadvantage of being in a remote setting, though the Red Raiders still have plenty of access to in-state talent. The facilities could be better, and the program can't point recruits to an extensive track record of NFL success.
There is some in-state talent, but not enough to put together a whole class, which means ASU has to compete in other areas for top recruits. The Sun Devils can get just about anyone they want into school, but the current state of their facilities puts them behind others in the Pac-12.
Though football operates in the shadow of the school's nationally recognized basketball team, the program is in a quality area for recruits and makes the most out of what it has. UNC has had a nice flow of players to the NFL as well.
Maryland has bolstered its commitment to football since joining the Big Ten, has Under Armour backing to help get recruits' attention and resides in a good area for talent, but this is not, nor has it ever been, a "football school" -- and plenty of recruits are on to that reality.
Recently departed coach Steve Spurrier (and to a lesser extent Lou Holtz) boosted South Carolina's profile with recruits, but the Gamecocks continue to lag behind much of the rest of the SEC in facilities and recruiting budget. New coach Will Muschamp recruited well at Florida, Texas and Auburn, but will have to show some creativity to win similar battles at South Carolina.
The Virginia Tech brand has slipped lately, but the Hokies are above-average in most areas when compared to their ACC contemporaries, and there is a lot of talent to draw from in Virginia and the parts surrounding.
36. Missouri Tigers
Missouri's two SEC East titles in its first two years in the league showed it is capable of getting the necessary players to compete, but an antiquated stadium and the distance the Tigers must travel to get to players put them behind the eight ball relative to some of their SEC competition.
The Badgers have a strong tradition to sell recruits and have seen 21 players drafted in the NFL since 2011, but they spend the least money in the Big Ten on recruiting, according to the most recent data, and that has been a problem for a couple of recent ex-coaches.
The Cornhuskers don't have much local talent and have to go farther than their Big Ten competition for players -- but they spend the money it takes to compete on the trail. That said, Nebraska has signed just one ESPN 300 player since 2010, and current recruits are aware that most of the program's title-winning tradition dates to before they were born.
Louisville has the tools to be competitive in the ACC, though a lagging recruiting budget is a problem for a school with little in-state talent and a need to travel to find recruits. The facilities and recent NFL pedigree resonate with prospects.
There is a decent base of talent locally for the Cavaliers, but not much tradition to sell to recruits (the most recent conference title was in 1995) or realistic hope to play at the next level (nine players drafted since 2010, none in the first round). Admissions standards can be a hurdle as well.
41. Iowa Hawkeyes
The success of this year's group is all the more remarkable when considering Iowa's hurdles on the trail, which include a dearth of in-state talent and a recruiting budget that is in the Big Ten's bottom half. You can get to the NFL from Iowa City, though.
High school football talent in the state of Kansas is notoriously lacking in quality, and that will always make this a difficult recruiting job. The football budget also isn't great relative to some of K-State's competition. But top-shelf facilities and a pipeline to the Kansas jucos helps the Wildcats remain competitive.
There's lots of talent in New Jersey, and there's the New York market to tap into, though apart from when Greg Schiano was the coach, the program has had a hard time leveraging that. Some positive vibes around the Rutgers brand are badly needed in the effort to land recruits.
44. Utah Utes
The state of Utah has very little in-state high school talent, though the junior college programs in the state offer the Utes a bump. New facilities and an increased recruiting budget since the program joined the Pac-12 showed the university is serious, but there's still a ways to go.
Like Georgia, the Yellow Jackets sit in one of the most fertile regions in the country for football recruits. But academics and admissions considerations mean they have to be more selective about who they recruit, and also mean they have to spend the money to branch out of Atlanta for prospects.
There are plenty of good players in Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas, so that's a plus. Minuses include the lack of an on-campus stadium and a revolving door of coaches, giving recruits pause.
47. Arizona Wildcats
Attracting the state's best players to Tucson has proven exceedingly difficult over the years, meaning the Wildcats must be creative and branch out more than some others in their conference. The facilities and resources are decent, but the school's momentum on the trail seems destined to forever be hit-or-miss.
