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An Interview with Rivals.com's Mike Farrell

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National Signing Day is tomorrow and FWtCT's Charlie Burris talked with Rivals.com's national recruiting director and the "Godfather of Recruiting" Mike Farrell about MSU's potential commit, the impact of an early signing period, and why social media is bad for recruiting.

Charlie Burris: MSU really doesn't have much going on for National Signing Day, our only real remaining target is 4-star inside linebacker Leo Lewis, who de-committed from Ole Miss last week and then tweeted that his decision will be between LSU and MSU. Where do you think he ends up?

Mike Farrell: I'm in the minority but I'm picking Mississippi State. A lot of people are picking LSU simply because word of his de-commitment came out while he was on an LSU visit. So, you know, I could be wrong. I don't think anybody knows where he's going. He doesn't talk to the media anymore, he de-committed from Alabama and Ole Miss so far. I talked to his coach the other day, he has no idea. He's not even returning his coach's texts so, we're gonna have to wait until Wednesday at 10:30 am CST to find out where he's going.

CB: Over the last five years MSU has had recruiting classes ranked 37th, 26th, 30th, 44th, and are currently ranked 17th, according to Rivals. How impressive was MSU's 10-3 season considering these seemingly lackluster recruiting classes? And do you think that level of success is sustainable with lower caliber classes that are coached up instead of rosters filled with 5-stars?

MF: I don't know if it's sustainable. It's impressive, no doubt about it. I think for Mississippi State to be successful moving forward they have to combat Ole Miss, which they've done a tremendous job in-state as well as in the Memphis area. And (they need to) move into Alabama and Florida and Louisiana which is really hard to do. Geographically (MSU) is up against it because LSU owns their state, Auburn and Alabama are both recruiting at a very high level, ...and Tennessee is recruiting extremely well also.

Dan Mullen is a good coach and it's okay to have recruiting classes outside the top 25 and sustain (success), it just takes a great coach and a great staff to do so. West Virginia is a great example, when they were continually in BCS bowl games they were never in the top 25. The problem is (WVU) is not in the SEC and the SEC is just like the meat grinder, it's tough.

CB: In the SEC specifically, what schools do you think have the most on the line, or the most to win or lose on Wednesday?

MF: You start with Florida and Auburn, they're going head-to-head for a lot of guys. Florida has a lot more to lose because they're right now outside the top 70 (NOTE: about 15 minutes after we talked, UF got a 4-star running back commit that moved them up to 60th nationally)... Auburn has more high-level kids looking at them than any time I can remember.  And Alabama has a lot to lose, you know, they could finish number two. ...They've been number one forever but USC is in position right now to take that title away from them.

CB: MSU got some bad press earlier this year for pulling a recruit's scholarship offer to make room for other commits. Similar things happen at other schools as well, do you find that trend or the trend of "greyshirting" concerning at all? What is your opinion of these practices? They're obviously legal but are they ethical?

MF: Well, the Big Ten has specific guidelines that are different than the SEC as far as how many (recruits) you can sign and the SEC always finds a way around any sort of legislation when it comes to over-signing. You know, counting forward, counting backward, greyshirts, blueshirts, all these different scenarios, I don't think it's unethical. If kids are willing to go into a class of 30, if they're willing to greyshirt, then, fine, go ahead. I don't see anything unethical about it.

I don't think there is an even playing field and I don't think there ever will be. And I'm not even talking about the SEC versus the Big Ten thing that's been going on. I mean, look at Stanford or Notre Dame, they can't take kids that other schools can. That's just life, that's never going to change. Oversigning won't change either and if kids are willing to go into those situations then that's their choice.

CB: What is your opinion of the new "cost-of-attendance" scholarship policy? How do you believe it will impact recruiting?

MF: I don't think it will. Remember last year the change was the (multiyear) scholarships, it didn't change a thing. You know, everybody is still offering 4-year scholarships. ...I don't think the cost-of-attendance scholarship is going to effect too many things, I think the early signing period will if (the NCAA) puts that through. Cause right now what you're seeing every year is the strong preying on the weak.

You know, South Carolina after Steve Spurrier said "I'll probably be here three more years", which was very foolish, they lost nine kids. Or Kentucky, I think they've lost eight. Other schools are just plucking them. It's one of those things where with an early signing period, schools that are mid-level recruiting-wise can lock their kids up. (Because) if they don't commit and sign then they're not committed at all and at least you can move on.

So, you get your early enrollees and your early signees and you can be done with 80% of your class in December, which would be great.

CB: Social media's presence in the recruiting process continues to grow, as someone who's been around recruiting for a long time, how do you think social media has impacted recruiting? Negatively/Positively? Specifically, the fans' ability to directly interact with recruits.

MF: I don't think social media is positive in anything involving recruiting. Period. I'm trying to think of a positive. Is there a positive for a kid tweeting out a jersey just to get a few follows or favorites or retweets? You know, I think the term "troll" has obviously come into play with social media, and there's going to be more and more instances of kids playing the media to drum up attention and I think that's dangerous. But most dangerous to the kids is the potential loss of scholarship.

It's amazing to me that we've only seen a couple instances of kids doing something so stupid on social media that they've lost scholarships. That is a miracle and it's not going to last. Now that Twitter is getting more popular amongst the athletes, they're just going to shoot themselves in the foot.

And from my perspective, you know, I'm on Twitter all the time, it's my job but the amount of abuse you take for any opinion you have on Twitter is unbelievable. You're almost better off tweeting the opposite of what your opinion is cause then everybody will agree with what your true opinion is ...cause people are just looking to disagree. I just don't see a positive place for social media at all.

The information that the kids are providing is also extremely useless. "I had a great visit with coach blah blah blah, here's a picture", who cares? It's almost like wasted clicks. I'm not a big fan of social media, I think it's fun in some respects but, man, to these kids, if I was a coach, I wouldn't let my kids on it.

...And I can tell who the difficult ones are going to be, based on not only my interactions with them, but coaches can too. ...Sometimes they'll just drop a kid cause they can tell he's in it for himself and he's just not the type of guy that they want. And I know this year that's happened, and there's only been a few examples of people really screwing up but, just wait.

CB: One last question, when do you think, if ever, we will see the death of the fax machine as the primary method to send national letters of intent?

MF: I mean, yeah, eventually it's gotta not be a thing. If the tradition was to horse-and-buggy your letter to the school and the car was around, it'd be stupid. ...Eventually it will be gone and it will be something else. I'm a little upset that we're in 2015 and we don't have transporters. That's just annoying. Getting to the airport, going through security, waiting for a plane, switching planes, it's a big pain. You know, we can take a piece of paper, put it through a machine and that exact same piece, not the same exact piece of paper but the data, can appear anywhere in the country but we can't figure out how to do that with humans.

I will say, there will be something better than the fax machine, I mean, I email stuff, I don't fax anymore. Put my letter of intent in a PDF, boom, done. But, it's a neat tradition and it'll be around for a while but eventually it will be replaced.

Mike Farrell can be found on Twitter at @rivalsmike and rivals.com.