Rivalries don't end simply because the games are over. In some cases, rivalries don't require games to be played at all.
The months, weeks and days before National Signing Day reinforce some traditional rivalries, reignite some old ones and even introduce some new grudge matches.
That's what we're examining here: What are some of the new and renewed recruiting rivalries for 2012 and beyond?
Some are extensions of the on-field rivalries: Michigan and Ohio State is the textbook example of a rivalry that has only grown in intensity thanks to Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer on the recruiting trail.
Then there are new recruiting rivalries which have emerged in the class of 2012. Alabama and Florida State both crossed state lines to grab top recruits. The departure of two key assistants will make California and Washington a key recruiting rivalry in the Pac-12. And TCU is trying to show it can recruit on par with its new neighbors in the Big 12.
Here's a look at our top 10 new and renewed recruiting rivalries for 2012 and beyond.
The two powers had their tussles this season, which may continue until signing day. Out-of-state programs regularly grab top prospects out of Florida, but rarely do teams go into Alabama and grab recruits under the nose of Nick Saban. Florida State did this season. The Yellowhammer State's top prospect, Hueytown quarterback Jameis Winston, committed to the Seminoles in August but continues to be pursued by Alabama. Auburn grad and Alabama native Dameyune Craig, the quarterback coach, led the Seminoles' recruiting efforts in the state, landing Rivals100 defensive end Chris Casher (Mobile Davidson) and Rivals250 defensive tackle Justin Shanks (Prattville). The Crimson Tide returned the favor by dipping into Florida for key recruits. The Tide garnered a commitment from Rivals100 wide receiver Chris Black (Jacksonville First Coast) even though Florida State was the first program to start recruiting him. Five-star athlete Eddie Williams (Panama City Arnold) favored Alabama just as recruiting began. Alabama won another recruiting contest with Mobile Davidson defensive tackle Alphonse Taylor broke off his commitment to Florida State to commit to the Tide.
At the beginning of the recruiting cycle, Georgia coach Mark Richt's future was in question and Auburn was coming off a national title. Meanwhile, Alabama was in between its 2009 and 2011 championships. This allowed both programs to make inroads in Georgia. Alabama landed defensive back Geno Smith (ranked No. 88 overall) linebacker Dillon Lee (No. 105), running back Kenyan Drake (No. 185), four-star Brandon Greene, plus defensive tackle Dakota Ball, tight end Kurt Freitag and running back Justin Taylor. Auburn had similar success, crossing state lines to get commitments from wide receiver JaQuay Williams (No. 90), tight end Ricky Parks (No. 123) and cornerback Joshua Holsey (No. 180). Georgia rebounded with a 10-4 season, so the Bulldogs will carry that with them in the next recruiting cycle. That said, Alabama and Auburn aren't going anywhere.
In recent years, Arizona and Arizona State have done a poor job of keeping the state's limited supply of top talent within state lines. That's not going to change much in the 2012 cycle. The state's lone five-star prospect, offensive tackle Andrus Peat, is down to Florida State, Nebraska, Stanford and USC. Arizona State got a commitment from the state's No. 2 recurit, athlete D.J. Foster; both are pursuing the No. 3 recruit, wide receiver Davonte Neal. Both recently hired coaches, Rich Rodriguez at Arizona and Todd Graham at Arizona State, have talked about making in-state recruiting a priority. In this state, it's easier said than done.
The move of two assistants from Cal to Washington has thrown the Bears' recruiting for a loop in recent weeks. Defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi is one of the best recruiters in the country, and now he's in Seattle. Wide receiver coach Eric Kiesau joined him as the Huskies' offensive coordinator. What impact will this have on the two classes? Four-star running back Jordan Payton, one of three players to commit to Cal during the Army All-American Bowl, already visited Washington since Lupoi left. However, from a recruiting standpoint, Cal's loss doesn't necessarily translate to Washington's gain in this class. Five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy ended up committing to UCLA in the Lupoi aftermath. Four-star wide receiver Bryce Treggs remains committed, but he took a recent visit with the Bruins. In the final week of recruiting, Cal safety commit Shaq Thompson, the state's top prospect, is getting the full-court press from the Bears, Washington, Oregon and UCLA.
