By and large, Northeast football and Northeast football recruiting is a bubble on its own. Year-in and year-out, the teams play similar styles of football: "tough," defensive-minded, run-heavy and offensively-challenged. Don't believe me? Look at the total offense rankings below, from the last four seasons:
Obviously it's glaring just how much these groups have struggled to play effective offense for the past four years, with few exceptions. Entertainingly enough, Syracuse's 2012 team is the only top-40 group of the entire sample. And there were only three more top-50 teams (2014 Pitt and Buffalo, 2013 Penn State) in total. In 2015, no Northeast team ranke above 66 (UMass) in total offense. Over these four seasons, 15 (!!!) different Northeast teams have finished ranked 100th or worse in total offense.
That's awful. And of course it's going to have a trickle-down effect on recruiting, where these teams a) recruit the same type of player, and b) the best offensive talent in the region leaves.
Or... it did leave. And was leaving, until Syracuse hired Dino Babers. Yesterday, I tried to make the case for it being one of the best moves of college football's offseason, in large part because of the emphasis on offense. What have Bowling Green's numbers looked like under Babers?
2015: 4th / 2014: 44th
Those marks would first and sixth, respectively, in the Northeast over the last four seasons. At Eastern Illinois, Babers's 2013 (589 yards per game) and 2012 (471 yards per game) teams would rank second and 19th, nationally -- the best and fourth-best totals if we're including his other two Bowling Green years as well.
The point is... NO ONE ELSE IN THE NORTHEAST HAS THIS.
We've had the indoor football advantage for upwards of 30 years, but outside of a select time period when Donovan McNabb was on the field for Syracuse, it hasn't used that (and the result for the offense) as a recruiting advantage over its outdoor, Northeast rivals. We now have a chance to do so. You can already see the mindset change:
When Brian listed out targets (based on Coach's Twitter follows) earlier, it showed off a heavy emphasis on both the Northeast and offense. There were 11 Northeast guys in all, nearly all were 4- or 5-star prospects and all but two were offensive players. Syracuse just offered a four-star wideout from Ohio (Jaylen Harris) today that only counts two offers from spread-style teams (Ohio State and West Virginia). Standout 3-star Rutgers commit Ahmed Bah, a wide receiver from Brooklyn, re-opened his search this morning and has interest in Syracuse.
You see where I'm going with this...
Again, Syracuse isn't going to start raking in four- and five-star recruits over night. But because it was open to new ideas and a shift in the way it did business on the football field, we may see some shift happen almost immediately. And it'll start in our backyard. Northeast high school football hasn't been completely taken over by forms of spread offense the way Texas has, but Texas got that way because of "Air Raid" coaches succeeding in high school and then college. Syracuse is looking to Baylor for inspiration. And Baylor's Art Briles has been part of the spread revolution down in Texas -- so much so that college teams in the region are trying to put variations on it to both stop it and stand out. Syracuse can stand out and create something regional foes struggle to stop, simply by adopting a basic spread attack.
The Orange are selling something no other Northeast school can right now, and for the small-but-talented pool of great offensive prospects in the region, that's already speaking volumes. However, the success of the Babers era will be reliant on how much those "volumes" turn into commitments, and how quickly other schools catch on. Recent hires/extensions in the area indicate that won't happen any time soon. Syracuse -- for once -- may finally have a major selling point on everyone else.