FishDuck Recruiting Special: Pac-12 Talent – #12-10

The following is the #12 – 10 countdown of Pac-12 schools, part of Chris Charbonnier‘s ongoing special report for

The introduction of this series is located here:


In case you missed the introduction, you can find it here. It will give you some good background, and clue you into the formulas being used below.

Note that all rosters are works in progress, as teams have not yet released official 2012 rosters. You’ll see that some rosters are over the 85 scholarship limit, but this is only because there’s attrition that either 1) I don’t know about or 2) hasn’t been made public (if this were the SEC there would be a 3rd option, but we won’t go there).

  • Tier-E: 5-star rating by at least one service
  • Tier-1: 4-star rating by at least two services
  • Tier-2: 4-star rating by one service
  • Tier-3: 3-star rating by at least two services
  • Tier-4: 3-star rating by one service
  • Tier-5: No 3-star rating by any service




Washington State Cougars

w/o 2012 Class                                                                     w/ 2012 Class

E) 0                                                                                                                       E) 0

1) 0                                                                                                                       1) 1

2) 5                                                                                                                       2) 6

3) 18                                                                                                                   3) 31

4) 17                                                                                                                   4) 19

5) 21                                                                                                                   5) 29


E-2 = 5                                                                                                          E-2 = 7

4-5 = 38                                                                                                      4-5 = 48



Be honest, you weren’t surprised to see the Cougars at #12 on this list. They’ve been one of the worst two teams in the conference for five straight years. Combine that with the fact that the school is located in Pullman and you won’t find a formula for recruiting success. They simply don’t have enough talent to compete at a high-level in the PAC12 right now.


What the Future Holds

There isn’t a better fit for Washington St. than Mike Leach. He’s dynamic, passionate, innovative and a little crazy (aka a lot crazy). Given the fact that the Cougs will never be able to attract enough E-2 talent to compete with the big dogs consistently, having a system coach in place is critical. Leach is the ultimate system coach. If he can provide the spark that many expect, it just might grab the attention of a few recruits. It doesn’t hurt that Washington is home to quite a few talented high-school kids every year.

At this point, even landing tier-3 players would be an upgrade. If they can sprinkle in a couple of tier-1’s, then they can move up in these rankings surprisingly quickly. It might seem like a long shot, but a I’d bet that a few talented playmakers will jump at the chance to play in an offense that sends four deep on every play. They’re going to win by outscoring people, and that’s got a certain appeal.


My Take

Ever since I read the Sports Illustrated piece on Leach back in 2005, I’ve loved that guy. I think he’s likely to get more out of his team than just about anyone else could. I expect them to have some nice in-conference wins this year and maybe even stay out of the bottom-two, although that’s a bold prediction considering they’re stuck in the north division. Due to their overall talent-level, they have virtually no chance against the teams in the top third of these rankings. However, if the team can score a bunch of points and generate some interest, recruiting will pick up leading to more success in the future. Although the ceiling is low due to location, the Cougars can only get better. Playing in a bowl game should be the goal.




Oregon State Beavers

w/o 2012 Class                                                              w/ 2012 Class

E) 0                                                                                                               E) 1

1) 1                                                                                                               1) 1

2) 4                                                                                                               2) 5

3) 24                                                                                                           3) 37

4) 17                                                                                                           4) 21

5) 16                                                                                                           5) 20


E-2 = 5                                                                                                  E-2 = 7

4-5 = 33                                                                                              4-5 = 41



I was surprised to find the Beavers ranked this low. I guess it’s because of their recent success. Last year was rough, but for most of the last decade Oregon St. has been a tough team. They’ve never had elite talent, which makes some of their wins (USC x2) truly remarkable. They’ve always overachieved. Great coaching and talent development combined with landing a string of uniquely talented yet unheralded recruits have allowed them to compete at a high level. Dare I say though, it’s difficult to imagine the Beavs getting back to that level anytime soon given the roster’s current make-up.


What the Future Holds

It doesn’t look that bright. While Mike Riley is a brilliant coach whose been able to get the most out of his players, last year showed us that even he can’t field a winning team if the talent isn’t there, and it doesn’t appear to be. The Beavers are in dire need of explosive skill position players on offense. The north division is going to be brutal for the foreseeable future and recruiting isn’t likely to pick up. They landed tier-E stud Isaac Seumalo this last year, but his dad’s the defensive line coach. Unless Isaac’s got a bunch of younger brothers, don’t expect many more blue-chippers to end up in Corvallis.


My Take

I think Riley is one of the best coaches in the country. Many analysts and statistical models agree with me. That said, his teams cannot compete at a high-level without improving their talent. Even though the staff is known for coaching up two and three stars, they’ve also hit on a handful of talented sleepers like James and Jacquizz Rodgers. This trend has to continue for them to be competitive, but finding hidden talent is becoming increasingly difficult due to the quality and quantity of scouting services that coaches have access to. I see a difficult road ahead for the Beavers, with struggles on the field and the recruiting battlegrounds. Corvallis, much like Pullman, isn’t an easy sell to elite 17-year-old athletes. Look for the Beavers to scrap and do everything they can to stay out of the bottom third of the conference standings. Bowl appearances will be the goal and should be applauded. As long as Mike Riley’s the coach, there’s a glimmer of hope, but if he ever leaves, it could get real ugly, real fast.




Colorado Buffaloes

w/o 2012 Class                                                            w/ 2012 Class

E) 0                                                                                                             E) 0

1) 3                                                                                                             1) 4

2) 3                                                                                                             2) 4

3) 21                                                                                                         3) 38

4) 12                                                                                                         4) 18

5) 18                                                                                                         5) 21


E-2 = 6                                                                                                E-2 = 8

4-5 = 30                                                                                             4-5 = 39



Colorado falls into this spot by the slightest of margins. There is very little difference between these bottom three teams, and one recruiting cycle could change the order. The Buffs are in the exact same position as the Cougars and Beavers: a lack of talent leads to on-field struggles. These struggles, combined with an undesirable location (Pullman, Corvallis and Boulder) leads to sub-par recruiting classes and inevitably, more losses. It’s a vicious cycle. Fortunately for Colorado, there were some signs of life this year and the recruiting class added some nice pieces to the two-deep.


What the Future Holds

Being in the south division, Colorado has a chance to play its way into the middle of the pack and make a bowl game. They won’t have much of a chance against teams in the top third of these rankings, so they’ll need to take care of business against their peers in order to be successful. The staff appeared to pick up some steam on the recruiting trail towards the end of this cycle, but I’m not sure that momentum will carry into next year. With only 8 scholarship seniors on the roster, it could be a small class for the Buffs in 2013. On the bright side, the junior class isn’t easy on the eyes and if the coaches can replace some of the “fat” with solid, tier-3 players, it could make a significant difference.


My Take

I might feel differently if the senior class were bigger, but unless there’s some serious attrition, look for the Buffs to continue struggling in the PAC12 for at least the next few years. Washington St. is going to be tough with Leach at the helm, and you know the Beavers will be respectable under Riley. So, basically, the only two teams in the conference that are less-talented than the Buffaloes will still be favored to finish higher in the standings at the end of 2012. That’s not good. The class of 2014 will go a long way towards shaping the future success of this team, but that’s still a couple of years away, and even if they strike gold, it’ll be two years before those players make a contribution big enough to matter. That puts us in 2016. Will Jon Embree be given that many years to turn the program around? I don’t know, I doubt it.



Check back next week was we continue the countdown in the Pac-12 conference with #9-7…

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