That, however, is changing.
Georgia, which got a high-level commitment from four-star GAC athlete Darius Slayton, is now ranked No. 1 in Scout’s national recruiting rankings. Bama, it should be pointed out, has finished the season ranked in the top recruiting spot a couple of times under Nick Saban.
Georgia has finished at the top recruiting spot exactly never in its 100-plus year history.
Today’s commitment from Slayton, who multiple insiders have maintained for some time is one of the “absolute must-get guys out there”, pushed Georgia past Alabama for the top spot. That’s a monumental move on a couple of different levels.
First, pushing to the number one spot means that a program has done the recruiting work over the last few years to position themselves to be number one.
Second, it means a program has won big recruiting battles.
As good as Alabama has been, and they are elite in recruiting, Georgia has more than held its own this recruiting cycle with the Tide. All indications are that Terry Godwin will sign with Georgia, and former Bama commit Jonathan Ledbetter will as well. The Dawgs lost Rico McGraw to the Tide, and Columbus native Mekhi Brown still appears headed to Tuscaloosa.
The biggest driver in Georgia’s surge to the top has been in-state success. For the record, I don’t think you, specifically, have to keep all of your in-state prospects. Often players really don't fit best at Georgia (see RB Oregon commit Taj Griffin from McEachern). After all, some of the best players over the last few years at Georgia have been from out of state (Todd Gurley and Aaron Murray come to mind).
Nonetheless, of the top ten players in the state of Georgia, the Bulldogs very well could sign six of the top ten (Thompson, Godwin, R. Smith, Slayton, Ledbetter and D. Walker). That’s a recruiting rate that’s, quite frankly, never been accomplished in Athens. None in the top ten are expected to wind up at Florida, Alabama or Auburn.
It, so far, has been a stunning accomplishment, but one that should be expected more often than it actually occurs. That's been Mark Richt's problem more than any one thing: being a consistent recruiting machine.
Then, of course, there are the noisy fans that surround each program. At Georgia, the argument (and I don’t agree with it because I have the ability to read) is that Mark Richt does less with more.
Georgia’s current roster, according to scout.com, is the 5th best in the SEC - that’s hardly the best in the country. Those same folks ignore the fact that Georgia started one four-star prospect, two three-star prospects and a walk-on in the secondary most of the year. That’s not a formula for a program’s long-term success. That's recruiting failure in my mind. Georgia didn't have that problem at running back this season.
High-level, relentless recruiting is the only way to win it all, and that's something that Georgia hasn't done consistently enough to win the way its fans want.
That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.
Fact: Only one program has won a national championship in the last decade without first being ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final recruiting rankings on Scout.com just before that program's national title run. That was Auburn’s 2010 team. LSU (No. 2 in 2004), USC (2003, 2004), Texas (2002), Florida (2007, 2010), Alabama (2008), Florida State (2011) all had classes that lead them to the national title - all but LSU took the top spot in recruiting along the way, and the Tigers finished as runners up.
So is it really more complicated than that? Nope.
Winning at recruiting = winning on the field.
That’s been something Georgia’s been good, but not great at.