You hear the term "blue blood" tossed around quite a bit when talking about college sports. I've used it myself. It's a term we media members and fans use to describe programs that have historically been dominant, and as such, supposedly possess a certain element of prestige.
That's no longer the case in college football.
Sure, you have your Alabamas and Ohio States — both of whom would presently be classified as blue bloods — still sitting at or close to the top of the college football world. But you also have newly successful programs that, for whatever reason, are right there with them and don't appear to be going away.
It used to be that Texas could pull a recruit away from Baylor simply by showing interest. TCU was never a factor. Boise State was a commuter school. Coaches at programs like Nebraska, Michigan, Notre Dame and USC could wow and pull in recruits just by showing up on their doorstep wearing the school colors. Once inside the house, these same coaches could then entertain the entire family with legends and folklore that embodied the rich traditions at that particular university. It made recruits want to be part of it. It made families want to be part of it.
Going to one of these schools meant that you would be playing at a place with NFL-caliber facilities. It meant that there would be seemingless endless funds and resources available to you to help develop you into the best player you could be. It meant you'd be playing on national television and have the chance to become a household name long before you left college. And it likely meant you'd have an even greater chance to get to the NFL.
The not-so-well-kept secret nowadays is that there aren't many FBS programs in the country that can't provide you those things. In fact, I can't think of a Power 5 program where a player wouldn't have all of those things.
I've written a couple of articles about this topic in the past, with the bulk of them directed at Nebraska. The end result was arguments with fans and Nebraska media members alike who disagreed with what I had to say. The thing is, it's not just Nebraska — it's everywhere.
No college football program in 2015 can rest on its logo and history and assume it's a more desirable option for potential recruits based on those two things alone. I cringe when I hear fans or media members say thing like "Eight or nine wins is just not acceptable here at School X." They say things like that because of history. It's like there is some scientific formula that only fans and supporters of these "blue blood" schools know about that says "Because this happened here in the past, we should not settle for anything less happening here in the future, because we are School X."
Again, you can't do that in 2015.
The elephant in the room — and I know Nebraska fans hate hearing it— is that 18-year old kids don't care about your history or traditions. They don't care about sellout streaks, Blackshirts, Bear Bryant's hat, The Four Horseman, slapping the sign, rubbing the rock, The Big House or Something for Joey. They just don't care.
Because of this, the coach, his personality and his system are far more important in 2015 than the brand will ever be.
Those 18-year-old kids only want the answers to these questions:
1. Will I see playing time?
2. Will I get on TV?
3. Will I play in a fun, exciting and winning system?
4. Will I have a shot at making it to the NFL?
After that, it's the coach, not the program's history and traditions, who must convince recruits that the answer to all four of those questions is "Yes."
I've called Urban Meyer a "used car salesman" in the past. That's not an insult. It's a necessity for success at the college level. In a world where everyone wants to be thought of as the quiet genius, striving to be as Belichickian as they can, it's as though coaches and athletic directors forget what builds successful college football programs in 2015. Meyer is personable. He's likeable. He sells his program with a smile to recruits and families. He then sells his system — one that historically wins everywhere he's been. And then he sells them on getting to the NFL. He's always closing the sale, and right now, he and Ohio State are reaping the rewards.
Ohio State's history, tradition and money have little to do with it. Would you bet against Meyer at West Virginia or Iowa?
Neither would I.
Coaches like Meyer, Art Briles, Steve Sarkisian, James Franklin and Gary Patterson are what drive success in college football in 2015. It's not the maize "M", the red "N", the golden helmets or the 100,000 seats in your ancient stadium. If a school has the fan and booster support combined with the money to invest in being competitive, it's really all you need, regardless of history or tradition. Most schools have tradition. Most have money. It's tougher to change traditions than it is to change how you spend money.
Blue bloods have been replaced by new bloods and new ideas. It's happening all over the world in every business. College football is not immune to it and it's not going back to the way it was. Fans, media and athletic directors at "blue blood" schools — if they haven't done so already — need to get on board or get left behind.