Nov 9, 2013; Ruston, LA, USA; A general view of Joe Aillet Stadium during the first quarter of the game between the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

What Does The Hiring of Jeff Koonz Mean for Bearcat Recruiting?

On Thursday it was announced that Cincinnati’s coaching staff would be adding a new piece in the form of Louisiana Tech linebackers coach Jeff Koonz, who will now be the Bearcats’ safties coach. This comes on the heels of the decision by Coach Tommy Tuberville to part ways with defensive coordinator Art Kaufman and defensive tackles coach Fred Tate. It would appear that they were let go because of shortcomings on the recruiting trail. Naturally, one would assume that any addition to the staff would be an amend to that issue. A quick look at the recruiting resume of Jeff Koonz would back up that theory.

With the Bearcats now firmly planted in the American Athletic Conference for the time being, it becomes crucial to maintain the momentum that the football program has built over the last ten or so years. One of the biggest ways this can happen is recruiting. If recruiting falls off, the program could become stagnant, and that’s the last thing you’d want to see as a Bearcat fan. Because of how important this is, you have to appreciate the commitment that Coach Tuberville showed in cutting any coach who isn’t bringing in recruits. He hired these coaches just a year ago, and parting with them so quickly proves that he’ll settle for nothing less than success, even when that success comes off the field.

Jeff Koonz can recruit. Even though his Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are situated in Conference USA, he still was able to bring in quality talent. Not to mention that he was able to do this in the cutthroat football environment that is Louisiana. In fact, Louisiana, along with Mississippi, is actually where he found the most success. In contrast, the Bearcats last Louisiana commitment was some kid named Munchie Legaux back in 2010. Koonz is going to open the door to a fertile area that the Bearcats have largely been missing out on.

His Track Record

In 2011, Koonz reeled in three 3-star recruits and one 2-star recruit, each from Louisiana or Mississippi. For a Conference USA school in that region, those numbers are impressive, even on the surface. Dig a little deeper, and it gets more impressive. The players Koonz signed were also holding offers from schools like Arkansas, Tennessee, Arizona, Baylor, and Mississippi State. In addition, he beat out current AAC schools Memphis and SMU. The only 3-star recruit he target but missed that year was from outside of his “hotspot” in Mobile, Alabama. He ended up signing with Kentucky.

In 2012, Koonz pulled a 3-star Louisiana recruit who was holding offers from programs like Colorado, Kansas State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and (again) SMU. However, he did lose some guys to Mississippi State and Minnesota.

In 2013, his final full season in Louisiana, he didn’t do much recruiting, but he did sign the only player he targeted.

What It Means For Cincinnati

As I said earlier, Koonz is not only a solid recruiter, but he’s been successful in an area that UC hasn’t been able to reach as well as they’d like. If he can beat out major-conference schools while selling a Conference USA program, he should have no problem continuing to do so while selling a Cincinnati program that has made a tradition of winning games of the past 7 or 8 years. In addition, we already know that he can beat out some of the AAC programs, because he beat out SMU and Memphis while they were conference rivals of his at Louisiana Tech.

In short, Jeff Koonz was already reeling in Cincinnati-level talent at Louisiana Tech. If he can simply continue that trend, he’ll be a welcome addition to the staff. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a slight boost in his recruiting résumé with a better program to sell.

It’s still far too early to make a judgement, but I’m a big fan of this hire.

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