Even before Charlie Strong took over at Louisville, the Cardinals had success recruiting in South Florida. Strong, Clint Hurtt and the rest of his staff have had even more success in the Hurricanes' backyard. Strong's first full signing class in 2011 included seven prospects from Miami, led by Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. This class includes five Miami-Dade recruits. Linebacker Keith Brown of Miami Norland was the first commitment to Miami's 2012 class but eventually enrolled early at Louisville. Three-star linebacker James Burgess Jr. also decommitted from Miami to go to Louisville.
Penn State retained defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and Mike Locksley returned to Maryland, where he was an assistant and top recruiter from 1997-2002. Not long after Locksley left, Penn State landed national No. 1 Derrick Williams out of the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region in 2005 and then dominated the area for the 2006 signing class. In this recruiting class, Maryland landed four-star running back Wes Brown and three-star offensive lineman Mike Madaras out of Good Counsel, and Penn State convinced Towson (Md.) Calvert Hall teammates Trevor Williams and Da'Quan Davis to flip from West Virginia. Still, neither program owns the area. Stefon Diggs and Ronald Darby, Maryland's top two prospects, are undecided but are likely to go elsewhere. The same is true for five-star D.C. defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. With Maryland struggling in its first season under Randy Edsall and Penn State facing uncertainty in the post-Joe Paterno era, both programs will benefit from recruiting victories in this region.
Michigan and Ohio State haven't struggled to bring in some of the Big Ten's best signing classes over the years. However, the Big Ten's biggest rivals haven't had the Nos. 1 and 2 classes in the conference since 2009. At the same time, the Wolverines and Buckeyes have left the rest of the Big Ten behind, at least in this recruiting cycle. Aside from all the inherent advantages of both programs, Michigan and Ohio State added new coaches, one who went 11-2 in his first season and the other with two national titles on his resume. Michigan did most of its work before August, including a commitment from the top prospect in Ohio, Kyle Kalis. Once Meyer took over at Ohio State, the Buckeyes snagged commitments from Penn State and Michigan State, but the main target from now on will be Michigan.
Thanks to the momentum of two BCS appearances in the last three seasons, TCU has momentum in recruiting for its first seasons in the Big 12. So far, the Horned Frogs' recruiting rival in the Big 12 has been a little bit of everyone. Some of the Horned Frogs' top recruits - quarterback Tyler Matthews, defensive end Devonte Fields, tight end Griffin Gilbert and athlete Edward Pope - had offers from Big 12 programs but have stuck with TCU. Four-star ATH Daje Johnson, however, flipped from TCU to Texas after visiting Austin this weekend. The Horned Frogs haven't gone up against Texas and Oklahoma with regularity, but they appear to be comfortable recruiting in the second-tier of the league.
Tennessee is not a deep state for SEC-caliber talent, but Vanderbilt won the Volunteer State. The Volunteers may finish with the better class, but Vanderbilt's first full signing class under James Franklin put added pressure on the rebuilding Tennessee program. In this recruiting cycle, Franklin exuded confidence and enthusiasm where Volunteers coach Derek Dooley needed to spend time tending to public relations questions, including the departure of six assistants. Vanderbilt landed four-star offensive tackle Andrew Jelks, who picked the Commodores over the Vols despite family ties to Knoxville. Memphis East running back Brian Kimbrow also picked Vanderbilt despite an offer for Tennessee.
A Virginia native who has spent most of his career coaching in the state, London ramped up the Cavaliers' recruiting efforts in the Tidewater region and Eastern Virginia. The Cavs cleaned up in this region with 10 commits compared to Virginia Tech's three. Virginia has five commitments from Virginia Beach, led by Rivals100 defensive end Eli Harold (Virginia Beach Ocean Lakes). The Cavaliers also have four from Norfolk, led by Rivals100 linebacker Kwontie Moore (Norfolk Christian School). More often than not in recent seasons, Virginia lagged behind the Hokies in recruiting, but both are poised for top-five classes in the ACC for the second consecutive season. If Virginia and Virginia Tech both recruit Eastern Virginia with renewed vigor, that could become the new normal. In Harold, Virginia landed the top prospect in the state for the first time since 2004.