The Orlando Sentinel has a nice article here on Miami's downfall and recruiting. The general message is that when coaches get caught up in playing the star system to produce top-10 classes and stop evaluating talent for themselves and taking chances on sleepers, bad things happen. The rankings are imperfect, and sometimes "can's-miss" prospects don't live up to their billing. Moreover, only the coaches know what will work in their system, and they need to pay close attention to the players by visiting workouts and looking at mountains of legitimate film--not Youtube highlight videos--of the players they're considering instead of going on what someone on a recruiting site says.
In the wake of a flurry of commitments from relatively unknown players, a lot of Gamecocks fans have grumbled that we're wasting our space on guys that won't be able to help us win in the SEC. Those fans need to realize that while it's certainly great to have highly ranking classes--notice that perennially successful teams like Florida and Georgia never leave the top 10--it's also important for our coaches to go with their guts sometimes. If they're out there doing the things this Sentinel article says they should be doing, I trust their judgment at this point. Moreover, it's not like we're not picking up highly rated guys. Kelcy Quarles, AJ Cann, and Connor Shaw are all guys that some of the the elite programs wanted. I say we should wait a bit and see how this class stacks up at the end of the day before pronouncing judgment prematurely.
Gator Tailgating's Ben has a Gamecocks preview up. I don't know who Mike Brown is and I'm not really sure that 8-4 and tied for second in the East would consitute the best season under Spurrier when he went 7-4 (remember that we used to play 11 games and the eigth win in 8-4 would come over added FAU / SCS cupcakage) and second in 2005, but I enjoyed reading this preview nonetheless. Instead of stepping in line with the conventional wisdom that we're going to have a bad offense and a good defense again (most of the Georgia sites I see seem to believe this--go figure), Ben apparently paid attention to what happened in the spring and sees our offense being much stronger, with the secondary presenting the biggest question mark. I think that's very accurate. It also feels good to hear a rival fan say we're going to win eight--I would love that.