Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports and I have been friends since the late 1970s. We agree on most subjects, especially the recruiting process, but we agree to disagree on three issues that are frequent topics of conversation on the Internet.
1. Lemming predicts that Notre Dame will once again be a national power in a year or two.
I have serious doubts.
2. We agree that the Big Ten has hit a low point in comparison to other major conferences in the country.
But Lemming believes the Big Ten will rebound quickly.
I'm not so sure.
3. Based on the decreasing number of All-America and All-Big Ten players being developed in Illinois in recent years, I believe the talent level of Illinois high school football players is overrated.
Based on the number of Illinois products in the NFL, more than any other region of the country outside Los Angeles, Lemming insists the talent in Illinois is surpassed only by Florida, California, Texas, Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
If you watched some college football games last weekend (how could you miss them?), you have to admit the Big Ten isn't ready to play USC or Oklahoma. The conference lacks athleticism, speed on defense and skilled players and it doesn't figure to get better by playing Montana State, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana/Lafayette, Ball State, Eastern Illinois and Temple.
But Lemming insists it will happen, as it did in the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-10.
"The Big Ten didn't have great recruiting in recent years," Lemming said. "But Ohio State has great players, a lot of NFL draftees, and Michigan has good players who simply don't fit into coach Rich Rodriguez' new spread offense.
"With outstanding recruiters such as Ron Zook, Tim Brewster and Danny Hope, the Big Ten will experience a resurgence. But you need four good recruiting classes in a row before you can become a dominant program.
"Look what Zook did in one year at Illinois. You must have an aggressive recruiting staff, a relentless style and a winning personality to attract talented players, not just one or two coaches but an entire staff. You need more than just a good ole boy coach. You need relentless recruiting like the entire SEC has."
Lemming points out the Big Ten is beginning to attract the cream of the crop. Ohio State got Terrelle Pryor, the nation's No. 1 player last year. Illinois got Arrelious Benn, the nation's top-rated receiver in his class. And Minnesota signed the best players in Indiana, the Tidewater of Virginia and Dallas, Texas.