Mark Richt vs. Will Mushcamp: Whose Recruiting Style Is Most Effective?

Andrew Kulha@@AKonSportsSenior Analyst IIIJune 12, 2013

Oct 27, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt shake hands before the game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia head football coach Mark Richt is known for his strong belief in doing things the right way. Will Muschamp, his counterpart at Florida, is known for his strong belief in toughness and physicality.

So which approach is most effective in attracting talented recruits?

By the numbers, Muschamp has been the most successful. Since taking over in 2011, Muschamp has led Florida to two top-five recruiting classes in three cycles.

The Gators' class was ranked No. 11 in 2011, No. 4 in 2012 and No. 3 last cycle, finishing behind only Ohio State and Alabama, according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings.

Muschamp's classes have improved each year, as he's quickly made a huge splash.

Richt, on the other hand, has been doing this for a lot longer, so he's had a lot more time to succeed and/or fail.

Going back to 2002, the first full cycle of the 247Sports' team rankings, Georgia has finished 15th, 12th, ninth, eighth, third, 26th, second, fifth, 12th, fifth, eighth and 11th.

Over the past 12 recruiting cycles, Richt has finished with an average class ranking of 9.6.

Factoring in Richt's longevity and Muschamp's explosion out of the gate, let's call it a wash as far as class rankings are concerned.

That brings it right back to philosophy.

So, just who is Richt, the recruiter? 

In 2012 Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports put together a feature on Richt that highlighted his philosophy as a coach:

Everything with Richt runs through his faith. And through his faith comes perspective and patience. 

"Do I want to win a national championship?" Richt said. "Sure I do. I want to win. Everybody who has ever won a national championship wanted to win the national championship. Everybody wants to win it. 

"But it is about a process. Doing things right, fundamentally, schematically and football-wise. But hopefully [it's also about doing it] morally, within the rules of the game, educating young men, educating them academically, educating them about life, helping them understand right and wrong, how to be a good husband, how to be a good father, how to function in this society properly.

"I'm in the business of doing that. And you do that well for long enough, maybe you have a chance to win a national championship.

"I want to win," he reiterated, "but it's all important to me."

Richt wants to win, but he wants to do so the right way. That plays into recruiting at just about every level. Richt goes on to talk about his decision-making process with players, and that can be directly tied to recruiting as well:

"If you're making your decisions for the short-term...then it might work in the short-term, for that game or a season, but in the long run you're going to have problems," Richt said. "They are going to quit on you. They are going to think you are a fraud. If you are as fair as you can possibly be and you try to stay as consistent as you can be, at least everybody knows what to expect and they can trust you. They may not like everything you do, but they can trust you.

"But what happens in the short-term is people might say, 'Well, they've got a bunch of these guys, a bunch of bad guys.' And some of our dirty laundry is going to become public because I'm going to take playing time away from a guy because I think that is a more severe punishment than running up and down the stadium steps a few times.

"So some people might say, ‘He's losing control of the program because all these guys are suspended.' And I'm saying, 'No, it's 100 percent the opposite.' We maintain control of the program by disciplining our players.

"Our drug testing policy is tougher than anybody in the league and most people in the country. Well, we don't want our guys to smoke pot. So I might have a guy suspended for something that someone else might have had to have it happen four times to lose any playing time. It's the first time here."

Richt doesn't recruit perfect players, and it would be unrealistic to expect players to be perfect. From the outside looking in, though, he holds his players and program to an extremely high standard, and he doesn't waver from that standard.

One has to assume that he's that way on the recruiting trail, and for many, especially parents, that's a huge draw for Georgia.

He's a man of faith.

Richt has even gone to church (and jail) with a recruit, which is ironic because Muschamp had reportedly gone to church as well to recruit that same player, according to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution—2012 5-star linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemsons.

In contrast, Muschamp values one thing above all else on the recruiting trail, according to a 2012 article by Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel:

And here's all you need to know about that style and philosophy: On the sheet, the No. 1 factor at every offensive position is "toughness" and the No. 1 factor at every defensive position is "tackling"—followed closely by "toughness."

"Toughness is a talent," Muschamp says. "You either got it or you don't."

Considering the size, skill and power of most SEC players, Muschamp is certainly searching for the correct attributes in recruits.

Football is becoming more physical by the year, but that physicality is also combined with insane speed and athleticism. SEC football is the gold standard in that regard. Muschamp said as much in Bianchi's report:

"The physicality in this league is different," says Muschamp, who was the defensive coordinator for Nick Saban's national title team at LSU. "Every week, you've got to strap it up. We needed to get more girth and we needed to get more physical. You don't pay money to see the featherweights. You pay to see the heavyweights."

With a mindset like that, it's easy to predict that Muschamp will continue to have success on the recruiting trail. That success will be aided if Florida competes for the SEC title in 2013. And considering the quality of the past few recruiting classes, there's a good chance it will.

For the record, at the moment Florida's 2014 class is No. 14 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. Georgia is No. 20. Both programs figure to move up in those rankings as the cycle progresses.

There's no arguing that Muschamp has the right philosophy to be successful recruiting in the SEC, and he's proven himself to be an excellent recruiter. That said, the way that Richt goes about running his program is admirable, to say the least, and he has a successful recruiting track record as well.

The philosophies are different, yet both are effective. Both Richt and Muschamp have found recruiting success doing it their own way.

The winner of this argument is actually determined by who wins on the football field. Because in the end, that's what recruiting is all about.

Since becoming head coach of the Gators, Muschamp has yet to beat Georgia. 

Advantage Richt. For now.

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