There isn't much in-state talent, meaning the Mountaineers have to target crowded Western Pennsylvania and the Southeast to find players for a Texas-and-Midwest league. A good fan base and a recent strong NFL track record are helpful on the trail, however.
There are recruits in the area, but NC State is hamstrung at times by competition on the trail (there's a lot) and the lack of a consistent history of winning. The Wolfpack have a losing record all time in ACC play, and most recently won a league title in 1979.
There is a decent amount of in-state talent and the recruiting budget is one of the biggest in the Big Ten, but the Illini lag in terms of facilities, can't sell much of a tradition, and are hampered somewhat by academic restrictions.
This is a difficult place to recruit, though like Stanford, Northwestern has somewhat figured out a way to leverage its top-notch academics. The Wildcats haven't had a high-level draft pick since 2005. A facilities upgrade planned for next year is a step in the right direction.
The talent pool is thin locally, and not having a Big Ten title since 1967 hamper the efforts to bring in top-level recruits. A great, new home stadium is a credit, however.
There is little in-state talent, and Corvallis is remote. The program continues to be creative in how it targets players -- its recruiting mailers are among the best in the country -- and planned new facilities will help as well. But it will always be a tough slog.
The Wildcats are trying, but the lack of a deep talent pool within the state and the unshakable perception among many recruits that UK is a "basketball school" has traditionally made things difficult on the trail.
Did you know Iowa State spends more money recruiting players than Texas? There's a good reason for that -- it has to. With little in-state talent, and competition with Iowa and its stronger brand for what local talent there is, it's a perpetual uphill climb for the Cyclones. The facilities are good, though.
56. Indiana Hoosiers
There are a handful of decent prospects in Indiana most years -- but they almost never go to IU. It's a basketball school in a basketball state and has perpetually been a very difficult place to attract prospects.
57. Duke Blue Devils
Duke has emerged from its previous doormat status in the past half-decade, but high admissions standards and lesser facilities mean this is still one of the 10 toughest recruiting jobs in the Power 5.
Former James Franklin showed you can win at Vandy, but the Commodores continue to lag behind every school in the SEC in the areas that matter most to the top recruits, including facilities. And that's before you get to by far the most restrictive admissions standards in the SEC.
59. Syracuse Orange
The Orange's talent-thin geographical footprint means they must branch out to fill recruiting classes, and there isn't a great deal of history to point to in trying to win those battles. Recruits of today were babies (at best) when Donovan McNabb was starring here.
There's little in-state talent, and the move to the Pac-12 has shifted the program's recruiting footprint west -- where there is a lot of already established competition. The Buffaloes also aren't that well-heeled financially compared to most of their Pac-12 competition, though $156 million in recently completed facilities upgrades are a step in the right direction.
Purdue already had hurdles in terms of in-state talent and facilities (which are finally being upgraded), and the 6-30 stretch of the past three seasons has done major damage to an already mediocre football brand.
Pullman is remote and Washington State does not have a lot of resources compared to its Pac-12 brethren, though a $61 million football facility was unveiled last fall. This is another school that has to get creative on the trail to win -- and coach Mike Leach is -- but it's forever destined to be a tough place to recruit.
63. Kansas Jayhawks
In short, this is a tough, tough place to recruit. KU has an identity as a basketball school that has been hard for recruits to shake, has no football tradition in comparison to its Big 12 competition, and has one of the worst home stadiums in the Power 5. There are multiple battles to fight on the road to recruiting relevance here.
Wake's recruiting footprint is talented but crowded with other schools, most of which have a better tradition and stronger facilities and support than the Demon Deacons can boast. Academic considerations are not as much of a hurdle as at Duke, but it's not like the Deacons can get anyone they want through the admissions process.
The only Power 5 school in New England also has just 17 players from Massachusetts on its roster, and neighboring states turn out very little talent to help BC compete in the ACC. The facilities are rated near the bottom of the league. The Eagles' first few years in the ACC went fine, but becoming a consistent first-tier program again is going to require some extreme creativity. This has never been the worst team in the Power 5, but it is the most challenging place to recruit.