The notable hires of Lincoln Riley at USC and Mario Cristobal at Miami will no doubt have a significant impact on the college football landscape -- including in the recruiting game.
SEC programs like Alabama and Georgia have done well on the recruiting trails in both Southern California and South Florida. But according to ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum, Riley and Cristobal's presence could lessen the Crimson Tide and Bulldog impact in those areas.
“I think Lincoln Riley is going to harvest the West Coast extremely well," Finebaum said during The Paul Finebaum Showon Monday. "Where or who that affects, it could be anybody. (C.J.) Stroud, (Matt) Corral, Bryce Young, many other players for that matter have come out of the West Coast. He won’t get every one, but I think he will make a significant difference there.
"I think Cristobal is going to affect Alabama and Georgia to a lesser degree in South Florida. They both have done very well, especially Alabama, and when did the Alabama pipeline begin? When Cristobal was on Nick Saban’s staff. So, that’s something to keep your eye on," he added. “...I don’t think it will have a big impact this year because most decisions have been made, but those are very important recruiting hires. To me, Cristobal’s biggest challenge is convincing anyone that Miami is a legitimate, elite program, which it has not been for 15 years or longer.”
Riley already has the No. 7 overall recruiting class in 2023 with three highly-touted recruits, including five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson and five-star athlete Makai Lemon. Each of these recruits are native to the Southern California area.
Kirby Smart's Georgia and Nick Saban's Alabama currently hold the No. 1 and No. 2 recruiting classes in 2022.